Scott Mills: Five minutes on mainstream…

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Radio 1’s Scott Mills was in Oxford to talk about his work in Uganda regarding gay rights, reported by Cherwell. However, at Cherwell Music we couldn’t let an opportunity to talk shop with a Radio 1 veteran go to waste, Scott has been on Radio 1 for fifteen years!

Having worked on drive time, early breakfast and appeared in, more recently, ‘Scott Mill’s: The Musical’ Scott is perhaps better known for his chat than his interest in music. In response to a fellow interviewer’s ‘chat or music?’ question however, Mills admits he has “always loved music” but his job is about “creating your show and personality around that.” Although the musical freedom of a DJ at Radio 1 seems relatively limited it is apparently “more than most stations and if you really like something you can shout about it, get it heard, get it played!”

Although chat and “maintaining the personality aspect” seem to be the two key elements of Mills job, his interests definitely lie with the music, offering some interesting insights during our conversation into the state of pop. 

What he finds interesting is that, although the dominating genre in the charts seems to have been ‘pop urban’ for a long time, people are turning their heads back to guitars. “A couple of years ago on Radio 1, there wasn’t a hint of a guitar” professes Mills, but now the mainstream seems to be leaning back the other way, far earlier than Mills ever expected. 

When asked what he thought causes this sort of genre-shift, Mills seemed slightly perplexed, but opined that “if there’s enough good music about, people go for it.” The return of ‘guitar music’ seems a welcome one, using the example of UK garage being around ‘FOREVER’ as a negative, and David Guetta stuff that “everyone jumped on” a couple of years ago. While Mills by no means shows a hatred for artists such as David Guetta, Pit Bull and JLS, for “making the same songs” as they were “great for DJing as they’re all the same beat,” the monotony in playing the same material seems to have nearly taken its toll.

The return of the guitar that Mills described is not merely a personal opinion but highly evident throughout the popular press. Flick through any page of NME, and the evidence of guitar rock is definitely there, with bands such as Palma Violets and Tribes being championed. The return of Bowie and Brit-poppers Blur and Suede further reinforce guitar rock’s return to the mainstream. 

For Mills, the move from ‘drive time’ to the afternoon show on Radio 1 may have represented a slight shift from the mainstream, but one he relishes: “It’s a great time to be on, there’s no pressure and you can sort of do what you want.”

With his dry wit and likeable character, Mills was by no means a disappointment to meet. On being introduced as the “music expert” I confessed to a certain element of blagging which Mills replied with “don’t worry, so do I!” Continually modest, when asked whether it was a bit bizarre being asked questions when he was so used to being on the other side of the mike, Mills replies “I like it, I’m terrified at things like [the St Anne’s talk], there’s not as many people as on radio but I can see them all!”

 

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