Changes: Trevor Nelson
The audio version of this episode is available here.
Annie [00:00:03] Hello. I am Annie Macmanus, welcome to Changes. This week, my guest is DJ and broadcasting legend Trevor Nelson. Currently heard on BBC Radio 1Xtra and Radio 2, Trevor has had a phenomenally successful career broadcasting for 35 years, starting on KISS when it was a pirate station in the eighties where he stayed for ten years, before joining Radio 1 in 1996, hosting the first ever national R&B show. It's testament to Trevor that he's still broadcasting now. His career has been so long and so consistent. He is such a solid and talented broadcaster, so warm on air, such a brilliant interviewer, and just so passionate about what he does. He really is like the definition of kind of a figurehead when it comes to R&B and black music on the radio. In the late nineties, he presented The Lick on MTV and won a MOBO Award for Best DJ, which he has won twice. He's interviewed pretty much all the greats: Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, Kanye, P Diddy, Muhammad Ali, it's quite *laughs* it's quite mad when you see all those people listed together and it gives you a really good, I guess, measure of how long he's been around and how long he's been at the top of his game. Well, Trevor Nelson started his life in Hackney in East London. Born to immigrant parents, they came over from St Lucia and he has spent his career really being in the minority and paving the way for others. Trevor is someone who's always been such a solid and warm and generous presence in my career at Radio 1. Whenever you see him, you know you're always going to be guaranteed a great chat, a big hug, like a genuine interaction. I've always hugely admired him and part of me feels like that Trevor, because he's been around for so long, and because he's such a low key guy in real life, there's an element of people just kind of taking him for granted. He's just always that kind of safe voice on the radio. I thought it would be nice to take a moment on Changes to really hold a magnifying glass up to him and learn about the man behind the voice that we hear week in, week out on our radios. Please welcome to Changes, Trevor Nelson... So I would like to start this if it's okay with you, by you confirming if this is true, that your favourite first line of a song ever is Sam Cooke.
Trevor [00:02:41] Yes.
Annie [00:02:42] 'Change Is Gonna Come'.
Trevor [00:02:43] Yes.
Annie [00:02:43] What's the line?
Trevor [00:02:44] 'I was born by the river in a little tent. And ooo, just like the river I've been running, ever since. It's been a long time coming but I know a change is gonna come'.
Annie [00:02:54] Why? Why is that so meaningful to you?
Trevor [00:02:58] *Blows lips* on so many levels. I mean, I first heard that as a child. I mean, it's like the 400 years is in that line, d'you know what I mean? It's almost like he's picking cotton, when he wrote that song. You know, Sam Cooke was one of the first- I mean, he owned everything he did. He was a very bright guy. He was one of the first sort of musician, businessman, black musician businessman types. And even he still felt it. You know, he was seen as completely acceptable, pretty, pretty man, star, biggest soul singer of his generation. But yet that song when he sings it, it's as if he hasn't got a penny to his name. And I'm not, I'm never one to... I mean you've known me a long time, you've never heard me wave that flag 'ahhh it's really hard for us'.
Annie [00:03:49] Never.
Trevor [00:03:49] I've never been that guy and I'm not that guy but music has a way of reminding you. It just hit me like a mallet on the head and it just, and I've carried that song with me mentally all my life. All my life, you know, like, I feel music isolates you- if you become successful in this business it's a very lonely place.
Annie [00:04:08] Why?
Trevor [00:04:09] Because. Well, you know *laughs*, because you have your thoughts. Only you think the way you think. You can have people who share a lot of common beliefs and stuff like that. When it comes to doing a show, what you're going to say, what's going on in your head when you're about to do an interview. Only you can know that.
Annie [00:04:24] Only you can know that, yeah.
Trevor [00:04:26] Only you can know that so-.
Annie [00:04:26] And it's all on you.
Trevor [00:04:26] Yeah it's all on you.
Annie [00:04:28] No matter how good your team are.
Trevor [00:04:28] It's all on you no matter what. Your name's above the door so, I feel it's a very lonely job being a broadcaster. Especially someone who represents a style of music. You know what I mean? And it cuts through that you're going to be lonely.
Annie [00:04:42] It's really interesting you say that. I find that as a DJ, I find DJ'ing quite lonely. I'm always jealous of DJ duos. I feel like it's exacerbated by being in front of a big crowd because it's just you and your internal dialogue. It's just you hanging out with yourself in a DJ booth.
Trevor [00:04:55] 100%. I've got so many thought processes right, that erm- being this extrovert person because of the job you do, but actually being incredibly introverted.
Annie [00:05:06] But I hink a lot of DJ's are shy.
Trevor [00:05:07] I think a lot of DJs are shy. I think as a DJ we're like a one person band, you know what I mean? We're like drums, percussion, you know, keyboards, lead singer, all rolled into one. And it's the same with broadcasting. It's an amazing job but it is, I think for me, loving music has always been very much about just me and the music, and I can't really involve too many other people in it apart from the listeners.
Annie [00:05:32] Do you feel like sometimes as a broadcaster you have to play a role- you have to put on a certain-
Trevor [00:05:39] Persona?
Annie [00:05:39] Yeah.
Trevor [00:05:39] No.
Annie [00:05:40] Because a lot of DJ's do have that. It's kind of like, they just turn into someone else in front of the mic.
Trevor [00:05:45] No, no. The only thing I do is when the mic goes up and it goes red, it's like I'm talking in front of my parents so I don't swear. That's the only thing I do. And I do come a bit alive. You know, the amount of times you go into a studio and you're absolutely knackered, you are shattered. You've been- you just got off a plane, you've been gigging somewhere or you've just had a row with your partner or whatever's gone on that's emotionally drained you, when that mic goes up *clicks*. So I do turn into something, I do flick a switch, but it's still me. It must be exhausting having a persona.
Annie [00:06:18] I've always thought that too.
Trevor [00:06:20] Exhausting having to put your Superman outfit on. And go, right I'm going to talk this way! I'm gonna- nooo. I just I'm so glad that everybody when they bump into me goes, you sound like you're on the radio. It's like, thank God. Thank God you said that.
Annie [00:06:32] I totally get the lonely thing and it's interesting, just like doing research on you, which was an absolute joy because I just listened to the Lauryn Hill Divas episode on the way here. And just listening to what you do, going back over old interviews, looking interviews, and also just like reminding myself about, you know, you in your career as a broadcaster, you are so universally liked. And I wasn't looking for it, but there was no- no one has a bad word to say about you. Why do you think that is?
Trevor [00:06:58] I work really hard at that.
Annie [00:07:00] Do you?
Trevor [00:07:00] I'm not going to lie. I think that I've avoided being a boss, that's one thing. If you run any form of a company, you're going to get people- you're going to have to fire some people. And so some people are going to say things, you know, about you. I avoid confrontation. I used to get it in my personal life, so I don't need it at work *laughs* you know? Soo, work was my escape. I'm not Will Smith *Annie laughs* who got found out, right? Who got found out.
Annie [00:07:26] How do you mean? Find out for putting on a front of falseness.
