July 10, 2012 Leave a comment
In the first part of our interview with radio journalist Nico Prat, we talked about his book, Les Miscellannées d’Internet. In this second part, he tells us why he cherishes his job, what made a difference in his life and what, at the dawn of his 27 th year, he expects from life.
Photos by Celeste Rhoads.
Tell me about the genesis of your first book.
I think I had written an article on VSD, on what I had called « humor 2.0 », in essence saying that jokes were no longer exchanged at the office’s watercooler, but by email, chainmail. I wanted to go a little further than this article, interviewing who was at the origin of that type of sense of humor, and what it meant for us as a society. At this time, I was working on a project with Antoine Dubuquoy. He’s 45, he’s been working in advertising for quite some time now, and I said listen, who could I possibly use for this idea ? He said he didn’t know, but that he was working on a book that would later be the one we released last year, and he said he’d love to do it with me. He had already written a blurb, that was very historical, and I added my own spin on it, which was more about the current aspect of the web, more about the humorous aspect of it, and that became the book.
Your very first book.
My real baby is GloryBox. But it’s my baby with Antoine.
So your real baby, your real projects, are on radio ?
Absolutely. GloryBox is my baby. This is the aspect of work that I cherish the most. I’m working on episode 22. We are very proud of it, with Mehdi Fattah, the show’s producer, because there is a real young electro and pop scene in France that has no inhibitions, that never plays by the rules, that doesn’t try to belong to any specific theme but would quote the Stooges as well as french singer Alain Souchon as main influences – I’m thinking about Aline, Superpoze, bands like those, Mr Nô for instance. I’m really proud that, for an hour, I can leave them the control on national airwaves. I’m still master of ceremony, I still have to take them into a direction and ask questions, but during this whole hour, we learn to discover them, we learn about their journey, we listen to a lot of very good music. The season will be over in three episodes, and looking back, Mehdi and I are super proud. Neither of us is the cause of what happened, but all those bands managed to be booked at important festivals, and they probably would have done it regardless of GloryBox, but we gave them the opportunity to tell who they are, with their own words.
Do you pick the artists you’re going to showcase or do they somehow find a way to reach you ?
We set up an email address, email@example.com, where bands can send us files and stories. We listen to everything. Some of it we don’t like. Some of it we kind of like, and it ends up in the « sampler » section of the show, and when I have a crush on a band, I select it to spend one hour with the band. If I don’t crush on it, if I’m forcing myself to deal with them, for whatever reason – that it could be good for the station, that it could be good for the show – I’m not going to have a good time, I’m not going to believe in it, and you’ll feel it as a listener. There are criterias, of course, and first and foremost, we have to deal with them before they release their first album.
And how did you manage to put Franz Is Dead on the air ? It already released an album.
Franz Is Dead released an EP. That was his second EP, he also released a mini album with only eight tracks, and it was a paralleled project, so the rules couldn’t apply. The other day we were on the air with O Safari, a band that has only released one track, this just one track. But we had such a massive fall-in-love moment with this track that we picked them for the show. We invited them from that three-minutes song called « Taxi ». With the artists we really manage to establish trust. We have a GloryBox night on Friday where O Safari and Superpoze will play live, there is a little family aspect to it.
And you’re working with artists that would not necessarily be highlighted otherwise, in press or media in general.
Not necessarily. If you look at the format, it’s one hour on national radio, during which we spin four of their tracks, where they have almost absolute control of the programmation, where a review takes place : I honestly do not believe we changed the lives of any artist we shed the spotlight on, they would have done it without us. But I like to believe that at the stage of their career, it couldn’t hurt. And if we managed to help a band through the show, I am particularly proud of it. If someone comes up to me and said, « I discovered said or said band through you », this is where I am at my happiest. We try to put as much fun as we can into the show.
The little nod to Portishead, was it voluntarily decided, or just an after thought ?
It really wasn’t how the show was called initially. It was supposed to be called « Starter », which I really liked, but we had to ensure the name wasn’t already used by another radio show, so we had to submit every possible name we could think of : it was almost named « Pop, etc » , « At the beginning », etc. We submitted thirty names or so, and two of them were available, including Glory Box. Yes, there is a nod to Portishead. But this is what it means : a mini glory box that you open with a lot coming out of it.
