Introducing The Series from Ben Sherman, a curated collection of inspiring individuals, including James Chuter, Bushy, Tom Ravenscroft, and Nicholas Sinclair.
Introducing Tom Ravenscroft: DJ, radio presenter, and all-round champion of new and alternative music. Tom’s regular radio show showcases music handpicked from as many far-flung places as possible, creating a mishmash of sounds that work together in harmony. Ben Sherman sat down with Tom to discuss everything from his career, to what inspires him, and his favorite record shop.
Can you tell us a little about your journey to becoming a radio DJ?
I starting DJing at University and collecting records and getting a bit obsessed. Then one day about 12 years ago, my friend Hermeet, who was a radio producer, asked me if I fancied doing a pilot for a music podcast for Channel 4 Radio. This was back when there were hardly any music podcasts out there so we managed to pick up a lot of followers quite quickly. One of whom was BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson who asked me to cover for him whilst he was away. A couple of years later they gave me my own show.
You’ve always been an advocate for new music. Have you seen any major changes for those looking to make it as a performing artist or band in your time?
There are so many more avenues you can take now; it feels more democratic. Radio has been revolutionized by the internet as has music press, and it's made it easier for you to be heard, to find your audience. It’s made things a lot more interesting. Finding venues to play live seems to have got tougher though, particularly for bands. Musicians with a thirst to perform can usually find a spot to commandeer though.
You must be inundated with new music. How does a band/artist stand out from the crowd and grab your attention?
Just send it in; I get through it all eventually. It is much easier—quicker—to go find things for myself, but I do listen to all my post. As for appearance, design—I don’t tend to take much notice of it until after I’ve fallen for how it sounds. Also just because someone doesn’t play your first record doesn’t they mean they won’t play the next one. Keep sending!
Do you still manage to get out to gigs? If so, what gigs have stuck with you of late?
I’ve two young kids now so not as much as I did but still quite a bit. Recently, James Holden at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. I’ve long been a fan of his mystical ways—he just gets better and better. Sat crossed legged on the floor surrounded by cables and samplers, in a slightly meditative state, surrounding him a band of hugely talented musicians. Rarely has someone managed to mix electronic sequencing with a live improvising band with such fabulous results. Also, Nubya Garcia at the Winter Jazz Festival—amazing. Everyone got schooled that night.
For young people who want to get into radio DJing, what tips would you give them?
Find a local station you're into and go bug the hell out of them. There are so many great internet stations out there now: Find one that fits in with your tastes and take your angle on the music you love. Try and get as much time on the mic as possible; the more you do, the more control you develop over your voice, delivery, style, etc.
Do you have a favorite record shop?
Red Eye Records in Ipswich. It sells mostly drum and bass, jungle, and hardcore. It was the first record store I built up the courage to go into and buy a 12’’ single. Me and my friends all chipped in to buy it. Jimmy J & Cru-L-T "Six Days on The Run"—I still have it. Also Sounds of the Universe, Honest Jon’s, Hardwax in Berlin, and recently 2 Bridges in New York.
If we took a look through your "Recently Listened To" on Spotify/Apple Music, who would we find?
On inspection: Maximum Joy, Tierra Whack, Ela Orleans, Solange, Quelle Chris, Dele Sosimi, Susso, Justin Walter, Aphex Twin (I often cook to "Ambient Works"), Ross From Friends.
What does Ben Sherman mean to you?
I remember my dad getting some Ben Sherman shirts when I was a teenager and me poaching one of them for a night out; everyone thought I was dead smart. I never gave it back. It was way nicer than all the other shirts I owned.
What’s your favorite Ben Sherman piece of clothing and why?
The polo shirts—always felt like a bit of a treat putting one on. I’m pretty mucky, though, so they don’t tend to make it to the end of the day.
How do you decide what to wear in the morning?
My wife and some close friend are all fashion designers so generally whatever I get given for free—this can result in some pretty ridiculous outfits. Mostly though, sweatshirts and jeans, basic dad style. Nice clothes covered in food, if that’s a look?