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Marc Riley BBC Music Live Series
Christian Eede , June 9th, 2015 12:03

BBC 6 Music's Marc Riley presents BBC Music series; read a few of his thoughts on the series below

Marc Riley recently founded and presented a new series as part of the BBC’s Music programme. The show, called All Shook Up, brought together a selection of acts, handpicked by Riley, for a number of live sessions across four episodes, all performed in a no-thrills, stripped back studio setup. Slug, The Wave Pictures, LoneLady, Jane Weaver, Wire and Richard Dawson are among those that contributed to the series and you can check out all four episodes of the series, now that its pilot run is over, here. You can also read some of Riley’s thoughts on the series and live music television below.

How did the show come about? Did anything in particular inspire All Shook Up?

Marc Riley: I suppose what really inspired the programme was the fact that I have so many great bands coming through the studio playing live and the vast majority of them have never found a home in a visual sense at the BBC. Later [With Jools Holland] picks up on some of the bands we’ve championed (e.g. White Denim, Metronomy, Jim Jones Revue, Wild Beasts), but I worked out that over the last 11 years I’ve had roughly 1,700 live sessions on the show and thats when I started thinking about trying to nail a TV programme to capture them performing.

How do you go about picking acts for the show?

MR: Thats the easy bit. Its the old cliché of the difficulty being not having enough room for all the bands I’d like to book. The great thing was that the first three bands I asked to come on All Shook Up agreed immediately, despite having no idea what they were getting involved in. I have a good relationship with the bands who come on my 6 Music show (well, 99% of them) because we always do everything we can to accommodate them, from letting them do whatever songs they want to to buying them beer. They only get biscuits and water on All Shook Up, mind. We have a laugh and the bands tend to really enjoy themselves. I think that's the only way I win out when it comes to comparisons to the other sessions in the BBC archive. I know John's (Peel) legacy will never be knocked off its perch. John changed the face of music - and we just reflect it - but as I know well, the Peel Sessions were always recorded in John's absence. I believe John went down to a couple of recording sessions but not many, whereas nearly all the sessions we do take place in a room with me as a very appreciative one man audience. So I get to know the bands, swap phone numbers, etc. I didn’t call any pluggers in booking the 12 bands on All Shook Up. I already had their phone numbers.

Do you think music television is in desperate need of a new platform to shake things up and help people to discover new music?

MR: For sure. I think Later does a great job. It's a music programme but it comes at it from an ‘entertainment’ angle and is hugely successful at that. Some people are using All Shook Up as a stick to beat Later with, but the truth is they deliver lots of live music to the TV. Some of it I like, some I don’t, but it's an eclectic mix and it has an audience. We aren’t in competition at all. All I want to do is nail performances, to document these great bands for posterity. Sounds a bit pompous that, but well filmed high quality footage of The Wave Pictures, LoneLady, Slug, etc. didn’t exist. It does now. What with great quality phones these days, it's easy to take good enough videos of bands performing live at gigs, but we deliver footage that will hopefully be used again and again over the years to come.

The show has a very 'stripped down' vibe - the introductory pre-amble and stage is decidedly minimalist, and there's no TV audience. Are you keen to skirt around the chatter and noise often surrounding visual music coverage?

MR: I originally wanted the programme to be in the mould of The Old Grey Whistle Test. I loved that programme and when I think of it I always think of the Bob Harris era. All the different eras of the show were great, but I always bring Bob and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Bowie, New York Dolls to mind when I think of it. In a studio full of wires and no pissing about. That was my dream really. When Lee [Hardman, All Shook Up's producer] and I went to the University Of Salford to check out their facilities our eyes lit up at this plain studio with lots of wires and junction boxes. It was perfect for All Shook Up. We employ undergraduates from the university to help out on the show alongside the experienced team. We’ve only had three days filming and it already feels like a family. Everybody is so into it, everybody keeps saying 'this is exactly what we need’.

What are your plans and aims for the show in the future? Anyone you're particularly keen to invite?

MR: At this time we’re not really sure if it has a future or not. The first 4 are, in effect, pilot programmes. And if you see Episode 1 (with Slug, The Wave Pictures and LoneLady), you can see that I am absolutely terrified of the cameras and wanted desperately to be anywhere else but there. To be honest I didn’t even want to present the programme . I asked someone else to do it and they agreed, but it was decided I should front it because it was my idea and I picked the bands. I was more relaxed in Episode 2 and I think/hope more so in 3 and 4.

If we do get a series commissioned, we’re hoping to be able to plan filming dates around times when bands who I want to get are available. That's the dream. I’d say Thee Oh Sees are top of the list at the moment. Joanna Newsom, Ty Segall... If the BBC commission 200 shows, I’d still have to leave out some bands I love.

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