Knowing your age (Nico will be 27 in July), what is your next big step ? You released your first book before you turned 30 ; you have your own radio show on national airwaves before you turned 30. You will release your second book before hitting 30. What is left to do ?
Swim across the world. (laughs) Seriously, I have no idea. Continuing Glory Box, for sure. Sure, I have a few ideas, that I can’t tell you because they’re not supposed to get out. But I’m already feeling like I’m hallucinating right now. The past year has been amazing for me. Everything I love is in my work. I love getting up in the morning. There will be the second book, the second season of GloryBox that will operate under a few different changes, in september.
But you’re happy.
I’m happy. I’m the happiest. It feels really good. I remember the first time we did an interview together, and when I look at the photos I feel like I was ten years old. I had shaved, I had my old glasses and I was wearing a close-fitted white tshirt. It’s not an easy job, it is really hard, so I’m really happy that so many people gave me a chance – Laura Lieschmann, Jean Zeid, Emilie Mazoyer, that supported me, people I owe a lot. All I can hope for myself is to keep on making that kind of connection with people.
How can someone that young find themselves on such an established radio station ? (Le Mouv’)
One thing with me is that I love the idea of public service, I love the idea of owing people something. I am paid with taxpayer’s money, and I think that’s a beautiful principle and applies pressure, forcing us into an ethos. When I was a kid, I lived in Rouen, and whenever we would go and see her on weekend, we would drive past the Radio City, and I could see the giant poster of key radio personalities and I was telling myself, « When I grow up, I’ll be one of them ». And why Le Mouv’, it’s because the people I met were working there, and that’s how I found myself there.
It’s funny, cause my sister is a journalist as well, a radio journalist, and she has the same attachment to the art – she refuses to do any press, any television, she’s really into radio.
I still do press, because that’s how I started and I like how it’s a completely different exercize. Being on the radio wasn’t in the plan. I have grown attached to it, but it wasn’t in the works. I just wanted to be a journalist. I find it crazy to be paid to give your opinion, and being paid to do GloryBox, it’s crazy to me, because no matter what, I would have still done something similar, I would have had a blog, I would have had it as a hobby, but what I love is now my job, and I feel incredibly lucky.
What has changed the most for you between now and back when I first interviewed you ? What is the thing that has made its mark upon you ?
My interview with Anton Newcombe remains the worst I’ve ever done. (laughs) Really, two things that I will always remember : the day I got my first book in my hands. I remember going to all bookstores to see the book display. I remember entering rooms to sign books and seeing piles and piles of my own book around. It’s very strange. And the second thing is when I became in charge of my very first show. I had been on radio before, I had little segments, little reviews, but I had never been in charge to cover the Eurockéennes festival. 2 hours live – already a hard exercize when it’s your job, but back then, I had little to no experience. They really took a chance on me and I had a lot of fun doing it. Those experiences marked who I am and made for fantastic memories. A lot of things happened from then on. My bosses played my bluff and I hope I never disappointed anyone.
Would you be ready to give back to the community and introduce young people to the art of radio now ? Do you feel experienced enough to be in their shoes ?
No, not at all. This is not my place. I am 26 years old. Who am I to give advice ? I don’t have enough experience as of yet to really help someone get through. The other day some guy showed up before the show and asked to see how things were getting done, so I let him into the studio. If someone asks me advice, sure I will answer, but I have no journey to speak of… it’s going well, for sure, but I’m no teacher, this is not my position. I’m still knocking on wood. Stop saying it’s exceptional, this is where everything will start falling into pieces (laughs).
So you don’t feel you’re « there » ? That you’ve arrived ?
No, I haven’t arrived anywhere. Maybe when I’m 75. I will never be « there ».
So you will never be Pascal Nègre ?
No. It’s funny you’re asking because you’re taking a guy like Philippe Manœuvre, who is still there, can you really reproach them for being still there ? Everyone’s staying the old generation’s gotta move, that they need to make room for the youth of today to have some space. Can we really reproach them for still having something to say ? When I’m 50, when I’m an old ass without anything left to say, will I have the intelligence to go away when I need to ? I can’t know that for sure. Of course you can say that Rock’n’Folk is close-minded, I do believe that Pascal Negre’s vision of the Internet is vomit-inducing, someone else saying « music is dead » made me believe I’m happy they’ve retired … but you can’t deny that those people had made something of their lives and have changed things, in a way. They may have made mistakes but they believed in them. I’m not sure I can say I would have done things any differently.