Robin Phillips is a singer and pianist, bandleader, teacher, has a studio, and recently made a jazz and blues documentary film coming out this year. Not quite busy enough, he talks about a new venture… Email interview by Sebastian:
LondonJazz News: You have a new radio show. Congratulations. How did it happen?
Robin Phillips: It’s often been suggested but I wasn’t comfortable putting myself up for that sort of focus. Historically I’ve not presented to camera in my YouTube videos, but the last year has changed all that. The Back To The Source documentary helped me feel more confident in talking to camera, focussing on my passion for the music, sharing what knowledge I do have, and asking questions of others.
LJN: How did the connection with Delux get made?
RP: I’d planned to make a demo and start pitching myself locally, but I’ve also learned that if you want to do something the best thing to do is just start saying it out loud and talking to people about it. Following a recent radio interview, I mentioned that I was looking to make contact with some stations and the presenter suggested recording a simple 30-second intro piece to a show that doesn’t exist and send it across to her to forward on to a station she’d recently started working with. That station was Delux Radio and by the end of the day I had my own weekly two-hour jazz show.
LJN: And there’s some connection with cruises – how does that all work?
RP: A large part of their business used to be placing radio presenters on the cruise ships. When Covid hit last year they had to bring all of their DJs home, almost bankrupting the company. But rather than wind things up they decided to adjust their offering and focus on being able to network shows anywhere in the world, ready for the global reboot we all hope to see this year. This new way of working means any of the cruise ships can have any of the shows on the station’s roster, with fresh shows each week, without the requirement for DJs actually being on board. This is great news for me because I can work from my studio, fitting in the show recordings around my gigging, producing, and teaching schedule.
LJN: What kind of music do you expect to play?
RP: It’s very much a jazz show and is called just that, but it’s not jazz for ‘jazz heads’. I plan to simply share my love of the genre from across the decades, keeping people satisfied with a good dose of the classic jazz recordings, whilst hopefully opening a few doors to artists they might not be familiar with, and highlighting some of the fantastic jazz that’s being created around the world today.
My plan is to play a good mix of vocal and instrumental jazz, including a ‘my vinyl’ collection section where I focus on one of the records in my jazz collection each week, enjoying a more in-depth look at a particular album and enjoying the ancient art of reading the liner notes! I’m also planning on weekly interviews with artists I know from around the world and that will give us a chance to look at music that listeners might not already be familiar with. My first interview is planned in for this week and it’s a cracker to kick off with!
LJN: You’re always so upbeat – will there be any ballads?
RP: Ha ha, am I? Whilst I suppose I have a lot of energy generally and especially when performing, I often think my favourite artists and tunes are often quite mellow and chilled out. The show is going out on a Sunday evening so there will definitely be some beautiful mellow tracks to chill out to, so we might swing from some Buddy Rich to Chet in the course of 30 minutes.
LJN: And the same question you get (dread?!) on gigs: Do you take requests?
RP: I’m really keen that people get involved with shaping the show, as ultimately it is for them. I’ve already added some questions for listeners on my biog page, such as asking what is their favourite jazz album, the best gig they ever went to, and their favourite jazz club past or present. I’m really looking forward to discovering more myself through other people’s passions and suggestions. And let’s face it, it’s not a live gig in the flesh so it’s less likely I’ll get blindsided by an awkward (or simply inappropriate) request in the moment… ha ha.
LINK: The weekly ‘The Jazz Show with Robin Phillips’ first airs on Friday 19 March 8-10pm at www.deluxradio.co.uk.