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Since taking over the Radio 1 Breakfast Show from Chris Moyles last September, Nick Grimshaw has turned what had become an early morning outlet for belligerent pub bores into a refreshingly music-focused three hours of radio. Grimshaw’s career took off when, while presenting student radio in Liverpool, he was encouraged to move to London by noughties indie disco duo The Queens Of Noize, who were guesting on his show. A job as a T4 presenter was quickly followed by a role as co-host with Annie Mac on Radio 1’s Switch. While much has been made of Grimshaw’s celebrity pals and party lifestyle, his dedication to new music and the fact he spent three years on Radio 1’s specialist radio strand are sometimes underplayed. Mixmag caught up with ‘Grimmy’ to chat playing dance music at breakfast, what’s in his DJ sets and partying in Ibiza with Tiësto...
How are you finding the new Breakfast Show?
It takes a bit of time to figure it out and fine-tune things, but I’m really enjoying it. The only way to find out what works on radio is by doing it, so now we’ve done it a little while we’re getting into the swing of it.
You’re playing more dance music than your predecessor Chris Moyles did. What was you clubbing education?
When I was five, my 18-year-old brother was babysitting me and he took me to a day event at The Haçienda. That was my first taste of dance music. After that my godmother took me to see The Prodigy at Manchester Gmex when ‘Fat Of The Land’ was out, which was just mental. I really loved that album as a kid. Then when I went to uni I really loved Chibuku in Liverpool. I’d go there every weekend and loved every minute of it!
Are you playing dance music to reflect what’s going on in music or to try and shake off older, Moyles listeners?
Moyles used to play four records an hour, and we’re trying to play between eight and ten. We’ve also brought in a Record of the Week and I’ve really fought for some of the ones we’ve had. We had ‘Au Seve’ by Julio Bashmore as record of the week. I’ve got a great relationship with the playlist team, but they were unsure about that one and I was like, “everyone knows this record!”
You tweeted this morning that you want ‘Au Seve’ played at your wedding. What else would be on the playlist?
I want Lil Kim to play at my wedding. I’ve looked into it and it would cost fifty thousand dollars plus two first- class flights, which I think is reasonable. Wouldn’t that be the best wedding ever! Lil Kim and Julio Bashmore. Lil Kim could give me away.
Which of the Radio 1 DJs do you hang out with?
Annie Mac’s one of my best friends – I speak to her every day. I chat to Zane and Huw Stephens a lot. Oh, and Heidi. I love her! She’s absolutely crazy. Skream and Benga are fun too, we all went to the Soundclash in Wembley recently.
Who parties the most out of the Radio 1 DJs?
Skream! He hasn’t been to bed since 2006. Annie Mac’s really good at partying but obviously not at the moment, as she’s pregnant. I’m not so bad myself.
You must be in line for the role of godfather to that baby?
I really hope so. I’ve already bought a pair of baby Jordans as an early indicator of how seriously I’ll take the role.
With the early starts, do you have any tips for clubbers burning the candle at both ends?
I think you just have to power through. It’s a case of mind over matter, and if you can’t do it, don’t do it.
So are you staying in a little more now?
I don’t really like working with a hangover as I’d rather not make something I love such a laborious task. Going out on Thursday’s not so bad as we get to play a lot of music on Friday and you can have fun and power through with a hangover. By the time Friday comes around I can’t wait to go out!
When was the last time you went to a dirty rave rather than a celebrity party?
I went to The Warehouse Project in Manchester really recently. I was DJing in Chester then took my eighteen-year-old niece there. The 2 Bears and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs were on.
You DJ out a lot. How are your mixing skills?
I’m not that good at mixing. I can’t really be bothered! When I was at uni I got really into it and learned how to do it properly. I play a lot of student unions and everyone just wants to hear the
big tunes. Although I’ve been begging Annie to teach me how to do it properly for five years now!
What are you playing at the moment?
I’m really into Southern hip hop right now – like French Montana, Angel Haze and ASAP Rocky. I play Bashmore and Disclosure out a lot, and I’m really glad that the Chicago house sound is back.
Whose recommendations at Radio 1 do you pay attention to the most?
Toddla T. He emails me stuff all the time. He got me into Iggy Azalia and loads of other stuff recently. Heidi’s good as well, she made me a really great playlist recently. And Annie obviously. I don’t think she ever plays a bad record on her show.
What’s your greatest dance track of all time?
‘Voodoo Ray’ by A Guy Called Gerald. That was one of the first records I really loved when I was younger – my brother and sister used to play it. It just sounds so big and still sounds great today.
You’ve been playing Skrillex on your show.
What do you make of the whole ‘EDM’ phenomenon?
I don’t really like Skrillex. I play it on the show but I think it’s a bit cheesy. I love how big [EDM] is in America at the moment, though. Those guys are so rich! I want to go to Vegas with Calvin Harris.
You were in Ibiza this summer. Which clubs did you go to?
You know, I needed to go on a relaxing holiday before I started the breakfast show so I went to that well-known place for relaxing, Ibiza. We were up in the north of the island where it’s a bit quieter, and then when we got to the hotel we found Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs was staying there so I had to pretend I was cool rather than just sit around reading Heat magazine. Oh, and we went out with Tiësto! It was brilliant, he had eight girls with him, all wearing Tiësto T-shirts. He took us to Pacha and bought us these giant bottles of Champagne. I really liked him, he was loads of fun to hang out with. Maybe next year my relaxing holiday can be Vegas with Calvin...
Listen to the Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw every weekday from 6.30am