Trevor [00:07:30] Well, he slapped Chris Rock.
Annie [00:07:32] So there was a lot of repressed rage.
Trevor [00:07:32] Yes, yes, I think so. He's a very giving interviewer. My method has been to empty my head. A lot of people- if you talk to a hundred people who work with me, they'll probably say whatever, whatever. And then they'lI say, ooh he shares.
Annie [00:07:44] He shares?
Trevor [00:07:46] I'll come in and I'll say what's on my mind.
Annie [00:07:48] Right. Love that.
Trevor [00:07:49] I will say things I probably shouldn't say to people I barely know. I have a theory, if you empty your head, you can move on. And sometimes it might mean sharing, oversharing sometimes.
Annie [00:08:00] Babe, you spill the tea. You're very fun. When Trevor comes in your studio for a chat, the first thing that happens is you need to be prepared for a proper chat.
Trevor [00:08:07] Real Talk Nelson they used to call me.
Annie [00:08:09] This is not just a hug and leave.
Trevor [00:08:09] And it's not to be liked, honestly. It's not to be liked. It's just a childish sort of thing. You know, we've worked with a lot of interns over the years. And what people need to understand is that in radio and television, you will invariably- if you do a show that's regular, you'll invariably see some young person in the corner of the room who's never been- who looks a bit shy and is a bit nervous, and you walk up to them and go, 'hi, what you doing?'. And they say 'I'm just shadowing'. And I will always have a conversation with these people. Sometimes, one in ten, that person ends up being a boss of yours one day, you know? You know what I mean? Or working in a very responsible place. And they always come up to you and you don't remember them. But they always say things like-
Annie [00:08:54] You were kind to me. You spoke to me.
Trevor [00:08:54] You said something to me. I just like that, I don't know. It's not put on Annie. It's not put on. I genuinely just like chatting to people. I asked my older sister the other day, I said, what was I like as a kid? Because, you know, you always think you know what you are. My sister said, you were a geek. You were just a geek. And I said, what d'you mean?
Annie [00:09:13] All DJs were geeks, right?
Trevor [00:09:14] In your room.
Trevor [00:09:15] Yeah.
Trevor [00:09:15] Unsociable.
Annie [00:09:17] Yeah.
Trevor [00:09:18] Going round second-hand record shops all day. Happy in your own company. And I'm like... yep. *Both laugh*.
Annie [00:09:23] Still that geek deep down.
Trevor [00:09:24] I suppose so, yeah. You know, like, I didn't even notice women.
Annie [00:09:31] Yeah. I heard a rumour that the reason why you became a DJ as a teenager is so that you just wouldn't have to do the whole asking women to dance at the school disco thing.
Trevor [00:09:38] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Annie [00:09:39] Yeah?
Trevor [00:09:40] Yeah, I went to an all boys school. Very repressed. Didn't know how to socialise, didn't know how to talk to girls ever. We didn't know. It was a boys school.
[00:09:47] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:09:56] Let's get into you as a kid then, so we know what your sister said. What was home life like growing up. Paint us a picture of where you grew up - in Hackney, right?
Trevor [00:10:04] I grew up in Stoke Newington before it was trendy *laughs*. I grew up on a road called Princess May Road road and my mum was like a childminder, so she was always at home which I didn't like. Clearly, because she knew exactly what time I should be home for school. The primary school I went to was opposite my house.
Annie [00:10:21] Okay.
Trevor [00:10:22] So my mum would sit at the window and look at the kids in the playground. She had a habit of doing that. There's not even no jumping over the fence and *laughs* having a little snog behind the bins. There's none of that for me. My dad came over as a, you know, immigrant bus conductor.
Annie [00:10:38] They're from St Lucia, both of them right?
Trevor [00:10:39] Yeah. Way more intelligent than that. But the job he got was the bus conductor. You know, it's a standard thing with a lot of West Indian parents. And so they had a really basic jobs.
Annie [00:10:50] And did they meet in St Lucia?
Trevor [00:10:51] They met in St Lucia. It was a classic example of my mum and dad were both brought up not by their parents. Which is a key thing.
Annie [00:10:58] By grandparents or-
Trevor [00:11:00] Aunties, uncles, relatives. In those sort of countries, you go where the work is. So if someone's got a job opportunity across the island and they're a mother, they'll just go well, you look after my daughter I'm off work. It was a bit like that. It was all very practical. It was like I grew up in a household where the word love wasn't used. There wasn't the word hate used. There wasn't hate in my house but the word, you know, there was no romanticising. It's all about, you got to work hard, you got to save, you got to do this, you got- it was like, I'm born to do a job. Is this life?! You know, because my mum was really nerv- and she still is a very nervous person. Be careful. Be careful, Be careful.
Annie [00:11:41] And do you think that's because of personal experience that she's lived through?
Trevor [00:11:43] Yeah. I think that now as I'm older, I realise they were protecting us from the mini horrors they went through.
Annie [00:11:49] And I think of her looking out the window at the playground. Like, if I was a mother now I'd want to do that. But I understand, like from her perspective, you know. She's bringing kids up in a country that she's not lived in very long.
Trevor [00:12:01] Yeah. And I think that they had definitely they had- obviously they had a tough time. And they didn't want to tell us. And instead of saying this sort of stuff they would say, be careful. My dad was more, you know, work really hard, you know, save.
Annie [00:12:16] Practical.
Trevor [00:12:19] Yeah, he was really practical. So you've got a paranoia from the mum.
Annie [00:12:21] Sure.
Trevor [00:12:21] You've got a, this is what you need to do to survive from the dad. Work ethic, which definitely he instilled in me. I'm more foucsed on my mum though, in a sense of her fear all the time.
Annie [00:12:33] Yeah, you felt it.
Trevor [00:12:34] She still says it now. She still talks to me like I'm ten. 'Be careful'. 'Are you sure?'. 'Do you trust that person?'. All this sort of stuff and it's like, Mum, enjoy life. What's left of it.
Annie [00:12:44] D'you think you inherited a bit of that from her subconsciously?
Trevor [00:12:48] I don't think I give that out. I think I'm definitely more my Dad, 100%. You know, stuff my Dad has embedded in me. But a bit of both. But I just look back and I think, we could have had more fun, but I get-.
Annie [00:13:02] And who is we? Who did you live with?
Trevor [00:13:05] Three sisters. One older, two younger. So my older sister Ophelia. She was not like me. She was like, on her birthday she's like 'I want this. I want that!'. My birthday's just after Christmas. I was like, I know I'm not going to get anything because you're skint. I was always like, I'm not going to ask them. That was me. I'm not gonna ask. My sister was like, out raving at 15. I was like, what you doing? I was more a good boy, but I was more biding my time. I was like, well when I'm 16 I can say this to my mum and dad and they can't say anything because legally I can say this. And when I'm 18 I can legally do this. Yeah, I was like that. What was respected in my house and I think with a lot of West Indian families was you bringing income in. Because I was born in an era when you get a trade. You know, there's no way I could say I like- I want to be a DJ. No chance. That was not a job. And so I knew if I brought some money home and said 'Mum, here, this is my rent. I'm an adult'. And that's all I wanted. People say, were you ambitious --- Radio 1 and MTV. I said no, my ambition was number one to be independent, number two to have a house, number three, possibly get a wife, number four have a car and number five go on holiday once a year please.
