Ashley "Dotty" Charles is back on our radios with two stellar shows: The Dotty Show and The Agenda Radio. For the former, as Apple Music's Lead Cultural Curator, Black Music, UK, Dotty will be sharing a daily celebration of Black Music from the UK and around the world. Exploring the best in past, present and future Black music - from hip-hop to R&B to dancehall to drill, and everything in between - it's one show we're certain to be tuning in for on the regular.
Here, we discuss musical memories, early starts, authorship and career highlights to date, plus, the holiday destination that inspired her first (widely acclaimed) book, Outraged.
Where are you from and how has your background shaped and influenced you?
South London born and bred. It's an incredible marriage of different cultures down here, which instilled in me a huge amount of curiosity and intrigue. I'm fascinated by sights and sounds which is probably a result of growing up in areas like Brixton and Tooting which are so rich in culture.
What's your earliest music-related memory?
My parents playing lovers rock on the record player in the living room. One of the first songs I learnt the words to was a song called Silly Games by Janet Kay.
Most impressive place you've ever travelled to in the name of music…
I went to Tokyo, Japan to film a music series for the BBC. It's one of the most incredible places I've ever visited because it indulges all of your senses.
What's been your most memorable adventure to date?
My wife and I spent our honeymoon on safari in Kenya which was unlike anything we'd ever experienced before. Hanging out with giraffes in Giraffe Manor and being up close with big cats in Samburu. It was unforgettable.
Do you unplug or limit your phone usage while on holidays?
My wife would like me to but there is something about being in new places that inspires me and gives me my best ideas. I'm often typing them into my phone when we're on a beach - but I'm learning to switch off more.
Tell us about the process of writing your debut book, Outraged, and what sparked the idea for the book?
Outraged was actually one of those ideas I came up with on holiday. We were on a family trip in Thailand and I ended up on Twitter watching the latest online dragging unfold. It sparked a curiosity in me about why we are so incessantly outraged on social media. I ended up taking a two-year deep-dive into human behaviour and moments of outrage to explore the ways in which we can be more effective in protest and resistance.
What does the cover of Outraged say about you (if anything)?
The cover is more a reflection of society than it is of me. It demonstrates how we lock ourselves away and shut things out when we become outraged, often allowing conflict to replace conversation.
What's your favourite subject to talk about?
The human experience and its complexity fascinates me. Whether it's why we behave in certain ways or why we fall in love with certain songs.
Which medium do you prefer: digital, print or broadcast?
The brilliant thing about existing now is that we don't have to choose!
Tell us about your new role as Lead Cultural Curator, Black Music, UK at Apple Music. What does the job entail?
This position is a really exciting opportunity to help steer Apple Music's cultural output into the Black music space, be it events, playlists or incredible broadcasts. It's all about handling the culture with care and ensuring we are celebrating and reflecting it with appreciation and authenticity.
What can you tell us about the new show you'll be hosting on Apple Music 1?
Apple Music 1 is the home of music curation and every day I will be celebrating the very best in Black music from the UK and around the world.
Top three career highlights to date…
- Launching a dedicated Black music show on Apple Music 1.
- Interviewing Oprah Winfrey.
- Winning the Radio Academy award for Best Breakfast Show while at BBC Radio 1Xtra.
You smashed BBC Radio 1Xtra's listening figures while on the breakfast show. What's been the secret to your success?
Always put the audience first!
A master of early mornings, what tips/advice have you on early starts and staying energised?
I'm not sure that I ever mastered early mornings but my best bit of advice is pick your outfit the night before.
Advice for aspiring musicians and presenters…
Don't emulate anything that already exists. Find your voice and stay true to it.
The best career advice you've ever been given…
You have the same 24 hours in the day as Beyoncé, use it wisely.
Where do you go in London for inspiration?
What are you reading at the moment? What's next on your reading list?
Currently reading Kiley Reid's Such a Fun Age.
Your favourite apps…
Apple Music and Deliveroo!
Podcasts to download now…
The Receipts Podcast.
New artists/tracks to download…
Anything by Ari Lennox or SZA and 7am by Raheaven.
What's next on the agenda?
Creating incredible content on Apple Music 1.
Where's your next adventure?
I'd love to take my family to Hawaii for an adventure as soon as we can.
One piece of travel advice…
Fit everything into hand luggage if you can. It's the most liberating way to travel.
And finally, what's in your SUITCASE?
GoPro, ESPA cleanser, ESPA Overnight Hydration Therapy, Burt's Bees lip balm, Palmer's Cocoa Butter and a silk durag.