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THE EDIT

IN OUR LIVING ROOM WITH DON LETTS

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A grammy award-winning film director, musician, DJ, and radio broadcaster, Don Letts came to notoriety as the DJ that single-handedly turned a generation of punks onto reggae at the UK’s first punk rock venue 'The Roxy' back in 1977. Over the years he's directed several music documentaries, countless music videos, co-founded the band Big Audio Dynamite with Clash guitarist Mick Jones, released several critically acclaimed music compilations and continues to DJ nationally and internationally. 

 

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his BBC6 Music show ‘Culture Clash Radio’, we asked Don to impart some wisdom on London, music and more... 

 

 

How has your upbringing in London inspired your work?

 

I'm very much informed and inspired by the duality of my existence, which is first generation British and black. Having said that, I believe it's by embracing this city's multicultural mix in all its forms that really makes London swing. 

 

 

What’s unique about London’s music scene?

 

That would have to be the cultural mix I just mentioned, along with its fierce but healthy creative competition. 

 

 

What are your favourite West London haunts?

 

Gentrification hasn't quite ruined the nation but it's had a devastating affect by pricing out individuals and retailers that bring character to the area; this makes it all the more important to support your local stall holders. Rough Trade Records on Talbot Road keeps me up to date with music for my radio show, and I do conduct the odd business meet at The Electric Cinema, which is highly recommended for cinephiles. Goldborne Road's good for an afternoon stroll and some excellent street food. And as I'm partial to good mojito, The Laslett's Henderson Bar on a Friday evening is the new place to be for a civilised drink.

 

 

Who are your British music icons?

 

I'm as old as rock n roll and I've still got a foot in the door, so that's a tough one. You're talking to a man that grew up listening to the likes of The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who and then had his eyes opened when I saw Bowie in '73. By 1977 I'd re-invented myself with the arrival of The Sex Pistols and The Clash, and as the years continued the likes of Morrissey, Damon Albarn, both Gallagers and others right up to Stormzy continue to capture my imagination.

 

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What can’t you leave London without?

 

My passport.

 

 

What are you listening to right now?

 

Arcade Fire's 'Everything Now' sounds like a good contender for album of the year. I'm still digging Father John Misty's 'Pure Comedy' and if I want to bounce it's Dizzee Rascal's 'Raskit'. But if you really want to know what I'm about, tune into 'Culture Clash Radio' Sunday nights from 10pm till midnight on BBC 6Music.

 

 

Do you think punk still runs through the veins of West London?

 

Interesting question; it certainly did, but the gentrification and current economic situation makes it incredibly diificult. I mean how much punk attitude can a young person have if they're still living with their parents?

 

 

Can you tell us a bit about your new album 'Culture Clash'?

 

It's basically a compilation celebrating the tenth year anniversary of my show 'Culture Clash Radio' on BBC 6Music. Crossing time, space and genres, it reflects the reality of who I am. Contrary to popular opinion I'm not at home listening to punk or reggae all day long - that's just in my DNA. I have to say the show continues to be one of the most enjoyable and reward things I've ever had the pleasure of doing, and I've done a few.

 

 

Signed copies of 'Culture Clash', available as a double vinyl or single CD, are available for purchase at The Laslett.