Annie [00:14:17] Yeah.
Trevor [00:14:18] That was my ambition in life.
Annie [00:14:20] Yeah, so it's like you wanted to be a grown up?
Trevor [00:14:22] I wanted to be normal.
Annie [00:14:23] That you were kind of aspiring to be normal, yeah.
Trevor [00:14:23] I wanted to be normal, like my white mates at school.
Annie [00:14:28] Tell us about that because you've cited that as a biggest change of your childhood, going to grammar school.
Trevor [00:14:31] Yeah, Massive.
Annie [00:14:32] Why was it so massive?
Trevor [00:14:34] It was massive. Massive.
Annie [00:14:35] Secondary school?
Trevor [00:14:35] So at the time I hated the idea of it. I look back now and if I didn't have that, I don't think you'd know me.
Annie [00:14:44] Wow.
Trevor [00:14:44] I seriously mean that. I went to that primary school, Princess May Road. I still get emotional when I drive past it, and we used to have a thing called the 11+ exam back in the day. Little bit before your time, I think.
Annie [00:14:55] Yeah.
Trevor [00:14:56] There were three kids that got, you know, top grades in school and I was one of them. I just remember gun. I just remember going, awh I wanted go to Hackney Downs or Upton Park. They're the local schools that all my mates were going to go to and that's what I wanted to go to. Or Brook House, they're the three schools. And all of a sudden the headmistress got onto my parents and said, I think we should try and get Trevor into the grammar school up the road, I was like eughh! Gramble Grammar School. So the three of us boys that got those grades all went.
Annie [00:15:25] Right.
Trevor [00:15:26] And we had to do interviews. This is a school where one in three would get in. And I remember going into the school and being interviewed by the headmaster.
Annie [00:15:36] Right.
Trevor [00:15:37] This is 1975.
Annie [00:15:38] How did that feel?
Trevor [00:15:40] Bizarre. I had to read some text and then he asked me questions on it. Then he asked me, do you know who John Stonehouse is? And I said, yeah, he's an MP who's run off with his secretary.
Annie [00:15:51] You were 11?
Trevor [00:15:52] Yeah, it was ten.
Trevor [00:15:52] Yeah, I was 10, 11. Because I read the newspapers. I love reading the papers. And then he asked me who won the Grand National this year? I said, Red Rum *Annie laughs*. Seriously. And a couple weeks later I got a note to say I got in.
Annie [00:16:03] Wow.
Trevor [00:16:03] That was I suppose, my first achievement. Because the other two didn't. My two mates didn't get in. But I was the only one from my school taking this bus journey which felt like five miles away. It's only two miles up the road, but it felt like miles away whereas all my mates were walkign to school. I just felt- that was a separation for me. That was me, walking with a little briefcase and a strange uniform that no one in my area was wearing. You know what I mean. And me getting on a bus and going to a school where- I went from a class that was very multiracial to a class where there were three black kids out of 30 in a class. So that was very different for me. But the kids. The kids were most interesting to me.
Annie [00:16:46] Why?
Trevor [00:16:47] Because all of a sudden I'm sitting there, and I started loving music, and I had a mate called Fergus who- he loved The Buzzcocks. He loved Generation X. He loved The Stranglers. And I liked Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Earth Wind and Fire, and we'd swap albums. And then I saw a brown bread and cheese and pickle sandwich for the first time, because we didn't eat brown bread in my house, it was white bread. You know, little things like that.
Annie [00:17:15] Yeah, yeah.
Trevor [00:17:17] What was that- what you eating that? Honestly, you look amazed, look at you *laughs*.
Annie [00:17:20] No, no, no. I get it, yeah.
Trevor [00:17:21] For me, it was seismic. Just basic different cultural things that were different.
Annie [00:17:26] Yeah, and different class.
Trevor [00:17:27] Yes. I had mates that were very different to my mates in Hackney. You know, that school was basically my life, the beginning of my life. And then at 15 I got a job as well, part time job that again, helped me in broadcasting in a way that no one would understand.
Annie [00:17:43] Why?
Trevor [00:17:44] I was in a greengrocers. So, I had to open this greengrocers- when I was 15 I got this job. I couldn't wait to get-
Annie [00:17:53] That's alot of trust.
Trevor [00:17:53] Yeah, he let me open his store. Mr. Morris was asleep. I'd open his store, skateboard down there in the morning. Open at 8:00 in the morning on Saturday till 1. Go and get his bagels in a very Hasidic Jewish area in Stamford Hill. Be this little black kid standing there with, you know, Hasidic Jewish people buying at the bakery- and you know, just having the gumpsht to stand there and say, yeah, can I get two bagels, please? Can I get that, can I get that. And then coming back and then serving the customers who were mainly women of all shapes, sizes, age groups, denominations, races. The Irish lady who always wanted £50 of King Edward's.
Annie [00:18:33] So standard. Always want the spuds.
Trevor [00:18:38] Get em up the block of flats. I'd deliver them as well.
Annie [00:18:39] Wow.
Trevor [00:18:39] Then the Jewish lady whose son was a doctor who lived in Springfield who liked her grapes and her William pears and her connies pears or whatever. You know, it was like a 15 year old talking to adults constantly and having to get on with all of them.
Annie [00:18:54] Right.
Trevor [00:18:55] You know, it was really quite- for me, iI liked the job.
Annie [00:18:57] Hugely empowering for a 15 year old.
Trevor [00:18:59] I liked the job. I liked the job. And it got me talking to people and it got me out of my comfort zone very early in my life. And I look back now and I say, gosh, if it wasn't for that job. Because I was a shy boy. I wouldn't have had the confidence, you know? Now I talk to those people on Radio 2.
Annie [00:19:16] Ohh okay, of course.
Trevor [00:19:17] You think about it. You think about it.
Annie [00:19:20] Of course.
Trevor [00:19:21] Little did I know. Every little thing, every little step of my life, I think attributed to me being able to handle what was to come years later, you know, being a minority in a room didn't bother me at all because I went to that school. It did not bother me. It didn't faze me. It didn't bother me.
Annie [00:19:38] That's like my abiding question from all of this is like, you see you in every context of your career, professional career, and you are more often than not, the only black person in the room, on the schedule, on the line up a lot of the time.
Trevor [00:19:52] Yeah.
Annie [00:19:53] And it's remarkable that hasn't manifested in some way in terms of like a feeling of, I don't know. I mean, you would have to tell me what the feeling would be. I don't want to put that on you, but like.
Trevor [00:20:03] No I think you're getting there.
Annie [00:20:04] Marginalised. Feeling othered. Just a feeling-
Trevor [00:20:06] Yeah say it *laughs* because I've never said it.
Annie [00:20:07] Just feelling othered. Just being that- standing out all the time must be fucking exhausting.
