HOW I GOT HERE: Danny de Reybekill
(How I Got Here Artwork)
Connect with this season’s guests:
Ella Watts: https://twitter.com/GejWatts
Danny de Reybekill: https://twitter.com/reybekillbrum
Nirav Chande: https://twitter.com/chandedj
Ellie Clifford: https://twitter.com/_EllieClifford
Kay-Lee Golding: https://twitter.com/kayleegolding_
Hannah Varrall: https://twitter.com/hannvarr
Jay Singleton: https://twitter.com/JaySing40848993
Special thanks to: Alex Court, Graeme Woodcock, Heleen Kist, Kate Bullivant, Maria Passingham, Mark Loftus, Natasha S. Chowdory and Tin Hinson for providing question recordings.
Artwork by Jack Jewers- https://twitter.com/jfjewers
RISE & SHINE is about giving everyone a voice within the podcast and radio industries regardless of income.
Find out more about RISE & SHINE through the website- https://www.riseandshineaudio.com/ and twitter- https://twitter.com/riseshineaudio
Music: (description used on audio library) A playful blend of cheeky brass, retro grooves, funky licks. Plays underneath
Sound fx: Keyboard typing, internet dial up sounds
Voice 1: How would you go about getting into audio if you had to start all over again today
Voice 2: What are the things you have to learn after getting into the industry?
Voice 3: what's the one piece of advice you'd give to anyone starting out in audio?
Intro speaker: Getting your foot in the door of the audio industry can seem like a bit of a mystery cant it? Should you….. go to university?
Guest 1: and just sort of by chance, I got involved with my student radio station. Um, I had a friend who was part of it and that's where it all started
Intro speaker: Work in community radio?.
Guest 2: I think it's some of the most useful experience you can get
Intro speaker: Maybe start your own podcast?
Guest 3: I say “I'm not, well, I'm not with anybody. It's my own personal show.” And he goes with equal enthusiasm he goes, Oh yeah, sure.
Intro speaker: How I got here is a podcast from rise and shine, showcasing brilliant people from across, audio, radio, and podcasting
We’ll be hearing their stories.
Guest 4: I learned that I can do more than just specialist radio. I'm able to do mainstream sounds. I'm able to do that
Intro speaker: Tips
Guest 5: You know what, make an Excel spreadsheet. It's one of the best things I ever did for my contacts
Intro speaker: and words of wisdom.
Guest 6: If you wanted to, you could do all this yourself, but for me, you can gain so much from doing it with other people
Intro speaker: all about breaking into the audio industry.
Guest 7: Your time will come when you have loads of projects that somehow are all being released at the same time and you get to be that person.
So just don't let it freak you out too much.
Intro Speaker: So let’s get to this episode’s guest shall we?
Danny de Reybekill: Hello! My name is Danny and my pronouns are he/him. And I work in the music industry. I have a podcast for the last year or so, which I co present and co-produce with Jade Seville called the versus podcast, dealing with mental health and the music industry.
And I'm a journalist, presenter, producer, and also a lecturer with BIM Birmingham and the BIM Institute. The story of how I got into audio and broadcast starts back when I was at university, I was asked to guest on my friend's radio show, he was part of the student radio station. But then I think it was burned FM in Bangor in North Wales.
And I joined him. I was shocking. I was absolutely terrible. I didn't enjoy it. I didn't like it. I couldn't hide behind the words and curated written content, which I'd gotten used to as a studying journalist. I was studying English and journalism. I absolutely hated it. I couldn't stand it. And as a result, I stepped away from ever doing anything like that for a couple of years as a result.
But what I did carry on with was, uh, and opinion and wanting to share my opinion and, uh, developed a taste for music, journalism too, and the reviews. So I started writing with a couple of magazines. Which was wonderful. I became a community editor, which was delightful, but of responsibility while I finished university came back home, got a day job or bar job and tried to make it as a struggling writer, all those classic tropes.
