By Bobby Friction
The NME has adorned my musical life as long as I’ve been alive. I have faint memories of seeing it in shops whilst hiding behind my mothers legs as a young child in 1970’s England, and already subconsciously feeling rebellion drip off its front cover by the early 1980’s, as I entered the teens that I spent raging against the machine called family. I wrapped myself fully in the NME & wore it as a flag from 1985 onwards as it charted in excruciating detail every turn in Prince’s rise to fame as the Black
Bowie, and I poured over every review that broke down note for note his latest album and its latent genius. By the early 90’s when it was the first magazine anywhere to report on UK Bhangra culture, Fun-Da-Mental’s Islamic Hip-Hop & Cornershop burning pictures of Morrissey outside his record label my respect for it was complete.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sycophant. NME has been there at the birth of every important musical movement since the 1960’s, and its tone especially from the 1980’s onwards has been to place itself in the middle of whatever scene’s been making the most noise – a habit which has attracted cynicism & hate in equal measures from fans of the last “big thing” who find themselves instantly usurped and considered yesterdays news and sound. I too have felt its gravitational centre pull away from me many times and its taken me years of being irked by NME’s almost pathological championing of the new to understand that its actually why it still survives 60 years after its first edition. Its strength has been its snake like ability to shed skins at the drop of an album release and start talking and living a new music and language it didn’t even understand a few days earlier. It is the ultimate elixir of youth and has a permanent teenage angst. The two things that keep music alive.
Everything was, and is, always personal with the NME when reading it. The NME’s writers always left their taste in your mouth whether you liked it or not. I was often drawn to articles on bands I couldn’t give a toss about as the writer seemed to be either frothing at the mouth in complete hate about one line, in one song, on one album by one band – or gushing with such fervour over a singer/musician that you assumed writing was about to stop and uncontrollable rutting was about to start! The point with NME is music is beyond ever being an objective to report on, in fact it’s emotion in its purest form and therefore needs journalism that reflects that.
So in 2012 NME is no longer just scenester Britain’s music mag of choice. It’s International baby! It’s read across the United States, Europe and anywhere that music culture is celebrated and has come to signify all that is cool musically, and also anything that’s musical. I log onto the NME website and bounce from page to page delving into the biggest rock bands on the planet, the smallest dubstep producers in London, the coolest new movements coming out of Berlin & even what Madonna really thinks of MIA’s finger – post Super Bowl. Its home to pop, rock, electro, hip hop and a myriad of styles, but the world’s just about to get a massive surprise punch in the amp’s with the launch of NME INDIA!
I’ve been involved in South Asian music since the early 90’s thanks to those early bands NME covered, and have been championing it relentlessly ever since. From writing for a pioneering Asian Music magazine in the early 90’s called ‘Apna Beat’, to DJing and being one of the key individuals in the emergence of the Asian Underground scene later that decade alongside people like Talvin Singh & Nitin Sawheny, and of course my 10 years with the BBC at Radio 1 & then the BBC Asian Network, I have made sure South Asian, Indian, Pakistani & Desi music has been my love and my Roti, Kapda aur Makhan.
Funnily enough my obsession with Indian music & South Asian’s who play all types of music was always very UK centric. That however has changed massively over the last ten years as Indian Indie has supplanted everything else to become my new muse of choice. Whether its guitar toting hipsters from the outskirts of Mumbai, electronic producers making bass in the fog of Gurgaon, or sufi swaggerstani’s fighting the powers that be I’m there and I want a piece. My FRICTION show on the BBC swears by these new movements 4 nights a week, as do its militant fans and listeners the world over. Its 2012 people! The year of revolution! What a fine time to launch.