Trevor [00:20:15] But also challenging and I'm ready for it every time, you know, I was built for it. Craig David had the most cheesy title on his album, Born To Do It, but I genuinely feel like that. You know, he was 18 when he did that album. That album was phenomenal for him. That was ridiculous for an 18 year old right. He could have felt born to do it. I say to myself rather than to people that I think, I think I was born to do this you know.
Annie [00:20:39] Yeah it's your destiny.
Trevor [00:20:40] That's how I feel. That's how I feel.
Annie [00:20:41] Was there ever a point when you realised it? You know, because obviously now you know, you have the benefit of hindsight and your success and you know, you can see how you've done it but at the time when you were coming up, you know, when you're doing soundsystems when you were in KISS, was there a point when you were like, I know that I can do this and I can do this well?
Trevor [00:20:59] Yeah.
Annie [00:20:59] Tell me.
Trevor [00:21:00] Radio 1.
Annie [00:21:01] Right, so 1996 joined Radio 1. And why? Tell me everything. How did it feel then. You've come from Pirate.
Trevor [00:21:07] Yeah.
Annie [00:21:07] You're in the national station. It's a whole different ballgame.
Trevor [00:21:10] It was not- I mean we all have different journeys to Radio 1, you know that, right. Mine was- I grew up with Radio 1. It was a beast. Whether you liked the music they played back in the day or not, it was it, you know, that was all. These DJs were household names. I mean, they were on Top of the Pops. They were on- whatever you thought of them, everybody knew them.
Annie [00:21:34] It had the monopoly.
Trevor [00:21:35] It was ridiculous. It was ridiculous. Not that I ever said I want to be on Radio 1. I never did. I never thought I could ever do Radio 1. I never thought it was even possible.
Annie [00:21:43] Did you have a plan, like were you ambitious?
Trevor [00:21:46] 100%.
Annie [00:21:46] Yeah, that doesn't surprise me at all.
Trevor [00:21:47] 100%. After KISS got a licence, which was the first time my old man, I think, actually toasted me to do with music, because I had to hide my obsession with records from my parents. They just thought what are you doing? I would understand. I mean, I spent every penny. I spent school dinner, I walked to school, spent bus fare. I was a complete bore record geek. The worst kind. *Laughs* even when I was on the dole for a few months, I spent the dole money buying second-hand records and selling them. So I sort of thought Kiss was fun. It was an adventure. I never thought, you know, beyond it I just thought how long can we do this for? Maybe I'll end up being back in a shoe shop, you know, become area manager in retail or something. The world didn't really allow us to dream massively. You know what I mean, to be fair, so why dream? Why dream big? But when pluggers came to me and said, you should go for that Radio 1 show, that's when I thought, hang on, pluggers are asking me?
Annie [00:22:49] So pluggers are people who are music PRs. They push the music onto the radio.
Trevor [00:22:52] Yeah, so I was playing a lot of stuff on KISS and they thought I should be on Radio 1.
Annie [00:22:57] In terms of what you were playing and what you were representing.
Trevor [00:23:00] Yeah, and how I was doing it. You know, like you find somebody who's on a smaller station and everyone's pointing at them, they should be doing- they're better than that guy or soemthing like that. It was quite nice and it gave me confidence to go for it. And also, Pete Tong gave me confidence to go for it. I didn't have a relationship with Pete or anything like that, but he knew me. I knew him. I knew of him, obviously. And I was at an awards show once and I remember he trotted past me and he went, 'you'll be on Radio 1 soon'. And he said that, you know, in only Pete's way *Annie laughs*. He's a man of few words, and he says everything-
Annie [00:23:31] Everything sounds so profound.
Trevor [00:23:31] In that voice over way *deep voice* 'you'll be on Radio 1 soon' *Annie laughs*. And it was ringing in my ears and little did I know, Pete was very influential at Radio 1 so I bet he put a word in for me, probably. But, you know, I submitted my demo and when I got the show, immediately for the first time Annie, everything clicked in my head, this is what I want to do and this is how I want to do it. And I did interviews and I stated- and that's not something I'd ever do, I said what needed to be done. And I said what I want to do. And I said, if I can turn an indie person into buying an R&B record, my job is done because indie music was absolutely huge.
Annie [00:24:08] What was your- what was your role there. When you came on, what did they want you to do?
Trevor [00:24:13] They wanted me to push the term R&B massively.
Annie [00:24:17] Right, and how did you feel about that?
Trevor [00:24:18] I felt fine because in America they used the term non-stop. We never used it over here. I had a show, I called it The Street Soul Chart. We were trying to- all these different names. R&B was rhythm and blues, it was old school. It's an old school term. But in the Billboard charts, they always had an R&B chart, I noticed. And erm, boom went R&B, and I got some hate from people. 'That's not R&B!. That's not rhythm and blues'. You did get a couple of letters at Radio 1. I remember my producer saying, 'that's alright, that's what we want'. Because I played the Fugees and I played Killing Me Softly. And they were like complaining, 'what is that!' and you know, that's a cover and it's this and that, you know, just the old school. It was a big turning point. The mid-nineties was massive and I just knew where I could take it. But I always think when you do Radio 1, you're gonna get five years. I always put that five year thing. If you get five years, you've done well. You've got a career. I didn't think about what happens afterwards. So I always had this, every show is like my last show.
Annie [00:25:17] Wow.
Trevor [00:25:17] I don't treat it like I'm saying goodbye, but I try not to do bad shows.
[00:25:22] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:25:32] So you've been on Radio 1 for 20- ahh sorry, at the BBC, so 1996, for 26 years. And then KISS, how long were you at KISS?
Trevor [00:25:41] Ten in total. Five pirate, of which three we were on air. Two we were off, trying to get licence and five legal.
Annie [00:25:48] Right, so eight years broadcasting?
Trevor [00:25:51] Yeah.
Annie [00:25:51] 35 years you've been broadcasting on the radio.
Annie [00:25:53] That's a long time.
Trevor [00:25:54] You've interviewed everyone from Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, J.Lo, Muhammad Ali, Janet Jackson. Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Madonna. The list goes on and on. What's the biggest lesson you've learned as an interviewer?
Trevor [00:26:10] You do have to sometimes try and put yourself in their shoes, and I do because of my record company background. I know what it's like looking after artists. To get a good interview out of somebody, in my head when I do an interview I have about three points in my head. The rest is just conversation. I've got to listen to what you're saying.
Annie [00:26:28] *Whispers* that's so key isn't it.
Trevor [00:26:28] I've gotta listen to what you're saying and come back to you.
Annie [00:26:31] And it sounds obvious.
Trevor [00:26:34] It's not, people make this mistake all the time.
Annie [00:26:35] Because you can be so focused on the next question that you forget to listen to what they're-
Trevor [00:26:38] So how am I going to get those three things out? So I might start with one and then you might go off on a tangent. And if I'm not engaged with what you're saying, I've lost you already.
Annie [00:26:46] You're not going to be able to steer it back.
Trevor [00:26:47] I've lost you already. You're not trusting me. You're thinking, hang on, this person has just gone to then, what's your favourite colour? *Annie laughs*. And then it's like- and then you did a movie recently and then bam, the bit, the clickbait one.