But as a result, I've got a couple of bar jobs, which did me fairly well in the music world, which carried on that power of passion and that love. I got into a bit of a rut. I think I decided that I wanted to go into radio after putting out a message to my friends and colleagues, basically saying, I don't know what to do.
What should I do? A few people suggested. Community radio and local hospital radio, which is what I did. I got in touch with BHB and hospital radio that are, uh, uh, one of the larger hospital networks, radio stations in the UK with an FM frequency and charitable status. Um, they were happy to take me on and work with me developing what were some terrible skills that back then lack of skills.
After six months of doing it. I kind of learned that actually, that I quite liked it. And if I engage my brain well enough and long enough that I could string a sentence together without mucking it up too much. As a result of that, I reached out to a brand new independent station that had not come across before called brim radio.
And I'd seen that they had a platform that they were slowly starting to build and got in touch with them. The first thing that they said to me is what kind of show would you like to do? And up until that point, I'd been playing Elvis Presley and Matt Monroe every week on hospital radio for Deandre and, uh, and hyacinth on the wards.
And I thought, you know what? I don't mind doing this every once in a while, but what I really want to do is play drum and bass. So I pitched the mudroom and bass show, having never hosted a show on drum and bass, having never done any more than gain contacts, but what it had allowed me to do. Or what doing magazine reviewing and gig writing from Octopart magazines had allowed me to do, was develop a client base and a contact base.
I had an email system that was bursting with new releases. I just didn't have a platform to put it out. So this was that platform and it was a wonderful escape for me every day. Thursday. I sat down and I collated all of the new releases and my favorites chucked in some oldies, got a guest mix and put it out.
And for three years, that was who I was. I was Danny Derico who ran the Brahmin Bay show in Birmingham. And it was such a delight. It taught me so much and I use likely stuff that I'll kind of get onto, but that's kind of the start of the story of how I got into the world of audio. It develops after that.
I was headhunted to be a booking agent. And I worked as a booking agent for 18 to 20 ish months, which was a great experience. Taught me a heap. I learned so much from doing that and kept me kind of in touch with the world of music and audio. I went back to the independent radio station after that. Um, was then again, headhunted for a, uh, a show on a regional BBC radio station, CWM where I'm based in Birmingham.
And they wanted me to do a show, which unfortunately I couldn't do because the double-headed show that they were pitching or we were. Being pitched for, I simply couldn't work because of the other presenter. And so instead I was offered an interim role at BBC of BBC introducing the West Midlands, which was fantastic.
And it's something that I still think back on today and radish the opportunity to have been, to be asked to be part of that. So quite a key point. After that, uh, carried on producing with the independent radio station, which was a breeze at times and a headache for others, but it taught me many more skills, quite a lot of people, skills management skills, working in organizations, developing structures in an organization that was less than five years old.
And that brings us a little closer to where we are now. About two years ago, I had a conversation with an education provider who had asked me whether I'd like to join their roster and teach the master classes. As a result, I threw the gauntlet out and came across a couple of others that are really good quality.
One of those was BIM and BIM Institute. It was a brand new university college that had begun in Birmingham, the brand or the, the kind of the collective have been rolling for a few years now around the country. That story of how I got into audio brings us almost to date. I've been teaching with this university for the last year and a half, nearly two years.
And it's been absolutely fantastic. It's allowed me to carry on developing an understanding and a knowledge more academically for the things that I was already doing and had taught myself how to do on a DIY basis. Yes. Up till that point.
Danny de Reybekill:For me, my love for music is where it stems from. I grew up in a very musical family, whether it was Motown, whether it was meatloaf, it was music, always playing at the weekends.
When we were relaxing, you know, the coffee was on the bread was crisping in the oven. Uh, we'd be listening to music on the record player. When we'd be in the car for long car journeys, what was always playing music was always playing and it was magical. It's part of my heritage as part of my being the connection from that to audio was simply that I developed an understanding and a knowledge that I could combine.
