John Peel - 5 years on: Shitmat interview

With five years since legendary DJ John Peel’s death we caught up with the amazing Shitmat, an artist John championed in the later part of his career. His break-core mash up mentalism was a regular feature on John’s shows and we were keen to understand the affect John had on his life as a listener and an artist.

Were you a listener of John’s programming over the years?

Yeah, I think I first heard his show in 1994 when I was 14. I grew up in a small village so hearing the wild variety of music that he played was a truly influential thing on me.

There were no record stores or internet so John's programs were like a gateway to a world of amazing music I had never heard before! From 1994 to 2004 I was an avid listener. It got me through exams, insomnia, relationship breakups and long walks. It helped shape my perception on music. I have recently downloaded a load of his older shows and they're amazing too!

How did you feel when you first heard him play your material played on the radio? What was the first track he played of yours?

I was shocked, excited and laughing a lot. I really could not believe it. It meant so much to me and I still have the recording on cassette. The day after my first Shitmat 7" ‘Shopliftin' Gabba’ was released, he opened his show with it. It had a locked groove at the end of the record and he let the bagpipe loop play while he talked and introduced the next track.

Did you ever meet John? Do you have any memories of him? Did he offer you any advice?

I met John once, about a month before he passed away. It was around the time he was playing my LP a lot and I sat in on one of his shows. My memory of it is cloudy as I was a bit nervous to meet someone I thought so much of. I remember he was very nice to me and any music I mentioned or recommended to him he jotted down on a piece of paper. He didn't offer me any advice as such, but it was a day I'll always remember.

What did his support mean to you on a professional and personal basis?

Having the support of John made a real difference professionally as it meant a lot more people heard my first few releases. It helped me make the decision to make a career out of my music. Personally I was humbled that he spent time checking my music out and enjoyed it!

What do you think John’s legacy is?

John's legacy must be that he reached out to so many generations showing them the glory in the variety of music of the world. He also gave smaller acts a foot up and helped launch numerous careers. I loved the way happy hardcore was played after an old 78 record. I loved his humour, stories and personality.

How did his death affect you?

I was sad, upset and felt a real sense of loss. I think most listeners of his show felt that music/radio would never be the same again. His was the only radio show I listened to and looked forward to. As a positive reflection to his death I started up a record label 'Wrong Music' to promote interesting new music as I thought the world had lost a true voice for it.

Who today is offering new music an outlet in the same way as John?

There are plenty of online radio stations that play an amazing mix of music: is great. Peter Nelson, Marcel De hoof. I also heard this thing called the Oddcast earlier this year. It's amazing – but John's unique knowledge and enthusiasm for new music will always be missed.

We thank Shitmat for spending his time relaying his memories of John and look forward to some more break-core joy from him in the near future.

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