Annie [00:26:58] Yeah, yeah.
Trevor [00:27:03] They're on guard. Nowadays they're totally on guard. Whereas before you used to get these incredible interviews, sometimes honest, sometimes fraudulent, you know, especially with rappers. Rappers of the worst. I loved interviewing R&B singers far more than rappers. Apart from a few. Jay-Z is a great interview. He's just a great interview. Kanye was- Kanye was unusual *laughs* but he was never boring. Never dull. But you get with singers, female artists particularly, I always found a certain either extreme vulnerability or extreme confidence. Very rarely in between.
Annie [00:27:43] Or both sometimes, no?
Trevor [00:27:44] Occasionally, occasionally.
Annie [00:27:47] One hiding the other.
Trevor [00:27:47] Yeah, occasionally. But you can always- interviewing is a perverse thing for us. I could have dug them in a hole so many times and buried them if I really wanted to. If I was a tabloid journalist. But they always felt confident I would talk about the music. And that's why they kept coming back.
Annie [00:28:03] And then you end up getting all the other stuff anyway.
Trevor [00:28:05] You get a little bit of the other stuff.
Annie [00:28:06] By not looking for it directly.
Trevor [00:28:08] You take someone like Mary J. Blige, probably the most honest woman I've ever interviewed in my life.
Annie [00:28:12] It's one of my favourite interviews ever as well.
Trevor [00:28:14] She's just so brutally honest.
Annie [00:28:16] And she wears her pain right on the surface.
Trevor [00:28:19] It's- I can't not love her. Because the first time I interviewed her - horrible. I was at KISS. Horrible. Just a lost soul. Just somebody didn't want to be there. And I didn't like her. I loved her music. I just thought, I don't want to interview this person again. But the next time I interviewed her the change was happening. And then the next time. And then, you know, we became like short of exchanging numbers, which I'd try not to do with artists. It was like she was running around telling me, I've got a boyfriend. You know, 'Trev I've got a boyfriend!' like a little girl. Amazing and then she introduced me to him and I was so happy for her because Mary J. Blige is somebody who was famous for not being happy and making great music when she was unhappy. But I felt a bit weird about her telling me that.
Annie [00:29:12] But that's trust. You've earned that. You've earned that with her.
Trevor [00:29:15] It is trust but sometimes you've got to- I had Janet Jackson crying.
Annie [00:29:20] Oh, my God.
Trevor [00:29:21] In an interview once and I knew I could have dug deeper, but I just didn't. I didn't want to. She was literally crying, she just had a break up. Marital split or something and she wasn't in a great place. This is when she did The Velvet Rope, which was one of her best albums. And I just sat there and I just thought- and I kind of hit myself nowadays about that because I think she wanted me to probe and I didn't probe because I just wasn't on that. I just was about the music so much. But yeah, no, those interviews are amazing. I don't always look forward to interviews.
Annie [00:29:54] Oh babe, me neither.
Trevor [00:29:56] I really don't.
Annie [00:29:56] They hang over my head and I feel dread that I'm not going to do the right thing or ask the right question or-
Trevor [00:30:00] Exactly, people go 'oh, what great job you've got'.
Annie [00:30:03] Do you still have- I mean, this is something that I don't think I'll ever get over it. I just want them to like me *laughs*. This is the problem I have. I want them to walk away happy.
Trevor [00:30:13] Yeah and that's not the way. That's not the way you should enter an interview.
Annie [00:30:17] I know!
Trevor [00:30:17] But I'm the same. I'm the same. The problem with me is that I was sort of carrying a genre on my back at national level.
Annie [00:30:25] Yeah, that's a lot of respnsibility.
Trevor [00:30:26] I kind of envied you more though, because I figure you can be disliked a little bit by some people because you've got a conveyor belt of all sorts of artists coming through.
Annie [00:30:35] It's all genre's, yeah.
Trevor [00:30:36] Yes. There's no reason for you not to have a little- because there are times- there are a couple of people I really wanted to have a good dig at.
Annie [00:30:43] Right.
Trevor [00:30:44] You know, and I had to do it subtly. I had to do it subtly. Kanye being one, Diddy being another. You know, I asked Diddy about hypocrisy, about all this thanking God on the back of every album, and yet the stuff you say and you get up to- and his answer was always a classic. He always had an answer for everything. That's why I liked interviewing him, actually, because he's got an answer for everything. So he's like, I don't think I'm going to get to the pearly gates and God's standing there with a list saying you said 35 MFers' and you know whatever, I'm not gonna let you in *Annie laughs*. You know, he had an answer for everything. You know, but some people don't they just look at it as... what?
Annie [00:31:22] Yeah. They get defensive.
Trevor [00:31:23] But, you know, as you said those names, it's been great.
Annie [00:31:26] Do you ever stop learning? Like, I feel like as an interviewer you can never learning right?
Trevor [00:31:30] Never ever ever.
Annie [00:31:30] Can I ask you about like, so obviously you're on Radio 1. You are carrying, as you say, this kind of genre on your back. You are the spokesperson, not just audio, but visually because you're doing The Lick on MTV so you were huuuge.
Trevor [00:31:41] Yeah it was big.
Annie [00:31:42] What was your kind of peak point where- and did it ever feel like, whoa, I've really kind of reached a point here where I'm kind of out of control in terms of how famous I am.
Trevor [00:31:52] Yeah, well, I think the beauty about what I did, the fame was never 'you can't walk down the street' fame. It was music fame. It was music fame.
Annie [00:32:02] So you could still lead a normal life?
Trevor [00:32:02] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there was no social media. I'm blessed never to have been- I don't want to be Annie. I've never wanted to be household. I'm so happy with the level of fame I have. Every day someone stops me and talks to me about something. But I don't get this, 'I have to hide away'. It's perfect. Yet, I went to New York and I'm walking down the road on my own. Probably heading to a record shop as always. And I just hear 'Trevor!!!!' and I look behind me and there's a woman running. A young woman running with bags, shopping bags, flying. You know like Chloe, I mean, Versace, whatever she had. Just running down the street. And I'm like, is that Brandy? And it was Brandy right. And there's a huge security guy about- you know, those security guards who are about 30 stone.
Annie [00:32:52] Yeah, the size of a house!
Trevor [00:32:53] And he's trying to keep up with her. And she's running towards me and she catches up to me and she goes *American accent* 'oh my God, what are you doing here?' *Annie laughs*. And I said something like ahh I'm just doing some record company stuff and you know. And she's probably just come out of Saks or somewhere. And she's gone 'oh my God, I've got a show tonight. Can you come?' blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. She's having this long conversation with me by which time the security guy catches up to her. And I said, look, I've got something to do. I couldn't go. 'Anyway, if you want to go, just contact my bla bla. Gotta go!'. And then she goes off. And I just continue walking. And this guy walks up to me, this American couple and says 'excuse me bud, excuse me... who are you? Was that Brandy?'. And I just went, 'yeah'. He went 'who the fuck are you?' *both laugh loudly*. I went 'I'm nobody, man' and I just walked on. It was a lovely moment because that's what it is. It's like, who knows me? No one. Who cares.
