How I Do My Show: Eva Lubulwa

3 January 2020

Guess who's back on air this coming Monday? None other than Eva Lubulwa! Dive into this candid chat with Eva to discover how an episode of Highly Melanated comes together.

Eva Lubulwa How I Do My Show 1

Photo by Clara Slewa

How does the show creation process start for you? Every week I go on this massive journey of finding two hours of new music. Instagram is amazing; it’s a rabbit hole you can go down. You just follow the trail until that stops and then you start somewhere else. There’s a bunch of artists who I really love – like Lizzo, Tank and the Bangas, Noname and Chance the Rapper – who I check up regularly in case they dropped something and I missed it. The radio show is a really good excuse to do what I would do anyway, which is search and get inspired.

Do you have any systems for keeping track of music and ideas? I make Excel spreadsheets. I don’t necessarily have a ‘structure’; I have songs I love and weird stories about songs I love. I will not tell you dates; I will not tell you album names. I remember when I was younger, there were these music nerds who could tell you what track it was on which album, when it was released, and what the band were brushing their teeth with while they wrote the song – and I used to find that so frustrating, because music isn’t about that knowledge. Music is about what I feel. It’s about that song I heard when I broke up with someone the first time, or that song someone sang in my ear when I was falling in love with them. [Songs] can take you back to [those feelings], but it can also make you laugh at [them]. Like when I was 12, Princess Di had died and Elton John had brought out that CD, and on that CD was ‘I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues’; I can’t tell you what track number because who cares. And I had a crush on a guy and he didn’t have a crush on me and he started going out with one of my friends and I played that song on repeat while I cried in my cupboard because I was ashamed of how much I liked him and he didn’t like me. Now I listen to that song and I’m like, Oh, precious. Why Elton? Why? You were a 12 year old child. You had so much other stuff [to choose from]; it was the ’90s, everyone was all up in their feelings. And you were like, No, no, I’m going to go with Elton John. Those are the stories [I like].

Eva Lubulwa How I Do My Show 2

Photo by Clara Slewa

How do you know the thread of a show – where to start and how to end? I always choose my last track – a track that makes me joyful. I have the funniest story at the beginning. There isn’t really a ‘thread’, because I’m just not like that. I’ll go from laughing to crying in 2.5 seconds, so I think that my show should [be like that, too].

Talk us through the day of going to air. I go home [from work], make dinner, and make sure that everything is on USBs. Then I nap for an hour, like a grandma, and then I wake up and come here.

How do you set up in the studio? I have my laptop. No snacks; I’m not a snacker. I do have chocolate after the show, though, every time. But then again, I’ve also got into the habit of eating chocolate for breakfast every day. You know when you’re like, Look, I don’t want to be afraid of chocolate any more, so what I’m going to do is saturate my system until I’m not afraid of it anymore. I’m not afraid of it; I’m just at the saturation point. It’s really frigging deep for me. So yeah, I have chocolate afterwards. But I’m not a snacker, because there is so much going on in the studio – especially seeing as they changed the frigging [playout system]. I’m replying to Instagram; I’m replying to Facebook; I’m cueing up songs. Where do I have time to chew? I don’t have time to chew. And sometimes I dance, because why not.

How, if at all, do you feel or think differently when you’re on-air? Everything’s different when I’m on air. This is the mushy bit: I love radio. You know when you find something and it’s your everything? Something happens when I sit in the seat and those lights go on; everything melts away.

Any post-show rituals? Coles [to get chocolate]. Did I mention it was sugar-free? I’m trying to be healthy.

Eva Lubulwa How I Do My Show 3

Photo by Clara Slewa

Any special tricks up your sleeve if everything goes haywire? I can talk underwater. There’s always back-up music; I’ve got my computer. But I know I can always talk. I had a Bowie mishap recently, and I just had to talk my way through it. The greatest thing about it is not pretending it’s not happening. Or apologising. I just make a story about it.

Sometimes something fucked up happens in the middle of a song. One time this guy was rapping about stuff and I was like, Oh no, I ain’t about that life – at all. So I had to fade it out and apologise. But most of the time if it’s bad I’m like, Yeah, sorry. My bad. You’re coming on the journey with me and sometimes it surprises me as well. Turns out there was only ten seconds of that song that was good and the rest of it was kind of shit.

Finish this sentence: I couldn’t do my show without… laughter. Really. If I had to serious, I’d be screwed. Because it’s so much fun.

This article first appeared in The Trip, Triple R’s subscriber magazine, arriving in letterboxes April, August and December.