Guest links:

  • Karen on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/misskarenp/
  • Folded Wing website: https://www.foldedwing.co.uk/
  • Folded Wing on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/foldedwinguk/
  • The Jazz Show with Jamie Cullum: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rr86v
  • Round Midnight with Soweto Kinch: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001xmqv

Summary

Karen P discusses her background in music, from growing up in South End and discovering music through friends and radio, to working at Virgin Records and Radio 1. She shares her experiences working with Giles Peterson and the transition to DJing. Karen also talks about imposter syndrome and the supportive colleagues who helped her along the way. Karen P shares her journey as a DJ and how it led her to start her own company, Folded Wing. She discusses the importance of staying connected to music and the challenges of the podcasting industry. Karen also provides advice for those looking to get into radio and podcasting.

Takeaways

  • Karen P's passion for music was nurtured through friends, radio, and working at a local theater in South End.
  • Her time at Radio 1 provided valuable experience and opportunities to work with renowned DJs and producers.
  • Working with Giles Peterson and Something Else Production allowed Karen to expand her musical knowledge and develop her DJing skills.
  • Karen emphasizes the importance of using her platform in the music scene to elevate and support other artists. Starting small and taking opportunities can lead to big things in the DJing industry.
  • Having an agent can help DJs get more gigs and travel the world.
  • DJing can open doors to other opportunities, such as starting a company.
  • Staying true to your passion and focusing on high-quality content can set your podcast apart in a crowded market.

Chapters

00:00 Introduction

01:02 Background and Early Music Influences

03:22 Music Scene in South End and Indie Clubs

04:28 Moving to Leeds and Exploring the Music Scene

05:20 Crossover of Music Genres in Leeds

06:03 Transitioning to University and Working at Virgin Records

07:26 Working at Radio 1 and Transitioning to London

08:54 First Role as a Production Assistant at Radio 1

11:02 Working with Giles Peterson and Folded Wing

13:23 Imposter Syndrome and Supportive Colleagues

20:26 Getting into DJing and the Responsibility in the Music Scene

25:59 DJing and Playing for Big Crowds

26:26 Getting Started as a DJ

27:12 Working with an Agent

28:09 Traveling the World as a DJ

28:38 The Connection Between DJing and Starting a Company

30:12 Setting Up Folded Wing

31:45 Leaving Giles Peterson's Show

33:26 The Inception of Folded Wing

35:15 Staying Connected to Music

37:09 The Ups and Downs of Podcasting

38:13 The Challenge of Standing Out in a Crowded Podcast Market

42:29 Saying No to Projects That Don't Align with the Company's Vision

45:20 Staying Close to the Music

47:57 Upcoming Projects

49:49 Advice for Getting into Radio and Podcasting

Transcript

Adam Gow (00:03.374)

I'm Adam Gow, the DJ formerly and sometimes currently known as Wax On. Welcome to the Once A DJ Podcast. DJing and DJ culture have been a huge part of my life, for better or worse. They've given me a massive buzz at times and loads of stress at others and taught me a load of valuable lessons along the way. On this podcast, I speak to DJs from around the world who've made the names when it was just about skills and selection, not social media followers. We'll discuss their journey through ascendancy and what part it plays in their life now.

Whether they're still on the scene, said goodbye to the decks forever, or still get a sneaky mix in when life gives them the chance. Whatever road they've travelled, they were always once a DJ.

Adam Gow (00:48.718)

Welcome back to Once a DJ. Today we've got with us someone I've been looking to speak to for quite a long time now. So we've got Karen P who runs Fold His Wing, an incredible audio agency. Timeouts Queen of the podcast. She's produced shows for Giles Peterson, Ramesh Ranganathan, Jamie Cullum, loads more people. So really excited to get into it today. How are you doing, Karen? Hey, I'm good. I'm good.

Adam, thank you for having me. It's good that we finally made it happen. It's been a bit of a juggle in the folded wing world. So it's good to finally sit down with you. Yeah, but you know, you're a super busy place, making a load of good content, winning more and more awards, I can see. Yeah. So you won, I think, a couple of arias recently. Yeah, yeah. We won aria for Ramesh Sringanathan's hip hop show on Radio 2. We won gold for best.

music show. So that's amazing to have got a stamp of approval on that show, which is amazing. Brilliant. And the big thing I wanted to speak to you about is how you've taken DJing and you've kind of pivoted that passion and you've really like everything you do seems to be kind of in or around that world. So if we can just start then if we can look at kind of where you grew up and how you first got into music and DJing.

Yeah, of course. So I grew up in Essex in a place called South End on Sea. And I was grew up as an only child and didn't have massive kind of access to lots of music and things like that. So I guess my way of finally discovering music was through friends and also through the radio. So I was kind of like one of those people that used to listen to John Paine underneath the bed sheets and when I wasn't supposed to be. And also there was a lot of pirate radio that I

was able to listen to. So that opened me up to lots of various ways. I also was lucky enough, I used to do lots of part -time jobs from quite a very, very young age. And one of them was working at a local theater called the Cliffs Bavilion, which interesting, that's where Ramesh would come and if he does a tour now, that's where he would come, one of the places he would come. But they'd have amazing music there. So they'd have Jamiroquai and The Prodigy.