The two while I was at university, I enjoyed writing about my opinions. And as most uni students know, you have a lot of opinions at that age. Uh, now I'm a little bit older. They've mellowed, let's say that, but the connection between music and audio, I think was quite a pivotal one because I realized that maybe I could make money out of it, but it was a career.
I think that was quite an important thing that I could see that there was a career that there were plenty of people that were going out and writing reviews that were going and talking about their opinions on Newsbeat or radio one or wherever it was, where I'm rinse FM more. So actually back then. And that was a possibility that that could be something that I did.
The other thing is that really, I knew it was a challenge. It was something that I found very difficult while I was working at hospital radio. It was very difficult for me to talk and string a sentence together that either wasn't scripted by myself or had been very meticulously planned. And honestly, I stuttered a lot.
I got really nervous. There was one week where I lost my notes just before I was about to present. And I was a mess for the whole show, but that breakdown metaphorically speaking was. Quite important for me to realize that I can talk where necessary for an extended period of time and as a presenter, which was what I was developing myself as a thought that was very, very important.
So what had initially been a challenge, you know, going around hospital wards for six months? Not really knowing why I was doing it, not really being able to see the value of it all of a sudden, almost overnight. I know the reason and the point at which it happened became something that I was very impassioned by.
So in Birmingham, there was this, uh, I think this rule that in the hospitals, I don't know whether this is still true, whether it's changed. But the rule that I was told was that if you went into a ward and there was a blue carton around a bed, don't worry, don't go in there. It means that someone is either critically ill or they've just died.
And I was going on towards where there were quite a lot of older people who maybe had terminal illnesses or situations like that. And as a result, I was lucky enough not to have to endure that for the first six months that I was on patient requests going around and getting requests from patients until this point at about six months in where it happened.
And everyone on the ward was just a little bit more Samba and everyone was a little bit more hushed. And, uh, people kind of had an understanding of what had happened and what was going on as did I. And at that point I realized that what I was doing, wasn't just. Sharpening my teeth in the industry, getting myself a foot up.
It was a service. It was me going in and being a point of contact and a conversation for some of these people who wouldn't have seen their family or friends for the last week or two. Lord knows what it's like. Now at the time of recording, we're still in a lockdown of kinds back then. It was a massive, massive turning point for me.
And I learned that actually it's something that I really enjoy. It's something that I really like is being able to tell people's stories, even if in that case, it was very locally based. And I'd probably think of it as pretty amateur if I ever had access to any of the recordings that were made of myself anyway, but mostly that was it went from being a challenge into being a passion. And I think having gone through that process of struggling so much at first. Searching for the reason why to then finding it. You don't wanna let it go because you've worked for it, which is why the old mantra of being, given something on a plate, doesn't quite have the same taste of working for it yourself.
And I think that partly was me in that journey.
How would you go about getting into audio If you had to start all over again today?
Danny de Reybekill:The first thing, there's two or three things. Really. The first thing that I think I would have done is presented while I was at university, because there were really good quality studios there. Even for, you know, 2010 in North Wales, we were right next to a BBC Wales building where they presented right next to almost a building next to where our studio was.
And I wished that I'd have looked forward and thought of the possibilities. You know, in my university lectures, we were being constantly told that print was dead in my journalism lectures, print was dead. There's no point, you know, it's a sinking ship, get off it. And I wish that I'd have thought, you know, something other than.
I don't know, social media, Facebook and Twitter at the time. So yeah, that's my first thing. I wish I would have presented at university and really taken that opportunity that was there because now I teach in a university and I see the same thing happening where students have access to, you know, half a million pound studio suites that they just don't make use of.
And it kills me inside to know that I can see history repeating itself, to some extent. The second thing I would say is that I wish that I would have started sooner. I see young people now, 19 years old, contacting me as producers of shows on rinse FM and foundation FM. And I think I'm 10 years older than these people.
