“It’s a fresh puzzle”: Lauren Laverne on becoming BBC 6 Music’s breakfast host and her tips for 2019

"Breakfast is a chance to show new music and then influence the rest of the day"

Lauren Laverne has described how taking on the breakfast show at BBC 6 Music is a “fresh puzzle” – and why she’s tipping a selection of fresh talent for big things in 2019.

The BBC presenter, who previously hosted 6 Music’s mid-morning show, takes over from Shaun Keaveny in a major scheduling reshuffle at the station.

Speaking to NME, Laverne said of the show: “It’s a fresh puzzle, but one of my favourite parts is solving that and hitting our stride and tone that people will connect with and enjoy. It needs different things. One of the greatest things about 6 Music is that although we’ve all got slightly different tastes and backgrounds, everyone gets on and we share that passion for music that makes it such a great place to work.”

Lauren Laverne presenting the Mercury Prize

You can read our full Q&A with Laverne below.

You’re taking the breakfast gig on BBC 6 Music. How’s it been preparing so far?

“When you take the gig, getting ready is the whole joy of it. You begin thinking about it and start working towards something. With radio, it’s important to have a feel and any radio show becomes what it is because of the audience.

“That’s part of the joy, you grow that relationship with your listeners. Obviously we’re working on the music too but that’s one of the most exciting things about 6 Music  – it’s like making a mix for a mate everyday and that’s one of the most exciting things about it.

“That will never change, breakfast is a chance to show new music and then influence the rest of the music across the rest of the day. It’s a real evolution and that’s what it’s supposed to be about.”

You’re moving from the mid morning slot. Is there more pressure when you’re dealing with listeners who have just woken up?

“One of the great things about live radio is that every slot is different and every day of the week is different. I’ve done them all in my career, I’ve done breakfast and I’ve done drive. I’ve done late nights and I love that Monday could feel different to Wednesday.

“It’s a fresh puzzle, but one of my favourite parts is solving that and hitting our stride and tone that people will connect with and enjoy. It needs different things. One of the greatest things about 6 Music is that although we’ve all got slightly different tastes and backgrounds, everyone gets on and we share that passion for music that makes.

“In the morning show people are a bit more settled into their day. But with breakfast, we’ve got that job of making people feeling positive and perhaps even meeting them on the other side of their journeys to work and getting them into their day.”

6 Music is well known for championing new music. Who are you tipping for big things in 2019?

“I saw Audiobooks recently, and Evangeline [Ling, singer] just has this huge dollop of star quality. I saw her sing live and immediately thought that’s your festival season next year – this girl is just stunning.

“Obviously she’s with David Wrench too, who I already knew of, but together they’re just so exciting. They’re going to have a great 2019.

“There’s Soap & Skin too, who has just released her third album. She’s quite new to me. The new Palaces record stands out too, but there’s loads of other people – Sophie Hunger and Cosmo Sheldrake are just two of them.”

What about 2018 then? What were your favourites of the year?

“I had to narrow it down and it’s just so hard, so all sorts is the short answer. But I’m really excited by The Orielles, they’re really creative. I haven’t been able to stop listening to the Khruangbin record and the Charles Watson record – which I just thought was just so fabulously produced and elegantly bitter and so smart I couldn’t get over it.

“But my favourite album of the year was probably the debut from Marlowe, which wasn’t really supported over here. I can’t remember how I came by it, but it just blew me away. I’ve been playing track after track because every track is a single. It’s ridiculous and that’s an album that could very easily go by people.

“It’s just two guys who have made this phenomenal hip-hop album and it reminds me of the stuff from the early ’90s. It’s very political and this really rich production with audio tidbits that go back to that era. I just love it.”

How nice is it to be able to use the breakfast show as a platform to champion new acts?

“One of the terrible things about my job is that there’s always a lot more music than we ever have time to fit in. You’re like ‘shit! I didn’t get the chance to fit that in’. But that’s so important, the chance to bring music through and the importance of introducing people to new things.

“I also just like how old things are coming back through too – there’s been a jazz resurgence that’s influencing hip-hop and then you can go back and play the old stuff that provides the background for that. It’s a chance to provide context, first playing new music and then joining the dots.

“It’s also just an exciting time for new music coming through. People will put their hands up and say there’s nothing out there, but that’s never been my experience. In all the years I’ve been doing this job, I’ve always felt like there’s too much good stuff out there.

“Don’t get me wrong, 98% of new music might not be great – but that 2% is enormous! I can never listen to it and I always feel like the people who complain about new music just aren’t listening hard enough.”

Amid the excitement of a new schedule at BBC 6 Music, do you think there’s enough being done to promote diversity and female talent?

“Well it’s not for me to make decisions and no one has been replaced. It’s an evolution rather than an revolution, but it’s exciting that it’s going to be me followed by Mary Anne Hobbs. I feel very good about that and it’s important. It’s something I care about, and I’m pleased to make that better.

“We can always do more, but you have to keep on it and do it better.”

Finally, we’ve seen you as a frequent face on the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage. Any plans to take the show on the road to Worthy Farm?

“Well we’ve all had to swap shifts before on station to station. It might mean I’ll have to roll through from the late shift and keep going, but you never know!”

Lauren Laverne’s new Breakfast Show is on BBC 6 Music from Monday to Friday from 7.30am-10.30am. She currently presents Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Sundays at 11.15am – both available on BBC Sounds.