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Meet Arielle Free, 4Music Presenter

Monday 17 March 2014
Words Spindle

Age: 27 (she’s struggling with this, she still wants to be 26)

Hometown: Glasgow

Residing in: London

Profession: Presenter

Arielle is a redheaded (yes, like the actual human version of the beautiful Disney mermaid) former dancer turned TV and Radio presenter who is meeting me to have a little chat and tell me about pursuing presenting, living in London and other random topics which trickle their way into our conversation. Arielle and I know each other, and we are both what is described on school report cards as ‘chatterboxes’, so please – enjoy the unbeaten path this interview sometimes strolls along.

So here we have been sitting, Arielle and I, in Café 1001 for 15 minutes and we’ve already discussed the terrible economic situation of my home country, Spain, its wonderful wine (Arielle has recently discovered Ribera del Duero – it doesn’t always have to be about Rioja you know!) and how it is always a good idea to give the band or artist you are interviewing some alcohol; beer for the bands, wine for the girls and a bottle of Jack for the rockers. Also, from our personal experience we strongly believe that all bands eat are hummus, crisps and apples.

Arielle, we need to start the interview, don’t we?  You’re a presenter, and that’s not the most common of professions – so tell me a bit about your journey.

Okay, so because I was a dancer I have done Top of The Pops, which is a great gig! But I’d be in hot pants and it wasn’t really making me love the commercial dance world.  So then I started getting into choreography bands like The Editors, The Rakes, all these indie bands because they were a bit more interesting and wanted more contemporary dance or more funny stuff.  So in 2005-2006 I was in Reading festival and backstage because I was dancing for a night called Guilty Pleasures (it happens at Coco every month) and my friend just asked me ‘Can you just do this backstage interview for us since you chat a lot?!’

So I was given a microphone and a camera shoved in my face, but I’d actually already done some presenting back in Scotland when I was younger. BBC Scotland came to my school looking for people to be part of the ‘You’re Cool Gang’, which was on CBBC live every morning during the school holidays, so I had a bit of experience talking to camera – and in general I’m just quite gobby!

Then after Readding I started doing bits and bobs: I set up an indie club night, got band interviews and did radio stuff…and then this is when I got a kids’ TV show on Sky called ‘Pop Girl’. The reason I did it was because it was going to give me access to some of the bigger artists like Justin Bieber, Jesse J…which is not perhaps necessarily my taste in music, but it would give me experience of speaking to big artists – getting over the nerves and not being intimidated by them, as well as more exposure as a presenter.

I did actually used to get really nervous with these big artists. I’d be quite shy and my interviews were horrendous whilst with bands like The Futureheads I would sit there quite happily and just hang out! Couple of years back now I got signed which has lead to more work with brands, 4Music, Virtual Festivals…I also get to blog for IAmMusic which is a great online music magazine.

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I love IAmMusic, and I love Carly Wilford! She is awesome!

Yeah, she’s great! I actually have always wanted to blog and write about music but didn’t have much experience in writing so she took a chance on me by letting me be part of it.  And it has been great to have those expertises on paper (or online), talking about the bands I love and writing about music. I have found people may not always take me seriously musically and it can be quite frustrating when they assume I don’t know my music because of doing things like ‘Pop Girl’. And I do love pop music as well. I don’t think you can be a music presenter if you don’t!

In the presenting world do you believe a female will be boxed more into a ‘pop presenter’ where she is more commercial and not really underground?

Well I think that could be down to the MTV generation putting supermodels as presenters where they don’t have to know a lot about music but they are aesthetically pleasing. I mean, I’ve got a bit of a baby face, and I think sometimes people assume rock and indie girls look a certain way; you think converse and hoodies. I like to get glammed up and wear a cute little dress, which means maybe people judge a book by its cover when it comes to me.

I remember putting out a track right? I do this thing on my Twitter, which is like ‘Track of The Day’, and I put on a P.P Arnold track. Well someone was like ‘As if you ACTUALLY know who P.P Arnold is!’ And I thought, ‘Why would you assume I don’t? What is your reasoning?’ And perhaps it is because I do things like ‘Pop Girl’, but it’s not a bad thing. I love blowing preconceptions out of the water!

Well yeah, people always like to assume. I’ve skateboarded for years but it doesn’t mean I don’t love make-up, dresses and heels. People find it weird that I can be both feminine and skateboard!

They are just preconceptions aren’t they? I mean we’ve mentioned Carly Wilford. She’s a white girl with red hair that loves grime music! No one would ever expect that, but she’s a bloody brilliant presenter!

I think with the YouTube generation and online blogging those stereotypes and boundaries attached to presenters are being pushed a bit further; anyone can have an outlet in terms of being entertaining and getting yourself out there.

Of course there are still young girls who look up to Alexa Chung and they want to be pretty, and on TV and famous. But it comes from the five minutes of fame mentality. I mean, I have lost out to a hell of a lot of presenting jobs to famous people. For example, last year I missed out on presenting Latitude festival to a cast member from Made In Chelsea so I went on Twitter and I had a moan about it! Because I knew for a fact that they had no idea, or any sort of knowledge of Foals, Bloc Party, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whilst me, I LOVE those bands, I KNOW all those bands! So to lose the opportunity to a reality star who has more followers than me on Twitter, that really got my back up!

Luckily, from missing out on that, I got something else. So things happen for a reason, but I’m definitely not in this for five minutes of fame. Otherwise I would have gone on Big Brother five years ago!

Well that can be the difference between someone who makes it in the industry and is respected, and one who doesn’t. You have to be conscious that it is hard work; a long process and you have to put in the groundwork! And you need to know your music, or you will get caught out!

Exactly, if you don’t know your music inside out you will get found out. And the whole point of presenting is you have to be an expert on something. People who present The Bang Theory, they are scientists who have gone in to broadcasting but they have that scientific background to justify fronting a show based on experiments.

With credibility! So may I assume your expertise is music? What sort of presenter do you want to be Arielle?

I’ve always only ever done jobs that revolve around music because that is where my knowledge lies, and where my passion lies. I suppose the dream is to have a show on Radio 1; I’ve grown up with Radio 1 so I’d love to have a daytime show on there.  And I also love Jools Holland. People say that music shows have died a death on TV but I really don’t think they have; they just haven’t got the right concept yet! I’d love to do a sort of T.G.I Friday, mixed with Jools Holland kind of vibe, late night, like 11pm.

So those are my aims in life and if either of those things happens, then I will die a happy girl.

Those sound like some great aims to have Arielle and I wish you all the luck in the world! Now that the interview is done we can carry on talking about wine and when we are going out for a mad night of cocktails.

Follow Arielle on Twitter and Instagram.