Going from London’s Rinse FM to Beats 1, a global station streaming to over 100 countries with millions of listeners is no mean feat, and the magnitude of that change isn’t lost on Julie. “I overthink everything now.” She laughs. “I’m really aware of the company that I work for and the fact that we’re still so brand new and open to criticism.
“Music is so broad, so there’s so much opinion. I have to continuously remind myself that not everyone is from London and therefore what does that sound like, how do you talk to those people, what could you say that might be deemed offensive? If there is a culture or religion celebrating a holiday I need to be aware of that, even if I don’t know much about it,” she says. “I’m constantly on Google and I make an effort to learn as much as I can. Sometimes you just don’t learn new things because there’s no need to but if you have a job that means that it might make sense for you to do that, then you should. There’s no harm in learning about other people and how to be respectful of them. That could never be a bad thing.”
Being the London headline host of Beats 1, Julie’s focus is predominantly to represent UK music, a hefty responsibility given the many misconceptions that it has fallen foul to in recent years (not to mention one clunky Evening Standard review of Skepta’s Alexandra Palace gig last year mistaking reloads for technical errors). So does she feel the pressure?
“I think subconsciously I do, but I try not to think about it because it makes me nervous,” she says. “In the back of my mind I feel like that but I realise that there are other people doing a great job as well – I’m not the only one with the weight on my shoulders.
“But within Beats 1 I definitely feel like that’s my purpose, and that’s the first battle I’m going to fight – to make sure representation is correct. The station knows how important music is though, so if someone doesn’t know about a genre they ask instead of assuming. With grime for example, I think it’s quite hard to get it if you weren’t there from the beginning.”