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Interview: 1Xtra DJ and music entrepreneur Sian Anderson

HEAD IN THE GAME: Sian Anderson hopes to launch the careers of youngsters with her new venture, Floor Sixx (image credit: Vicky Grout)

WHAT WERE you doing when you were 15 years-old? Chillin’ with your friends outside the local chicken shop? In detention or had your head in the books?

Well, for Sian Anderson, this is the age she began her career, getting her start at Live Magazine.

Known to some as Little Miss Mischievous – a moniker during her short-lived MC days – she graced the offices of the now-defunct publication, dressed in her signature tracksuit, hair slicked down with precision and lots of gel, and turned away from the distractions that could be found in her south London area to hone in on journalism and grime music.

ENTERPRISE

Live Magazine was a social enterprise in Brixton, and I went there because I wanted to be a celebrity interviewer,” she recalls.

“There I met Chantelle Fiddy, who quickly told me that it was journalism I needed to do.

“So I did loads of interviews with Nu Brand Flexxx, The Bomb Squad, Ruff Sqwad – all the grime MCs who were hot at the time, and I was really around that scene.”


GLOWING: DJ Sian Anderson (image credit: BBC 1Xtra)

Anderson is now known for her encyclopaedic knowledge on grime – despite her initiation into the scene being accidental.

“I remember the first tune I was consciously aware of was Shy FX’s remix of Chopper, and that’s because my brother played it and I liked it.

“Then in school, everyone had Channel AKA – I never had Sky – so everyone would be spitting bars and I would pretend to know what was going on but I was so out of touch. Luckily, because I was around the cool kids at school, I was able to find out what the good stuff was.”

It also helped that the grime scene lived outside her front door, making her a coveted source for her grime knowledge and friends she would go on to write about.

“I started blogging about what would happen in my day and that resulted in getting a Rinse FM radio show with Julie Adenuga, and things started to take off,” she says.

The now 26 year-old soon racked up an impressive CV, as she went from journalism to PR, working with the likes of P Money and Ed Sheeran. Anderson’s involvement with Sheeran as his project manager led to a plethora of additional opportunities, as she worked her way up to Warner Bros and Atlantic Records, allowing the talented south Londoner to develop her skills in a varied yet comprehensive way.


YOUNG EMPIRE: Wiley, left, with Sian Anderson (image credit: Steve Stills/Red Bull Content Pool)

“I was learning everything in a self-contained way – I learned journalism, then I learned PR, then I went to the label and was on the radio, too – I think TV is the only media I never really crossed,” she says.

“Then I became a marketing manager at Warner Bros and did the Wiley album, which was one of the most stressful things ever – but it was brilliant.”

But one of the most beneficial experiences from her time working for record labels was acknowledging her frugality without comprising quality.

“I was at the major labels and they would tell me they have £50,000 to shoot a music video, but people I knew could do it for £1,000,” she says.

“So I used my network of people around me and we would deliver campaigns for these labels and they would be mind blown at how much money we would save.

“I soon realised that I really liked bridging the gap between underground and mainstream, but I knew that if I wasn’t in a marketing manager’s job, I couldn’t do that. So I needed to think of another way to mentor people, bridge the gap and get people paid – and that’s when I started to develop the concept for Floor Sixx.”

WATCH AN EXTRACT FROM SIAN ANDERSON'S RADIO SHOW, BELOW (credit: YouTube/BBC 1Xtra):

The Floor Sixx music academy is Anderson’s creative baby – a cultural hub that aims to celebrate the best underground music across a range of genres by releasing exclusive singles and bridging the gap between underground platforms and the mainstream.

“The concept for Floor Sixx was three and half years in the making, but it really originated when someone asked me, ‘How are you going to stop your son from becoming a grime MC?’ And that question really made me think. From that moment, I knew there needed to be something else, another route for him.

“Even if my son wanted to become a grime MC, it couldn’t be in the way I’ve watched everyone else come up, where you have to go through trap houses and all of those mad experiences,” she adds.

“Maybe there was a way where you can just be talented, go for a course and come out the other end without talking about guns and knives, and allow people of all backgrounds to connect.”

This inclusive nature is part of Anderson’s charm as she is able to make a stranger feel like a friend, alongside recruiting a who’s who of grime stars to participate in the project.

“It’s been so crazy so far and everyone’s ringing me and are asking, ‘Sian, what do you need?’,” she laughs.


GAME-CHANGER: Floor Sixx is Sian Anderson's venture, which aims to skill-up young people in preparation for a career in the music industry

“I’m talking to Avelino who says he wants to mentor, Shola Ama’s coming down – these people are the top people in the game, and the schedule we have is insane.”

The young mother’s passion for youth exudes throughout her rundown of the Floor Sixx Academy – even with the difficulties that she’s come across.

“Getting Ofsted-approved and support from the Government can be tricky. As a result, we really had to sit and ask ourselves, ‘Why don’t we create our own accreditation?’ And that’s what we did. We thought, if I was a student and I went through this course, what would make me happy at the end? And the end result we came to was an exhibition.”

Floor Sixx will present an exhibition at the Roundhouse on October 20 in front of the friends and families of those who participated in the course.

INSPIRED

“All these kids are going to come and show everyone what they have done, and that’s their accreditation – showing the world what it is they do. So that is what they will be walking away with while we wait for the Government to decide that this is good enough for them to support.”

As Anderson prepares to enter the next phase of her career, she shares a final piece of advice for those inspired by her come up.

“Always learn first and craft really well before you move on to something new.”

The Floor Sixx Music Academy will run every Thursday from August 10 until October 12 at Vevo HQ in King’s Cross. To apply, click here.

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