My interview with Kamilla begins at Foundation FM, located in Peckham Levels. It’s a fairly new building (which happens to be a converted multi-storey car park) that houses a lot of creative talent and is constantly plastered with posters of exciting new things happening, whether that may be yoga classes, workshops or events where you can watch upcoming creatives showcase their talents.
I met Kamilla via Instagram, the way most great interactions take place, and she kindly allowed me to shadow her whilst recording an episode of her show ‘Brunch with Kamilla’ (because who even eats breakfast anymore). Immediately, I admired her bubbly personality that came through in her presenting and the fact she is also a freelance producer on other projects as well as presenting here. Kamilla embodies the type of representation that many of us would like to see more of within the industry, a woman that has an active role in the creative process and as well as delivering the content to us.
When I arrive at the studio, Kamilla is recording her brunch show which runs from 10am-1pm and she is with producer Frankie Wells, who is also one of the founders of Foundation FM.
P: So, can you describe a typical working day for you?
K: A week working day we be getting up early, taking Noah (my son) either to nursery or to his grandma’s house to look after him and then coming into radio here on Foundation FM, which I’m on every day from 10am. I’m on air until 1pm and then after it varies every single day. Some days it might be doing some Boiler Room work, other days it might be 1Xtra work and other days it might be going off to do another recording for Red Bull or sometimes it might be studying, playing with my son, or occasionally, sleeping.
P: What would you say is the most difficult part about your job?
K: The most difficult part is multitasking and just wearing different hats. I think that’s quite important and bearing in mind when you are freelance, you can be contacted at any point for other stuff, so some days I might be working and have a pretty chilled day. Then other times, everything comes at once, all the companies I freelance for may contact me and it gets a bit intense! Or even fitting work in around an 18 month old child! Dealing with kiddy stuff like childcare and sickness bugs is real.
P: What positions do you do as a freelancer?
K: I freelance as a producer, a presenter (on Foundation FM and Red Bull) and a writer (albeit very occasionally) I’ve got an article coming out hopefully next week!
P: What is your favourite part about your job?
K: I think the best part is seeing things that you’ve worked on when they come out. With radio, like with foundation, it’s great because it’s live so you instantly see the results. But with the things that I produce, for example stuff with Boiler Room, that might take two weeks for me to work on it and it’s just a nice feeling when you see everything you’ve been working on come out and everyone is like “ooh that’s nice”. Even with the Red Bull show, we work on it and then it goes out like a week later so it’s just nice seeing the results of your work.
P: What was your best/favourite interview?
K: Ah I can’t answer that!
P: I think my favourite interview of yours was when you interviewed Brent Faiyaz.
K: Aw really? Yeah that was good!
K: Since we’ve been on foundation, in four months we’ve had over 20 people.
Producer Frankie: We’ve had over that.
K: Before on other stations, I would make sure I had an interview every show so that’s like 2 a month. I honestly don’t think I could say my favourite interviews. I could probably say standout ones. American artists are always fun to interview because they’re new to the UK so like Brent Faiyaz or D.R.A.M. I like interviewing people before everyone knows about them because they’re really excited for you to talk to them.
Producer Frankie: 54 guests.
K: Wow so we’ve had 54 guests on in four months. That is a lot.
K: But yeah, I like talking to new artists because they’re excited to come on, but I don’t think I could say a favourite interview.
P: What are some common misconceptions that people have about your job?
K: I think a misconception that people have about producing is that it’s quite easy and that it’s glamourous. It really isn’t.
P: It’s a lot of hard graft.
K: Yeah, people might think “omg you’re a producer” and get gassed because of the title. But it really isn’t all that, it can be often boring, like sorting budgets, finding locations, then also fun too when you’re making stuff!
P: I think it’s because you want the credit.
Producer Frankie: You don’t get the credit.
K: Yeah I think people want the credit, but you don’t get it.
Producer Frankie: It’s a thankless job. But if you work here (Foundation FM.) then it’s great.
K: I think the misconception with being a presenter is that people think it’s easy. There are some people who are just naturally able to talk but it actually requires practice and I think doing radio everyday and acquiring radio ‘air miles’ is just as important, just putting in the hours is really important.
P: What are the current projects you’re working on?
K: The brunch show on Foundation and Normal Not Novelty with Red Bull and then a show with Boiler Room and a weekly show on BBC Radio 1xtra.
P: What are some upcoming projects you’d like to work on?
K; I don’t really know, I just take whatever comes to be honest. I think I want to do more personal things, try to start blogging again and just putting out more stuff on my own.