Adam Gow (03:10.446)

Yeah, I was at ACES, it was where they filmed the Rock and Roll Star video. So yeah, so there's a whole bunch of music and also there's a lot of jazz downstairs in that space. So it opened me up to a lot of music. There's an amazing guy called Paul Cassidy Bloke, who used to run the bar there and he was best friends with Gunshot, the UK hip hop band. So there's a lot of kind of cross section of music. I grew up actually in Southend.

high street just off of it with my mum. And the bottom of the road, I was lucky enough to have Essex Radio and Saks, which was like a club that would, people like Snowboy would go and play. And they do like during the day sets. And obviously I wasn't old enough to be able to go in those places, but I could hear the music coming from them. And I think it was quite a big kind of inspiration for, yeah, kind of the things that I got into. Yeah, that's a lot of cool stuff. I guess it's kind of right place, right time in a way.

Definitely right place, right time. Yeah, a big passion, passion for it really. And always loved music. Didn't really play instruments or producer or anything, just loved listening to it and being around it. And then when I was old enough to start going to clubs, I used to go to quite a lot of indie clubs. There was the Pink Toothbrush and Club Art. But again, within the kind of indie nights, I'd have a lot of hip hop and a lot of jazz. So a big.

mixture of things. Was that mid to late 90s then? Yeah, that would be mid to late 90s. So I started uni in 1997 and went to Leeds. So yeah, it would be... Yeah, because I guess there was quite a lot with the crossover with like Trip Hop and Indie and then they started using dusty sort of break beats.

Yes. In a lot of the stuff as well. Ah, totally. So nightmares and wax and tricky and massive attack. That was definitely the kind of stuff that I got into as well. I absolutely loved that. And then I did some A -levels. One of them was media and my media studies teacher was like, you have to continue to do this in some capacity. Right. And I didn't necessarily want to go to uni, but yeah, I mean, I applied, I did all my banker certificates and I got a job.

Adam Gow (05:30.19)

I got a job at the Swiss bank in London and I remember coming home crying and my mom was like, what's up? I was like, I don't think this is what I want to do. And she was very supportive. It was just like, well, what do you want to do? I was like, I want to work around music, but I don't know. Like, I don't know anyone. I don't know like anyone in record labels or anyone that works within music outside of working at the Chris Pavilion. So wrote loads of letters, loads and loads and loads of letters. They all came back saying, no, sorry, we don't have.

It was just for work experience even. Yeah. Nothing. Nothing. All came back. We don't have, we're only affiliated to this college and that college and, you know, and sorry, we'll keep, keep your letter on file. So nothing. So it pushed me to go to university. So I went to Leeds, which was an amazing place to go if you're into music as a place to live. Yeah. And I did this particular course because.

it would, they were going to help. I went back recently, I went back only a few months ago to do a lecture, which I absolutely loved doing. And I could talk, I said, are you okay if I talk candidly? They're like, yeah, of course. And the reason I did this particular course is because they were going to help you get work experience within the industry as part of the course, not in the summer holiday. Cause I knew that I had to work. So I worked in record shops and coffee shops and everything to kind of get the money while I was at uni. And then, and I was like, great, they're going to help me, you know, get, you know,

At this point, I was like, I either want to work in a record label or I want to work in radio. I wasn't quite sure. I didn't understand the roles and the jobs and things. Anyway, so I had my first day and I met the careers teacher and I said what I wanted to do. And she just laughed and said, well, we can't really help you. We haven't got any contacts. So then I wrote loads of letters again.

And then they all came back saying, oh, we're only affiliated to this London university and that. And I was like, oh, that's so, so annoying. So I was just about to go and get a work placement, which I found myself at BT. They had this thing called BT broadcasting services. And yeah, it was to go and kind of help on the tech side, which I wasn't very excited about. And then a day before I was about to start, Virgin Records left a voicemail, my mum's answering machine saying, oh, we've kept your letter on file.

Adam Gow (07:44.302)

we have a placement that's come up in our promotions department. Do you want to come? So I, of course, dropped BT and went and did Virgin, which was amazing. And the careers teacher called me up screaming, you can't mess around BT. You know, there were going to be a new kind of contact for us. I was like, but this is a dream. I have to take this. And what a time to be working at Virgin. So it was, it was the Spice Girls first album. It was the Verve.

It was all of that stuff. It was phenomenal. And yeah, so that's how I started. Looking back on it, I mean, that seemed like a really fertile time in this country anyway. There seemed to be a lot popping off culturally. Club scenes were really vibrant as well. I mean, there was a lot going on in Leeds, wasn't there? Oh my God, so much going on in Leeds. So that's what opened up.

Being in Leeds opened up to me what DJing is. You know, you have Back to Basics and I mean, I wasn't really into Techno and House, but my friends were. So I'd go along to the Techno and House nights, but I was really, really into soul and hip hop, as I keep saying. So I, and jazz, so there used to be a club called, or used to be a music venue called The Town of Country. They had a club called The Underground. Do you remember? Yeah. And it's so good. So they, they'd have like Roy Ayres would come and do a free night and, and,

Oh, just, it was amazing. Like Wednesday night, move on up that had all the, all the stuff that I love. So the Gil Scott Herons and the everything. And then, and then on a Friday night you'd end up, yeah, at Bat to Basics. And, and then obviously you've got the stuff in all the sort of student unions across, across Leeds. So, oh, it's an amazing scene, the wardrobe. And my favorite place was the Favisham.

Yes. Yeah. You remember that? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. A lot of nights there. And then what was nice when I started DJing myself was going back, getting booked to go back and play there. So yeah, it was, yeah, lovely memories of Leeds. Yeah. I mean, I grew up not far from Leeds and I really think I missed an opportunity to to get in and amongst it all there. Where did you grow up?

