Issy Hughes is a Radio DJ based in Somerset. She's best known for hosting hit music show 'The Room' (previously 'Mod Radio Show'). She pushes the boundaries, she's making radio rebellious, meet Issy Hughes. She's a year 12 student at Huish Episcopi Academy.
I'm a manic music fan, every minute of the day I'm listening to music. Even if I don't have any musical devices with me, I'll play an album in my head. I think, live and breathe music. Everything is made up of music if you think about it.
One day, when I was 13 years old, I was sat upstairs bored out of my mind and I thought to myself "I love music, I love talking, why don't I have a radio show?". At the time, my main musical influences were 'The Who', 'The Jam' and 'The Beatles' so I named it "Mod Radio Show". At first the shows would only be 30 minute podcasts where I played my favourite music and talked about my day to day life. I came up with my old DJ name 'Mad Mod DJ' because I was only 13 and wanted to hide my identity. After a year or so of doing podcasts, I went to visit BBC Somerset to see a real radio station. Here, Emma Britton gave me so much advice and I'm very grateful for her support. Seeing a real radio station was an amazing insight which spurred me on further into wanting to become a real radio DJ. I then extended my podcasts to 45 minutes long every Friday evening at 7pm (they went out live) and set up social media accounts for the show on Facebook & Twitter. This started to attract more and more listeners, it's those people that I owe so much to for taking time out of their day to listen to a little teenager talk about music; if any of you are reading this, THANK YOU! I did that for another 6 months and then a Twitter friend recommended I join Frome FM and present Mod Radio Show there. I sent in an application and after a training session, I was riding the airwaves.
My first few shows on Frome FM consisted of music and talking (still under the tag Mad Mod DJ) until the inspirational Horace Panter of The Specials gave me my very first interview. I am honoured to know such a lovely man and I can never thank him enough for his support of my show from the beginning (if you're reading this Horace, THANK YOU!) After experiencing what an interview was like, I was hooked. I loved hearing musical icons talk about their experiences in the music industry. I'm often asked who has been my favourite interview. As I previously said, Horace has been ace and I loved interviewing him however apart from him my top 3 are: John Robb of The Membranes – he talked to me about The Fall and has become a friend of mine since the interview, he was hilarious and a real honour to converse with, punk isn't dead. Ranking Roger from The Beat – he was so funny, we talked about Come Dine With Me and he said he liked the idea of my "Egg & chips, cheese on toast followed by bananas and custard" menu, I was lucky enough to meet him in Manchester and he even made me laugh then. And finally Shaun Ryder – we talked about Chile Con Carne (a reoccurring topic seems to be food) and if he was David Bowie for a day it was brilliant!! But of course, I've loved every single one of the interviews I've done and I'm really grateful to the people who gave up their time to speak to me I really appreciate all the support from every single person.
My shows just kept progressing, the music changed each fortnight and I told even worse jokes! The 'Mod' tag started to cause a slight stir from some listeners, but I enjoy receiving negative comments more than positive ones because they help me improve.
At the end of 2015, I decided to change the name from "Mod Radio Show" hosted by "Mad Mod DJ" to "The Room" hosted by "Issy Hughes". This was because I wanted to incorporate a larger variety of music without it being a specialist show. This has given me the freedom to cover the music spectrum and therefore attract different audiences. The name, 'The Room' came from how I started, broadcasting from my room solely with a laptop and a microphone. 'The Room' is a metaphorical place, anything that passes through The Room should be listened to and everyone is welcome there. The tag "Everything goes" sums this up nicely.
But, where do I want to go? What do I want to do in radio?
I want to make radio 'cool' again. I want anybody interested in music to listen to 'The Room' and find something they love. But in terms of my career, my ultimate dream is for 'The Room' to be a show on BBC Radio 6 Music. 6 Music is perfection, but I want 'The Room' to bring something new to 6 Music, something exciting and unique. Radio is what I want to do; there's nothing else I love doing more than radio.
Anyway, enough about me, let's talk music!
My favourite band of all time is The Fall. Why you ask? I love how within the first half a second of a song, you know it's The Fall. Mark E.Smith & his poetic lyrics, tingling bass lines and penetrating guitar riffs; it's The Fall. I've never seen them live though, I can never find anybody to come with me, I might just go on my own. I've been told that everybody at some point in their lives should see The Fall live or be a member!!
My favourite song of all time however, is The La's with 'There She Goes'. I was born in Liverpool but have spent most of my life living in Somerset so listening to music from the Liverpool music scene has a sentimental effect on me and it so happens There She Goes is simply beautiful. It's saddening The La's have a small back catalogue because they're so good, I wish they'd do a reunion.
A lot of people ask me where my love of music comes from, but to be honest there's so many factors that have played a part. When I was 8, I saw film "The School Of Rock" and I was fascinated by Jack Black's passion for rock music. Almost instantly I began to listen to bands such as AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, I loved the power. But then of course, my parents had a bit of an influence, my dad likes Britpop but his record collection makes Asda look like John Peel's (he was too busy riding his bike for music – he did mention his first gig was The Buzzcocks and he got backstage!!) My mum used to be a Punk 'back in the day' but she knows more about the fashion and subculture than the music (even though she saw The Fall!!) I should really credit my Godfather for my love of Joy Division too, I remember when I was 11, we went up to Liverpool to visit him and he was talking to me about Joy Division and I only knew 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and 'Transmission' so I went home and listened to them everyday. Punk music attracts me because of the controversial lyrics and attitudes, I love how rebellious it is and how welcoming original Punks are of young people interested in the music; most of my listeners seem to be original Punks!!
