After a week of unaccustomed media visibility, I was relieved to complete my broadcasting stint by recording an interview for Hear and Now, BBC Radio 3’s heroic late-night contemporary music digest. And what’s more, recording in the comfort of my own home, for a series which has the makings of a cult classic - Composers' Rooms.
In this regular Hear and Now feature, Radio 3’s Sara Mohr-Pietsch and producer Andrew King visit the homes of composers, and conduct interviews with them in their workrooms. Simple discussions about office furniture and writing equipment lead effortlessly into detailed consideration of working methods and philosophies of creativity. The particular genius of the format is that it’s radio, and listeners can’t actually see (or visually judge) what is being so carefully described. It was an inspired idea to ask composers about their work in the place where they actually (try to) work.
I also suspected during my own interview that a new branch of psychoanalysis was being born. When Sara asked me what grade of pencils I preferred to use, I hesitated to answer, thinking ‘Let’s not go there’ [the actual answer is HB] – as if in therapy. And showing her my old taped-up headphones and other ritual composing objects reminded me how obsessively, almost superstitiously, I transact my daily business. (We’re definitely on Jungian territory here.) Judging by earlier episodes these interviews are often hilarious, but very acute explorations into the almost inexplicable realm of composers’ brains.
(My Composer's Room will be revealed on Hear and Now BBC Radio 3, Saturday 30th August.)