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Hey Ms DJ!

Sarah Gosling, Radio Devon's answer to Simon Cowell, has her finger on the pulse of our music scene and it's pumping! The BBC Introducing presenter on life as a DJ, what's on her playlist and how she discovers new talent. (Now where did I put my harmonica?)

Pic credit: Em Marcovecchio

If you like your toons live and local, chances are you’ve tuned into Radio Devon’s Sarah Gosling. She’s been the BBC Introducing presenter for Devon and Cornwall since 2016 and it’s her job to dig out the best in unsigned, undiscovered and under-the-radar music. Muddy snuck into the studio and plied her with jelly beans until she told us all the goss on the county’s best new acts, gigs and which 2020 festivals to book now.


Hi Sarah! Surely you’re far too young and gorgeous to be on Radio Devon? How did you get on the airwaves?

Haha, well I don’t know about that – I think I might genuinely have the best job in the South West for someone with my interests!

It was actually a fortuitous coming together of many things; I’d just come home from Uni in London, was unsure what to do with an English Degree and dabbling in music journalism, and my boyfriend, a musician, had just done a session for BBC Music Introducing in Devon with James Santer, and said that the team was lovely and I should try emailing. This was way back in late 2015 – I emailed James, told him how much I loved music (particularly local music) and writing, and before I knew it, I was volunteering and learning everything I could. Now, four years later, I present four shows!


Are you a kind of talent scout? 

In a way, yes! BBC Introducing has changed the way the music industry works from the ground up, in that people can now, with just an internet connection, submit their music straight to the presenters. No pluggers, no labels, just music lovers listening to great music! This means that every week, I and my assistant Maddy sift through hundreds of new tracks from across the region and play what we think is great, irrespective of age or genre.

With that in mind, the best way to get discovered is simple: make great music, and then upload it. Oh, and just be nice to people. Folks tend to forget that one.


What’s the best bit about being a DJ?

Getting to pick the playlist every day and recommend great new discoveries. I’m a terror at parties, and apparently I am at work too, as I’m the only self-playlisted presenter. Be it music, books, theatre, films; my favourite thing in the world is recommending something that a listener then goes on to love.


Any embarrassing on-air blunders?

Quite literally thousands, but a good’un was back during my very first on-air insert, the day after a friend’s wedding. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly feeling peachy, and I had to interview the local mayor. It could have gone better…


What’s your post-show de-frazzler?

Given that I’m usually (quite literally) running to a gig after my shows on Radio Devon, it’s more often than not a pint! I’ve also normally had about nine cups of tea during the show, so I’m pretty sick of it by then.


Which 2020 festival should we get in the diary?

Glastonbury’s an obvious one, but as it’s the 50th anniversary (and now that King McCartney has been announced), it’s going to be an otherworldly level of brilliance. Other than that, I’m so excited for the return of Boardmasters. I’ve been chatting to the organisers and greatness is afoot…


Who’s your most famous celebrity interview? Or just your fave celeb?

I need to say this up front: I’m a nerd. Big league. High level. Top tier. So I will say that the most exciting chat I had was with Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys (I love him so much), but it’s authors who get me the most excited. Interviewing Philip Reeve, author of the Mortal Engines series was an absolute delight, but listening back I barely recognised my own voice, I’d gone so nervous-posh.


Who’s the most gossipy celeb you’ve met and what dirt did they dish?

I have to say, I’m not really in the game of celebs. To be blunt, I don’t see the point unless you’re famous for something worthwhile and you love what you do. For that reason I can’t say that I really have any gossip as such, but I’ve had some wonderful conversations with people. Among my favourites to talk to is the fiercely eloquent Rebecca Taylor AKA Self Esteem, a remarkable artist who I’d heartily recommend, and who I spoke to for the BBC’s The Next Episode podcast.


Which up and coming artist should we get our playlist quick?

Pic: Grace Lightman, Silver Eater

I could go on for years, so I’ll stick with the local. Here’s a top 5:

Ferris & Sylvester: From North Devon and Cornwall, based in London, they’ve supported Jade Bird, Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, and have just come off tour with James Morrison. FFO Blues Rock, Americana, and a dash of Folk.

Wildwood Kin: Family trio with jaw-dropping harmonies and a fiercely positive and inspirational message. On tour around the UK at the moment and selling everywhere out!

October Drift: Recently toured Europe with Editors and played for BBC Introducing at Reading and Leeds Festival, they’re an absolute riot live.

Hearing Aid BeigeIf you like the Beach Boys or Mac , you’ll love this Totnes-based duo.

Grace Lightman: Just moved down from London to Plymouth (the right way round methinks) and is wowing everyone everywhere with her Goldfrapp/Abba-esque space opera of an album, Silver Eater. Seriously, listen to it.


We heard a rumour about you and Radio 4’s Front Row. Can you spill the beans?

Haha, indeed! Last year I pitched an idea to the lovely folks at Radio 4 about not only promoting already well-known acts, but furthering the Introducing model and honing in on the fab new stuff happening all around the country. We recorded our first episode of a brand new side of Front Row at the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth with a host of some of my favourite local musicians, poets and producers, and it was just so fun. That episode is available on BBC Sounds now, and the second episode, recorded at BBC Music Introducing Live with Ferris & Sylvester, airs on December 5th!


What’s your fave Devon music venue or drinking den?

Now that’s a tough call… I’d have to say either the Apple and Parrot in Torquay, The Junction or Underground in Plymouth, or Exeter Phoenix. They’re all great places with wonderful staff and a fervent commitment to original music.


How will you be spending NY Eve?

Honestly, no idea! The last few years we’ve headed to Exeter Phoenix, but honestly, I’m not averse to Hootenanny and a few flutes of something tasty!

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