Edith Bowman talks about doing a lads mag shoot
“It’s been lovely, actually, just being submerged in new music,” Edith tells Express.co.uk as she prepares to launch the third season of her hit music discovery podcast, BMW Play Next. Focusing on new acts, the podcast champions emerging talent in music. After its huge success, last season featuring the likes of – Arlo Parks, Sad Night Dynamite and Alewya – Edith will bring the BMW Play Next stage to London music festival All Points East this summer.
The 48-year-old presenter, from Anstruther, Fife, who has been working on screens and radio for 20 years discusses her passion project with tangible excitement.
“This year, we’re doing five episodes. We’re doing longer episodes this time because we got really nice feedback from people about how much they were enjoying the long-form conversations that we were doing.”
The new, longer episodes will go live every two weeks and see the former MTV newsreader and BBC Top of the Pops presenter discuss tunes with an all-new roster of emerging acts.
Edith credits the success of the podcast to its rare format – playing whole songs for listeners.
“The way we’re doing it makes us quite a unique podcast,” she said.
“Even the Beeb, don’t play tracks in their entirety in their podcasts. We do.
“I love that the commitment is there to both financially supporting the artists through paying them for us being able to play it, and then also giving them the musical platform to be heard on as well.”
Edith Bowman poke with Express.co.uk about moving on from sexism in the music industry
How does Edith, who has two sons with Tom Smith, singer of the indie rock band Editors, decide who features on the podcast?
“It’s a case of listening to loads and loads of music and choosing the things that stand out,” she explains. But there is more to it than that.
“We’re also really thinking about making sure that we have a mix of genres, a mix of cultures, a mix of representation, as well.
“It’s about people that we feel have got something to say or that have got a conversation that we want to have.
“For the first episode, we had John from Everything Everything. One of the themes of the podcast is innovation. For Everything Everything’s latest album, one of the ways that he created the lyrics was using AI. I just find that absolutely fascinating.
“They told us this particular new record have is the truest, honest form of songwriting they experiences and feels closest to them as it’s ever been. So I just love I love that kind of intimacy, being able to talk to the artists about their process.”
Working in music for two decades has given Edith a front-row seat to changes in the highly influential industry. This includes the changing treatment of women in music.
“I think there’s still a long way to go in terms of the sexualization of women,” Edith says.
“There’s a fine line between the exploitation of the sexualization of women and women wanting to explore and play with their sexuality. It’s just knowing what’s been forced upon someone and what’s been suggested by someone.
“Since I’ve been working at Radio 1, coming through MTV, there is definitely a shift in things.
“I remember being at MTV and noticing the number of videos where you’d have scantily clad women dancing around a swimming pool, gyrating against a singer or rapper. We’ve moved on from that.”
Edith is preparing to launch the second season of her hit music discovery podcast, BMW Play Next
Edith praises a swathe of female artists thriving in modern music, inspiring millions of fans by embodying empowerment.
“Lizzo is possibly one of the biggest role models the world needs right now,” the presenter says,
“She’s a great example of a pop star who has worked hard. You can see that she’s going to be here in 15 years still making great pop songs that we’re all going to be going to dance to, hear the lyrics and say ‘Oh my God, yes. That’s how I feel.’
“I’ve always been really supportive, I hope, of female artists coming through. Be that Adele, Florence, or Amy. People like that. I think they’ve been just brilliant.
“And there are the women in bands, Lauren from Chvrches, or Ellie from Wolf Alice.
“If they were around when I was a teenager they would have been my idols.”
Cat Deeley and Edith Bowman discuss their new podcast
How did Edith respond to the more rampant, brazen elements of sexism in the music industry during the early years of her career?
“I mostly took the p**** out of it, to be honest,” she says.
“One way that I did fight back was refusing to do ‘Lads Mag’ shoots. I did one and I swore I would never ever do it again.
Edith was in her 20s when he was asked if she wanted to take part in the shoot and she agreed.
She reflects: “I was in hotpants and bikini top. I felt kind of powerful doing it because I felt comfortable with myself.
“In hindsight, though, there was just something that didn’t click with that shoot.
“I felt like, ‘I don’t know what the purpose of this was. It’s not doing anything for me, really. I’m not gonna do anymore of those thanks.’
“It wasn’t a bad experience on the shoot, but I realised, ‘You know what? I’d rather not do that. I don’t feel like it benefits me in any way. shape or form.’
“I feel like the best pictures I’ve ever had taken of me have been taken by a woman.”
Edith has witnessed the changing treatment of women in music over her career
Female bosses have been key to Edith’s happy experiences in her career, the presenter says.
“I never felt pressured in my MTV job or in any job in terms of how I had to dress or how what I had to do,” she adds.
“A lot of that has to do with the fact that I was very lucky that I had female bosses. I feel lucky that I’ve always been surrounded by really strong women. I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve always had a good kind of female ally in my corner. I never felt like I’ve really had to fight for or against stuff. I know that’s a privileged situation and I feel lucky.”
With a career most would envy, Edith professes that she still experiences knockbacks on a regular basis.
“There are jobs you don’t get every month,” she shares. “There are things that you want to do that someone else gets.
“The reason I get so upset about it is not that I feel like I should have got the job, it’s because I feel disappointed because I know I could have done a good job.
“But, my mum’s got this great saying that she always told me, whether it was to do with work or life or relationships. She said ‘What’s meant for you won’t pass you by.'”
Edith on the BMW Play Next stage
Learning not to take rejection to heart is a key piece of enlightenment the presenter has taken with her over her career.
She explains: “The thing that I’ve learned is, you’ve got to really try and remember that it’s not personal.
“The decision has been made by a person, but you can’t take it personally.
“You’ve got to have belief in your ability of what you can do and not diminish that by someone else not picking you.”
So, what does Edith ultimately credit to her career success?
“Hard work, to be honest,” she says. “You know, my career started before social media, before reality TV shows, and those are quick ways to be recognised.
“I feel like I have put enough work in and I’ve built enough relationships throughout the length of my career so far that I hope that it gives me longevity.
“For me, I go into a situation not expecting anything and I know I’ve got to work for it.
“And I really like that that’s the way I approach things, rather than expecting success. I know I’ve got to work hard for this.
“That comes from my mum and dad, growing up and being expected, as part of the family, to work. I inherited that work ethic from them and I’m really grateful for that because it stood me in good stead for what I’ve done over the past 20 odd years and hopefully, what I can do for the next 20 years as well.”