Exclusives Interviews 18 January 2020
Author: Alice Moodle

GRM Exclusive: Julie Adenuga Talks New Apple Music Beats 1 Show, Favourite Interviews & More

18 January 2020

Julie Adenuga is no new-comer to Radio. Kicking off her career back in 2010 at Rinse FM before shifting to Apple Music’s Beats 1 as one of the three lead DJs on Apple Music station in 2015, she knows what she’s doing behind the mic.

Loved for her creative and open approach to interviews and shows, her Monday to Friday Apple Music’s Beats 1 slot pulled in fans from all over the globe. After five years of doing her weekday show, it’s time for a change. We sat down to find out what plans she has for this new radio routine and her new show, Agenda.

“So my new show is gonna be a weekly show of one hour. It’s just one hour a week, it’s going to be so weird. I’ve been on the radio for ten years and in that time, I’ve been on the radio more times than I haven’t. I feel like I’ve said a lot of things and played a lot of songs so maybe it’s good timing but it’s going to be really weird, but it’ll be interesting.”

In a slight panic, I ask “is your Friday show going too?” thankfully she replies no.

“There’ll be my one-hour Agenda show every Tuesday and then the Friday show is still gonna exist but I want to make it bigger than what it is. To me, it’s an entertainment show so I want to do more with it. Like when we had Daniel Kaluuya on or Letitia Wright. It’s just a nice way to be able to have people who don’t just make music. The Friday show, for me, isn’t all about the music, it’s about the fun and the banter. So yeah, the Friday show will stay and grow.”

Curious on what’ll make Julie’s Agenda show different to her previous show, I ask what’s new?

“Agenda is asking what do we all want to stand behind and push and represent and shout about really loudly? How do we all come together and make artists our priorities and really build them to be huge? How do we all come together and shout about these artists? That’s what Agenda is but yeah it’s the UK, we want to shout about the UK and the artists from the UK and everything that is the UK.”

“The sick thing about Agenda is it’s the music that I listen to anyway. It’s Rap, Grime, R&B, Hip Hop. It’s also what all of us are listening to outside of the UK. It’s Burna Boy, Koffee, Travis Scott, Pop Smoke but it’s definitely more heavily the stuff that we’re making. It’s Headie One, it’s Jorja Smith, it’s Ms. Banks. Agenda for me is perfect because it’s the stuff that I really care about.”

On Apple Music, you can listen to the Agenda playlist where hip-hop and R&B are always moving. Catching tracks and artists setting the Agenda across rap and R&B in the UK and beyond and now Julie is going to be bringing this to life.

Representing authentic voices of the UK and more, spanning grime, international rap, hip-hop, R&B, afrobeats and everything in between, Julie will be setting the Agenda.

Throughout Julie’s career at Apple Music’s Beats 1, she’s interviewed incredible artists from all around the globe, with so many names to pick from I asked her to narrow down her favourites interviews from across the years. It didn’t take her long to come up with her top three as she replied “My favourite one, my absolute number one is Skepta, my number two is Summer Walker. And my number three is between slowthai and Mist.”

“When you watch a Mist video, he’s just the guy with foxes in the snow or like shorts in the sun or something, like he’s just doing something epic just in some kind of epic place with like quad bikes or whatever. His videos look like they cost a million squillion pounds and he’s just in all the jewellery in the world. Do you know what I mean? There’s like a vibe. You get a vibe off Mist, and then he came in the studio and we could have been sitting down on the sofa just drinking a cup of tea and eating biscuits. As he was talking I was just sat thinking “this guy’s wonderful”. I just had him being a typical rapper, acting like what typical rappers are like. But no, it wasn’t that at all, it was wonderful.”

“It was the same thing with slowthai, slowthai’s pure energy, you see in him and you’re like “this guy is just off the wall, he’s a mad man”. He is always just running around screaming, usually naked in his boxers. But he came into the studio and he was like, “I cried today Juls” And I was like, “Oh, you’re just the sweetest man”. I just want to hug him and like rub his back and tell him it’s going to be okay. Like he’s just got that vibe about him. I think it’s always those type of interviews, you think they’re going to go one way and then you have a chat with them and for whatever reason, their whole guard is down and they just open up to you and they speak without any sort of protection, they’re just open, those have been my favourite ones.”

“Summer Walkers was actually completely the opposite. To me, it was great because it was a lesson for me as an interviewer that everyone is different and she is the most introverted person I’ve ever met. Normally someone would be an introvert but you chat for a couple of minutes and they sort of warm-up whereas Summer never got warm, she never let her guard down. For me, it was a lesson of being a human being and being an interviewer that everyone is different and as long as she is okay to be here and she’s comfortable being here, then this is the interview and it’s okay.

“Every interview can go to the same, but to be in a room with someone who doesn’t like doing this, this is uncomfortable for her and she’s having to push herself out of somewhere and for me to have to go to where she is rather than just be loud and shouty like I normally am was the lesson that you can’t learn without that type of experience. It’s a lesson about life, like what is your job really about? That was a challenge for me, those are lessons that you can’t buy.”

Known for her in-depth interviews with the stars, we moved on to speak about who Julie would love to interview, dead or alive. “People don’t always believe me but before I started working here, even in retail, I always wanted to interview Steve Jobs.”

