Conversations speaks to the mixmasters behind Nokia MixRadio’s biggest remix yet
Nokia MixRadio is revolutionising the way that we discover, listen and enjoy music from our devices. It’s only been a few weeks since the big launch, but you’ve already given us some great feedback on how to improve your musical experience. With the latest 4.1 update, My Music navigation is slicker, while your favourites are now organised alphabetically, making searching a lot simpler. Mixes are now clearly sorted by ‘Genres’, ‘Categories’ and ‘Featured’ – hand-picked mixes by Nokia’s very own musical tastemakers.
This merry band of beat brothers and sisters work across 31 countries to offer a wide range of bespoke mixes for varying locales. The aim? To make the music you listen to more pertinent for where you are in the world.
One of the biggest projects was the USA remix. Conversations spoke to Nokia mixmasters, Diccon Jefferies, Nick Pointon and Mark Lampo, about what was achieved with this refresh and what our stateside readers can expect. It also provided a great insight into how Nokia MixRadio tailors its choices for a worldwide audience.
What did you learn about USA specific music that you didn’t already know?
Mark: I learned just how popular Latino music is in the USA. I knew that there was a huge Hispanic and Latino population but I didn’t quite realise how big some of the mixes would be. Week-on-week, two of the top-five most popular mixes are Latino – ‘Regional Mexican’ and ‘Bachata’. The average listening hours for these two mixes are also really high, so we must be doing something right to have such a large, engaged audience.
Diccon: It [Nokia MixRadio] needed a redesign to offer more content. We worked together to create a broad list of every genre of music we could think of, then set about populating a pool of tunes for each genre. We divided it up according to areas of knowledge and interest. I concentrated on Jazz, which I like a lot – and a lot more than the rest of the team!
Nick: I specialise in hip-hop and expanded my knowledge of Southern and Mid-West hip-hop, which was much needed seeing as many of these artists have been dominating the genre with constant releases for many years. I also learned which cities actually constitute ‘Mid-West’ and ‘Southern’. I feel a bit sorry for the cities that left are left out of these brackets though – they have no media-friendly pigeon hole to attach to their press releases. Maybe that’s a good thing. Depends on how ‘underground’ you are though I guess!
What’s your favourite USA mix and new favourite artist discovery?
Nick: My favourite hip-hop playlist has to be the Posse Cuts mix. It’s full of latest cuts and artist collaborations plus many classics from the noughties, late nineties and the golden era of the late eighties/early nineties.
In terms of new favourite artists, I’ve become a fan of the heavy Trap beats and the raucous nature of Waka Flocka Flame – something I wouldn’t have said about a year ago. But, maintaining my grounded hip-hop self, I’ve also really been feeling the usual quality from Pusha-T, Joey Bada$$ and the rest of the Pro Era collective and Freddie Gibbs to name just a few.
Diccon: Thanks to a bunch of reading on the subject, I’m more clued-up now on the differences between ‘Bop’, ‘Post Bop’, ‘Hard Bop’ and ‘Neo Bop’. Or what ‘Cool Jazz’, ‘Free Jazz’ and ‘Fusion’ are.
I spent a long time listening through our ‘pools’ of music for all the different types of jazz, weeding out inappropriate tracks and adding more where necessary. It’s obviously a very specialist genre, but hopefully people who do listen to the mixes in the USA get a lot out of it – I certainly enjoyed listening to most of them, although two full days of Free Jazz was a bit much!
Mark: I’ve definitely become a lot more ‘country’ in the process of updating the USA MixRadio service – learning never to squat with your spurs on.
Here at Conversations HQ we’re always on the hunt for new music, so share your favourite new mixes and artists with us by posting in the comments below.
Oh, and don’t forget to download the latest Nokia MixRadio 4.1 update – available through the Windows Phone Store or waiting for you in your Notifications.