Gilles Peterson (born 28 September 1964, Caen, France) is a British-based DJ, record collector and record label owner residing in London. Via his labels Acid Jazz, Talkin' Loud, and latterly Brownswood Recordings, he has been associated with the careers of well-known artists of the 1990s such as Erykah Badu, Roni Size and Jamiroquai.
After starting out on pirate radio, and having shows on various legal London-based radio stations, most notably Kiss FM dance music station, he was recruited to the BBC's youth-oriented Radio 1 in 1998. Since 2012, he hosts a 3 hour BBC 6 Music Saturday show, 3-6pm. Peterson's focus has always been jazz music, generally modern jazz, with a strong emphasis on its translation to a club environment, mixed with associated music styles.
Peterson has a Saturday afternoon BBC Radio 6 Music radio show, which is re-broadcast from eight European countries, including: Radio Nova (France), Stu Bru (Belgium), FM4 (Austria), Radio X (Germany) and Funkhaus Europa (Germany). Parallel to this, he hosts frequent DJing gigs around the world.
Born to a mother from Paris, France and a father from Zürich, Switzerland, he attended the Roman Catholic John Fisher School. He became known on the London circuit as a DJ specialising in the new breed of "acid jazz", drawing on the jazz, funk and Latin fusions (including Brazilian music) of the 1970s. First heard as a DJ on the London pirate radio station Radio Invicta, he went on to host "Mad On Jazz" on BBC Radio London in 1986-87, then ran club night at Dingwalls in Camden Town.
That club, and one of Peterson's best remembered club sessions, was Talkin' Loud Sayin' Something at the old Dingwalls club in Camden, North West London which ran from the late 1980s until March 1991. The sessions were characterised by jazz dancers in suits hats and spats, well-known jazz dance classics including tracks from Yusef Lateef, Pharoah Sanders, Freddie Hubbard, Airto, Herbie Hancock, and the anthemic In The Fast Lane by Jean-Luc Ponty; but the jazz was fused with hip-hop and the more experimental tracks. Gilles played alongside fellow London DJ Patrick Forge at most of the Dingwalls' sessions, as well as separately at many other underground club nights and music weekenders. On 8 October 2006, both Peterson and Forge played the first of many annual reunion shows at the old site of Dingwalls (now a Jongleurs comedy club), with a compilation album of popular tracks from the club also being released at the same time in 2006 entitled Sunday Afternoon At Dingwalls.
In March 1990, Peterson became a disc jockey on London's first-ever dedicated jazz station 102.2 Jazz FM. The three hour show was stripped into sections including the "Samba 60" and the "Vibrazone". Artists as diverse as the Freestyle Fellowship, Sérgio Mendes and Leon Thomas would all appear on the same playlist. He was forced to leave the station after making anti-war comments during the first Gulf War.
Kiss 100 FM:
September 1990 saw London pirate dance music station Kiss 100 FM become legal when it acquired a licence and started to broadcast from the Holloway Road in North London. Patrick Forge was then given the space to create his own show, with the two DJs continuing to work together at Dingwalls until the "last dance" on 3 March 1991. Peterson moved over to Kiss FM himself after being fired by Jazz FM. In his shows on Kiss FM he played acts as diverse as Josh Wink, Gang Starr and Horace Silver in the space of a single programme. He was then hired by BBC Radio 1 in 1998.
From 1998 to 2012, through his BBC show Worldwide - which was originally produced by longtime collaborator Benji B, Karen P (Folded Wing), Ben Cave, Beccy Grierson, Alex Kenning and currently Dave O'Donnell - Peterson continued to present a wide range of music that may be new to its young audiences. The show always presented a combination of new, older and often very rare records from the late 1950s to 1980s. Every three months or so, Peterson dedicated a whole show to older vinyl releases in a special version of his show he subtitles as Brownswood Basement; two associated compilation albums with the same name containing older personal classics have been released on the United States label Ubiquity Records's offshoot Luv N' Haight. He has been associated with two Brownswood labels - the name comes from the road in north London where his house was located. This building is now primarily a place Peterson uses to store his huge record collection. In August 2004 the show moved from Wednesday (midnight til 2am) to an earlier Sunday slot (11:00 to 01:00) with a spectacular live outside broadcast from The Big Chill at Eastnor Castle Herefordshire featuring Bugz In The Attic performing a DJ set, and interviews with house DJ Tom Middleton and Mr. Scruff.