After working in Regent street’s Apple store before getting into the world of radio, I was interested to find out what it is about not only the Apple brand but Steve Jobs himself that Julie is so supportive of.

“I just think he’s one of the most brilliant human beings to ever exist on this planet. I love people who don’t care about what has been done and only want to do what hasn’t been done no matter how it looks to people. I had this conversation with my brother yesterday, we were talking about it and he said, Tyler, the Creator, and our oldest brother Junior are like this too. People that just want to do something and know it hasn’t been done before and that’s okay. People like that are inspiring to me because they say things that I have never thought about.”

“After a while, your brain will naturally start to think within certain parameters. Like you could think, okay, I want to build a house. So you think about all the things that it takes to build a house, but you don’t think, something so dumb like cotton wool could build it. You might not think that because, in your brain, it’s bricks and cement. But some people are like, I’m going to use cotton wool and you think how? How are you going to use cotton wool? Kanye West is one of them, Elon Musk another one. The fact that they just even think it’s possible for me is inspiring.

“Anyone that thinks outside of where I can operate, I’m here for that. I think people think that I’m an Apple person because of where I work. But I was an Apple person before I even started working in Regent Street. That’s been me and Jamie from the beginning of Macintoshes. So yes, Steve Jobs would have been the one, maybe not even an interview but I would love to just sit down with him.”

Continuing to chat about who Julie would love to steal for an interview, she mentions Lena Waithe and Tracee Ellis Ross before finishing on Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith. I begin asking my next question but halfway through Julie yells “MS DYNAMITE”.

“I met her by accident but I think I scared her, I went into a meeting room and looked to my left and she’s there. I hugged her, but I hugged her for too long. I loved it but maybe it was awkward but for her, but I’m sorry Ms. Dynamite, I had too. I tried to hug her for the amount of joy she’s brought to my life. I thought I need to hug you, I need to hug you for everything you’ve ever done for me. I hugged for a bit too long. But yeah, Ms. Dynamite. That’s one I want to do, that’ll be the hour-long, call your friends round, schedule it, sit down and watch that new Julie and Ms. Dynamite interview. That’s on my list. I need to do that before I get out of this earth, please.”

Moving on to find out what kinda music is dominating Julie’s playlists, she answers quicker than any previous question yet “NSG!”.

“I can’t stop listening to them. I’m in love with them. I keep saying I wish I was 16 years old because when you’re 16 it’s acceptable to be a girl screaming at a concert for six random men.”

Julie is quick to prove her NSG love to me grabbing her laptop and pulling up a picture of the group. “Let me show you”. Telling me all about each member and even who’s verse is who’s on their hit “Trust Issues”.

“I love all of them, they’re amazing. But yeah, I really wish I was 16 so I could just be a fangirl. But now as a grown 30-year-old woman, I can’t just be screaming for NSG. But they’re dominating my playlist at the moment, I listened to trust issues at least once a day, it’s hard cause once it finishes, I think I want to start this over again, so usually, I do. NSG is everything.”

“For an album, IGOR, he’s incredible and this is the first proper Tyler (the creator) I’ve listened to. I’ve liked loads of Tyler’s songs, but this is the first time I’ve proper listened to an album of his.” Going on to list other tracks she’s rinsing, Julie tells me all about Don Toliver, Baby Keem, Tinashe Rosalía, Greentea Peng and Shaybo.

As we enter 2020, I dug to find out what Julie has planned to kick off the new decade.

“I want to do more Don’t @ Me parties, I want to get Benji Flow on, I want to get Little Simz to perform. I want to somehow get NSG on there but the stage is quite small” she laughs.

“Yeah, I just want to do more of Don’t @ Me parties. I want to maybe do some outside of London, I don’t know where just maybe around the UK, and maybe some outside the UK too, maybe Atlanta. I’ve got some friends that keep telling me about Atlanta and I feel like it would work perfectly there. It’s got a good Nigerian community.”

“The Agenda show is another. I’m just looking forward to that in general. I’m looking forward to supporting artists. That’s like my favourite thing. That’s why I do my job. It’s what I’ve been doing for my whole life in music but on a massive scale. Then like I said with the Friday show, I want it to grow, I want more people that this is not really their normal type of radio, so I want more actors and I want more podcasters, more comedians.”

“I guess now I won’t be doing a show every day, I want to use that to be even more focused and then do everything that I’m doing better, to the best it can be done and make bigger moments out of them. Sometimes you can be spread a bit thin when you’re doing a daily radio show, you haven’t got time to really listen to this song and talk about it and shout about it for a week because tomorrow I’ve got to do another show for two hours. Whereas now I can focus more and I can do things bigger and I can make big amendments out of stuff. So that’s the aim for 2020.”

Listen to Agenda with Julie Adenuga Tuesdays at 7pm on Apple Music’s Beats 1 live for free at apple.co/B1_Agenda or on-demand with an Apple Music subscription. The Friday Show with Julie will continue every Friday 2-4pm at  apple.co/B1_Julie. Julie’s club night Don’t @ Me will return 30th January at London’s Omeara. Tickets will be available from 23rd January.