Hurst & Soul

Interview with Tom Hurst from STAR Radio

By: Hannah Brattesani 

The beauty of a night at the Vic is found in its ability to be self-erasing. Whether it be through the application of alcohol or the habitual study of your shoes every time that person walks past, Vic nights have always fallen in the same category as Vegas and Stag Dos: what happens there, stays there. For me, outside of half-scrubbed entrance stamps and headaches, anything Vic-related ended at 2am. This had always remained true until one Tuesday afternoon when I found myself sat across from an enthusiastic first year with a carrot juice in one hand and my phone recording in the other. 

I met Tom Hurst, STAR Radio’s newest DJ, through mutual friends at the Vic one evening. After the courtesy small talk I quickly learned that Tom was a fervent fan of Soul music and was hosting a weekly show exploring the genre. Be it my complete ignorance of Soul or his palpable passion for the music, I was adamant that Tom let me interview him. He was polite enough to oblige:

 ST.ART: Let’s start off easy, what’s the name of your show?

Tom Hurst: Soul Foods. It’s just like Soul music, 70s disco and funk. Anything that’s pretty groovy tends to feature.

ST.ART: And it’s Thursday at 11? I remember that part; you better plug that. So why this kind of music?

TH: Throughout life obviously everyone sort of changes genres that they enjoy. When I was younger I’d listen to quite heavy rock and then alternative rock and then quite a lot of Electronic stuff… Techno… Dub. I had a friend who enjoyed hosting dinner parties; I’d go early, help him cook and we’d play this sort of music together. Then from there he’d show me things, I’d show him things. I’ve always really liked music so if someone is showing me something about music I will always then go on and look into music by the same artist or music by similar artists. I wouldn’t say I’ve built up a knowledge of the genre but I definitely know that I enjoy it.

ST.ART: And so where do you find the content for your show?

TH: At the moment I feel like I basically know enough music from each of the genres that I just go by my Google play stuff. The albums that I’ve saved – I just go with that basically.  Then I arrange set lists in terms of what I think will start well and flow well and then base it on a different topic each week. Last week, which was my first one, I spent a few hours assembling a table on Microsoft word about all the release years of all these different albums. It’s interesting to see how – and I didn’t know this before I did this –the albums released in one year really do fit together really well. So last year I did 1971 as a year, you know, just because and there were like four or five albums like Marvin Gaye, What’s going on?, Al Green released one, Earth Wind and Fire released one, Shuggie Otis released one and then Funkedelic released their most famous album. So there were so many songs in each of those albums that just flow really well together. In this coming week it’s based on birthdays because tomorrow (October 12th) is Sam Moore’s birthday, from Sam and Dave – I really like their music, it’s pretty groovy- and on Thursday (October 13th) it’s Paul Simon from Simon and Garfunkel. 

ST.ART: Yeah I think you told me this. I have a vague memory of birthdays.

TH: Yeah I think I did. I probably did. I’ll split it (the show) into two I think. Hopefully it will work.

ST.ART: Okay so in terms of favourite bands or singers? You don’t even have to go down the soul route, who do you like in general?

TH: To be honest in my own time I don’t really listen to that much Soul anymore, I just love putting it together and putting it on to fit a mood. Say late at night if I’m relaxing in my room, I listen to like James Brown or something but it depends so much on the mood that during the day I tend to listen to a lot of rap. Like a lot of rap… or dub…or techno.

ST.ART: I feel like that’s the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Soul.

TH: Oh yeah. And then a lot of Grime. A lot of American rap. Old school Hip Hop as well. Like I will basically listen exclusively to those sorts of genres. Then when I am working in the evening, you know that Facebook live thing? I follow the Boiler Room, things like that, and they do live sets which I then listen to. Soundcloud I use a lot. In terms of favourite bands and singers…

ST.ART: Yeah sorry for putting you on the spot here. I don’t even think I can answer this question.

TH: I really don’t have any. I really can’t pull any out of my head because it just depends so much on the mood that I’m in as to what I’m going to listen to.

ST.ART: I know it’s very early days yet but where do you plan on taking your show?

TH: I’ve had loads of ideas. I mean I think it would be so cool to be a radio DJ when I’m older, I think that would be awesome but in terms of while I’m in St Andrews, if I can keep it going for the four years that would be great because it’s a lot of fun. It’s basically me sitting in a room, playing music that I like and cracking jokes to myself. I have my sister, who goes here, she’s a great singer so she’ll come on and she’ll sing something. I’ve met a girl in my halls who can come on and sing something. I’ve met others who I have told the idea to and they have been like “I know lots about Neo Soul, or Northern Soul,” which I know nothing about. I exclusively know about Classic Soul so I’m probably going to have them on. I’ll split the set in half and they can do a New Age Soul set or a Northern Soul set so… diversify… and not have my monotonous voice the entire time.

ST.ART: Do you see yourself moving outside of the radio booth?

TH: Absolutely, yeah, that would be sick. I don’t know where I would start with that. A friend and I were talking about it earlier today and we were saying- we want to live together next year- we were thinking the pair of us should like invest in the software you need to mix and buy some decks. We were talking about it and I have talked in the past about DJing because you know when you are on a night out with your mates and you are just like “I could do a better job than this.” No disrespect to the people of St Andrews – obviously not talking about St Andrews. Having a good soul night or going to the Vic and just DJing soul for like an hour would be great. It would be really fun. Maybe we will do some Soul Foods themed night or next year, when I’m living outside of halls, I could host Soul themed parties sponsored by STAR obviously. It would be cool, I just don’t really know how you would get started on something like that particularly because I’ve never done it (DJing) before, I’ve always wanted to, but I never have really.

ST.ART: Well in my four years here I’ve seen a good handful of people pop us suddenly as DJs, it doesn’t seem impossible to do. You just need to talk to the venues, promise you’ll get 50 of your friends to come in and buy drinks.

TH: Yeah, I’ll do it for free. I’ll do it for free on a Monday night.

ST.ART: That’s how you do it. Have you done any radio DJing before?

TH: I mean I always thought that it would be fun to be a radio DJ. Also listening to radio I always think that there is too much chat so I don’t really chat in my shows. I introduce a set, if I think something is funny then I’ll say it – it’s probably not but I’ll say it anyway- then I’ll play a bit more music and then talk about it a little bit at the end. What I really like in radio is when you turn it on and you listen to music that you weren’t expecting to hear but it still really catches your ear anyway. I think that genres like Soul, 70’s Disco in particular and Funk, are those sorts of genres where if it just comes on then you are going to enjoy it. People don’t know that they like these sorts of genres but when they are listening to it it really gets your hips going.

To get your hips going listen to Tom and his wonderful Soul Foods on Thursday at 11am. 

ST.ART Magazine