[00:33:43] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:33:56] We've discussed these huge professional changes, big transitions in your life, but you cited a personal change as the biggest change in your adulthood.
Trevor [00:34:05] Yeah, I think we're talking about me getting married.
Annie [00:34:08] Yeah.
Trevor [00:34:08] Yeah, I dunno what I was doing *laughs*.
Annie [00:34:13] What age were ya?
Trevor [00:34:15] I think I was about 27. Which for a DJ is very young because we're- were bas- that's 17 *Annie laughs*. Trust me.
Annie [00:34:23] Why do you say that? Because DJs live in the world of youth basically.
Trevor [00:34:27] Yeah, live in a world of youth and live in a world of music and don't spend the money correctly. I just got married on a whim. My mum had left to retire in St Lucia quite young. She was only in her early forties and she went over to Lucia.
Annie [00:34:41] Wow.
Trevor [00:34:41] And I kind of needed her. I didn't realise how much I needed my mum. Because lots of things happened to me. I had a couple of kids.
Annie [00:34:50] How old were you? So you were in your late twenties, sorry. So you're still a kid.
Trevor [00:34:52] Yeah, I was in my mid twenties when I had my daughter, a bit later when I had my son and I just wasn't- It was the wrong thing to happen. It should never have happened. But we stuck it out for 15 long years.
Annie [00:35:03] Right.
Trevor [00:35:03] And the things that went on in my life, my social life at that time, you know, I've described to you what I was living like. And then all of a sudden I had this mad responsibility. Yet I was running around like a lunatic and then I just completely stopped. I just literally stopped DJing. Gave up.
Annie [00:35:25] When?
Trevor [00:35:27] In the middle of it all, KISS FM. I got taken off daytime. My head wasn't right. It wasn't great home at all. There were a lot of things. I'm not going to go into them personally, but there were a lot of things going on.
Annie [00:35:38] That affected your mental health and affected your ability.
Trevor [00:35:41] Oh I think personally- no one knows this and this is the thing about me internalising everything like I said to you, even from my sisters and everyone. I internalised everything and I had a really tough time. The term mental health, it wasn't mentioned in the nineties, anywhere near how it is now. But I look back and it's quite scary how I felt. You know driving a car and thinking pfft, you know, I could let go of this steering wheel right now and I wouldn't have any problems. You know, and it's- I don't even wanna talk about it actually.
Annie [00:36:12] That much pressure.
Trevor [00:36:12] Yeah, yeah.
Annie [00:36:13] And responsibility.
Trevor [00:36:14] It was tough. For me it was really, really hard.
Annie [00:36:16] Did you have anyone you could talk to?
Trevor [00:36:17] I think I did, but I didn't. I didn't allow it. I just- Mr. Independent, you know, and for the sake of my partner at the time who had so many secrets, it just made me worse. And it just wasn't good. If I give any advice to anybody, you've got to talk to people. Let people help you. Because I internalised everything. I basically gave up- by the age of 30 I wasn't DJing.
Annie [00:36:45] Wow. I didn't know that.
Trevor [00:36:45] I had no income coming in. I was literally broke and I was done. I was absolutely done. Even my sisters don't really know the extent of it. But I'm so proud, I wouldn't ask anyone. You find someone I've asked for a favour. You to do some research and say, 'can anyone tell me, have you ever done Trevor Nelson a proper favour?'.
Annie [00:37:08] No. No such thing.
Trevor [00:37:10] I borrowed him a fiver when he left his wallet home.
Annie [00:37:12] Yeah, so such thing.
Trevor [00:37:13] I just don't.
Annie [00:37:14] You don't ask.
Trevor [00:37:14] Yeah, and I think I should have. I should have because it was really tough.
Annie [00:37:20] So you're 30 and you've stopped DJing and then I'm just trying to get the-
Trevor [00:37:23] I got fired off KISS!
Annie [00:37:26] Oh! I didn't know that.
Trevor [00:37:26] I got fired of daytime. I was still doing one show at the weekend, but my boss fired me, Gordon, and he was really gutted. He just said your head's not in it mate. And I was doing a daytime show. And I was loving my daytime show.
Annie [00:37:40] And that must have been such a knock to you.
Trevor [00:37:41] Oh, this is- on this daytime show Annie, I was the first person playing Massive Attack.
Annie [00:37:48] Oh, wow.
Trevor [00:37:48] I remember playing the first Mary J. Blige song, You Remind Me from a soundtrack. And I love the fact that I was getting these tunes and hearing this sound for the first time. So losing that to me would have been like, unbelievable. But when he told me you're off, I didn't care. That's what happened to me in a short space of a couple of years. I just did not care. I was like, I don't care. I, you know, as long as I can just about eat, and then I got to the point where I just about couldn't. So then I had to care because I had literally nothing left.
Annie [00:38:21] And how did you get back on your feet?
Trevor [00:38:23] Well, I basically did something that- my son basically left the country and went to stay with my mum when he was 1. Can you imagine? Can you imagine how hard that was? So I basically turned around and I went- it was like exactly what my mum and dad went through. It was happening to me in a sense, splitting the family up and what is going on, you know. But I turned around and I went, right. I started working seven days a week. I just picked myself up, started three club nights. Told KISS, we need to do a different show. And they gave me a show, you know, because Gordon could see I was back a bit more. And I just got my head into it 100%, seven days a week. And then I got a job at EMI.
Annie [00:39:14] Ahh, so that's your record label.
Trevor [00:39:15] Cool Tempo, yeah.
Annie [00:39:16] Right, okay. And that's that's a regular job, it's a regular income so on a pragmatic sense, you're able to bring in money.
Trevor [00:39:23] Yeah, so I was literally working-
Annie [00:39:25] Seven days a week.
Trevor [00:39:26] 70 hours a week. Like, literally.
Annie [00:39:29] But you described it earlier as an escape like it functioned as an escape. Did it feel like that?
Trevor [00:39:34] Yeah, 100%. But then I say this... From that day, my career properly took off.
Annie [00:39:42] Right, so there was a change in your perspective. Something happened. Something changed in your head to make you-
Trevor [00:39:48] Yeah. Massive adversity. Lowest point.
Annie [00:39:49] You hit rock bottom.
Trevor [00:39:51] I hit rock bottom. Short of being a drug addict, which I wasn't thankfully, I hit rock bottom and it was circumstance rather than my fault or her fault.
Annie [00:40:02] Yeah, so without getting into details the roots of it was your relationship.
Trevor [00:40:06] Yeah, yeah, yeah. 100%, it can happen and I thought I was doing something none of my mates did. I was committing, I was-
Annie [00:40:12] You were trying to make it work.
Trevor [00:40:13] I was trying and I did the right thing at the wrong time, basically.
Annie [00:40:18] Yeah.
[00:40:28] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:40:29] So 15 years marriage and then you got divorced, and what did you- I suppose as much as you want to say, learn from that whole episode.
Trevor [00:40:36] Just- for many years I was bitter.
