Deb Grant and Tom Ravenscroft talk new 6 Music show, Glastonbury and power of radio

BBC Radio 6 Music presenters Deb Grant and Tom Ravenscroft have spoken to Headliner about their new music show New Music Fix Daily, the station’s power to break new talent, Glastonbury 2023, and more.

You can listen to this interview here or continue reading below. 

Launched earlier this month, New Music Fix Daily is a brand new 6 Music show committed to showcasing new music from every style and genre, airing Monday-Thursday from 7pm-9pm. In addition to the pair’s personal new music selections, the show will also welcome an array of artists and guests sharing their new music tips and recommendations.

Grant and Ravenscroft will also be broadcasting live from Glastonbury this year, with special shows featuring performances and interviews with an array of performers.

Headliner caught up with Grant and Ravenscroft for a chat about 6 Music’s unique ability to bring new music to its audience, what listeners can expect from their new show, as well as some of their Glastonbury highlights and who they are looking forward to seeing at Worthy Farm this year…

How has week one of the new show been for you both?

Tom: It’s been a lot of fun. We were both a little bit nervous going in on the first day as we’ve done a few shows together, but we’ve not worked together loads, and it’s a new show and the audience is apprehensive as they don’t know what they are going to get, but it took off pretty much immediately. After five minutes we felt very comfortable and started really enjoying ourselves. Not that we weren’t expecting it to, but we were just surprised at how well it went so quickly.

Deb: It did feel like a big deal as it’s a new thing for 6 Music to have a show like this and any change in the schedule comes with a certain amount of controversy, as people are so protective of 6 Music and the DJs, but immediately it just felt very natural. And we went out to Primavera before we started with the production team, so we already felt like this little unit. So there was a momentum that pushed us into the first show.

What can listeners expect from New Music Fix Daily?

Tom: Obviously it’s a new music show so a third of it’s me, a third is Deb, and the rest of the team also have some input so it’s a combination of things that are new by artists you’ve never heard of from realms you’re not familiar with, as well as things that are new from people you know very well but just haven’t heard yet. We’re trying to introduce people to new things without scaring them off. It’s about finding that balance.

Deb: Tom and I have both been DJs for a long time and we have an interest in hunting for new music, and our tastes crossover quite a lot but they are quite different too, so that makes it interesting. But it’s important it’s not alienating for people. A lot of the stuff me and Tom likes is not inaccessible but it’s not necessarily stuff that you’d expect to hear on an early evening radio show, so it’s tempered with some features like Hot Tip, where a big name artist will pick their favourite emerging artists, so that’s an interesting perspective too. It’s important for 6 Music to have a hub where new artists can be discovered.

No one can do what radio does. 6 Music has a strength no one else has. Tom Ravenscroft

What have been some of the new records that have been exciting you?

Tom: This week we were trying to capture things we saw at Primavera, so we’re all big Sudan Archives fans on the show, Dorian Concept is really cool, on top of that I’ve been really into a rapper called Nah Eeto. There’s so much exciting new music coming through.

Deb: There is so much it’s hard to keep track. One thing that stood out to me this week is an artist called Tiny Leaves and loads of stuff from Primavera.

The role of radio in breaking new artists has been debated a lot in recent years due to the rise of streaming, but has 6 Music been somewhat immune from the impacts streaming has had on listening habits, given how engaged its audience is?

Tom: I don’t feel from having been inside 6 Music for so many years that it has changed a huge deal. When the streaming platforms started, they were very much trying to emulate radio, and that didn’t work hugely well and they’ve obviously found their strength now, and have almost backed off from radio. No one can do what radio does and 6 Music and the BBC in general is in this very unique position and are very fortunate we have this strength no one else has. That hasn’t changed a huge amount. Playing a record and talking about it live is still magic to me. And not just from a listener’s point of view - talking to artists when they get their first radio play, I don’t think that excitement at having your music played on the radio goes away.

Deb: People trust 6 Music. That’s why this show is such an important thing because we are saturated with access to music and people trust 6 Music to help them discover their next favourite artist.

How important was radio in your lives for discovering new music?

Deb: I was obsessed with the radio ever since I was old enough to listen to it. As soon as I had a radio in my room, I was completely obsessed. There was a pirate station in Dublin called Spectrum and then it was called Phantom and I had a note book filled with notes about different bands, from people like Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake to anything that wasn’t getting played in mainstream radio, people like Goldfrapp and Moloko. It was a lifeline for me and gave me such broad access to all kinds of different music. I trusted those DJs to introduce me to the important stuff. It was everything.

Radio was a lifeline for me and gave me access to all kinds of different music. Deb Grant

Tom: I was in an odd situation in that I basically grew up living in a radio show [being the son of John Peel]. Outside of that I used to listen late at night to Andy Kershaw’s show and then moving to London I got really into the pirate jungle stations and that got me into dance music. Then weirdly it’s gone full circle, so what I do now is start discovering massive stars who I never knew before. Yesterday I was driving home and this track came on the radio and I was like, ‘what’s this, it’s amazing’?! And I was trying to remember the line from it so I could Google it and when I finally got in and Googled it I was like, ‘ah, that’s Lana Del Rey’ [laughs]!

You’ll be broadcasting live from Glastonbury this year. What will you be doing at Worthy Farm?

Tom: We’re going to be doing our show Wednesday to Saturday evening. It’s always a challenge trying to bring that festival to listeners at home, so we’ll be doing our best to do that. It’s about trying to get as many guests and live performances on the show as possible. And Deb has never been before so this will be her introduction to Glastonbury.

Deb: If I manage to not get lost and make it to where I’m supposed to be broadcasting the show it’ll be a miracle!

Who are you looking forward to seeing this year?

Deb: There is a band called Say She She who I’m famously obsessed with. They’re like a super tight disco psychedelic girl group with these amazing operatic voices. I’m really looking forward to that set.

Tom: I tend to just get there and then run around manically. I’m looking forward to seeing Elton John. But for the most part I’ll be seeing whatever I can on the fly.

What have been some of your Glastonbury highlights down the years?

Tom: The things I always remember are the big headline gigs. I remember when Arcade Fire did it for the first time and that was incredible. The smaller moments tend to blend into one as I’m staggering around, but most of the time I’m in the dance area and you don’t even know who you’re seeing.

Deb Grant and Tom Ravenscroft present New Music Fix Daily on BBC Radio 6 Music, Monday – Thursday, 7pm-9pm.