Jo Wiley is Radio One's answer to unsigned acts. She has pioneered the Live Lounge and run with it. Not only that but she has also discovered so many bands over the past few years.
FemaleFirst caught up with Jo to chat about her life as a music maestro and discover who she would love to get into her Live Lounge. If anyone knows a thing or two about music, it's this lady.
You’ve promoted & discovered various artists over the years, which discovery are you most proud of?
I guess the two bands I have loved since the very first time I heard them and have continued to be in awe of as they’ve blossomed are Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys.
Genuinely grounded musicians and people who have resisted the temptation to become arrogant showbiz types yet are witty and charismatic and are THE bands of a generation…with the talent in abundance.
What have been your highlights and fondest moments since you joined Radio 1?
Highlights range from the ridiculous – which often involve Scott Mills – running over his car in an army tank…shooting him at close range with a paintball gun and spending the weekend in Majorca with him dressed as a matador.
Green Day doing Jay Z’s 99 Problems would be interesting
Musically it’s usually those live lounge moments when the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end… Foo Fighters doing Times Like These back in the day…Killers first session when they had to improvise in the live lounge using filing cabinets for a drum kit…Kings of Leon – all meek and mild – ‘Yes Ma’am this, Yes Ma’am that’… arm wrestling Mariah Carey and co-hosting the show with a very laidback and immensely likeable Madonna was pretty special too.
Who has been your favourite artist on the Live Lounge?
I had a bit of a moment when White Stripes played for us – third time around. It was at Maida Vale – I’d got a motor bike over there cause I couldn’t bear to miss seeing them play live and just be on the end of a fader and it was well worth it. Truly awesome. Jack White is powerful musician and a thoroughly lovely chap. I went quite wobbly.
What do you think has been the best Live Lounge cover?
Probably the most infamous cover was by Leona Lewis doing Snow Patrol’s Run – always in demand and developed a life of its own. But my personal favourites are the quirkier ones. Arctic Monkeys doing Girls Aloud…Elbow doing Destiny’s Child…
What would your dream Live Lounge cover be? Imagine you could chose a band or artist and the track they’re covering?
Michael Jackson doing vintage Jacko…from the Off the Wall era and his cover would be Justin Timberlake’s Lovestoned.
I’d love to have Muse in the live lounge doing something highly dramatic – maybe Leona’s Bleeding Love… we’ve tried to get them in the live lounge in recent years and they’ve tried to scale down their ambitions to fit in but it’s just not been possible…
Green Day are another band we’ve never managed to get in – them doing Jay Z’s 99 Problems would be interesting.
What is the atmosphere like when artists are performing for the Live Lounge?
The atmosphere is always highly charged – I think people would be surprised at how nerve wracking it is doing the show. I
t’s live radio – the musicians are out of their comfort zone – usually covering an artist they respect so it’s properly anxiety a gogo…
Your first broadcasting job was as a presenter for WPFM, Radio 4's youth culture and music show and now you're one of the most influential tastemakers at Radio 1 - what's your advice to young people on pursuing their dream career whether it's getting into radio or just doing what they want with their lives?
I think a lot of it is about just getting on with the job, trusting your instincts but being astute enough to keep your head down and not annoying people along the way. The quiet efficient ones will always win through in the end.
You’ve been a judge on several panels including Mobileact Unsigned, what tips can you give bands and musicians?
Believe in yourself but also be realistic – there are an incredible number of bands and artists out there who are dreaming of success like you. You have to be the ones with the best songs and the best voice. Believe me – if you don’t have the songs then you’re going nowhere.
You absolutely have to work on it all to the nth degree to make sure it’s you who people want to listen to over and over again. And never try and emulate your musical heroes – learn from them then go on to be a true original.
What has been your best gig of all time?
As if I could confine it to one gig! NME tour 2006 –Brixton Academy - Arctic Monkeys/We Are Scientists/Maximo Park – a perfect moment in time.
Green Day – Milton Keynes Bowl – true showmanship – they’d nicked every idea from every live show ever but brought it all together beautifully with a vast catalogue of incredible songs.