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Interview with Edith Bowman

Interviewing the Interviewer

I’ve never encountered the emotions of what it is to be star struck. Not until Edith Bowman slides through the door of her PR Company in a leopard print sweatshirt that looks like pure comfort, a leather skirt for added cool, and a black beret covered in yellow stars that I can’t help gush over moments later. “Hi hi hi, I’m so sorry. Have you been waiting long?” And for a second, I am at a loss for words until the following words come from her. “I’m dying for a cup of tea, d’you mind if I quickly make one?” Suddenly, I feel like I’m meeting a friend for a hot beverage. She has an interviewer’s air, going straight into to asking me about my journey, before I’m quickly spilling the beans about being a long time Tomb Raider fan and we’re rating the new film. “I thought the acting was great. But the script let it down.” I’m quick to agree as we perch on a stone colour lounge sofa steps from where she made a cuppa for us both.

We’re of different times, yet our conversation feels ageless. We discuss Scotland, her homeland, and how gorgeous of a place it really is. “It’s beautiful. I feel bad that I haven’t seen half the country—you know, having lived there for 19 years of my life sort of thing. In fact, I love going back. I appreciate it more now than I did when I lived there.” That’s something many can relate to. “I grew up in Anstruther. I grew up in a hotel so there was always music in it, be it bands coming to play at functions, little folk groups playing in the bar, local radio stations would come and do road shows there, so there was just this kind of constant wall of sound, really.” 

What with her vast musical knowledge, it makes sense that it began here, in her home

“There was always music around. Dad had a guitar so he was always kind of strumming around in the house and he had a really good record collection. We always had a really good sound system and he always had a really good sound system. There were a lot of vinyl and CDS, so in that sense of music, dad was a big influence.” 

And what of her mum? 

“Mum was a bit of a performer. She’d perform in local amateur dramatics. She played Nancy in Oliver and stuff like that, so that was really interesting. But the first gig I ever went to was because of my mum. She’s a massive Rod Stewart fan, so we went to see Rod Stewart at Ibrox stadium when I was like seven. And then I remember being really into things like Aha! and so going to see Aha! at the Caird Hall in Dundee so it was a bit of both. It was my dad’s record collection being there, like The Beatles, The Stones, Eric Clapton, stuff like Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers as well. And listening to the Radio and MTV launching, which was a really big influence. Things like The Beastie Boys coming across and a lot of American music being introduced to me, because it wasn’t really played on the radio that much so MTV was big in influencing my kind of music and my music catalogue.” 

It seems with this sort of exposure to various music types, an interest in radio was inevitable. 

She shifts to sip from her tea before beginning the new chapter. 

“It’s funny. I said to my brother that I think that I knew really early on. I maybe didn’t vocalize it, but I knew subconsciously that I was going to leave and not be there for any longer than I needed to be because I needed to explore, I needed to find who I was, I needed to find something to do and I knew that it wasn’t there. I went to my local college first to do a diploma because I left it too late to apply for a degree when I was at high school.” 

Now that sits close to home with myself. I expect it’s good for many of us to know that we weren’t the only ones. 

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do—actually that’s a lie. I wanted to be a PE teacher. I applied to PE College but the acceptance letter scared the hell out of me and I was like this is not what I want to do, so I went to my local college and did a diploma in communication studies and that got me into a second year degree at Queen Margaret’s College. I never spent any time there, though.” 

Once again, good to know we’re not the only ones. 

“I managed to get work experience at my local radio station just before I started the degree. I worked during holidays for them and worked my arse off. I made myself kind of indisposable, and so after my two weeks work experience was up, they were like, 'Do you want to come in and do weekends and holidays?' And so I was like, 'Yes I'd absolutely love to,' and they said, 'Okay well great, you can do it whenever you want.' So university really suffered and I basically turned up for lectures and spent every other minute at the radio station. I just scrimped passed my degree, really.” She makes it sound like university was just as difficult then as it is now. “I can't compare it because I can only talk about my experience then. To be honest, I didn't really go out that much. I went to lectures, and I spent a lot of time at the radio station, and to pay the bills I had a bar job, so between those three things, I didn't really have that much time. But I would say that there is an element of it that is easier now—or rather that is better now in terms of how the advancement in technology has made it a lot easier for students to just be able to do the job that they're studying for. For me at the time, there was no place for me to be able to do what I wanted to do. I had to rely on traditional broadcasters, be that TV or radio, so I couldn't just do a radio show or do a TV show and put it anywhere, because the only place that it could be done would be at a TV or radio station. Whereas now if you've got a great idea, then you can make a podcast, or you can make your own TV show on YouTube. I think in terms of that side of things, it is a lot easier, but I think that it's easier in some ways and harder in others.” It’s good to hear someone’s experience of what many are going through. That old saying, "life’s tough, get a helmet," is beginning to ring true, but it also sets a sort of reassurance into motion. Reassurance that, in times like this, is sorely needed.

