Behind the scenes at Apple Music’s game-changing Beats 1. Its London star, Julie Adenuga, is Leonie Cooper’s guide for the evening
Since launching on June 30 2015, Beats 1 has exploded worldwide. The station has Elton John, Fatboy Slim, Major Lazer, Dr Dre, Drake and Travis Scott as guest hosts, and broadcasts in over 100 countries, 24 hours a day to over 17 million Apple Music subscribers. The station has three bases – Los Angeles, New York and London – and a main anchor in each city: Zane Lowe, Ebro Darden and former Rinse FM DJ Julie Adenuga respectively. Tonight, Julie is showing us round Beats 1 UK’s north London base…
Beats 1 is situated in a large Gothic building called The Church in Crouch End, in the same studio complex Adele recorded ‘25’. Guest Benjamin Clementine fits the aesthetic perfectly, arriving in a floor-sweeping overcoat, even though it’s sweltering outside. Julie, dressed in her trademark black with flip-flops, is there to greet him.
Benjamin – who won last year’s Mercury Prize for his album ‘At Least For Now’ – begins his interview in the main Beats 1 studio. Introduced by Julie as “a lovely human being”, they chat about the Mercury, with softly spoken Benjamin applauding the quality of the list. “I’m very happy I’m not in this year’s competition, because I don’t think I’d have been on the shortlist,” he says, before tipping Anohni’s ‘Hopelessness’ to win. “I hope young people listen to her album, it’s important.”
In the break room, surrounded by healthy snacks, Julie pops her legs up on a sofa and we have a chat about how she got started at Beats 1 – which basically sounds like being recruited to be a spy. “I had these meetings which were like blind dates – no one was allowed to say what was happening! I didn’t know what the end game was,” she says. When she was finally told what the job was,there were just three rules in place: “The main things were that Beats is worldwide, that we were always on air, and Jimmy [Iovine, co-founder of Beats Electronics] wanted us to not be boring. That was it.”
Before going live at 8pm, there’s a run through of the show. Behind her mixing desk, Julie sings along to the new Warpaint song ‘New Song’.
While Julie and her producers listen to new tracks, a screen above the mixing desk tells us what’s playing live on Beats 1 right now. It’s ‘Mr Beat’ by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, in case you were wondering.
Showtime! Standing up behind her mic, Julie kicks off the with Young M.A.’s ‘Ooouuu’. “Don’t forget that I am here to play your favourite songs,” she hollers down the mic, before segueing into AlunaGeorge’s ‘Mean What I Mean’.
And not just our fave songs, her fave songs, too. She introduces the Little Simz-featuring mix of Jack Garratt’s ‘Far Cry’ as her “favourite song of the year”. In the studio the volume gets turned way up, like it’s a club not a studio. All four producers are dancing behind their laptops. It is very, very vibey.
Time for a cuppa. The mug’s got an Apple logo on it.
When Julie likes a song, she sings along loudly and tunefully. When she drops ‘Lock Doh’ by Giggs, it’s like she’s putting in a high-quality audition for The X Factor.
Julie interviews Jamal Edwards, co-founder of grime site SBTV and all round good guy.
As ‘Daniella Whine’ by Nigerian dancehall artist Patoranking plays, Julie says to her team that she might just dance to it for four minutes at a 70 degree angle rather than going to the gym. “I might start a new workout class now, on Apple Music,” she suggests.
Tove Lo’s ‘Cool Girl’ starts a near dance party in the studio, with Julie shimmying behind her mic.
It’s the final song of the night. As Julie cues up Frank Ocean’s ‘Ivy’, she thanks everyone before picking up her suitcase and heading to Bestival. Just another day in the office.