And I wish that I would have taken the bull by its horns, spoken to more people, and asked their opinions more. Delivered more things that would potentially have gone wrong, but I would have learned from, so I guess starting sooner I would say is twinned with testing things out and it kind of links to my final thing on this, which is, I wish that I would've.
Put on events sooner. One of the things that makes this kind of poignant is that in the three years I was doing the Berman Bay show. Yeah. This kind of cutting edge, new music, specialist drama based show that hadn't really been done before in the same way? I will never number four. I'm from radio, but never been done before in the same way in Birmingham for an independent radio station, was that.
I was getting really good guests that were, you know, guesting at events around the country and they'd come to Birmingham and they didn't have a place to promote themselves. Sure. They maybe had, you know, what's on guide or maybe the Birmingham mail to showcase and, and have some press in, but that didn't work if it was an event that was drum and bass or electronic music or heaven forbid, grime.
Whereas I knew that there was a gap. I knew that there was a gap where there weren't a huge amount of events going on that were doing this. There were bigger ones that were taking place. The rainbow formerly known as the mill and a few other places like, you know, lab 11 and amusement 13 seemed to be places that were putting on events, but none of those seem to tick the box of the kind of niche music that I was enjoying and the elements that I really enjoyed.
And there were little venues I worked at while I worked at an independent craft. Brewery. And I loved that and I thought it was fantastic. And I could see a daytime event going on there with beer and some pizza and chilled, slightly more relaxed drum and bass vibes being rolled out. And I thought that could work so well.
If I could get into it all again today, I would be putting on events and it's not quite audio, but it all goes hand in hand with, with my journey.
Tell us a secret about breaking into the audio industry.
Danny de Reybekill:My first one would be the way you email people makes a huge difference and is crucially important in how well they respond in their etiquette, in your advocates, in the communications that take place and thinking about you going forward while I was a booking agent and I was still involved with the radio world and broadcast, I be getting emails from people.
The L like they were text messages and I had developed my own email signature, and I was figuring all of these things out myself that I could do with, you know, um, neatening up things. Yeah. And I was still seeing people's messages, you know, in the same way. And I remember someone saying after about two months of being a booking agent, having taken on the roster, having had to learn DIY how to manage bookings, write contracts, chase up, and, you know, even having to drive people last minute to events on my own, I've realized that.
Even still, I was doing things in a more professional manner. And as a result was getting people saying, you're the best booking agent I've ever come across. Can we take you on and that sort of thing. So it wasn't faking it till you make it? I don't think because I believe that we're in a position where we make our own luck and we, we are the ones that decide our own futures.
However, Just being able to put a coherent email together and understanding the difference between kind regards and best wishes and knowing when to use someone's name and doing a bit of research to check in with someone beforehand, before I send off something made a huge difference. The second thing in terms of secrets, I wouldn't say is so much of a secret as much as it is.
And understanding that people love to see a new face succeed in the industry, whether that's the audio, the music, the broadcast, whatever, uh, generally the wider music and creatives industry. But it's crucially important to remember that your career will not always be that upward trajectory that you expect it to be.
And quite often behind the scenes, you know, there are years and years of hard work working in a business to business facing role that comes anywhere before you even release or have music released that is customer facing or audience facing. Uh, and even if you are just working, you know, internally, not as an artist or, or someone who has a face on the front of it, it is really important to remember.
It's not always going to be straight upwards. You are going to have elements and times where you take a dip and you take a dive and that's okay. That's absolutely fine.
What's the best mistake you've ever made?
Danny de Reybekill:Trying to leave the music industry and become a firefighter. Now for those that aren't aware, this is actually quite a common issue. Um, for people who are having either burnout or mental breakdown, about two and a half years ago, I was having both and after a failed relationship, I tried to leave the music industry that I was.
Involved in actually what had happened was I was working on BBC, introducing absolutely killing it, loving it, having the best time of my life. And I didn't get a promotion that I was expecting. I'd get. And as a result, I pushed myself into anything else that I was doing completely burnt myself out because I had this void that I thought was being filled by this BBC role.
