When did you first
become exposed to the music of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop?
Probably as a child, dancing around the school
hall with my plimsoles on. Radiophonic made all these
amazing records for music and mime you know.
What appeals to you about it?
There is a British naivety to it all. They were exploring
uncharted musical lands. That has endless appeal, which
is why their music has a growing influence.
There is a famous story about Delia Derbyshire
remaining uncredited for the work she did with Ron Grainer
on Dr Who. All the Radiophonic Workshop artists
were largely anonymous during their time. Is there something
about this that appeals to you?
The story goes that Ron asked her if she wanted to share
in the Dr Who theme royalties and she said
no, which is admirable and at the same time really very
stupid. This is a trait I have often seen in myself.
So there is something here that appeals to me.
There are some fantastic stories about Delia
Derbyshire. The one about her entrancing Luciano Berio,
and how her favourite sound was a “tatty green
BBC lampshade”. What is your favourite story?
The fact that Delia and Brian Hodgson were
moonlighting under pseudonyms is a mighty fine story.
Have you ever moonlighted under a different name? Exactly.
There are always amazing stories attached to
your discoveries and releases. The bizarre tale of Desmond
Leslie, one time Spitfire pilot, owner of the Castle
that Paul McCartney was married in and music concrete
pioneer, is a great example. What is more important
for you – the story or the music?
Well both have to come hand in hand. To me
there is no point in putting out good music in a competitive
marketplace when there is no story or no “thing”
of interest. It has always been an unwritten part of
Trunk lore. However I cannot have shit story and good
music, or shit music and a good story, Both have to
balance I reckon.
If there is a common theme that links your
releases, it would seem to be the celebration of the
eccentric underdog. Is this something that you are aware
The only common theme is me and my daft taste.
However, I am fully aware that for me to be able to
put a record out, I have to be able to license it and
not pay heavily for that privilege. These days major
labels own most things, vast catalogues, artists work
etc etc. So, the only way I can survive is by unearthing
the work that is NOT owned by major labels, and this
is invariably work by the underdog. And the eccentric
underdog too. And that’s how I like it. It’s
a bit like a musical twilight zone.
You describe Basil Kirchin as “possibly
the UK’s most important composer that no one has
heard of”. This seems to sum up a lot of what
Trunk is about. Would you agree?
Yes, totally. For me this is what it is all
about…I love an underdog.
A lot of the electronic music you release was
created on what would now be described as rudimentary
equipment. What lessons do you think this holds for
modern day musicians who have easy access to far superior
I remember making some music in an absurdly stocked
contemporary studio. Loads of modern synths, gadgets,
soft studio bits blah blah blah. Thousand of quid worth
of kit. With all these things around you, it is easy
to lose sight of the simplicity that is always at the
heart of good music. So never forget that less is very
I recently interviewed a Warp artist called
Chris Clark who explained that he had been listening
to Basil Kirchin. Does this surprise you?
Not at all. This is why I issued his music, so modern
musicians could hear what can be made. Basil will influence
people for years to come. Lots of contemporary artists
love Basil. I never sell many records but they always
seem to fall into good hands.
You used to have a secure job in advertising.
Looking back at setting up Trunk, what really pushed
you over the edge and made you realise you had to start
The fact that I could not do what I really wanted pushed
me too far. And now I only ever do what I want, which
I value far more than money.
What’s next in the Trunk pipeline?
More inspiring and interesting music (that no one has
heard of) for me and maybe you too.
Can you give us your top five albums which
showcase the work of the Radiophonic Workshop?
No. Find them yourself.
The Tomorrow People is out
now. Jonny Trunk’s OST radio show is broadcast
on Resonance FM 104.4 every Saturday from 4.30 to 6.30pm.