I once did a day’s filming with 1,000 naked people,” reveals Lauren Laverne, who’s behind the mixing desk at a London sound studio – fully dressed – in a striped top, denim skirt and metallic brogues. The nude masses? She was covering a shoot by photographic artist Spencer Tunick for BBC 3. “You do all kinds in my job,” she reflects.
Never your typical nine-to-fiver, Lauren, former lead singer of Nineties pop-punk band Kenickie, is one of the biggest names on the broadcasting circuit. Originally from Sunderland, the 37-year-old mother of two not only hosts a daily radio show for 6 Music, she’s the BBC’s go-to girl for Glastonbury, has presented TV programmes including Channel 4’s 10 O’Clock Live and BBC Two’s The Culture Show, is a published novelist and has just launched a new lifestyle site, The Pool. And to top it off, she’s incredibly funny, smart and beautiful. How does she do it?
“I’ve been very lucky,” says a modest Lauren. “The first time I covered Glastonbury, nearly 13 years ago, I was a sarcastic kid from Kenickie wearing a pink diamanté collar with no idea what I was doing. But the late, great John Peel, who was co-presenting, turned to me in one of the breaks and said, ‘You’re made for this.’ And he seemed to know what he was talking about, so I thought I’d better be a presenter then!
“I discovered pretty quickly that live broadcast was what I loved and found rewarding. People say you have such an intimate connection with
your audience, but with 6 Music we really do, because when it was about to be closed [in 2010], the listeners saved us.” Lauren is referring to the public crusade – including two petitions, a Twitter campaign and a letter published in the Guardian from more than 40 big names (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman among them) – that stopped the station’s closure. “It was incredible,” she says, “And it’s given us a licence to make it as brilliant as we possibly can.”
She describes her latest project, The Pool, as a dream come true. Co-founded with Sam Baker, Lauren’s editor at Red magazine when she was a columnist there, the site (www.the-pool.com) covers fashion, beauty, art, culture and news. “The idea is to view the site as a conversation and broadcast, where we can drop just the right kind of content at just the right moment in our audience’s day. It’s like when I’m hosting radio and it’s boiling hot outside, I’ll whack on hip-hop tunes. The Pool is about seeing the internet in the same way.”
Lauren’s look has evolved since that first Glastonbury. “I used to say my style was like a young, thin Pat Butcher. Now I’m knocking on, I think it’s about knowing yourself because, in all honesty, I’ve bought the same items over and over again since I was 16.” Her go-to pieces? Trainers, jeans and band T-shirts mixed in with special buys such as cashmere and party dresses. But festival season is a chance to have some fun. “I definitely bring out the colour and let Pat Butcher back out to play. Why not?”
PERCY PIGS “The Pool office is run on Percy Pigs. We have the ‘4pm shelf’ where we can go and avail ourselves when we need a perker-upper, and he’s definitely up there”
INTERVIEWS “Little Richard and Aretha Franklin are top of my list. I didn’t get to interview James Brown, which is devastating, but I did see him play live just before he died – he was a showman to the end”
HISTORY LESSONS “I had a place at Durham University to do medieval studies but never ended up going because of the band. I’m still interested in it – the Chemical Brothers studied it at university, and I’ve had a few lessons from them”
MUSIC “Blur on the main stage at Glastonbury was one of my favourite performances ever. When they were playing, I forgot about my life in the interim and became my 12-year-old nerdy self again”
DOWNTIME “I like cooking at the weekends and find it a good de-stressing activity. I make a mean brownie these days, which the kids love. It’s just nourishing, isn’t it? Looking after yourself and your family”
“I always try to buy things that really speak to me – that fit with who I am and what my life’s about”
BOLD AND BRIGHT
This printed bomber is a great trophy piece for your weekend wardrobe