And I burnt myself out. I lost all of my love for drum and bass for electronic music, for music in general, for the music industry, for the music business. And I tried to leave the whole music industry one Christmas, um, and I applied to be a firefighter. I didn't get through, I've got dreadlocks, so I don't really think it would work anyway, but as a result, It made me and forced me to address the things that I'd either taken for granted not addressed or looked at.
I really established a relationship with my father. Um, I went back to basics with what I was doing at the radio station, the independent radio station. I was doing way too much and I stripped it all back and started from scratch. Again. I wrote myself some daily to-do lists, some weekly goals, some annual kind of goals.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, what I wanted, what I needed. Do how much I was going to pay off of my student loan and my debts. And if I hadn't have done that, I wouldn't be in the stable position. I am touch wood where, you know, I'm able, even in what we're currently living through, is a lockdown and a global pandemic of being able to save and put money away for the future, which I am just incredibly lucky and incredibly blessed to be in a position to do.
And that doesn't come from, you know, handouts or money from my parents. That's come from a lot of hard work and developing these relationships with people, developing networks, and then also putting myself in a position where I was forced to take stock and reevaluate everything that I was doing and align things that I could see ahead of me behind me and around me.
What are the things you have to learn, after getting into the audio industry?
One of the things I learned about is something that I see my students making the same mistake with an interesting point of note with the audio and music industry that I'm involved in is that there is this assumption that as soon as you release music as an artist, as soon as you send your first email with your blog that you have, or as soon as you start your radio show, you're considered.
Part of the music industry. You don't get a badge, you don't get a certificate to say that you're part of the industry. It just happens. And that's it. The problem with it is that so many myself included we're not qualified yet. And our qualifications come through just like I grew up with it. DIY experience on the job, learning as you go.
The problem is that you never learn how to do some things, or it takes a long time. And I'm lucky that as a tutor, as a lecturer, as a module leader, I'm able to go through everything that I learnt and assess how much of it makes sense. Are there any actual titles for things I just found myself doing? And that invariably I've found that the answer is yes, there are tons of titles and labels and theories behind all of those things that I figured out was the best route through to send an email or whatever.
That sending of emails, ironically is kind of where I'm going with this. The thing that I learned about after getting into the industry is email etiquette. Which is hugely important for anyone now that knows. And I know that it's something that I have been harping on about. It's something that my students and people around me know that I talk about a lot, because it makes a huge difference for so many of us who use email as a main form of communication and press, even when it comes to the world of music, being able to.
Take stock and wait for an email to gland to go through, be received. And then knowing when to send a chaser, I think is one of the main things that you kind of figure out there are different ways in which it's done depending on the industry. And I think for the music world, we know that there's no point in sending an email on a Friday at two or three o'clock, for example, on, you know, a new music release day.
It's unlikely that whoever's there is going to be receiving it in a good mood, let alone with an open and fresh mind to give it consideration. So knowing about that calendar that occurs in that given industry, I think is really important. And does all link back to the idea of email etiquette and understanding.
Tell us about the person in the audio industry who helped you most when building your career.
Danny de Reybekill:The first two people, uh, in the music industry and the audio industry who helped me the most when building my career and when it developed into a career, I actually came across for the first time on Gumtree, which is never the best place to find people. To be honest, I was looking for writing jobs and this was in my.
Third year at university. And I came across this new magazine that was just starting up, that was looking at developing a narrative and showcasing and sharing a spotlight on bass music. It was called base Explorer and it was run by Kane Shutler and Pete Callahan. Now these two were just fantastically friendly, really, really welcoming, and somehow.
When I think back on, you know, how lucky we were. I realized, ironically, I think they were pretty lucky as well from people who just started off as writers and lovers of drum and bass and electronic music. One of the former writers for bass Explorer has gone on to not once, but twice take the Christmas slot of the drum and bass show on radio 1 on the BBC airwaves, others have gone on to work with the likes of Andy C the likes of Ram records and also music and myself, teaching at a BIM Institute, as well as going on to present on BBC, introducing our waves as well, and many more. That's just a collective, close selection of the people that I can, I can recall.
