Curator Story

Tina Edwards

Specialist in: jazz, electronica, and world

From Worldwide FM, BBC Radio 3, Love Supreme Jazz Festival and Downbeat Magazine, Tina Edwards certainly knows what's up when it comes to modern jazz, especially in the rapidly progressing London/UK scene.

A DJ in her own right, she's curated a unique 'London Jazz Festival' playlist for us that's clean, stylish and future-facing, ahead of the event that spans across a number of our London venues.

"Isn't it cool to know that a music expert has curated a playlist especially for your brand's customers, with your values and aesthetic in mind? An algorithm could never be so personal."

An interview with Tina

Let’s start from the beginning - please introduce yourself and give us a background of your life in music

I'm Tina, a broadcaster, DJ and music journalist. My career in music began when I was at primary school; I recorded my favourite tracks on the radio to cassette, creating my own mixtapes on my gigantic Coca-Cola shaped stereo, and spent break times performing in my TLC tribute band in the middle of the corridor. How things have changed! I fell in love with jazz in my early twenties and it's completely shaped my life. Via a music industry course at college, a degree in music journalism and an insatiable hunger for discovering new sounds, I make a living in music curation, whether that be in threading together a DJ set, producing a radio show or writing. I work with platforms like award-winning station Worldwide FM, BBC Radio 3, Love Supreme Jazz Festival and Downbeat Magazine.

Is there one area of music you specialise in i.e. genre or scene that you are particularly close to?

I'm invested in several scenes including electronic, world and house, but it's fair to say that I'm most recognised for being involved in the recent jazz explosion in the UK. I started an online platform and radio show called Jazz Standard in 2014, which celebrated then little-heard artists like Nubya Garcia, Joe Armon-Jones and Makaya McCraven, with a tone that appealed to young audiences; a little different from the chin-stroking, older crowd that you might have imagined for jazz previously. It's exciting to see thatjJazz, and especially jazz in London, now has an inspired, global audience. I also co-founded CHICAGOxLONDON, a reoccurring live event that has brought together more than 20 musicians from the two cities. I think Chicago has one of the most progressive and exciting music scenes in the world, alongside my home city. I love curating playlists for people to introduce them to new music, especially when it enables them to broaden their tastes. That theme is actually at the centre of a show I recorded for BBC Radio 3 not long ago, called Jazz Fix (I introduce a celebrity guest to jazz with a playlist curated especially for them).

What are your favourite places, sources, sites, radio shows or people to discover new music?

Oh man, where do I start? Bandcamp wins every time, it's a treasure trove and they hold remarkable moral values, supporting a lot of good causes - and making sure artists are paid properly for their work. I mostly follow specific tastemakers as opposed to platforms, so I'd cite Gilles Peterson, Andrew Jervis, Jamz Supanova, Erica McCoy and Gabriel Francis on WW Daily (Worldwide FM), King Hippo, Tash LC and Colleen 'Cosmo' Murphy. I'm always keeping an eye on magazines like Crack, Pitchfork and Musica Macondo for new music recommendations as well as Boiler Room and Beatport for tunes that will shine in my DJ sets.

Talk to us about your approach to music playlist curation, do you have some key do’s and don’ts?

Don't shoehorn things in; music creates mood, and you don't want to be put in a reverie only to be shaken out of it momentarily and then plopped back down. There's a flow that you need to in tune with.

How is playlisting for brands different than playlisting at home or for personal listening on-the-go?

As a customer, you could be listening to a playlist for a couple of hours. You're there to enjoy whatever it is you've turned up for, and that includes the ambience, which is mostly steered by the music. It needs to have a narrative. Your awareness may dip in and out of it, but whenever you're tuned in, it needs to make perfect sense. Playlisting for a brand isn't about picking songs you like and hoping that others will too. It's actually part of the consumer experience. A good playlist should be able to peak your ears and curiosity now and then, but it shouldn't be distracting.

What are your thoughts on computer algorithms shaping the future of music curation?

Computer algorithms can introduce us to new tracks from time to time, but given that they're based on your current listening, you're never truly going to receive a new experience from it. Isn't it cool to know that a music expert has curated a playlist especially for your brand's customers, with your values and aesthetic in mind? An algorithm could never be so personal.

Tell us more about the playlist you have curated for London Jazz Festival...

This is a playlist of modern jazz that's clean, stylish and future-facing. I started by selecting tracks from musicians on that year's line-up, and connected the dots with some artists who were on programmes from previous editions. London Jazz Festival has helped to spotlight musicians who are taking jazz in various directions, so this playlist gently travels between music that's influenced by broken beat, world and house; Jazz is always the connecting element. There's some recognisable tunes here; hello, Ashley Henry's take on 'Cranes In The Sky' and throughout I'm sure you'll be bobbing your ankles or head along to the beat. So many of the tracks featured were recorded in bustling cities, from London to Chicago to New York, and so there's a strong sense of cosmopolitan buzz to this playlist.