Annie [00:40:40] Bitter because you stayed so long.
Trevor [00:40:42] Bitter about just the whole situation, yeah, just the whole situation. And then you get divorced and you get to a point when your career is almost a crossroads as well. That's the thing about this game. You're never safe in this game. We're all freelancers.
Annie [00:40:58] Never ever safe, there's always someone wanting your job.
Trevor [00:41:00] Yeah, oh, that's the thing! That's the key thing.
Annie [00:41:02] Yeah, but you're Trevor Nelson.
Trevor [00:41:04] *Yelling over eachother* No, no, no, no, no.
Annie [00:41:06] I refuse that for you.
Trevor [00:41:07] No, no, no. I'm sorry, the moment you feel like that. The moment you feel like that you're done.
Annie [00:41:11] Yeah. I know but I can say that, you can't.
Trevor [00:41:14] Yeah you can say it but you're done. I've never felt like that, so, you know, I felt like God, can I start again? Because after the divorce, you get a divorce, it costs you.
Annie [00:41:22] It's financially a lot.
Trevor [00:41:22] No matter what anyone says, I felt like starting again. And I had no idea. And that's funny, around that time 1Xtra asked me if I'd like to do a show. And 1Xtra is the youth station, the real youth station at the BBC. But I argue that it should be just the black music station at the BBC. But anyway, so I felt, oh, I don't know if it's right for me in terms of the stage I'm at in my career, but there's something happening with black music in this country that I've never seen before. For once it's not as sporadic as it was before like one person having a hit there one- There's a movement, actual something feasible happening here. I'd love to to help em out. They needed more audience. They needed more.
Annie [00:42:08] But wasn't it lovely to be part of a black music station?
Trevor [00:42:10] Oh, it was a beautiful thing.
Annie [00:42:13] *Laughing* As opposed to being part of a station that's surrounded by-
Trevor [00:42:14] Can I be honest, I was in a minority at Radio 1, we all know that.
Annie [00:42:19] Of course. And you still are Radio 2, that's your job.
Trevor [00:42:20] Yeah, it started again. I've started all over again right. So it seems like I'm the guy, right? It does that. But I remember when 1Xtra was born and I remember, you know, coming in to the BBC. And you may feel this as a woman, as a broadcaster. Because you were in the minority for a long time, just a few of you, right? But look at it through my eyes. I've walked into Radio 1. This big security guy. That was it. He was the only black guy in the building. I can't remember anybody else. So it wasn't like going to school again. It was like going to school, school, school, school. Some other school again. But listen, I weren't going 'ohhh my God'. I didn't have a problem with it at all. I knew what I had to do there.
Annie [00:43:12] Do you feel like that there's a responsibility to prove stuff, because of that?
Trevor [00:43:18] Yeah, I had a massive responsibility. I had a massive responsibility to be liked because it would help people who come after me.
Annie [00:43:26] Right.
Trevor [00:43:27] I had a massive responsibility to be liked, there was still a culture in the nineties you could see the old school BBC and the new school meeting head on. You could see it happening. I could see the change that was happening, right. Luckily there was some interesting characters on radio 1 at the time.
Annie [00:43:44] I mean, look at all the big personalities. You had Westwood, you had Zane Lowe, you know, you had Chris Moyles. You had these people who are able to be disliked and wilfully go out of their way to fucking piss people off because they want their way. You were never that.
Trevor [00:43:58] I'm glad you said that, and I didn't say that *laughs*.
Annie [00:44:01] That's true.
Trevor [00:44:02] Yeah, it is true.
Annie [00:44:02] There's so many tantrums, so many toys thrown out of prams.
Trevor [00:44:05] I walked into the building and Evans was doing the breakfast show at the time and wow, was that a time. Wow. That was some essential morning listening, though. That was some crazy stuff going on. It was a real mish mash of people. I just wanted to meet one person and that was John Peel. Because even though- and this is the thing, even though John Peel didn't play music I absolutely love, he was a God at my school. And I listened to his show just because he might play one reggae tune, he might play a hip hop- you don't know what he's going to play. He might play a tune at wrong speed, whatever. We loved him at school and he didn't sound like anyone else on Radio 1.
Annie [00:44:42] And how was he when you met him?
Trevor [00:44:43] Sleeping under a table.
Annie [00:44:44] Oh, yeah. The newspaper on his face? Yeah, I remember that.
Trevor [00:44:47] Yeah, so.
Annie [00:44:48] *Laughs* Used to have a daily nap.
Trevor [00:44:48] That was it. So, you know, I knew the scale of what had to be done, I knew. And you're right, there were people- and I was never that guy. I just don't see why-
Annie [00:45:00] But is it not that you couldn't be that guy?
Trevor [00:45:02] I think a combination. By nature, I'm not that guy, right.
Annie [00:45:06] No.
Trevor [00:45:06] If you're not good at your job. Yes, I sometimes wish I was the person to go, d'you know what? You're no good at your job. Why have they put you on my team, I want someone better than you. D'you know what I did? I just worked harder to make sure the show sounded exactly the same.
Annie [00:45:22] And that says it all.
Trevor [00:45:23] Yeah but, was there something in me that wishes that I could be that guy who could say that? I can't work out. I knew I couldn't be a problem.
[00:45:30] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:45:41] What would you say is the most challenging or has been the most challenging part of your career so far? *Laughs* sorry.
Trevor [00:45:49] I've loved my career. I wouldn't change a thing about it, you know, I think the most challenging thing was probably when at one point I was on three radio stations.
Annie [00:46:00] 1Xtra, Radio 1, Radio 2. Sorry, can we just talk that this is- I don't think this has ever been done by anyone.
Trevor [00:46:06] I don't think it has, no.
Annie [00:46:07] Incredible achievement and testament to you.
Trevor [00:46:11] *Laughs* Well, I'll tell you how it goes Annie right, so I'm doing 1Xtra, which I had the most childish time on obviously. Early days.
Annie [00:46:19] You did the breakfast show on 1Xtra.
Trevor [00:46:20] Yeah, I did the breakfast show which, you know, I felt just about able to do it. Because, you know, you get to that age where you think, am I-
Annie [00:46:27] Am I the embarrassing old person in the room?
Trevor [00:46:29] Am I right for this?
Annie [00:46:30] I've gone there. I've been there.
Trevor [00:46:32] *Laughs* So, you get there and you're like- but I was alright. They needed some stability I think 1Xtra. And so one minute I'm talking and-
Annie [00:46:39] And credence, and you gave them that.
Trevor [00:46:40] Well, you say so, but I'm saying, alright so. I'm like on 1Xtra and I'm talking about I don't know, Kanye or someone else or Migos, I don't know who. And then later that day I could be talking to their parents on Radio 2. And then on the Saturday I could be talking to their bigger sister or brother on Radio 1. And so I felt like I was being generational every week and it goes back to me being in the greengrocers.
Annie [00:47:08] You're in the greengrocers! You're adapting!
Trevor [00:47:11] Thank you. I'm in the greengrocers. I've gone to school.
Annie [00:47:13] You're kind of shape shifting according to who you're talking to.