Perhaps what’s also sorely needed is something Edith is also a knowledge on. 

“I started doing mindfulness, more so than kind of meditation. When I was pregnant with my first kid, my friend Roberta used to come round to do yoga with me at home once a week and my husband, Tom, if he was home, he would just kind of go out and get a coffee whilst we were doing yoga. He would always come back and I would be like zoned out on the living room floor and I always loved those elements to yoga, those kinds of things that you do at the end.” That feeling of complete peace, no worries, is something I sink into as I listen to Edith continue. “So someone introduced me to mindfulness and I'm really guilty of letting things get on top of me.” 

Aren’t we all? 

“I can get stressed out about how much work I'm doing and I'm not seeing enough of the kids, or the kids are stressing me out, or something at work didn't go right or I didn't get a gig I went for and all those things. I can really take them personally. So mindfulness, I really found, helps just put them in the right place and not allow them to kind of weigh on my conscience. It's just about really looking after yourself.” 

I ask about mental health. It seems a subject no one is reluctant to talk about. After Edith is so forthcoming with her mindfulness experience, it seems the right time to ask her opinion. 

“I think that it's great that so many people are talking about mental health. I remember seeing my mum go through, not any kind of major sort of depression or mental health, but she definitely had ups and downs and I'm really kind of aware of that. I can see elements of that in myself and, in fact, I wrote about it recently in Balance magazine. I do a column once a month and they just let me write about whatever. There were a couple of weeks—it was mother's day, Sunday morning. I woke up, the kids were going to football, one of them then had a party and it was a busy day. I just woke up feeling really sad and I didn’t know why. I had no reason to feel sad and I got quite annoyed at myself for feeling sad, but then I kind of like registered that, do you know what? It's alright to feel like that. If you can register it and work out that that's what it is and then not beat yourself up about it, I think that it's healthy in a way, so I'm kind of consciously having conversations with myself, which I just think is actually healthy and not mental. D'you know what I mean?” 

I imagine a lot of us do.

I’m keen to ask about her ventures into Podcasting. 

“I got so bored of waiting on a traditional broadcaster giving me a slot every week that I was like, fuck it I’m going to do it myself, and I have, and we launched a podcast in August 2016 and we're in our second year now. We get such a great response to it and we get asked now to do it by people, which is a great position to be in.” 

So Soundtracking was invented through a need to have something to do regularly? 

“Well yeah. I got asked to do six shows with Adam Buxton on six music, which was terrifying because I’m such a big Adam and Joe fan and the idea of going, hang on a minute, people are going to go where the fuck's Joe? That was terrifying and we ended up doing it for six months, and then Adam had to go off because he's so busy. So they asked me to do the show for a while and I developed this format for the last hour of the show, called Screen 6. We would invite people from TV and film to come in and talk about what they were doing and all that kind of thing. Then I stopped doing the show and they said actually could you continue doing Screen 6? And I was like well what about if we make it about the productions in music? So it started off with that and I did twelve shows, but it was like three here and four six months later. So I said, 'Look, I could give you talent every week for this,' and they were like, 'We don't have a slot for it because it's a rotation slot.' So then it was like fuck, let's just go do it on our own, so myself and my friend Ben, we do it together. I book all the guests, I go and do the interviews, I send Ben the interviews and he edits them. We put it up.” 

And with a variety of guests from Stanley Tucci, to Roar Uthaug, to Greta Gerwig—

“Oh my god, she is just awesome. She's formidable and she's so important. It’s a show that spans just more than music. I am hugely proud of it, I really really am. I want more women on it, which is easier said than done, but I'm trying.” 

I found myself here thinking about women, how they are changing equality. 

Is it the same in music? 

“I think it’s getting better, but it’s not just in music videos, it’s also in lyrics and songs. I really wish that the females, and males in the music industry would take a more direct stance like the #metoo #timesup #50/50 campaigns. There is always more that can be done, but I don’t think the music industry does enough.” More can always be done, and that’s easy to agree with.

We both start to get a little fidgety now, aware that we’ve only got so much time left, warned of our five minutes remaining by her PA . “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go pick the kids up.” 

So, where to end? With youth, of course. 

“Youth is about discovering everything. It's about discovering the world, it's about discovering yourself, it's about discovering what you want to do. It's about discovering truth, it’s about discovering lies, it’s yeah.” 

Do you have to be young to be youthful? 

“No. Not at all. I feel kind of ageless, if that makes sense? I hate when you read interviews and it has the name and then puts the age straight after. Why is it important? Because I mean since having kids, it's definitely aged me, but it’s also made my more youthful because it makes me feel more childlike. They encourage me to be more childlike, not to take things so seriously, to enjoy things. I think when you're younger you can take things a lot more seriously than you do as an adult. I think that age is a funny one, but as my friend Ben used to say, 'it's only Earth years.'”

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