DJ and broadcaster: Trevor Nelson

DJ and broadcaster: Trevor Nelson

Award winning DJ and renowned broadcaster, Trevor Nelson, is releasing his new compilation album ‘The Trevor Nelson Collection 2’.

The fantastic triple disc album features some of the biggest R&B hits ever, bringing together artists such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Destiny’s Child and Drake.

We got the chance to chat to everyone’s favourite DJ about his biggest career achievements, most memorable interviews and his second compilation album.


How did your career begin and was it something you always wanted to do?

It began on pirate radio many years ago, well my first gig was at a school, I did a school disco. That's the first time I ever DJ'd. It was a hobby to be honest, I never really thought I would have a career doing this, it was always a hobby - always something I did in my spare time. I used to promote parties very early just because there was nowhere I could go to where I liked the music so I decided to put on my own parties, the first party I did 30 people were there. Then I got on to a pirate station KISS FM which became legal and from then it just sort of snowballed, along the way you meet a lot of people obviously the DJ's when I was younger were Judge Jules, Gilles Peterson, Pete Tong and people like that. I was one of the young ones and I was out there just loving it really and I got a job in the music industry as well I actually delivered records back in the day, records and CDs to record shops so I was DJ'ing at the same time as doing that so music sort of got 360 for me. Then I went to KISS FM to Radio 1 and the rest is sort of history after that, I went from local to national quite a few years ago now and I've been on Radio 1 and 1Xtra since.

When you were growing up was there a musical icon who you really admired?

There were loads of artists. Most of the music I loved was American although there was a British scene, it was very early I like Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Bob Marley all of those acts that everyone else liked. On the UK side there was a real British scene groups like Hi Tension, the Brit Funk theme they called it then and then we started making Acid Jazz. Ultimately Soul to Soul, so those were the artists that did it for me those days, I mean obviously Michael Jackson everybody loved Michael Jackson.

What was the first record or album that you bought?

The first album I bought was Earth Wind & Fires Greatest Hits, they were the biggest group, I was about 14 I had a little bit of pocket money and went and bought that and that was the first album I bought and the first album I had bought for me was the Jackson 5's Greatest Hits.

You are a renowned broadcaster and pioneer in the UK urban scene, did you ever think you would be this popular?

Not at all, you know I didn’t think I would have an album that was going to do what the last album did that's for sure. That's just people buying because I suppose they have listened to you for years or come to clubs you’ve done. I never set out to do that, I think nowadays people set out to be something don't they a lot more and they know what's out there but for me it was as I went along. I didn’t plan being on radio this long, it just came to me and I just dealt with it week by week and tried to do this best I could and I’m still around – it’s amazing! I am having the best time right now, I really enjoy broadcasting.

What tips would you give to anyone wanting to start a career in radio?

The beautiful thing about radio is, no matter what reason you get into it, you can go to another place. Broadcasting has given me the opportunity to do lots of different work. A lot of things I never thought I’d do, I’ve done and a lot of people I never thought I would meet, I’ve met because I’m a broadcaster. I’ve met Muhammad Ali and many absolute heroes of mine. I think broadcasting is quite competitive now, I think a lot of people thought radio wouldn’t be as important as it is today but it’s still as important as ever. So I would say be yourself, if being yourself is not good enough or doesn’t really sit well then it’s not for you but I find it easier to be myself. I don’t put on a different voice or persona, I find it quite difficult to do and I’m too lazy to act like somebody else put it that way. If it’s music that you’re going to do then you have got to show a lot of passion or if not passion then knowledge, nobody wants to listen to someone who doesn’t sound interested in what they’re doing or what they’re playing. Too many people want to do this now so it’s about passion and coming across quite naturally is a nice thing.

During your career, you have interviewed some of the biggest artists ever, including Beyonce and Alicia Keys - What would you say has been your most memorable or interesting interview?

