Introducing First Word Records family member, Producer, DJ and Radio Plugger Neil Bopperson. Based in Paris, Neil holds down a show on Le Mellotron as well as handling radio promotions for the seminal First Word Records (home to the likes of Children Of Zeus, Darkhouse Family, Kaidi Tatham and many more. We caught up with him for a Q&A delving into his background as a chef, and joining the dots between the two.
So Neil, you currently look after radio promotions for some really great artists – but your background is in cheffing. Can you give us a synopsis of your journey thus far.
As a young kid I always washed dishes in restaurants, they were the first real jobs I had, the money was quickly spent on skateboards or guitar strings. It wasn’t till I wound up in New Zealand at around 18/19 years old that I realised how much exposure I’d actually had to food and kitchens, so subsequently I got more serious about cheffing as an actual trade.
It took me literally around the world, working and travelling all over the place; Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand all over South East Asia. I quit the food industry a while ago to follow my true passion of music, I’m now writing this from my studio apartment in east Paris where I run my own PR company.
What made you want to get into cheffing?
I fell into it really from those early dishwashing days, then I realised that it was a ticket to travel and see the world, so off I went.
To learn culture, language, meet new people and work (pretty much,) wherever and whenever I wanted. It was a great way to grow up throughout my twenties and it opened my mind to so much.
How did you make the decision to move into music?
It was about 7 years ago now, I was becoming a little jaded from hospitality, I was teaching cookery in London at the time. Pop up restaurant culture was becoming the thing, chefs were getting their names on music festival line ups and being labelled as these new rock stars. It just seemed to be who shouted the loudest was winning, I was over it and felt it had run it’s course with me, I’d done all I wanted to do so I got out. Plus it’s not the healthiest of lifestyles.
People told me at the time that I was mad to get out of it, saying “you could be this, you could be that etc etc” but I chose to follow my heart. I’m not the type of guy to keep doing something if I’m not into it. And besides, music had always been a major part of my life too, having played in bands and DJed from a young age. So in when it came to a work change, it was clear choice for me really.
Was it difficult to balance these two disparate career paths?
Cooking and managing professional kitchens is a short fire, quick fix type of environment where results are quickly realised. Raw ingredients are delivered, prepared and rattled out on pretty plates all within a matter or hours. Whereas with music, PR, releasing albums and building artists is a far slower and more strategic process. It’s taken me a while to grasp that, but in turn it’s taught me a whole different type of work approach.
Has moving to Paris opened up a new world of culinary / music possibilities for you? Can you give us a few tips?
Musically yes some great possibilities, I’m in a fortunate position where I work with French artists assisting with their promo to the UK and then visa versa from the UK to France. Food wise, Paris is definitely behind London on trends, but I’m cool with that, as Paris seems to be too.