On The Mic

I really don’t like microphones. Nor do I like speaking in public very much. I have never gotten used to the sound of my voice or particularly liked the sound of it. When I DJ I never use a mic because it is totally unnecessary – I prefer to let the music “do the talking”.

The closest thing that I have done to public speaking in the last 2 years is the odd conference call in work. But that is different because I can’t actually see the people looking at me. Under those circumstances I am always happy to offer my two cents especially when the topic of conversation is music.

So, when I went into HMV in London last week and picked up a copy of ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ I was somewhat interested when I heard a woman ask me if I could answer a few questions for BBC Radio.

We were standing in the front of the store and she was using a mini-disc player with a microphone to record the conversation. It went something like this:

Her: So, did you come into HMV specifically today to buy the Arctic Monkeys CD?

[As soon as she placed the microphone in my face, I panicked…]

Me: Em, yes.

H: OK, and can you tell me how you heard about the band?
M: Well, they have had all of their stuff on the internet for the past year or so and it has generated an enormous amount of hype. I’ve only heard the singles but have been reading a lot about them and am really interested in hearing the whole album.

[Not so bad right? A fairly decent, solid answer.]

H: Great! And can you tell me what you like about them so much?
M: I think it is just the raw energy they have. They really rock and their songs are well written. There are a lot of new bands out now making this type of music but from what I have heard they seem to be head and shoulders above the rest. They are the real deal. They sound great and remind me of the Strokes about 4.5 years ago when their first album came out.

[OK, I’m starting to feel a bit more relaxed. This isn’t so bad.]

H: That’s great! Thanks very much for your time.

She switches off the mini disc and that’s it. Except that the whole time we were talking The Chemical Brothers ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ was playing in the shop at a level that would only really be suitable in a night club. So, she says to me that she thinks the music is too loud and that maybe we should go outside and try again. I say OK, put the CD down and we walk outside onto Oxford St – where there are lots and lots of people.

The second time goes far less smoothly…

Her: So, did you come into HMV specifically today to buy the Arctic Monkeys CD?

Now, again the microphone is placed in front of my face but this time people on the street are looking at me and I completely go blank – I can’t remember ANYTHING I just said 2 minutes ago.

Me: Em, yes.

H: (staring at me blankly) Do you think you could say that without me asking you?
M: Um, well, yeah, sure. Um, yes, I came here today specifically to buy the Arctic Monkeys CD.

[Awkward silence…]

H: Can you tell me how you first heard about the band?
M: Um, well the internet. And there has been a lot written about them recently.

[More awkward silence…]

H: (now staring at me like I am a total idiot) What do you like about the band so much?
M: Well, they just rock. Kind of like the Strokes. Well, what I mean is they sound like the Strokes used to. Do you know what I mean? They have lots of energy. Raw energy.

H: OK. Great. Thanks for your time.

She then starts fumbling with the discman, like there is a problem and excuses herself. Needless to say, when I checked bbc.co.uk/radio6 the next day she did not post anything I said.

Seems like I should just stick to the conference calls…

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