I love live music too, I'm at a gig most weekends. Being surrounded by other people who love music is fantastic. Music sounds so different live too, there may be a band you love when hearing their songs at home but you may not like their live sound. I find that fascinating. My top three gigs have been Peter Hook & The Light at Manchester Academy on the 30th October 2015 – I loved this one so much because it was really emotional, Joy Division have been a band I've grown up around and Peter Hook played the entire of Unknown Pleasures and Closer and being in Manchester too it was just the most beautiful thing and I'm honoured to have been a part of it. I also saw Sleaford Mods live in Exeter Cavern in 2015 on April 1st. - That was amazing because I'd done an interview with Jason and he came to meet me beforehand, it was right before they became massive so not that many people were there but the power that came through the speakers that night was unbelievable. And finally, I saw The Who in Liverpool Echo Arena on the 30th June 2013, they were the band that started it all for me. I can't even put into words what that evening was like, I cried the entire time."
Here are some of Issy's listeners from all walks of life telling us what they think of Issy as a DJ and as a friend.
Horace Panter of The Specials -
"At the tender age of 16 it is astounding that this girl has such a thorough grounding in music that was old before her time but she's in the game of keeping it very much alive! Northern Soul boffin and dee-jay
Issy is your boss dee-jay
Guaranteed to make your day.
Often imitated - never duplicated.
Take it away Issy!"
Simon Wolstencroft of The Fall -
"A rising star in the broadcasting world, Issy has pioneered her own innovative and eclectic radio show using her vast knowledge of alternative,retro and contemporary sounds, in her unique and engaging style.
Not afraid to push the boundaries, she has interviewed luminaries such as 'I'm a celebrity' star Shaun Ryder and myself, an eleven year veteran of Indie rock band the Fall.
BBC 6 Music? Watch this space."
Matt Ingham of Cherry Red Records -
"I've been working with Issy for the past year or so and have found her both incredibly professional and thoroughly knowledgeable. It's refreshing to meet a young DJ and music lover who has such a wide range of musical tastes and will treat each project with skill and expertise beyond her years. Every artist interviewed has been put at ease and her natural enthusiasm for music shines through in her shows. She has a bright future and I hope to work with her for a long time to come"
Jim Shepherd of Jasmine Minks -
'Issy is the future of broadcasting. She has a way with people that brings out the best in them. It's great to see a new generation of energetic and intelligent broadcasters and good to know that the radio is in good hands. Also, she has a sense of history - any fan of The Fall is an asset for any radio station!'
Colin Sturgess – World Champion cyclist & listener -
"Issy brings a level of maturity far beyond her years. She puts the interviewee at ease and is genuinely interested in what they have to say. She exhibits depth and breadth of good musical taste. I listen to her show on Frome FM whenever possible, and will continue to do so where-ever she may DJ...
In short: Issy Rocks! She's our nation's saving grace!"
Duff Fawcett – The Godfather -
"I have known Issy since she was a baby and it has been a joy to watch her flourish. She calls me the Godfather as I am her's! Issy also accredits me for her love of Joy Division and her knowledge of the band has now well surpassed mine. Whilst listening to her show, I find her interviewing style even more impressive than her music knowledge. She has a way of putting people at ease whilst keeping control of the conversation. Anybody who can control Shaun Ryder is the Ace Face in my book!"
Tony Bell a listener-
"A friend suggested I listen to Issy's show on Frome FM and I'm glad I did tune in, if for no other reason than Issy introduced me to Sleaford Mods. Her knowledge of music is incredible for someone so young, and the amount of research she puts into her shows means that her listeners will always have something new or different to appreciate. If you meet Issy in person you'll never forget her: A 'force of nature' is the best way to describe her when she talks about music and her radio show."
Robert Hogg a close friend of Issy -
"Wow, where did you get that bike?!" - This was how I started my first conversation with Issy on a summer's afternoon in 2011, outside a cafe in a small village. Nothing, from the conversation we had that day, nothing about the full lycra cycling outfit, or what we conversed about, would lead me to believe she would reveal to be such a captivating and fantastic radio show DJ, with such a diverse, yet characteristic and unique style. I truly believe that in years to come, we will see a great deal from Issy. There are lots of people her age that could take example from Issy's determination and hard work, which has lead her on the path to success."
Immy Done a listener & drummer of band "The Incas" -
"I first met Issy when she purchased a framed picture of The Who from me at a car boot sale, from the very moment we started discussing the band's work I could tell that her knowledge and passion for music seems never ending. Having been following Issy's radio career since her weekly podcasts online, I have watched this fantastic individual grow into a very professional and well rounded DJ. Tuning in to her show twice a month is something to look forward to for sure as well as her excitement for the classics and lesser known bands of the past and present; Issy has such an interest and devotion to live music and up and coming artists. As well as being easily one of my favourite people to go to the pub with."
All photos by davidlongstaffe photography:
www.davidlongstaffe.com for booking enquiries.
Special thanks to everyone who kindly contributed their thoughts for this article.