Adam Gow (09:54.03)

I grew up in a village called Emily, so it's near Huddersfield, it's where the big TV tower is. Ah, yes, yeah. But I was just a bit too much of an awkward hermit stoner to go out and kind of take advantage of these things because there was so much going on there. So then once you finished uni, did you stay around in Leeds for a while or did you head straight back south? Yeah, really good question. My plan was to stay, I loved Leeds so much, my plan was to stay at Leeds for an extra year. Like that was always the plan.

And I sort of like my heart's still there a little bit, because that was always the plan. And then, like I said, I was lucky enough to get work experience at Vergi Records. And then it was in the promotions department. And I worked out very quickly that if I could only promote music that I loved, I couldn't pretend that I was into certain types of music. And I thought, well, I'll try the radio side. And that time, 1997, I guess it was, 98, if you got a track on the Radio 1 playlist,

it would be in the top 10. So it was massive. So there was two pluggers just concentrating on Radio One. So they gave me a tour on my last day. So this is my second year work experience. And then got a tour of Radio One and then I met a producer at Radio One. And really amazingly, his girlfriend worked at Virgin. So I got his telephone number from her and I pestered him for an entire year until he gave me work experience.

So in my third year at uni in Leeds, I was working at Radio 1. I did work experience and then I never left. So when the France World Cup was on, I guess that was, was it 98? It was 98, yeah. Yeah, that's it 98. So I helped and I packed all the music boxes and everything ready for the program teams to go out there. And then I never left. So I commute from Leeds to London to do shifts at Radio 1. Wow. And then...

As soon as I graduated, that was it. They, I never left really. So, but, but so, so that means I had to be in London. So I was lucky enough that my mum still lived in Southend. So I moved back with my mum and then it was only an hour commute into London. Um, and that was it. So I did, I didn't stay in Leeds and I loved it. And my plan was never to move straight to London, but I guess work took me.

Adam Gow (12:07.918)

took me there. Then I'd stay on a friend's couches when I was doing overnight shifts at Radio One. And then, yeah, got a house share and stayed in London for 20 years. So what was your first first role then after you when you got to Radio One? Is it like assistant producer? Exactly. A production assistant. So I was a freelance production assistant and I worked. It was a dream. I worked on every single Radio One program at that time.

So within that role, you do research, you would, if there was phone ins on the program, you'd kind of answer the phones and get everything together and go through all the emails and everything for the producer. So you're really kind of the producer's assistant, learn to edit that side of stuff. And obviously specialist music was my thing. So Fabio and Groove Rider I worked with, Pete Tong, John Peele, all of those shows, they were the dream.

It's so good. So literally any specialist show on Radio One at that time, I'd worked with. And the head of mainstream radio at that time, he is a guy called Fergus Dudley. He's still at the BBC and he was like, Oh, you're going to be so good on mainstream. I was like, I love music. He's like, no, come and work on the breakfast show. It was Zoe Ball was presenting it on Radio One at that time. So that was great. So I did a whole spate of loads of mainstream radio as well. And that kind of gave me that kind of.

the background to that side of radio that I could then apply back to specialist radio. So what sort of things particularly then? What was the difference to in the mainstream? I guess the difference of the mainstream is very much the pace and very much it's kind of less about the music and more about the audience and the kind of the elements of entertainment within it and kind of keeping the audience through a radio show with different features, with different elements.

And that's kind of much more, you know, with the music program, you're thinking about the flow of the music and you're thinking about the music guests and yeah, so it's, it's also a lot of the mainstream programs that I worked on were earlier on in the day. So it's a daytime audience as opposed to a nighttime audience and how they cross over. My dream show while I was at Radio One, before I went to work with Giles was Jo Wiley. So I worked with her for a period of time. That was amazing. Yeah.

Adam Gow (14:28.59)

Did you ever through any of this get any sort of imposter syndrome or was it ever quite like, Oh God, what am I doing here? Always. Definitely. Because I've never been a very confident person. I've always been quite shy and I'm very passionate. Like, as you can maybe tell, I get very overexcited about things or if I'm into something, I love it. And obviously that's music, but I'm not very like, right, let's go and get this whole thing and play that game and do that. And there's a lot of people.

around that would know how to play the game or kind of, and I've never been like that. So I kind of, that was always a thing, but I always was myself and the people at Radio One at that time were amazing. There was a guy called Greg who worked with Judge Jaws and he took the time to introduce me to every single person in the building and say, look, you know, keep going up to them and ask them if they need any help.

And there's another guy called Dan Bailey who edited all the dance programs on Radio One. He runs dance labels and all sorts now, but he was great. He was like, if anybody asks you to do something, even if you don't know how to do it, say yes and just work out how to do it. Like just do that. So I sort of felt like there was a lot of support around. And there was another lady called Jude Rogers. She lives in America now, but.

She was the production assistant on Simon Mayo's show and it was her that gave me my first freelance work. So yeah, there was, although you could feel a bit like it in the imposter syndrome stuff, there was a lot of supportive people that really helped. So then how did you get the opportunity with Giles then? Yeah, that was an amazing opportunity that came out. I mentioned that I was working on Joe Wiley's program and at that time she presented...

