Elektrik Interview - Errol Anderson
Music Journalist and DJ
Boiler Room | Radar Radio | VICE | Guardian | The Independent
Searching for new sounds has been at the heart of what Errol Anderson does and continues to do. So we had a chat with the Deputy Editor of Boiler Room about his journey into music journalism, how he goes about finding new records and what he thinks the future of online radio is.
Tell me how you got into music journalism.
I always loved music and had a fascination with writing too. So put those two together, and I started to write my own blog when I was 16, 17 maybe. It was called Decibel Soup.
Tell me more about that.
Decibel Soup was pretty much my outlet for every single type of music that I was in to. So, initially it was just myself, putting out soulful music and more dance led stuff too.
Eventually I got three friends involved, when I went to Bournemouth University. So, they added a couple other layers to the musical spectrum. We managed to cover quite a lot on our website, and it ran for a couple of years and did really really well. Thats when things began to snowball beyond 'Decibel Soup'.
And then what happened after? You joined CLASH.
My introduction to CLASH, I would say was lucky but also I spent a lot of time trying to get hold of different outlets and magazines and no one wanted to give me a chance.
One day I remember being at university and I thought let me just cold call one of these magazines. So I cold called CLASH mag. Their then deputy editor Matt picked up and I was just like “Hey, I’m this buddying journalist, I just want to learn, give me a couple of days. I just want to show what I can do.” He was like “Nah, scrap that...you’ve got to come for a couple of weeks” to you strut your stuff. From there I started writing for them whilst I was at University, travelling back and fourth from London to Bournemouth.
Were you nervous joining CLASH? Such a big magazine with such a big reputation...
(continued) ...with everything you do, being magnified.
Yeah totally. For someone who had only been in the 'journalism game’ for no longer than two years, to step up into something which was so official, so widespread, their audience was massive. The people they would have in their magazine were my idols too. So to get that opportunity, yes I was totally nervous but something within me was like yo, you have to put that aside and take this opportunity and grip it by the neck, and be like "Yo, I’ve got to make this mine!".
As a guy who is into soulful music, you could quite easily stop searching for new music, and you could just look at whats already been made. There's tonnes of incredible soulful music. How do you keep that excitement alive to keep searching? Why do you keep looking forward?
I think it’s the constant search for something new. New doesn’t have to be new, like it came out this year, new can be anything I have never heard before. I guess I have a bit of a diggers mentality, whereby I love listening to new music and using whatever music I find as a springboard to finding even more. So a lot of the time what will happen is that I’ll listen to a record, and then you’ll see someone else is playing on that record, and then you go "Oh I recognise that guy from this record" and it leads you on.
I guess if you want to break it down in to its most rudimental thing, the drive is to find new stuff. I love to find new music, thats all it is, really.
What places would you recommend in London, to go crate digging? We do like to support our record stores here on The Elektrik Cave.
I love 'Sounds of The Universe’, ‘Love Vinyl’ in Hoxton is an amazing place, just the other day we saw the legend Dego express his new record.
Surprising a lot of the time I’m just in places like Brick Lane, going through £1 records, and you find some gems there. There’s one place, I’m not actually sure what it’s called but it’s right in the middle of Brick Lane and you go down the stairs and theres this geezer, he’s proper chilled and really down to earth. If you find a record he’ll be like, “Yo, you need to listen to this one, and this one”. He’s got an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of where records are in his space, which I think is really beautiful thing. Once you start to build a relationship with the people behind the stalls it totally elevates the music you’re able to listen to.
You’re part of an online radio station, as we move away from FM and digital is on the rise. What's the future of online radio?
The beauty of anything online right now, and perhaps maybe a negative - depending on the way you’re are looking at it, is the fact that you have so much freedom to do what you want. So the reason I love online radio is because you don’t have any boundaries, you are open to play, whatever you want to play, which is a beautiful thing.
In terms of the future of online radio, I can...unless someone decides to put some structure around it, whereby you’re only allowed to play certain things, I can only see it improving, and being a place where people can play exactly what they want to play. I think thats amazing.
How do you think it effects how people consume music? You can put a show up on mixcloud, and there is almost a 'pick and mix' culture to how you take in online radio.
Again it’s a double edge sword. On the one hand you have all this amazing music, and on the other hand you have all this amazing music but it’s super saturated. When you look online, there is so much, and sometimes you just don’t know where to start because there is so much to look for, and there is so much to listen to.
You can look at platforms like Soundcloud, where people upload music all the time, literally every single minute, so how are you supposed to keep up with whats new and whats fresh?
I guess thats when the power of the niche becomes a thing. I really believe that now we have the internet, and everything is accessible, it’s really important to have place where you can find stuff, that you’re really in to.
How do you think online radio effects independent labels. Do you reckon there is an impact or some sort of relationship?
Totally. First and foremost, I love independent labels. Big ups to them because I know that the struggle is a lot harder with how the music industry has changed. But with the likes of Bandcamp, it is a very important platform for independent labels because it kind of cuts out the middle man and gives them an opportunity to share music, to reach a wide spread audience in a very simple manner.
The relationship between online radio and independent labels, again I think it’s a good one.
Do you reckon there are any similarity between online radio and pirate radio?
Totally, they are totally the same. Again it comes down to the ability to just play whatever you want. Discard any rules and regulations that a Radio 1 or a Capital Xtra might have on you for playing certain music.
Obviously at night time that changes on BBC Radio 1 and the mainstream radio stations. But when you can have that every single time, why would you just want to have that, just at night time?
Lastly, tell me a little bit about Touching Bass.
Yeah, sure. Touching Bass is essentially just a group of friends, it’s by no means limited to myself. It’s very much a movement of friends, who listen to soulfully inclined music. As you know we have our Radar Radio show, every second Saturday of the month. We also put on nights on an irregular basis.
A lot of it comes down to word of mouth and actually living in a physical space. I think it’s very easy these days to make everything super digital. [You] hit people up on Twitter, Soundcloud and Facebook but at the end of the day, nothing beats having a conversation with someone, enjoying music at the same time and seeing someones expressions.