Starting off life as a club DJ, Gilles Peterson has added broadcaster, producer, compiler, label boss and plain old record collector to his CV. He continues to spin passionately around the world, from Kazakhstan to Hackney, Istanbul, New York, Beijing and beyond.
This year alone has seen Peterson in Rio de Janeiro, Martinique, Tokyo, Havana and most parts of Europe. His 3-hour Saturday afternoon show on BBC Radio 6 Music has seen him take his unique musical mix to a new and growing audience of music lovers, whilst his syndicated worldwide radio show continues to spread his musical gospel around the globe. From Sun-Ra to James Blake to Theo Parrish to Flying Lotus – if it swings in the right places, it’s in.
Gilles’ broadcasting roots lie with the burgeoning pirate radio movement in South London during the early 1980s. Inspired by the exciting blend of music broadcast on pirate stations such as Radio Invicta, he set up his own – Civic Radio – and went on to present on a string of pirate stations including Invicta, KJAZZ and Solar Radio, before landing at BBC London with his show Mad On Jazz and a box of rare soul, jazz and Latin records.
He’s been at the heart of record labels Acid Jazz and Talkin’ Loud; and today, Peterson is at the forefront of his own independent label Brownswood Recordings, which launched in 2006 as an outlet for his favourite new discoveries. Early successes included Ben Westbeech, Jose James (now signed to Blue Note) and 2011’s Mercury Music Award Prize nominee Ghostpoet; but his favourite remains the debut album by solo pianist Elan Mehler. His longstanding love affair with Cuba and its musical subcultures has manifested itself in five albums under the auspices of the Havana Cultura project. The latest of these excursions – Mala in Cuba – released in September 2012, sent tremors through the electronic underground.