Phonic FM - A Sound Alternative

Phonic FM
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Gandy Street




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Phonic FM is Exeter’s sound alternative — a community radio station for the city and beyond, broadcasting on 106.8FM and online since 2008.

The Phonic Screwdriver

The Phonic Screwdriver

The Phonic Screwdriver

Name: Simon Brett

Shows:  The Phonic Screwdriver and Two Knobs & An Oscillator

When are you on? 
Every 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month.

Describe the music you play:
The Screwdriver is a science fiction chat show essentially, so the music, if not taken straight from a film or TV series, will have some kind of tenuous sci-fi link. Two Knobs meanwhile celebrates a passion for electronic music in all of its forms, but does centre around some of the amazing pop music that’s been created from the 20th Century onwards.

What type of music can we expect to hear on your shows?
I’d like to think it’s pretty eclectic, as the sort of films and shows that we talk about on the Screwdriver have a huge range of influences and styles. Personally I have a great love of electronic music which is reflected on Two Knobs, indie and just great songwriting, so I would probably tend to push some of those genres more than others! Having said that, a lot of the time the music is there to illustrate our subject matter, so choices are made on that basis.

How did you discover this type of music?
I’ve been listening to pop music since I was really small and I remember being really into pop before a lot of  my friends at school. There was always music available at home and we were given free reign with my parents’ record collection. Teenage years hit and all of a sudden you’re trying to establish your own identity. So I was testing boundaries. I guess you kind of come back to the values learned when you were younger. So strong songwriting has become really important to me as well as sonically interesting production. I also started to learn a few instruments. Even now I dabble in songwriting and recording and I guess that gives you an analytical ear and a pretty strong filter for the stuff you like and don’t like.

How long have you been DJing?
Back in the early 90?s I did a spate of DJing at parties and clubs with a mix of indie and dance. so I do have a basic background in mixing etc but these are my first experiences as a broadcaster. I have however since been cajolled into acting as a host for some science fiction events and as a regular member of Starburst Magazine’s Blue Box podcast.

How did you start DJing?
After spending 2 years in 6th form as a passionate music fan, frustrated at not being able to play the music I liked in the common room, the opportunity to play the stuff I thought was important was too good to be true. I was also fascinated by non-stop mixing as a creative form. I always thought that the bits where one song merged into another were the most interesting part when I used to go out clubbing.
I’d been listening to Phonic since I moved to Exeter about 7 years ago as I found the idea of a truly independent station fascinating. By chance, I got back in touch with an old college friend, Mr Chris Glew (who did the Midweek Alternative a couple of years ago) and he invited me on his show as a guest. I got the bug and he put me in touch with “The master”, Pat Bensburg who showed me the ways of the Jedi.

Can we find you DJing anywhere other than on Phonic FM?
No, I am exclusive to Phonic FM, although I am part of a podcasting team for Starburst Magazine, The Blue Box Podcast.  I also work on my own  music, so I’ll be introducing some intro music into my show. I draw the line at playing my own complete tracks on the show as I feel that could be a little bit egotistical and self indulgent.  Having said all of the, I think one of my presenting partners, Lee Rawlings is pushing me to get some more stuff in there!

What has been your most embarrassing DJing moment?
The other day I was playing a New Order vintage track and there was the sudden realisation that the record was heading towards a naughty word that I’d forgotten about. I quickly brought the fader down, at which point the desk decided to trigger a completely different track on the CD player. Chaotic but I hope quite funny for those listening.

What has been your best DJing moment?
We have recently managed to make contact with a whole family of synth-based unsigned acts, and our show was jam-packed full of fresh, new electronic music. We were inundated with responses on our Facebook group from people hearing the material for the first time and loving it. It doesn’t get better than that.

Who is your favourite artist?
I’m an absolute 80?s child so, from years back, I’d say Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys for the strength of the song writing, production and intelligence but I’d say it’s hard to beat Radiohead as the most interesting and rewarding band around at the moment.

What is your all time favourite album?
Violator by Depeche Mode. For me it’s an absolutely perfect electronic pop album. I could go into the background of the making of the album but it shows what can be done when you strip things back and make sure that the songs are at the heart of what you can do. Masterful.

Where do you shop for music?
I do most of my shopping online. I still buy physical CDs as I love the tactile nature and the artwork and, in an old fashioned materialistic way, downloading never feels like you actually own the recording. So I’m a funny mix of being thoroughly modern but utterly stuck in the past! As a dad of 3 I don’t get much time to have a look through record shops like I used to!


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