Grammy winners and TV stars: The Tab went along to the BBC’s Biggest Weekend
Katie Derham, Angelique Kidjo, and Gogo Penguin also spoke to us
The Monday of BBC's Biggest Weekend saw BBC Radio 3 take centre stage, showcasing music ranging from African soul to electronic jazz. The Tab Coventry exclusively interviewed some of the biggest names from Monday's offering.
Katie Derham is BBC Radio 3's presenter. She also won Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas special last year and was a finalist in 2015 with television personality Anton Du Beke.
Angela: How are you enjoying BBC Radio Three's Biggest Weekend?
Katie: It’s amazing, it’s lovely to see my colleges from other networks actually get to enjoy music with such a variety.
A: What was it like being a contestant on Strictly?
K: Honestly, it was as the best most absorbing, exhausting, lovely kind of dream come true experience. To be taught any new skill by a professional is a privilege.
Katie went on to say that even her kids new the challenges of the show as they told her she’s home too early and to carry on training:
I remember holding onto a massive trapeze thing. I can’t bare heights and they said oh yeah you’re going on there and been lowered down. I was like okay fine what I am going to hold onto. They said you’re going to dance and wave your hands’ I jokingly said 'I’m going to hold on real tight’.
A: Beside festivals like this how do we get young people to listen to more classical music?
K: I'm a strong believer that good music is good music. It doesn’t need to be in a genre. You probably listen to more classical musical then you realise by watching films. It’s not that weird. It’s just good music.
A: This year marks 100 years since women got the vote. Do you think your role as a host for BBC Three empowers women?
K: I think BBC Three have got a good proportion of mainstream strong female presenters, so we are well presented on our network which is great, not the case in all media.
Angelique Kidjo is a three time Grammy winner and philanthropist. The Guardian listed her as one of the most powerful women in all of Africa, and for good reason: she helps children get an education through her charity and is generally regarded as one of the most successful artists from West Africa.
Joseph Scotting: You got a sizeable portion of the crowd on their feet dancing today. What is it about African music that attracts so many?
Angelique Kidjo: It’s been like that since the beginning. I think western countries enjoy how celebratory it is. African music celebrates life, it isn’t for funeral ceremonies.
JS: Can you tell me about your charity?
AK: The Batonga Foundation is for secondary education and is now becoming a focus point for the UN. If women don’t get secondary education we’re going to have a lot of economic issues. Keeping young women in school not only has economic benefits but also helps the family, community and the world. This world needs more and more women leadership to balance the power of men.
JS: Do you feel like through your music you have benefitted the world?
AK: I don’t do it because I want to take credit, I do it because it’s about people’s lives. I like helping people achieve their dreams but it’s gotta come from you.
JS: Do you see yourself as an inspirational woman?
AK: I don’t know what that is, I just do what I feel I gotta do. I was raised in a household where we were each other’s keepers. If someone is there I will try to help them. If I die helping you I will do it.
JS: Before you released your album Eve you travelled from Kenya to Benin and back again. What was that like?
AK: I didn’t plan it originally but going to Kenya completely changed the album. Women there were dealing with acute child malnutrition. Women in one village were so gloomy. It was hard emotionally. I don’t know what they saw in me but they start singing and suddenly I jump in. The beauty and resilience of my continent came back. My husband said something in me transformed. From there on I wanted African women’s voices to be on my album.
JS: Do you still think there’s a way to go for equality between the genders?
AK: Laughs That’s an understatement! I don’t know why it took us so long to realise without women there are no men. I don’t understand why men fear women. You are nobody without a woman. I grew up with seven brothers and they don’t spend a single day without women being around. Women are not an accessory. We give birth and if we decided to stop that then you’re screwed. Machoism is men’s fear vs a woman’s strength. You can’t define what being a man means.
Gogo Penguin are an electronic Jazz band from Manchester comprised of drummer Rob, bassist Nick, and pianist Chris. The upcoming band has a unique dream like sound which is invigorating to listen to.
Joseph Scotting: How did you come up with your name?
Chris (pianist): It was just in the room we used to rehearse in. We found this weird stuffed penguin thing and we named ourselves after it. It was actually supposed to be a magpie. A mate called us up and asked would you like to do a gig last minute. We just saw this penguin and thought we’ll call our band penguin. We later added the Gogo bit.
JS: Do you find it difficult to convey a meaning or a message in a band without a vocalist?
Chris: I don’t think we’re too bothered about trying to convey a message. It is about the emotion and trying to capture the contrasts and differences people feel. It helps people reflect a little bit about themselves. I think you can only do that by being abstract. We want people to interpret our music. To us what could be a happy uplifting song, to others could be quite depressing. Anyone can take our music and do what they want with it.
Nick: We could add one if there's a need down the line.
JS: Do you feel this layer of interpretation makes your music more enjoyable?
Chris: I hope so yeah, it’s definitely a way to speak to more people. Being too direct with the stories behind the music is like forcing people to feel the way I did when I wrote it. It’s just impossible. It’s much more we all collectively put our experiences in the music and hopefully that means somebody can hear that and feel positive, dark, or dance to it. It’s individual preference.
Coventry Telegraph: Do you see today’s show as a showcase for the new album?
Nick: Yeah, we were gonna play all the tracks from the new album Humdrum Star, which came out in February.
CT: Have you been busy?
Nick: We’ve been very busy we’ve been to the states, Japan, Germany and we’re going back to America in a couple of weeks. We’re still trying to build it in America really. It’s been difficult.
Hillz FM: How do you come up with the names for your songs?
Rob: Because otherwise we’d have five tracks called untitled.