Q&A with Lauren Laverne

TV presenter, radio broadcaster (she fronts BBC’s Radio 6 Music weekdays), fashion writer and, most recently, author, it’s no surprise that Lauren Laverne is somewhat of a household name in her native UK, especially when you take into account she began her multi-faceted career at the tender age of 16, fronting 90s indie rock band Kenickie.
The outgoing British star with the encyclopedic knowledge of all things culture-related discusses her 2012 highlights, holiday plans and her favorite things…
You recently hosted the prestigious 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize. In your opinion, were Alt-J worthy winners and was there anyone else in the running you really rated?
Alt-J are definitely worthy winners, but it was a really tough year for me to choose because some of my favourite musicians were in the running. Richard Hawley’s Standing at the Sky’s Edge is just a phenomenal record, and Field Music’s Plumb is particularly wonderful.

Over the years you have presented several music and culture shows – who has been your all time favourite interviewee?
Two absolute standouts were Grace Jones and Sir Paul McCartney. The former because she is every bit as much of a wild and wonderful force of nature as you would expect and the latter because he occupies a unique position at the interface between pop music and history – so there’s a huge amount to ask him about! The first time I interviewed Sir Paul our TV crew ended up getting a little private ‘gig’ as we watched his band rehearse in his Sussex studio with nobody else around. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday afternoon, really!

Who would you love to interview?
It’s always terrifying meeting your heroes, as you risk a lot if they don’t live up to your expectations, but I would love the chance to interview Vivienne Westwood. I have a feeling she wouldn’t disappoint!

What have been your favorite musical and movie moments of 2012?
I loved the film Searching for Sugar Man a stunning documentary about the singer Rodriguez, whose music became the soundtrack to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, even though he had no idea and was living in poverty and obscurity in Detroit! My favourite musical moment (selfishly) was finally getting to interview the Rolling Stones as I hosted the Red Carpet at the premiere of their documentary Crossfire Hurricane. Cuddling Keith Richards was a life highlight, never mind a year’s one!

What are your plans for the holidays?
We host Christmas for the whole family, so it will be a busy one for me, but I’m also excited about the Save the Children Christmas Tree Session that I’m curating on the 14th December at London’s Union Chapel. It’s going to be a very special Christmas concert with mince pies, music and some great surprise guests – it’s for a wonderful cause!

Finally, what are you looking forward to in 2013?
New albums from Adam Green & Binki Shapiro, Ultraista and Aluna George and London Fashion Week, of course! I also can’t wait to see what rag and bone comes up with next season!

Accessory…As an overgrown indie kid I do love a badge. I have a sizeable collection and quite a few brooches, too (I especially love vintage Lea Steins). Pinning something personal on a posh clutch or a smart jacket makes it look your own.

Cosmetic…As a blonde I do need a bit of extra help in the lash department – Clinique Power Lash goes on in the taxi to work at 7am and doesn’t budge until it comes off in the shower last thing at night!

Appliance…I have to say my iPhone – a computer, record collection, library, phone – the whole of the internet all in the back pocket of your jeans? Still blows my mind sometimes.

Book…I’m a bit of a Dickens nut. I’m about to reread A Christmas Carol to get me in the mood for the festive season!

Movie…I’m a huge Cary Grant fan and I love a leading lady with moxie – Bringing up Baby and His Girl Friday are probably my top two.

Band…It’s impossible to choose just one, I find The Beatles endlessly fascinating and a lot of blues and soul, which I grew up with. From Howlin Woolf to James Brown and beyond.

Art…Every now and again I have to go to Tate Britain and visit Millais’ Ophelia. Every time I do, I find something new in it.

Hotel…The Samling in the Lake District is a favourite, tucked-away spot. I love the old-school glamour of The Savoy and the modern bling of The Corinthia (when it isn’t being besieged by X Factor fans). The spa is fabulous, too.

Restaurant…Martin Wishart in Edinburgh is incredible.

Cocktail…I was introduced to the Twinkle this year. My word. They are fun, but you do run the risk of waking up looking like a sad lion.

Destination…I’m a city person at heart, so I’d have to say New York – the greatest city of them all.

Cause…I support Save the Children (hence my Christmas Tree Session) and Refuge. Both charities are very close to my heart.

Indulgence…Reading. It’s the first thing to drop off my list when time gets tight, so the pleasure I take when I do get to sit down and read these days is all the greater.

Inspiration…Professionally? John Peel. He played my band’s record on the radio and that got us a record deal, and gave me some much-needed encouragement when I started out in broadcasting. His love of music, warmth and wit were a pleasure to be around and of course to listen to. He is a daily inspiration to me and I miss him a lot.

Style Icon… Debbie Harry. I finally got to interview this year. It was really hard not to just shout “I LOVE YOU, DEBBIE HARRY!” directly into her face instead of asking questions, but I managed it.


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