Trevor [00:47:17] Exactly! I've gone to my grammar school. I'm in EMI records. You know, and all of this, I've never been afraid of being the only one in a room or in the minority. It doesn't bother me. In fact, at one point I revelled in it. I'm going to flip it round. I actually revelled in it.
Annie [00:47:34] Could be a super power.
Trevor [00:47:35] I wanted it. Yeah, I revelled in it. My thing was, I'm going to go in there. I'm going to make you say I want another one of him. I want another one like it, and that's all I care about.
Annie [00:47:43] So let me ask you that then. If we go back to the very beginning and this idea of the Sam Cooke thing, change is going to come. Have you in the 35, whatever years you've been broadcasting, have you seen enough change? Are you happy with the change you've seen?
Trevor [00:47:57] I've seen a sudden rush of change, yes.
Annie [00:47:59] In the last-
Trevor [00:47:59] In the last few years, since George Floyd. I mean, it's gone nuts. Well, not nuts, but it's just I've seen- I mean, where have all these people come from? This groundswell of *pew* come out of nowhere, like a volcano. Which has, you know, warmed my heart to some degree. I have seen change and if someone said to me, what's the key to longevity in this game? I say passion and patience. You know, if you can somehow have passion and patience, you'll survive. You know what I see more than anything else? In production. Forget what you see in front of your face, it's the production. Give them kids a chance. There's a lot of talent, honestly. I've come across a lot of talent and they restrict themselves. They put a ceiling on themselves too much. And I say, no you don't have to be brought up with a ceiling. There is no ceiling for you. And also, please diversify. Don't think just because you're at 1Xtra you should stay at 1Xtra.
Annie [00:48:52] Absolutely, yes.
Trevor [00:48:53] Go somewhere else. The BBC is vast. This media business, not just the BBC, it is so big. Don't be afraid to go freelance. Don't be afraid to go out on your own. If you are good, you will get the work because people do not want to hire people in this day and age, especially when money's too tight to mention, there's no jobs for boys anymore. There's none of that nonsense. You can't afford it. If you're not going to bring somet, I'm not gonna hire you.
Annie [00:49:19] Before you go, can I ask you about what you've learnt as a parent? I mean, I'm listening to you giving pep talks. You must like-
Trevor [00:49:26] I'm a failure as a parent.
Annie [00:49:26] Ahh, really?
Trevor [00:49:28] I am. I feel-
Annie [00:49:30] Well, you've got a daughter who's an incredible selector.
Trevor [00:49:32] Right, and let me just say this. My daughter, I have to give her props.
Annie [00:49:35] I mean, she's an amazing- I watched her boiler room. She's amazing!
Trevor [00:49:39] I'm gonna give her props. Can I give her props? Right, I'm going to give her props because it's about time I did officially. My daughter doesn't- you wouldn't know she was my daughter unless you knew. My first child is my daughter through an ex-girlfriend. Then I got married. This is a complication in my marriage. I got married soon after. My daughter wasn't brought up in my house, you know, and I was a crazy mad DJ. Having a kid at that age was like, not the perfect scenario for a man who lives his life on the road and, you get what I mean? And then being in a new relationship, that's when I needed my mum, to make sense of all of that. And I had a word with my mum about that not so long ago, for the first time I said mum, I needed you, you know. I realise now how much I need- you would have made sense of it all. You would have joined the dots. I couldn't do it all. So my daughter and I, you know, holidays yes, all that stuff but not dad being there like that. Like I would have wanted to be, you know. But the interesting thing about her, she's my DNA, 100%. Her mum's mad about music, so her mum always had music on. My show was always on when she was there. You know, daddy's talking to you. But I'd go round to see her and just literally sit down and fall asleep.
Annie [00:50:48] Right.
Trevor [00:50:49] Because you know what it's like, when you are on the move and you're DJing and soon as you get somewhere and you sit in a chair, you're gone. And it's so sad. I look back and it was like that a little bit for her so, you know, I owe her a lot. But to see her- the other day I said on Radio 2, she was listening to my show I heard, and I said I am so proud of you Shy One.
Annie [00:51:11] Ahh, I'm gonna cry.
Trevor [00:51:11] Yeah, I said I'm so proud of you and apparently she was made up, because she plays hardcore as well. She's worse than me. She's an internaliser.
Annie [00:51:19] She doesn't ask for things.
Trevor [00:51:19] She's just like me. I'm telling you, she doesn't want to admit it but she's just like Dad. And seeing her graft as a DJ the way I grafted, to get a name. And when people walk up to me in the street they're like, your daughter's a sick DJ man! And people say this to me all the time. And I'm like, yep. You know, she's done it all without me. I've not ever, ever helped her beyond her asking me. She's like me, she doesn't ask, you know. But I think she's a phenomenal talent. She makes music as well. Something I couldn't do. I just pray, fingers crossed that she stays with it and she can make a living, proper living from it because-
Annie [00:52:02] You're doing what your dad did to you.
Trevor [00:52:04] Yeah, I mean.
Annie [00:52:06] And if you were her age, you probably would be like yeah, alright dad *Annie laughs*.
Trevor [00:52:10] Yeah, I know. But you say that about being a parent. The one thing I'll go to my grave knowing is that I didn't have the opportunity to be the parent I wanted to be with both my kids and that for me is the biggest disappointment in my life.
Annie [00:52:25] So if you could make a change moving forwards. Last question. What would that be?
Trevor [00:52:30] That we bond more and we get- and I help her. And if she needs me, I'm here, you know, and same with my son, you know. And yeah, I'm at that age now where, you know, I've got pets, I've slowed my life down. It's manageable.
Annie [00:52:44] Moved out of London, right. Right out of central.
Trevor [00:52:45] Moved on the outskirts of London. Honestly, my life is so much better, so much more stable. I've got a dog, cat, 20 koi fish, two adult kids and a lovely, lovely partner. And yeah, I just want the next ten years of my life to be the best ten years of my life.
Annie [00:53:04] Trevor, thank you so much.
Trevor [00:53:06] Yeah, no problem.
Annie [00:53:07] This has been incredible.
Trevor [00:53:08] I hope so.
Annie [00:53:08] It's been more than incredible. I really appreciate it.
Trevor [00:53:11] Annie, no problem for you. I've enjoyed. I've never had a therapist so this is like-
Annie [00:53:16] *Laughs* sometimes it gets like that!
Trevor [00:53:17] Yeah a little bit like therapy, yeah.
Annie [00:53:17] Apologies! *Both laugh*
Annie [00:53:24] Thank you so much to Trevor Nelson for that conversation. That was a real privilege for me, getting to sit there and hear his story. I really hope that you enjoyed it. You can hear Trevor on BBC Radio 2 every Monday to Thursday at 10:30p.m. and every Sunday at 11a.m. on BBC Radio 1Xtra. That is such a good radio show, do check it out. Thank you so much for listening to Changes and don't forget to rate, review, subscribe to this podcast if you fancy it. It would be very, very helpful always just to get seen and heard and shared. We release episodes every Monday and we will be back next week. Changes is produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions. See you later.