Stephen McCauley is at the forefront of the new generation of BBC music journalists. With a daytime show to cater for everyone, his own Electric Mainline reaching it’s 10 year anniversary of championing local artists and an experimental showcase of electronic music on Soundscapes, it seems Stephen is not a new generation, but instead has secured himself as Derry’s modern answer to John Peel.
Electric Mainline has had local artists at the heart of it’s cause for a monumental 10 years. Pioneering artists from Derry, the North West, Northern Ireland and the whole of the island, Stephen has always been a step ahead of the artists about to break through the local scene.
For one of the first times, Stephen is on the other side of the radio desk, as Independent Music sits down with Stephen to discuss his desert island discs. Stuck for eternity on a shipwrecked island, with only a record player and 10 singles to occupy the rest of time, Stephen must pick 10 tracks to spend the rest of his life.
Ahead of the show going live on social media and the Independent Music’s site next week, we preview some of his personal choices.
One of his first forays into alternative music, a close friend presented Stephen with a tape at the age of fifteen, one side had the Doors debut album, and the other held The Velvet Underground & Nico.
“Both albums had a massive impact on me. I became really obsessed with a couple of tracks off of The Velvet Underground & Nico.”
“This one in particular has stood out my entire life. The title speaks for itself, but I think it stands for a lot more than just heroin.”
“I think its about getting outside of yourself, the notion of going beyond what you are capable of and experiencing things on a bigger level, I think it’s a love song too."
The single from Massive Attack’s first album in 1991, Unfinished Sympathy is not only an anthem of Massive Attack and dance hip pop but for the whole of the 90s.
“Probably, one of the most poppy on this list. Doing my afternoon show recently, it’s forced me to take a more mainstream agenda. Which is excellent, you know, there is great music always, everywhere and at all times.”
“Even though it is a pop tune, it has a lot of darkness about it. Its like when you have been trying to get into a relationship, and it isn't working. You realise you feel more than the other person and thats where the ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ comes from.”
In keeping with his objective of pioneering local music, many of Stephen’s choices are local artists from the city and beyond. Ryan Vail has been recording and releasing tracks through social media and Stephen’s Soundscapes and Electric Mainline for a number of years.
“I believe the next few months are going to be really important for him. He has been working for quite a long time and its been a long build up, but it has been him finding his sound really, along those years.”
“This new album is going to go through the roof, I think. Its a beautiful album called ‘For Every Silence.’”
“When you are doing Desert Island Discs, there is a lot of nostalgia involved, so I wanted to have at least one track in there, that has yet to come out.”