Interview: Jim Gellatly

By Ryan McConnell

Here at The Music Files we pride ourselves on bringing to you our thoughts and recommendations on all the latest emerging talent around, and this week thought it only right that we caught up with Amazing Radio host and The Scottish Sun new music columnist, Jim Gellatly. Read what he had to say below..

With over 30 years of experience in the business what would you say is the key to your longevity, and do you still get the same thrill for your work to this day?

One piece of advice that I was given by a radio boss when I was starting out was to veer towards more mainstream music. I’m pretty sure had I gone down that route I wouldn’t have been able to maintain such a long career in radio. My passion for alternative and new music was vital in establishing me as a presenter. I’m pretty sure that without that I wouldn’t have ended up on big radio stations like Clyde 1 and BBC Radio Scotland. It’s been my USB throughout, and the reason for being hired by radio stations.

Going back is there any one act and/or fellow disc jockey who instantly ignited the spark for your love of music and why? 

Peter Easton on BBC Radio Scotland, who presented the Rock On Scotland and Beat Patrol shows was a massive influence. He was playing a lot of the bands I was going to see live and I discovered so many Scottish acts through his shows. The evening show on BBC Radio 1 with folk like David ‘Kid’ Jensen and Janice Long were essential listening for hearing new bands, and of course John Peel. I wouldn’t say there was one particular act but going to the Dance Factory nights at Fat Sams in Dundee in the 80’s help fuel my passion.

You were awarded the John Peel award for “outstanding contribution to music radio” back in 2008, how did it feel to have your work recognised with such an award?

It was pretty special, and coincided with by 40th birthday. Jon Fratelli came on stage at the O2 in London to present the award which was a big surprise, and there were video messages from Biffy Clyro, KT Tunstall and Snow Patrol. It was rather moving for me, and a bit surreal

As Scotland’s own champion of new music you’ve been credited with first playing the likes of Biffy Clyro and Franz Ferdinand on the airwaves, do you get a certain sense of satisfaction when you see such bands or acts going onto becoming successful in their work?

I think Vic Galloway beat me to Franz. It may have been on his show that I first heard them. It’s important to keep abreast with what other people are doing, and with the growth of the internet that has become a lot easier. It’s a massive thrill to see acts I’ve supported go on to make it big. I remember first coming across Lewis Capaldi and his band on a train back from Edinburgh in 2013 after going to see Nina Nesbitt at the Liquid Room with my daughter. They were called The Resolve, and had just been doing their own gig at Studio 24. I played their demo track Party Of One on my podcast shortly after that. I think it was Lewis’s Dad that reminded me of that at the first TRNSMT. Yungblud guitarist Adam Warrington, who was at school with Lewis, was also in that band. Memories like that are pretty special, but of course there are lots of folk I’ve played over the years that never made it big. It doesn’t mean they failed… just that I have better taste than everyone else!

You’ve worked for some big name stations such as XFM and Clyde 1, how do your shows there compare to your new music show on Amazing Radio which you host today?

Total freedom is the big difference. Most stations I’ve worked for have has some sort of playlist structure. That’s a good thing generally, especially when working for a station that reflected my own tastes like XFM. Amazing’s remit is exposing new and emerging music so it’s an ideal platform for me. I’m coming up to my 10th anniversary at Amazing. I balance that with my “day job” which is presenting the Breakfast Show 5 days a week for BFBS The Forces Station in Scotland. It means I don’t get to as many gigs these days, but it’s an interesting and fulfilling role broadcasting to a forces audience. I’ve learnt so much about the military.

The Scottish music scene right now has a lot of great up and coming talent, who do you tip for success in the near future and who has stood out to you most this year so far and why? 

Where do I start! It’s very healthy at the moment, but Beta Waves, Hyyts and Swim School are among my favourites. It’s also great seeing the progression of The Snuts. My daughter Jasmine actually booked them for a gig as part of her college course 4 years ago.

You’ve met some big names in your time interviewing the likes of Noel Gallagher, are there any interviews or meetings with any stars that stick out in your mind most? 

I remember interviewing Calvin Harris at T In The Park after he’d announced that his live shows would be DJ sets going forward. I’m sure I questioned the wisdom of that, but look at him now! One I like to dig up every so often is that I was the first regional radio presenter to interview the Spice Girls. Mainly because they started their first radio interview tour in Aberdeen where I was working at the time. Also Chris Martin played Coldplay’s Yellow in session for me and introduced it as the first ever public performance of the song. That was pretty special. Just me and Chris in a tiny room. I once interviewed Peter Andre in a shower when he was first starting out. I used to do a lot of pop interviews when I was at Northsound in Aberdeen. That tends to impress people more because they’ve actually heard of the artists. I’ve done quite a few interviews with Noel Gallagher over the years and he’s always good value. I was certainly more nervous the last time I chatted to Liam, but he was cool. The secret really is to sound like you know about the music and engage with them.

You can hear from Jim on, BFBS Scotland’s breakfast show Mon-Fri from 6.30-10am

As well as, Amazing Radio with all the latest new music on a Sunday from 2pm and Tuesday’s from 10am

Catch up with him on the following avenues below also..


TWITTER: @JimGellatly

FACEBOOK: @jimgellatlyofficial

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