I don't know if you remember, but she had a music television program where she had guests on and they'd sit in a circle. Do you remember? So there was a couple of jobs that came up there and I was like, wow, that would be amazing kind of music, television and stuff. And then she said, Oh, it's, you know, television is very different to radio and the kind of teams and their dynamics. And it kind of made me go, Oh, actually maybe that isn't a hundred percent right. And then the same week, music week, I was kind of getting close to an assistant producer at this point.

Adam Gow (16:49.326)

As part of your role, you'd kind of go through all the music magazines and find bits of research. And I was going through and at the back was an advert as an assistant producer for Jarz's show. So I'm like, oh, that's like the dream. And at that point, I didn't really understand about independent production. So I was like, okay, you have the BBC, you have commercial radio, but I didn't realize that there was independent production companies that actually made programs for the BBC. And there's a company called something else. And I heard their name.

around because a few documentaries that they'd made about slam poetry, various things was like, it's a folded wing production. Sorry, that's so funny. It's just something else production. You can tell that I'm living and breathing folded wing. That's something else production. And I, yeah. So I started to know the name and, but it was scary because I'd been at Radio One, like including work experience and stuff for like a couple of years, year and a half, a couple of years. And,

I had stayed freelance at that point. I hadn't kind of got a job and this came up and it was a dream show. Like Giles' show is everything that I love. All the different genres in one program. Like an absolute dream. So, but I was nervous to leave. So I thought I'm going to reply for it. And then I was nervous. So I remember going to my boss at the time, a lady called Lorna Clark, who's now head of music for the whole of the BBC. But she, she, she was, she came from Kiss and she was overseeing production at Radio One. I was like, I'm so nervous about what to do.

and worried to leave, she was like, go, go and do it, get as much experience as you can, you'll move up quicker, do it. And then you could always come back to the BBC with different experience, do it, do it, do it. And she really sort of supported, you know, it's not a scary world out there, just go and do it. And it was definitely one of the best decisions I made. So yeah, I went and worked full time. So that was my first full time job was as an assistant producer with Giles Peterson and.

And the producer was Benji B. So, I mean, what a person to teach you and learn from, like absolute Don. So that was amazing. And that's, so within that, I then learn about radio is not just radio, it's events, it's syndication, it is all different elements. And that's what widened up my mind to, yeah, lots, lots of things.

Adam Gow (19:14.158)

So what was it like as a musical education working on that show then? Ah, I mean, next level. I mean, I mean, on two sides is obviously Giles is an absolute master of, you know, knowledge and everything that he supports from the heritage right through to the very new. So that in itself was amazing. But then suddenly you're inundated with all this amazing new music that comes to you as somebody that's working and has the responsibility to sift through.

This music, it was very much, Giles was very open, so you would spend like the whole of your week going through lots and lots and lots of music. It was all physical at that time, all of it. So you'd go through all the best bits, put it in a box, label it up with a post -it note of your favorite tracks, and then you'd sit down with Giles and go through it. Obviously, he always had the final say. He knew what he wanted to play. That's what makes him amazing, but he'd always look to his production team for digging around a little bit deeper. So it was amazing. And...

And also not just that, but the whole scene, understanding different music scenes more. I mean, that must have been really interesting and educational just talking through music with someone in that way. I don't think it's something we often do. No, no. I mean, being able to...

Like take a record box into a studio and shape a show and talk about the reasons why it could be good to play or things that need to be covered. Yeah. Yeah. It's amazing. And then, then being able to, to watch the show come together and learn from Benji and learn from Giles and then step into doing that, you know, as you've grown to bring that is, is amazing and everything that goes into it. It's a very, very, very crafted program.

You know, it's very like you'd make the jingles and you would craft the features. And it's very, very much, if you listen to Giles, even now, it's very much like every little element of the show is, is thought about around the music and yeah. And then, you know, how Giles talks with the music and yeah, it's what makes it special. So then did Benji leave and you stepped in? Yeah. So Benji, um,

Adam Gow (21:30.382)

I, he, it's when One Extra started. So when One Extra launched, he, he left something else and went to the BBC to be one of the launch producers. I can't even remember. I guess it wasn't Deviation, but I'm trying to even think of the name of the, of the show that he, so he basically did a whole format that he was producing and then over time he presented it. Um, yeah. And then the thing with Benji is that you always knew.

He's so amazing at editing music and you just knew he was going to go on to do some special stuff. So to see the amazing stuff he's doing at the moment with fashion shows and in America and yeah, you knew that he was going to kind of... So I love that he's got the balance of that and obviously having his own weekly radio program. And as a DJ, he's phenomenal. He's such a good DJ. And speaking of DJing, then this was the point actually then.

roughly when you got into DJing, right? Yeah. So, obviously I always had a passion for music and I always have collected music. I've always collected records and CDs. But I never, again, I think it's the confidence thing. I was never like, I'm going to put myself out there and do it. But it was Giles. He was very much like, you should do it. You know, I do club nights, come and play, come and do it. And it was obviously a sporting thing for me, but also...

You have a responsibility in the scene. It's like if you're working in the scene in various ways, you have a platform. So use that platform to elevate things and do things. And that's what I guess Giles instilled in me. It's like, there is a responsibility to do that and it's fun and do it. So he pushed me to do it and he didn't push me. I really wanted to do it. But he was like, you know, Glen Fiddick, the drink, he did a series of nights at Cargo.

and I helped him book the artists and stuff. And he was like, well, why don't you just come and DJ a little bit and do that. And then I started to play at friends nights locally in South End and in London. So it was very kind of organic and I would not really kind of start, I don't really mix, I'm very much a selector. And what I love doing more than anything is playing around artists and music and sort of the kind of piecing element through bands and through music. And.

