How I Do My Show: Ennio Styles
Fun fact: Ennio Styles chooses his first track about a minute before the show kicks off. Learn all about the many hours and processes that go into creating Stylin’ before Ennio jumps back on the airwaves this Friday.
How does the show creation process start for you? My focus is mostly on playing new music, so there’s generally not a theme for particular episodes.
Do you have any systems for keeping track of music and ideas? I’ve worked out a lot of different systems, and they would be genius if only I had enough time to put them all into action.
When I started Stylin’ in 2001 I was generally playing vinyl. Internet was mostly dial-up in those days, so rather than using it for streaming audio, it was more for ordering records (much better than fax, which was my previous method). My Friday mornings involved driving to Stomp and Siren/Aztec (which were record distributors I used to order through) and to the post office to pick up more orders and promos. (It’s amazing to think that overseas labels used to post vinyl promos to Australia – that hasn’t happened for a while!) Then it was into Triple R to play the fresh bounty on the show.
As someone who’s always been a fiend for new music, it always used to annoy me that we had to wait a bit longer in Australia because of the delivery time. Funnily enough, in the digital music era, we now get a lot of music before other countries. That’s because we are near the front of the time zone map. Midnight in Melbourne (UTC +10) comes 18 hours before midnight in LA (UTC +18). Some digital platforms release music at midnight (12:01am to be precise) on the release date, based on the time zone where the platform is based. But others release the music based on the user’s time zone, which means we get it earlier than many other countries.
As it happens, most new releases now come out on Fridays, since some of the big music industry players decided to try to create a global standard of ‘New Music Fridays’ in 2015. As I told Dan Dare for his excellent Spotify special on Max Headroom, that means I’m waiting to listen to hundreds of new songs at midnight on Thursday night, 12 hours before my show starts.
As well as Spotify, I follow thousands of artists and labels on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Juno, Beatport and other platforms. I also try to keep up with various radio shows, podcasts, playlists and published reposts/purchases of other DJs and music fans with similar taste. I also set up rules in my email program to try to divert all release emails and promos to a single folder. But it’s too much for me to keep on top of it all. As it is, I probably listen to around 1000 new songs each week – at home, on the tram, in the car, in the supermarket. I’d listen to more if I had time.
How do you know the thread of a show – where to start and how to end?
I usually take about 100 songs I like (mostly new) into the show each week. I decide on the first song at about 11.59am and then let the rest flow from there, as I generally like to do my show as a DJ mix – or, more accurately, about four short mixes broken up by sponsorship messages.
How do you put together all the bits and pieces for a show – and how do you keep it all organised? Since we got the Pioneer USB-friendly CDJs in Studio 1, I have been preparing the songs to take in for my show using iTunes and Pioneer’s Rekordbox software, which scans all of the songs for beats per minute and key and generates an waveform image of the audio, all of which will then load and display on the CDJ in the studio. The CDJs allow me to ‘tag’ tracks, which is a way to earmark songs I might want to play soon in a set.
Talk us through the day of going to air. I’m listening to new music the whole time – usually in my pyjamas! There’s always more music I need to check out. At the last minute I have a shower (but usually don’t shave) and a spoon of yoghurt (but usually not a proper breakfast) and then head into Triple R.
How do you set up in the studio? Since my very early days of Stylin’, Tony Biggs has signed off On the Blower by saying, ‘I’d better clean all this shit up and get out here, because coming through to take you into the weekend in a smooth and groovy fashion is Mr Ennio Styles.’ I used to always think it was funny that this may have implied I would be neat and tidy when I came into the studio, which I really wasn’t when there was vinyl, CDs, track-listings and press releases everywhere. But now that I do most of my show off a USB stick, it’s pretty hard to make a mess.
I do also like to have musicians in the studio whenever I can, and that’s a different story. I think we once crammed a ten-piece band into the studio, and another time we had a band with two drummers.
How, if at all, do you feel or think differently when you’re on-air? I’m a classic mono-tasker, so I really get quite in the zone when I’m doing my show. Sometimes I can get a bit too in the zone with the music and mixing and need to remind myself to announce the tracks I’ve been playing.
Any special tricks up your sleeve if everything goes haywire? Blame someone else.
Finish this sentence: I couldn’t do my show without… ears.
This article first appeared in The Trip, Triple R’s subscriber magazine, arriving in letterboxes April, August and December.