Zane Lowe: The Master of Curators
Zane Lowe is the man single-handedly responsible for breaking through thousands of new artists and bands, now working at Apple Music as their global creative director and co-head of artist relations. But very few know about how he got to where he is now, and why he is one of the most well-respected figures within the music industry.
Lowe began in Auckland, New Zealand. After an early career in music production and DJing in his hometown, he ventured across the world and landed in the UK in 1997, emerging through the ranks presenting at stations XFM and MTV Europe, before his groundbreaking role hosting a new global music show on BBC Radio 1 from 2003–15. During this period, Zane Lowe also endured a long stint as a successful international DJ, touring with the likes of Skrillex, The Prodigy, Kasabian, and The Weeknd, but anyway, back to his radio career. Lowe occupied the 7–9 PM timeslot on Mondays to Thursdays every week. The Kiwi star’s method of DJ was super-charged, high energy, and fast-paced, similar to many hip-hop DJs. A key feature of Lowe’s shows was to avoid using the fader to reduce the volume of the track being played during the intros and outros, instead opting to talk or shout over the tracks for a more genuine, high octane effect.
During his time in England, Lowe won a variety of accolades. The recipient of NME Awards, and Radio Academy Awards, whilst Lowe also won the Gold Award in the Specialist Music Programme and Music Broadcaster of the year categories at the Radio Academy Awards. His success in the UK projected him worldwide where he secured his role of global creative director at Apple Music, as well as handing him his own show on Beats 1. Over in America, Zane Lowe firmly became known as the man that would consistently land interviews with the kind of artists and bands who don’t normally give interviews. His success in America saw him hang out with Kanye West at the rapper/presidential candidate’s Wyoming ranch, interviewing and presenting Billie Eilish’s new coming-of-age film documenting her life, titled “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry”, whilst also being known to make Justin Bieber cry — not by being mean, but by getting him to open up about the pressures of fame.
The man knows more than most when it comes to music, and he believes that the future of music is in very capable hands. It occurs from the very basic level of children communicating with each other. He explains that the introduction of technology to children and their ability to communicate and confide in one another is an excellent tool for music as it allows them to develop an emotional understanding from an early age, and as result produce more profound music earlier in their career. Moreover, Lowe also believes that music should always be used to enforce some kind of political activism, but insists that the political messages are far more subtle than they used to be. Which he insists is a good thing. He states: “I don’t want it to be so obvious that I might as well be buying a poster and putting it on the wall. I want to come to my own conclusion, and that’s what great art does — it influences but it doesn’t paint the full picture for you. We’re searching for meaning because of chaos.”
When you look at Zane Lowe, it is hard to see anything other than a genuine music fan. The excitement he exudes from the listening experience of new music is infectious. There is something about the process that continues to draw him in after all these years, or maybe it’s more that there isn’t one. Maybe there isn’t one moment that keeps him going because he is so infatuated by music, in so much that everything for him is so enticing. Zane Lowe is one of the best for fusing new and established music together, and long may it continue.