Adam Gow (23:55.246)

Yeah, going on a bit of a journey. So that's how I started basically. So were you DJing quite big crowds then quite quickly? Yes. Yeah, I think that was the thing is that, yeah, it's like, I guess if I started like years earlier and I started back in South End at Saks and I was like going to the summer, all my friends DJed. So I'd be like, the other thing just to say about South End, the music scene is ridiculous. So you've got Danny Breaks, you've got the drum and bass element, you've got...

everything's and they're all friends that I grew up with. So I'd be around DJs all the time. I think I was maybe too worried to do that because technically all my friends are next level DJs. So I was maybe a bit like, ah, so then I shut myself in the deep end and start sort of supporting Giles at his nights. And then I'm yeah, already playing to 400 people. So it's yeah, it did kind of start small. And then there'd be other venues in London that would, that my friend worked at the big chill.

bar and would be like, did you want to come and play there? And yeah, so it started very organically, but I did very quickly end up DJing most nights. Yeah, just, just, just fun. Yeah. So it was great. And yeah, and got an agent and I can tell you about that whole story, but no, it's, yeah. It's good. So you can tell us about the agent story. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It was a great experience actually. So, so I started like, you know,

places like, like I said before, the Favisham in Leeds, I go back there. I was DJing all around the country. And it was all kind of gigs of people that I'd met along the way, either promoters or artists, and they did their own nights. And then an amazing DJ and agent, Ali Tillett, who runs WALL, still does to this point. He's an amazing, he looks after Luke Unabomber. Yeah, and...

Cosmo Murphy and just recently taken on Matthew Herbert. He was working at Newphonic, the label, back in the day and that's how I kind of got to know him. Really passionate, really cares about music and he was like, oh, do you want to have an agent? I could help you get some different gigs and stuff and he did. I mean, then I ended up traveling the world, like Puerto Rico, Berlin, Lisbon, everywhere. Japan, I've been, I've literally gone all the way around the world DJing, which has been amazing.

Adam Gow (26:21.198)

And then I started playing lots of clubs and lots of festivals, which I did love, but it's going back to that route of loving to play, you know, when there's a live music atmosphere. No, I had the best time, made a bunch of mixtapes and which is great. And then I kind of, my friend Jimmy kind of designed a sort of a flower as my kind of first mixtape cover. And we took a petal from that.

when we were making the folded wing logo, when I set my own company up. So, you know, the DJing kind of roots back to everything. I certainly wouldn't be running my company if it wasn't for DJing because I ended up, obviously I'd gone to Miami, went to music conference and Ibiza and all these places as Giles' producer. So I'd go, you know, I had the absolute privilege and honor to go and experience these places, you know, as a BBC.

producer as Giles' producer, but then to be invited back to all of them again as a DJ was amazing. And I went to the winter music conference as a DJ. So I went to play, did a whole bunch of things there. And I met lots of people from Red Bull Music Academy when I was there. And then I've met them at different club nights and stuff. And then when they set up, when they wanted to set up Red Bull Music Academy radio, they remember seeing me DJing. They remember me seeing at different places. And then,

They called up and said, would you be up for chatting to us about setting up a radio station? So that was the start of my company really. So again, all the opportunities that I've had along the way come from a genuine passion for music, which led me to DJ. And the same with working with Jamie Cullum. Again, I sort of met him doing DJing and putting on nights and stuff like that. Yeah. So when you were asked to do Red Bull Music Radio then,

Was that the point where you set up Folded Wing and did you leave Giles' show then? Well, no. No, it wasn't. The point I left Giles was when I started to work with Giles and Benji, Benji had been working with Giles for seven years. And I remember thinking, that's such a long time. That's such a long time. And I got to seven years and I was like, oh my God, I've got to seven years. Like, this is great. And I love it. And I trained up.

Adam Gow (28:40.014)

know, some production assistants and APs and, you know, we'd set up the worldwide awards. Giles' daily show on J -Wave in Japan. He'd already been doing his syndicated show, but we made it bigger. So we've done all this amazing stuff, obviously all the club nights with him. And at that point, 2006, podcasts and internet radio were starting. And so I said to Giles, you should really have your own podcasts and potentially your own platform and all of that sort of side of stuff. And it'd be great to do that. And then I...

I just, I thought maybe do I want to go back to the BBC? But anyway, I had it in my head. Seven years was a long time to work as a producer on a program. And so I decided to leave. I had nothing to go to whatsoever. And I just wanted to have some time because it was working on that show and any weekly music, music program is labor intensive. It's really, you know, you love it. And so you work to one or three in the morning all of the time, like just not on the show, but the editing and.

finding the music and going out to gigs. So it's all encompassing. So I wanted to leave, take a breather, meet people for coffee. So I'm maybe even going to be an artist manager. I wasn't sure at that time what I wanted to do. I wanted to still stay around music. When I go back to the BBC, maybe do like, I was thinking Zane Lowe, but then Jazzy Show was still my dream. So it was like, there wasn't any other shows that I potentially wanted to work on. So I actually left and I had nothing to go to, which was really, really nerve wracking.