One of the highlights of the new format BBC Radio 1 show was the special sessions from the BBC's Maida Vale Studios. These have included artists such as Roots Manuva, Björk and the Floating Points Ensemble. In September 2006, Peterson's show on Radio 1 was moved from Sunday night to Wednesday night (more precisely the early hours of Thursday morning), 02:00 to 04:00 (GMT). The first show included a live appearance from Lupe Fiasco. The show is currently broadcast live between 2am-4am on Wednesday mornings. In 2002 he released a compilation album, "Impressed with Gilles Peterson", featuring rare and forgotten about British Jazz from the 1950-1960s, that Peterson had collected over the years. This led to many of the records being re-released to a new audience. This in turn led to a series of concerts featuring some of the artists and a documentary about the history of British jazz ("Jazz Britannia").
In late 2011 Peterson announced that after 13 years at the station he would be leaving BBC Radio 1, following his last show in the early hours of Wednesday 28 March, 02:00 to 04:00 (GMT), and moving to a new show on BBC Radio 6 Music.
Radio 6 Music:
Following his departure from Radio 1, Gilles started a new 3 hour Saturday afternoon show on BBC Radio 6 Music, beginning on Saturday 7 April 2012, running weekly from 15:00 to 18:00 (GMT), and giving him an extra hour of broadcast time. Like his previous Radio 1 programme, it is made by independent production company Somethin' Else for the BBC.
The Worldwide Awards is an annual event wherein Gilles Peterson chooses his favourite records of the year. His listeners then vote for the top 10 via the Radio 1 website. The event has been held at London venues including Cargo and KoKo with full broadcast coverage by Radio 1, and has expanded to include sections such as "Best Clubnight", "Best Record Shop", "Best Compilation Album", and a special award called "The John Peel'Play More Jazz' Award" given to an artist, often a newcomer, who has displayed special noteworthy work over the year.
Gilles Peterson is the creative director of Mistral Productions, launched in November 2013, which produces Gilles' internationally syndicated radio shows as well as audio and video content for brands.
Gilles Peterson has played a role on four record labels. In 1987, together with DJ Baz Fe Jazz, he was recruited by Ace Records to create the soul, funk and jazz dance sublabel BGP Records. In 1988 he and Eddie Piller founded Acid Jazz Records, a label whose roster included the Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Corduroy, the James Taylor Quartet and Snowboy. After growing disillusioned with the scene that grew up around the label, he went on to run Talkin' Loud, enlisting the help of fellow DJ Norman Jay who formed his own Global Village label. The Talkin' Loud roster included Nuyorican Soul (a side project of the producers Masters At Work), Courtney Pine, MJ Cole, Young Disciples, Incognito, Terry Callier, The Roots, Galliano and Roni Size's project Reprazent.
Peterson's most recent record label, Brownswood Recordings, was launched in 2006. It was named after the road in North London where the house he used to live. To date the label has released records by British singer/songwriter Ben Westbeech, 45 piece live act The Heritage Orchestra, Japanese punk jazz band Soil & "Pimp" Sessions, Brooklyn based pianist Elan Mehler, jazz vocalist José James and Zara McFarlane; Ghostpoet, This label should not be confused with another imprint called Brownswood Records which was used to release music from the United Future Organization as well as other Japanese associated projects.
Peterson has made many regular appearances at music festivals across the world including Lovebox in east London, The Big Chill in Hereford and the Southport Weekender in the north west of England. Away from the UK he has appeared at the Exit Festival in Serbia, INmusic festival in Croatia, and in 2005 the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Gilles also curated his own stage at Montreux Jazz Festival for 10 years during the 1990s.
Peterson and Freshly Cut, a French event production company from Montpellier, collaborated to create the Worldwide Festival. This started out as a small intimate festival during the summertime in the coastal town of Sète in France in 2006. It was expanded to include a mini version of the festival in Singapore from 2008.