This is difficult. I do get asked that a lot and I have a lot of memorable interviews. When Kanye West snatched an award or something on stage the first time and said he should have won the video awards, I was the first person who interviewed him straight after that and that was memorable for all the wrong reasons but in a sense because it was odd. An interview I did with Jay- Z when he released The Black Album and we had a big sit down it was a big MTV interview, it was an hour long and we spoke about it being his last ever album and this was 10 years ago. He vowed it was going to be his last ever album and I was sat there thinking ‘this guy can’t retire now’ and it wasn’t his last album but we went onto the video set of Change Clothes which was going to be one of his ‘last videos’ so we were all in that one together so in a sense that is quite a memorable one. We were sitting with a guy really seriously talking about retiring and within a year he had another record out.

Alongside 4 MOBO awards for best DJ and an MBE in 2010, you were awarded with a special GOLD lifetime achievement award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards and nominated as Hackney Ambassador how did this make you feel?

Well you’re not in it for awards really are you? I do a show and then that’s it, it’s all about the next one. Personally getting the MOBO awards were quite embarrassing because I don’t think DJ’s should really get awards because I think it’s more about the artist, but I still took them obviously. The one that really means the most to me is the Sony one, I have never won a Sony GOLD before and I had never been to a Sony Award ceremony before and the first year I went I walked away with a silver and a gold. The gold was for my work, it’s like being recognised isn’t it, it’s like someone noticed I was there and at the time I was doing Radio 1, 1Xtra and Radio 2 so I was the only DJ on all three channels and I was humbled to be honest, it’s the one that means to most to me to be honest with you because finally you feel like ‘I’m a professional broadcaster’. It’s funny because everyone else thinks you’re good but you don’t think that until your peers say that. 

Let’s talk about your new compilation album - it includes a number of tracks by some of the most iconic R&B artists ever such as Mary J Blige and newer artists like Drake what was the reason for putting a selection of old and new artists together?

Well every time I DJ I play old school as well as new stuff and they live happily together in the nightclub if you do it right. I wouldn’t want to be out at a club and I’m sure other people wouldn’t want to go out and just hear new music all night. They want to hear some memories, they want to hear something that they just started listening to and it’s just that mixture of music that makes the total night and I think that’s why this CD has worked. I think people who like or know the newer stuff are intrigued by the older stuff and I can’t believe you can like old stuff and not like any new stuff or like new stuff and not like any old stuff, I don’t believe that. If you don’t like the history of R&B you can’t say you’re an R&B fan, this history is just too big. There are some tunes on there that are proper classics and they bring back memories, you know exactly what you were doing, exactly what you were wearing the first time you heard it. It’s like Craig David’s ‘Fill Me In’, I put that on the first album and when you hear that tune it brings back a year almost, you know exactly when you heard that and that’s what I tried to do. A mixture of memories, a mixture of ‘I don’t know that’ and then new stuff that really meant something to me. I thought Drake’s ‘Hold On’ tune this year was the best R&B tune. I’m trying to be real and put nice fillers on there, everything means something and everything is a memory to me or I’ve played every single song on one of my shows or in a club.

The first edition of The Trevor Nelson Collection went platinum and was number 1 for 6 weeks, how would you say the second album compares, do you think it will be as successful?

The trend is that it doesn’t normally do as well as the first one because people assume they’ve got your collection after buying the first one but I’m trying the butt the trend and I’m not saying it will do as well because I can’t go against the grain but I would say it is every bit as good of an album as the first one, there’s no doubt in my mind. In my head I’ve got three albums to do, at least, of the same standard of the collection. I’ve got three in my head and the fact the first one did so well has given me the opportunity to do the second one. You can’t control the market, you can just put it out there and be consistent. I think anyone who has got the first will be interested in this album. They are the sort of tracks you can play at a party or you play getting ready to go out or you don’t even have to go out. It’s a lifestyle, R&B, I’ve always said that to people. Unlike dance music where if you’re not at a club, you can’t truly appreciate the music. If you love dance music and you never go clubbing it feels a bit weird whereas you never have to go to a club to love R&B, you never have to do anything, it just lives with you.


The Trevor Nelson Collection 2 is out January 13th  on Sony Music - be sure to get yourself a copy!


You can find Trevor Nelson on:

1Xtra Monday – Friday 10am -1pm,

Radio 1 Every Saturday 7pm - 9pm

Radio 2 Every Wednesday 11pm - midnight


By Natasha Akpan -

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