Um, and then I got the phone call about two, two weeks after I handed in my notice from Red Bull saying, will you come and do this? So that, that took me down the pathway of that. I went, um, I went and met them in Germany and before I know it, a month later, I'm off to Seattle to set up a radio station for them, which was the very first kind of Red Bull music kind of me station. Um, and that was it. And, and then at the same time,

the old ex head of marketing at Radio One was doing some work with a venue in London called the Roundhouse. And she was like, oh, there's an empty space. We're thinking about setting up as a radio station. I know you've always wanted to have a training station because it was hard for you to get into things. You've always wanted to do stuff like that. So that's what I did. I'd set up two dream platforms, both of which are still continuing in various guises now, like many years later.

Adam Gow (31:04.142)

That was 2006, 2007 and yeah, amazing. That's brilliant. So at what point was the inception of Folded Wing then? Were you doing these all as that business? No, so I was a freelancer. So like I said, Adam, I never planned, I didn't know what I was doing. Like I was kind of like, oh, I quite enjoy, you know, bits and pieces. I'll do this. But what was really interesting, I never planned to have a business. I never planned any of it.

I was just very open. And I guess the Red Bull Music Academy radio was a client and kept me really busy and the roundhouse was a client. And then, you know, DJ Zink, who I'm a massive fan of Ben, he's been really, really supportive of me over the years. And he was one of the team members at Red Bull. So we stayed in contact and I remember I was with him, I'd met him for a coffee. And at that time I got a phone call from channel four.

they're in the middle of setting up a radio station. They're like, oh, we're looking for someone to do our big brother podcast. Would you be up for doing it? And I said, oh, thank you. I'm really, really busy, but here's a number of ex -colleague of mine speak to them. And I put the phone down and Ben just went, what are you doing? You say yes. And he find people to do it. And I went, oh yes.

Okay, that's really, okay. That's like a concept that I hadn't really understood before. And he was like, I believe in you so much. If you need a studio, you can always use my studio. And yeah, so it was definitely, that was definitely the changing moment. And then I just kept saying yes to things. So Fabric came and we did Fabric's podcast and then Injitu came, we did podcasts for them. The Big Chill, we did their podcast. And I just kept saying yes to the things that I loved. Nike.

the sort of similar, similar things. So nothing with the BBC. It was all, you know, branded podcasts, direct with artists. And it was amazing. And I was, I was doing it out of my house. Yeah. And again, didn't have a plan. And then my flatmate moved out. We made his bedroom into a studio and then it was all out of my house. We even, we even, um, stone my, my, um, a colleague of mine, Alex set up stones throw the record label for the UK.

Adam Gow (33:20.782)

And he needed a desk space. So he hired a desk space in my lounge. So at one point we had stones throw and the start of the company was called Karen P productions. Cause I, I didn't plan. So I didn't have a name. Giles nicknamed me Karen P. My DJ name was Karen P. So I was just like, I just call it Karen P productions. And then that's it. But then, then when I started to bring freelancers in and other people, it felt weird for it to be my name. Um, it was more, it was more than just, it was becoming more than just me.

as we were growing still out of my house. And then there was a book called Jonathan Livington Seagull, which a teacher gave to me when I was 10 at school, when, you know, around that age when kids can be a bit mean and you're being picked on. So he gave me that book and I go back to it quite a lot. And I knew that if I reread the book again, which I've done loads and loads of times over the years, that would be the inspiration for the name. So that's where Folded Wing came from.

So you've been doing podcasting for a long time then. How have you found it steady in terms of popularity and interest and things like that? Or has it gone kind of up and down? Oh, it's gone up and down. So 2006 was obviously the first wave. The technology wasn't there for the content. So, you know, obviously iTunes, you could stick, you know, put your podcast up on there and have your RSS feed and all of that side of stuff. But the technology on your phones and stuff wasn't quite there. Yeah.

so you couldn't kind of reach the audiences that were needed. So then it just went, it went like that and then it went down. And at that point, we were still always, we've always done podcasts in some kind of guys, but we didn't focus the business on podcasting. We were live events and the actual kind of radio documentaries and radio shows is kind of the pathway we took with podcasts always being there. And I guess the start of the company was very much podcast podcast because,

they were the best platform for people that if they wanted to have their own show and they, you know, they didn't want to wait to be commissioned by Six Music or whatnot, you know, so that, that, that was the starting point. And then now I guess the podcast explosion of, you know, all the different formats and interviews and it's a very different beast to what it is. And now it's just gone crazy, hasn't it? Yeah. So I guess now, because it's so kind of,

Adam Gow (35:43.726)

mass market, as it were. I suppose the thing is it's easy to create them and distribute them now, but there's just so many, you're just in such a sea of competition. Totally. And that is the issue that I have with podcasts, I guess. I feel quite overwhelmed by podcasts, if I'm honest. There's so much stuff there. When we started, I mean, Folded Wing, the whole premise behind Folded Wing is that you have genuine connections to artists and culture. That comes from...

me DJing and living and breathing the music and the people that I work with. And then everything that you produce is of a very high quality, whether it is a podcast, you're going to make it like it's going to sit on the BBC or any commercial radio client. And then it's all well and good making this high quality content, but you need listeners to come to it. So in 2006, although the actual listeners that you could get weren't massive, there wasn't as much like content, but now it is mind boggling how much content is out there.

and how much you have to shout to bring people to your podcast is, it does overwhelm me and sometimes put me off from the format, if I'm totally honest. Yeah, I think something else that's interesting with it is we've got this kind of thing. It's something that I think is really prevalent, but it's hard to communicate without potentially cheapening things. There's this kind of thing with media now of kind of good enough in terms of production quality.