But base Explorer was this incredible hub, which doesn't even exist now, uh, was an incredible hub. To allow people to listen and read really interesting narratives about new music that was being released, but also crucially, I think it allowed us to develop our skills. One of the main things that I really appreciated about Cain and Pete who ran bass Explorer was that they were straight talking friendly people.
They didn't have that music industry or audio industry snobbery that comes with not understanding how something works. They were one of the best incubators, um, for allowing us all to cut our teeth in the audio and music industry, because they gave us the opportunity to ask questions about things we didn't understand.
Well, how would we do this? And how do we make use of that WordPress file? And what software can we use for editing our voices and for recordings, they were some of the earlier people talking about podcasting back in 2012, 2013, and, uh, you know, look at it going now is it's absolutely massive. But yeah, small, humble beginnings from Gumtree.
The, uh, the next person, I would say, uh, who has been absolutely pivotal in building and driving my career in the audio industry is the head honcho of prem radio. It recently hit 2 million, 2 million minutes lessons, I think on Mixcloud. Uh, it's been going for five years and. One of the guys is Rich Farmer, something of a dad of the radio station.
You know, he grew up on a pirate radio as a pirate radio DJ. And he was really the one that lit my drum and bass show as an old school jungle list. The work that he's done behind the scenes as the it guy really has been second to none. And if I could tip my hat and shout out anybody from radio, it would 100%.
Be him, he's the life and blood of, of the station. I'm really proud to be part of anything that he's involved in.
What's the one piece of advice that you would give to anyone starting out in audio?
Danny de Reybekill:to go develop your contacts. This is the first thing I would say. It's really important to go out and converse with people, you know, at the moment we're doing it virtually.
That means. Get your LinkedIn up to date. Look after your online profiles, because that is how people will be finding you at this time. Working on your contacts extends to developing a database. This doesn't have to be too extensive, but also if you need to, if you want to make an Excel spreadsheet.
It's one of the best things I ever did for my contacts and piled them in there. And when you've got a Sunday night and you've got nothing else to do, instead of flicking through Instagram, just spend 10 minutes, just arranging them, sorting them out, adding to them, nurturing them. You will find that it does definitely pay dividends.
My second thing would be to maintain those contacts and maintain those bridges. As we walk up in industry, as we develop through a career, it can be very, very easy. And you may find yourself wanting to jump, say goodbye, say Sayonara to that shitty job, but I would urge you not to. The way that we behave on the way up is absolutely pivotal on the way we're treated on the way down.
And there is no denying that that is the way that life is. You will never have a total upward trajectory. And it is very important to acknowledge that maintaining those bridges as you travel around your industry. And as you traveled around your career will say a lot about you and it will be remembered.
Finally, I would say the authentic, I spent some time, I think it was on a workshop or doing some work experience with Capital in Birmingham. And I worked with a producer, a great producer called Josh, who was working on their breakfast show. And I was a bit anxious. You know, I was going into a commercial radio station pitching as a presenter.
In the knowledge that I looked fairly alternative, you know, I've still got a septum piercing. I've got shaved sides to my heads and dreadlocks. And although I sound quite good, I was worried about what I looked like and the best advice that he gave me apart from a clear your throat and don't cough on air was to make sure that I maintained my authenticity.
And I'm so grateful that that was given because it was what gave me the push to go back to the independent station, to eventually get on, to introducing, to work my way through, to being a lecturer to globally recognized university was through being authentic and being myself and just remembering who I was and what I was good at and what I enjoyed, you know, it was good that I had a passion for something different, which was drum and bass.
It was good. I had a mixed heritage and I could talk about that. And, and, and draw upon that when it was referenced and when it was necessary, um, that authenticity has served me so well. So I tip my hat again, not only to the other people in my story and my narrative also to Josh for his wise words.