P: When did you know that you wanted to work in radio broadcasting?
K: I don’t really think that I knew, when I was at uni I just tried loads of different things and one of them was radio.
P: How did you get your start?
K: I worked in TV for a bit and I wanted to try a do radio. I’ve never been one of those people that’s like “when I was younger I used to play tapes on the radio”. I wish I had a story like that, but I think it was just testing out different things. I enjoyed radio because I like music and that was just a good way of bringing in a bit of production skills, my passion for music and presenting. For radio, I did loads of work experience at places like the Roundhouse, Reprezent and doing volunteering alongside that. I did an internship in TV and I got a job as a researcher. Doing that allowed me to get a job at 1Xtra as a team assistant, which is an entry level job. So, I wouldn’t say it was one thing that was my start but doing loads of things simultaneously, fingers in loads of pies and grabbing every opportunity!
P: What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives, people who want to work in radio etc?
K: Just try and take on as many opportunities as you can. Also putting things out on your terms, whether it’s a blog, podcast or video series.
Producer Frankie: Don’t be afraid to be freelance. I think a lot of people think they need a steady job but that’s not how you get to meet all those people and get that experience. Know your value, you’re doing a job and you’re good at it. A lot of people assume you should be working for free and you shouldn’t. If you’re not getting value out of it, as in experience, you should be getting paid.
K: I know people say do as much free work as possible but for certain people that isn’t realistic. If you are lucky enough to have the systems in place to do it, then by all means do it but I think it’s important to know that companies do have money to pay people. And especially in media, where people of colour, women and people from low-income families are in a minority, often it’s not possible for us to do unpaid work, companies need to understand for this to change, they need to employ people and pay them!
P: So, how would you advise people who want to transition from doing unpaid freelance work to paid work?
K: I think like Frankie said, as soon as you’ve got everything you need out of it and you’re not benefitting anymore, and it becomes like a real job. For example, I did unpaid work at a production company and after two months, as well as also working in retail part-time, I was basically in a role there. I stopped learning the ropes and was a full member of the team – just unpaid. So I just spoke to my boss and said, “I’m either going to have to stop doing this soon because I can’t afford to keep coming in or it would be great if you could look into giving me an actual role within the team instead of an unpaid position”. She then, luckily, hired me in a role that they were going to advertise for.
P: Who are some women that have inspired you?
K: I’m probably the worst person to ask this but I don’t have one person that inspires me.
Producer Frankie: I’m sitting right here.
K: When people ask me this I usually think of celebrities.
P: Doesn’t have to be a celebrity.
K: For me, it’s just women in my life. Whether that’s my mum, my partner’s mum, Frankie and my producer at Red Bull. Even other DJ’s at Foundation, like K2RAH, people who are actually my friends, I would say they’re the people that inspire me.
P: Do you think that it is especially difficult for women to work in this industry?
K: I think it can be sometimes because at lot of people who are at the top are white, middle-class men and sometimes that can be intimidating. I also feel like there’s a bit of glass ceiling when it comes to pay and roles available. Those sorts of things can be challenging but also actual practical stuff, like sorting out maternity leave. A lot of women feel like they can’t have a baby in their jobs because they’re worried their boss will hire someone else if they go on maternity leave, or in a lot of creative industries, there isn’t the security blanket of having maternity leave and the pay to support that time off. Which is something men don’t necessarily have to worry about.
P: Do you feel that there is enough female representation in the industry? In what ways do you feel that women are underrepresented?
K: I don’t think there is enough to be honest, for example, producers or sound engineers.
Even when you want to play female artists, there are a lot but in comparison to male artists there’s no where near as much. I think there isn’t a lot of representation across the board, both in front of and behind the camera or mic and I don’t know why that is. And going back to those behind the scenes roles, like producers and engineers it’s not considered the norm for a female to be in those roles.
P: In what ways, do you feel, women are treated differently when working in this type of environment?
K: Personally, I haven’t had any experiences where I feel that I have been treated differently because I’m a woman. I have heard stories from people, who work with artist as publicists or managers, that say when they go to certain places, people automatically think that they’re a groupie rather than someone working with them. But for me, luckily, I haven’t.
P: Your favourite female artists right now?
K: I’m really enjoying a few Chicago artists like Noname and Rayvn Lenae. I also think there’s some amazing UK artists like AMA and Flohio.
P: Any last words for the readers, anything they should know?
K: Listen to Foundation FM! Join us for brunch, 10am-1pm Monday to Friday.
You can listen to previous episodes of Brunch with Kamilla here.