Zane Lowe: ‘I go through a lot of records, probably between 80 and 100 in 90 minutes’
DJ Zane Lowe brings his Electrified Tour to Leicester next week. Gemma Peplow’s advice? Leave the heels at home, girls.
Broadcaster, DJ, producer, new music pioneer: love him or hate him, there’s no denying Zane Lowe is one of the most respected workers in his field. His love for music – pretty much any genre of music, that is – is evident in the boundless enthusiasm he shows every time he plays a track on his Radio One show, introduces an artist when covering festivals for the BBC or when he takes to the stage for his own DJ shows.
This is not someone who woke up one day deciding he wanted to be a famous radio DJ – this is someone who wanted to work with music, in any way shape or form.
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Anyone who’s heard Zane – we’re guessing that’s all of you, right? – will know that, like his DJing, his speech is fast-paced and spilling over with enthusiasm, but we think we managed to keep up. Just.
“Every time I’ve been to Leicester and played at the Academy, it’s been amazing,” he tells The Week.
“It’s one of my favourite places to visit and I know you probably think I say that about everywhere, but I mean that genuinely.
“Last year I came twice within about two or three weeks, with my own tour and for the Radio One gig with Kasabian, which was amazing. I’m a huge fan of theirs; I’m a big believer that they are a massive part of the jigsaw of modern rock today. “
After a summer of taking his DJ set outdoors for all the festivals, Zane is taking his Electrified Tour across the UK, including a stop in Leicester next week.
If you’ve not seen him live before, then expect a frenetic night where you’ll hear everything from Zane’s favourite hip hop and dubstep tracks to classic rock and house. Ladies, we suggest giving heels a miss for this one.
“I go through a lot of records, probably between 80 and 100 in 90 minutes,” says Zane. “I try to put together a set that has real variation, going from one genre to another but making it sound as cohesive as possible for the audience. I play all different genres over the course of a night and hopefully the crowd won’t feel like they’re too jolted. The aim is to make it like my radio show, but in a club environment.
“I just play the tracks I like, what I think will work in the room. It’s getting that balance right and I guess it all depends on whether I’m on form or not.
“Going on my own tour to put on a proper show is ace. It’s a big part of what I do now and it’s been a welcome addition, it goes alongside the radio show really nicely.”
Playing music, whether on the radio, TV or live, is something Zane is confident he’ll never tire of. “Essentially, I’m just a massive fan boy, and that’s at the core of everything I do creatively. I’m a fan of music and I want to live it and talk about it, and that’s been the case for as long as I can remember.
“One of the massive draws of the show I do is there’s such a diverse selection. I came to Radio One from a radio station where the primary interest was rock ’n’ roll, and that’s great, I really enjoyed my time there, but as soon as I got to Radio One there was just so much more to play with.
“It’s the best gig in broadcasting, the best job in the world. I can’t imagine what I’ll do when the time eventually comes to move on, but I try to live in the moment as much as I can.”
During his time on the show, and during his career presenting on MTV2, Zane has met pretty much every band, artist, DJ and producer you could care to think of, from those who influenced him growing up to those whose careers he has helped kickstart – The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and our very own Kasabian, to name but a few.
But he doesn’t have to think too hard to recall his favourites.
“Probably top five for me would be when I first met Dave Grohl. Any time I’ve met the Beastie Boys, and Jay Z would be on the list, too. PJ Harvey as well... anyone whose music has moved me.
“The first time I met The White Stripes was a huge moment for me; you just knew instantly they would be this remarkable band.
“When I’m interviewing, I just treat it like I’m trying to create a masterclass for people to listen to. I’m a listener like anyone else, I want to know how they make the records.
“I’m quite boring in that sense. Ultimately, I broadcast for music fans, because I am one. I don’t run from a challenge but I’m not there to be a Piers Morgan interviewer who needs to get the scoop. I just want to play records and talk about them.”
When it comes to record collections, we imagine Zane’s is in rude health. “But there are ones I always go back to: Queens of the Stone Age, Jay Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Arctic Monkeys, Neil Young, to name a few,” he says.
“You have your record collection and then that shelf where you might just add one album every year, or maybe even every two years. You’ve got to keep the standards high for that one. Those are the ones that will stay with you forever.”
Zane Lowe is on at the Leicester O2 Academy on Sunday, October 14, as part of his Electrified Tour with Nokia Lumia. Visit Nokia's UK Facebook page for more information: facebook.com/nokia.uk
For tickets, visit: www.o2academyleicester.co.uk