So it's like, I was listening to, I can't remember what the podcast called, Smarter's I think it is, and they had Arnold Schwarzenegger on, I nearly said Alan Partridge, I wish. Arnold Schwarzenegger was on it, and he was just on like a pair of AirPods in the really echo -y room. And that sort of thing just kind of, it just happens so often now, doesn't it? It's like - Oh, it happens so often, and I thank COVID.

for a few things and obviously it's awful for lots of things, but it's made lots of things possible. Like we wouldn't necessarily be recording like we are now. If it wasn't so open to that, but I do struggle with that thing of, oh, it doesn't matter. You could just do it in this echoey room. Maybe I'm anal on sound, but I just couldn't listen to that. Even if it was my favorite artists of all time, it's the only interview they've ever done. If it's recorded craply and you can hardly hear it, it's so disappointing.

Adam Gow (38:07.726)

But then I think to myself, to audiences' mind, I don't know if you don't necessarily, but then I think that's really patronising to think that people don't care because I think even your average sort of listener would, you know, should care. Yeah. So I think this is where good enough comes in because people, they might not necessarily want that sound quality, but they're prepared to accept it. Yeah. Which I think is the difference. I mean, I've seen things with...

regular contributors on BBC News that are on just like a really badly lit room, low quality laptop camera, terrible sound. And it's like they could probably fix it for about 150 pounds of something that's, that's exponentially better. I think for people that like, if you are a correspondent and you're constantly being recorded, then yeah, it's needed, isn't it? But then sometimes I think that people don't have access to the advice.

Like we would go, oh, it's just 150 pounds and that's really easy. But actually, where do you start? Unless you have someone that can kind of come in and help you to find that stuff or you dig around websites and stuff. It is easy to find that advice. But I think if sound isn't your or like recording stuff isn't your everyday thing, it can be overwhelming with choice of podcasts, but overwhelming information on the equipment sometimes as well. Absolutely.

Yeah, sorry, I've taken you down quite a rabbit hole there. No, no, no, it's good. So I was having a look through all the sort of work that's on the Folded Wing website and what I really like about it is that it all seems to be things that are around music, audio, or projects that are around training and upskilling people, which I think is absolutely amazing.

Are there many things that you say no to because they're just not the right fit for the company? Because I think that can be hard to say no to things, running a business. It's definitely hard to do that. I've had to say no to a lot of things recently, more than ever, because so many people want audio and so many people want podcasts, the amount of, we have all different types of companies coming to us. And I had to say no, appoints, we've kind of pelted them along the way, but maybe it isn't the right fit. I go, maybe.

Adam Gow (40:24.27)

going back to DJ Zink's advice, I'm actually, they're passing people onto other companies and other things. And I think it's actually taken, so I've been running the company 17 years now, it's a long, long time. And it's only been this year, I think, the first time ever that I'm really confident in what we do and staying true to it. And I think what I've done over the years has gone, oh, that staff member's really into.

sport or drama or something, or let's do a little bit of that. And it's like, no, actually we make really beautifully crafted music programs with a passion for music through the heart of it and things that are rooted within that. And I think sometimes when you work for a new client and you can pitch lots of ideas, sometimes at the beginning we thought, well, what does that client, what would they want? And it's like, well, no, actually what do we want to make and what could we bring to that client?

Also over the years, I've had to make some difficult calls in like not getting rid of clients, but having to kind of, you know, we're not the sort of company that's like, let's grow really big and you know, we want to be this massive commercial thing. It's like, we do what we really love. We, we, our tag, our sort of tag, our internal kind of, we don't shout about it is whatever we work on, are we passionate about it? And can we make a difference if we work on it?

And that's, they're the two things that are really important to me personally. And I think to the current team members, especially. And so there's been times where say you start working with a client and then they want to take it down a bit of a different route and you've given them the advice, but you're just not on the same page. I've now got better at saying, look, I don't know if we're the right people to work with, or even if a client can be become really difficult. Life is too short. I don't want to work with difficult people. Like I don't want.

my team being treated badly, life is too short. So we are privileged and really lucky to work with amazing people that also have a passion and a care for what they do. And I know that life can't always be like that. And I'm sure there'll be other times when we've got that, but that's also important to us definitely. Yeah. And it's incredibly empowering when you can do that, I think. Yes. So in sort of day -to -day operations then, how...

Adam Gow (42:41.134)

How close to the music are you now? Because when you're running your own business, there's a million and one of the things. Yeah. I have to stay close to the music, Adam. I have to stay hands -on on something. So I launched Jamie Cullum's show on Radio 2. Well, actually next month it will be 14 years. It's a long, long time. I stayed hands -on producer on that program only up until about three years ago when Carl Boss, the current producer, came in as an AP. And slowly over time he's been...

kind of curating things more and more and more. I oversee that program still as an editor. We're about to launch the daily jazz show on Radio 3 next month with Soweto Kinch. And again, I'm the editor, I'll be overseeing it. I get sent all the same amount of music as I did when I was doing jazzy show. I go through it a similar amount. I didn't DJ for a period of time, life, bits and pieces, really kind of in the business. And then again, over the last,

two, three years, I started to DJ again, not massive amounts, but it was nice. Me and Carl played at, we out here, so we done a couple of festivals as Folded Wing. So it's, yeah, it's just, it's really important to me. Loads of my friends obviously work in music and just constantly immersed in music. I do have times when I'm like, oh, our music maybe reminds me of works too much. But yeah, but so it's quite hard to kind of listen to, but then I'll...

