Flavour’s Crystal Straker has a quick catch up with BBC 1Xtra DJ, Trevor Nelson, ambassador of Hackney ‘Take It On’.

What is the Hackney Academy, ‘Take It On’all about?

It’s a way of connecting with young people who want an insight into this wonderful job and life, but how do you get in? What do you do to get in? What do you have to work on with yourself? What skills do you need? I‘m just going to share my experiences with people that have come from this area and who have done quite well.

It could be acting, music, it could be entrepreneurial, it could be fashion, we are hoping to get ‘Q & A’s with a lot of different people and all we can do is open the door and hope young people walk in. Young people in general, a lot of them have questions that they keep inside and because of friends and peer pressure they don’t come out. We’re going to try and make it as easy as possible for them to come in and ask questions and ask, you’ve got to ask!

I mean ignorance is not a good thing in this age and you know you’ve got to be open to do everything and that’s what we’re going to do. As you can see today we’ve got some friends from 1xtra and Radio 1, actors, musicians and you know some global film makers, we’ve even got Plan B, Leona Lewis and Jamal Edwards. We are all here and very passionate about connecting with young people because we came from exactly the same place, basically nothing.

I remember being a kid at school and I can’t remember 1 well known person that had come in to see us or you know somebody coming in to give me an insight into what I could do. Maybe if I knew somebody who did radio maybe they would have really connected with me. As a kid I might not have jumped up and down at the time but you know; it’s like you and I have had, workshops you’ve never forgotten it and that really amazing, I’ve never forgotten it. That’s what I mean, I know it works and I know people remember and they take on what you say and even if it’s one thing that someone says that they connect with its better than none isn’t it?

“I’m a hackney boy and I’m very proud of it but I’m also disheartened about the lack of opportunities that are open here”

What is your involvement with the academy and what are you actually going to be doing there?

Well I’m going to be broadcasting letting the whole world out there know because now I’ve been on radio it’s a global thing so everybody is going to know about the Hackney academy I’m going to do a Q&A myself  and be really involved with it, right now I’m off to one of the colleges straight afterwards with Lethal B.

I’m somebody I’ve always done this in Hackney anyway, I’ve been a patrant to many projects in Hackney. I grew up in Hackney; we are opposite the town hall where my sister works opposite there is a lot of my friends.  I’m a hackney boy and I’m very proud of it but I’m also disheartened about the lack of opportunities that are open here since from when I was a kid. I’m always drawn to coming back I’m the ambassador. For the big event over Hackney marshes which is the biggest music event of the year in the entire world! I’m just going to put that out there the biggest line up and it’s in Hackney so its emotional for me. I mean they’re having something in Hackney that big so I’m here as an ambassador at that event as well to  talk to people about the event and to give people an insight about anything that I have done in my career.

What was your very first experience within radio?

My first experience in radio is, if you go around this room and ask anyone they will probably say the same thing pirate radio. Pirate radio back in the day it was absolutely essential you know like the music we loved we could only get in clubs. They weren’t really playing it on any radio station not even specialist shows. We needed to play that music so as a fan of black music I use to do pirate radio for nothing of course, it cost me money because I tend to spend so much money on records but I loved it. It was the first time I realised that I could do this I didn’t even know I had an ability I had no idea all I was, was a record collector and a part time DJ. When I got my chance nobody taught me you know the good thing about pirate radio is you could just crash and burn really and you learn by your own mistakes. If you are the kind of person that wants to be better it’s a brilliant way of learning the hard way and  by the time I got onto legal radio I knew a little bit about  radio I was comfortable on the mic so you know.

With school fees going up and youth unemployment rising, what else needs to be done?

That’s a £64000 question man if I could answer that I would be Prime Minister. I think its tough being young at the moment, I think it’s tough being young and I’ll tell you why adults tend to look at youngsters and say you got this you got that we didn’t have this we didn’t have that in our day, you got everything we had 3 TV channels and we didn’t have mobile phones and we didn’t have Xboxes.  It’s just not about that, the expectancy for young people is much higher now than it was years ago. You know years ago people didn’t dream as much and people weren’t connected to the world the way young people are now. So all young people see is what they can’t have. The whole world is on their laptop and the whole world is out there for them and they can see immediately what the possibilities are and then they question themselves am I good enough? Can I have this? I think the government can only do so much, basically the people that run the country are much older than young people and they always will be so it’s hard for them to be connected. There are many schemes obviously where just doing what we can and its just a little bit.  you know radio and entertainment we have 1 in 3 of the young people in this country listening to us that  is quite huge so clearly young people love music and they love partying and all the rest of it but there is a serious side. I don’t really know what can be done, there no single answer but I think the mind set of young people needs to be worked on.  I think a lot of young people are being left to their own devices in a way.

                                        Trevor Nelson, Leona Lewis, plan B

We need to definitely educate young people a little bit more  because but when I was 15 I used to make statements I’m sure you can relate to this like right I would never do that and then by the time you’re 16 you’ve done it. You know age is the best experience you can ever get and even if you crash and burn well you know sometimes you need to. I just think it’s difficult to connect with young people sometimes because they have that mind set of I want to do this and you can’t tell me I can’t do this. Then they realise how hard or how much work so it is just understanding, I think understanding is the key.

People just need to sit down and listen a bit more and just understand a bit more about young people because the world is changing quicker than we can cope with.  You know that’s the problem you know if your 25 you feel that you were young just the other day you were just a teenager. Let me tell you something in the 7 years that you were 18 the world has changed and in another 5 years it’s going to change again and your still gonna feel I’m young but you are not. I’m not a youngster I have kids at the age of some of the kids that are going to be coming to this academy. I know I’m not totally connected to my kids you know so I look at them and I respect them.  I give them their space and let them find out their own way you know.

“The number one rule on radio is don’t have dead air”

Tell us something about your career that happened in radio that no one knows?

Number one rule on radio is don’t have dead air, it’s when everything goes quiet and at Radio 1 if you had dead air after 30 seconds automatically music will come on. When you are doing the rnb show like I did when I first started.  I did a show and I had dead air guess what started playing? Oasis came on, so I’m playing R Kelly and then all of a sudden nothing, then Oasis kicks in and it was like so embarrassing for me. That was the scariest thing ever, yeah that was a moment when I thought the world had fallen in.

At what point did you realise radio is for you?

The first time I ever saw a DJ legally broadcasting was when I saw a guy called Kid Jenson on Capital Radio. Tim Westwood had a show at Capital Radio and he once took me round to show me the studio and I stood outside the glass and I saw this guys talking and I could hear his voice and I was so fascinated I mean it sounds so silly but I thought this is the guy I sometimes listen to in my car or at home and there he is talking into the mic what job wow! I didn’t think I’ll have that job but I fell in love with the job then.

Give us three tips for anybody wanting to break into radio?

If you want to break into broadcasting whether it be in front of the mic or even behind for every guy or girl whose on the mic there are probably 10 people behind them so there are lots of jobs.

1.I would say listen, get a chance to be a runner or an intern to suck it all in, just take it all in. Watch what the producer does watch what the DJ does.

2.  If you want to be a DJ try to be an individual don’t try and listen too much radio and copy because you’ll end up copying people styles.  I don’t listen to other dj’s too deeply because you end up saying what they say. Try and get your own voice and try and speak in your own style.

3. Enjoy it! You know when and before you open the mic put a little smile in your mouth in your head just a tiny one. So when you talk you just sound a little bit more energetic and a bit happier.




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