Grand Theft Auto:
WorldWide FM is a radio station featured in Grand Theft Auto V. The station is named after Peterson's real-world weekly radio shows Worldwide on BBC Radio 1 (2007-2012, now succeeded by a self-titled show on BBC Radio 6 Music), and globally syndicated Worldwide International.
In the world of production, Peterson has collaborated with Switch (DJ) and DJ Clipz in the past, and most recently Gilles produced two tracks for Roberto Fonseca's grammy nominated album 'Yo'. He has also remixed artists such as Raphael Gualazzi, The Bees and Fatoumata Diawara and most recently Gregory Porter's Grammy winning album 'Liquid Spirit' alongside Alex Patchwork. Gilles continues to develop his studio sound with his in house partner Simbad.
Released in May 2014 via Talkin' Loud / Virgin EMI, Sonzeira's Brasil Bam Bam Bam is a journey through the different flavours of authentic Brazilian music culture. Sonzeira is the collective name for the group of Brazilian artists who feature on the album. Gilles turned from DJ to producer for this ambitious venture, settling in Rio de Janeiro with young UK production associates Sam Shepherd (Floating Points); Dilip Harris and Rob Gallagher from 2 Banks of 4; and Kassin from Rio collective Orquestra Imperial. The album features Brazilian artists such as Seu Jorge and Elza Soares.
2009 saw the birth of a new collaborative project and long-term partnership between Peterson and Havana Club or "Havana Cultura". Havana Cultura is a global initiative developed by Havana Club International which gives a platform to Cuban artists from all disciplines. The website, www.havana-cultura.com, was launched in 2007. Gilles Peterson and Brownswood's involvement began two years later, resulting in four album releases and three international tours. 'Havana Cultura: New Cuba Sound', was the first album to come out of the project, released in 2010. Travelling to Cuba in 2009, Gilles teamed up with the award-winning Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca to find the best up and coming musical talent in Havana. The double CD album was a celebration of Cuba's musical forces spanning Latin, Afro jazz and fusion to hip-hop, funk, reggaeton and soul. In support of this project, Gilles began a European tour in June/July 2010, accompanied by Fonseca, his band and vocalists Danay Suarez, Ogguere and Obsesión. This was the first of three tours organised in close collaboration with Havana Club. The Gilles Peterson Havana Cultura band has now travelled through Europe and beyond with shows in London (Barbican), Paris, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Berlin and Madrid, as well as many festivals. Travelling with the rest of the 2011 crew, Mala (Digital Mystikz) was also invited to Cuba with Gilles Peterson to record and collaborate with local musicians as part of the on-going Havana Cultura project. The results are found on the album 'Mala in Cuba' - which was released on Brownswood Recordings in partnership with Havana Cultura on 10 September 2012.
Sony Gold Award - Best Specialist Music Radio Show, 2000.,
Awarded MBE in 2004.,
Outstanding Contribution To Dance Music 2011.,
Honorary Masters Degree Nottingham University.,
AIM Independent Music Awards - Indie Champion 2013.,
Raphael Gualazzi 'Reality & Fantasy' (Gilles Peterson Remix),
Nono Morales 'Saona' (Gilles Peterson Remix),
Bukky Leo & Black Egypt 'Skeleton' (Gilles P Winter Dub),
Chambao 'Duende Del Sur' (Gilles Peterson Dub),
Ghostpoet 'Survive It' (Gilles Peterson Mix),
Keziah Jones 'Lagos - NY' (Gilles Peterson Remix),
Seu Jorge 'Burguesinha' (Gilles P Re-Edit),
Nono Morales - Saona (Gilles P & Simbad Remix),
Tito Puente - Watu Wasuri (GIlles P Re-Edit),
Louie Vega - One Dream (Gilles Peterson Edit),
Raphael Gualazzi Reality & Fantasy (Gilles Peterson Remix),
Laura Welsh Undiscoverd (Gilles Peterson Remix),
Meshell N'Degeocello Friends (Gilles P & Simbad Remix),
Keziah Jones Lagos Vs New York (Gilles Peterson Remix),
Chambao Duende Del Sur (Gilles Peterson Remix) + Dub)