I go off on a tangent and listen to loads of folks. So this last week I've been listening to loads and loads of tongue and diagrams and the Laura Marlin lump project with Mike Lindsay. They're all connected to all the same people, but I just find it and Jamie Woon I like to kind of switch out because it's not necessarily the kind of world that I work in musically at the moment. So I'll go to different, different worlds. But no, I have to, I mean, otherwise what's the point of like, cause running a business is hard. Like it's amazing, like on the surface it's amazing, but.

I think if I wasn't connected to the original reason why I got involved in it, like...

Adam Gow (44:46.318)

there is a huge amount of point unless you're building up a business to go, right, I'm going to sell it or I want to make loads of money. And that's never been the reason why Folding Wing existed. Like you said, it's about training people and kind of, yeah, opportunities and trying to do some things with passion and love and yeah. Amazing. And so what's next? Is there anything that we should be keeping an eye out for? Yeah, a good couple of things. I think.

Like I said, the dream, dream, dream project, which is to launch a daily jazz program on the BBC, which is like the absolute dream. So it's focused mainly around UK jazz and giving it a bit of a platform. So that launches next month. So we've been really, really busy building a team, shaping that, getting ready to do a daily show. We are wanting to go back to doing more events and more nights.

as a company and we've always done nights. So I had my own night called Broadcasting, which was the whole point of it was collaborations between artists that like, so Mulatu and the Heliocentrics, they'd never met before, bring them together, do something special just for 400, 500 people. Once the tickets are sold out, then you record it for the radio. So events for me have always been a way of promoting audio and radio. So doing a little bit more of that, more club nights.

We're working with an amazing charity called the Institute of Imagination, which is around primary school kids and the age. It's very important that their imagination is nurtured. And Andy Oliver is one of the ambassadors. So we're just working on a project with that charity at the moment with her, which again is an absolute dream. She's like music head as well as all the amazing stuff that she's doing. Yeah, so lots of things. We syndicate Jamie Cullum's show on six or seven airlines, including British Airways.

and Lufthansa and so we're launching a few more shows on some airlines. Yeah. So lots, lots, lots of upcoming projects. Nice. Great stuff. So just one last thing then, Karen, with radio and podcasting and everything changing a lot, I guess kind of did the entry point into it and that route is probably a bit different now.

Adam Gow (47:09.582)

So what would you say to anyone who's really looking to get into radio or podcasting? So be the behind the scenes of production and things like that. What's the best sort of entry into it? I think if it's behind the scenes rather than the actual presenting of it, I would do what I did when I was at Radio One. Find your favourite radio shows and podcasts. Like what are the top five things that you listen to? And then dig a bit deeper. Who actually produces that, those shows?

Reach out to those program teams and go, I love the show. Can I come and shadow? Can I watch a record and come armed with some ideas? Like, oh my God, I would love, you know, so if somebody reaches out to you and they're so passionate about the project that you work on, plus they've got some ideas to chat to you about, they're the first people that I would meet up with because they've got a genuine kind of passion and connection to either the company or a program that you make. So I think kind of narrowing down.

Yeah, the kind of, the sorts of programs that you would want to make by the dream things that you listen to. Um, yeah. And, and don't be afraid to pester. Like I had to pester the guy from Radio One for a whole year. And if someone pesters, okay, there's a, there's a balance, isn't there, between, ah, this, I'm so busy, stop keep pestering me. But if someone's got that much passion to keep coming back to pester you, I will give them the time of day and hopefully there'll be an opportunity that comes along.

that will help them along their way. So yeah, and be really proud of the things that you enjoy or you want to do. And if it's slightly abstract and left to what anyone else does, even better, like in, you know, because the things that you're, random things that you're passionate about can maybe connect with a project or two that someone's got coming up. Think about program ideas for documentaries that...

you could make from beginning to end. Like a lot of production companies have, they do commissioning rounds for Radio 4 and different kind of podcast companies. So yeah, keep all your ideas safe on the phone and stuff. Don't give out all your ideas to everyone, but if you start a working relationship with someone and it feels right, you know, there's places. And really look to independent production companies because you could get a very quickly, get a lot of experience across,

Adam Gow (49:33.294)

BBC programs, commercial, podcasts, branded, you know, they're really good places to get lots of experience very, very quickly and just understand the different roles that go into making audio. I'll be sending you my CV very shortly. Excellent. Thank you. I look out for it. Do you want to just shout out where people can find you online? Yeah, online. So foldedwing .co .uk is the company website and

I'm on socials, Miss Karen P on Instagram and Twitter and same for the company. Our door is always open. You'll see that we've just done an open call out for any jazz heads that either want to present or they've got ideas. We're going to do more open call outs. Our door is always open. So if people are passionate about certain ideas and things, we'll have some jobs coming up shortly as well. So yeah.

That's definitely a place. We have a Foldy Wing newsletter we send out once a month. And that actually isn't just what Foldy Wing's got coming up, but very much opportunities within the industry. So if you go to our website, you can subscribe that way. And we'll always try and put different opportunities and things in there. Amazing. Karen, thanks very much for your time today. I've really enjoyed that and I've learned a lot from you. Oh, thank you, Adam. I enjoyed it too. It's good to catch up finally. We did it. Likewise. Really, take care. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.