- Words Aimee Phillips
Radio host and presenter, Nic Desborough, brings "iconic queer chats" through their 'Fluid' podcast, and fills us in on their foundation fm show, the changes they hopes to see in the future, and much more.
Tackling the narratives throughout history that ringfence the queer community is Nic Desborough. The radio host, presenter and Goldsmiths University Philosophy, Politics and Economics first class graduate has been unpacking some of life’s biggest questions around who and ‘what’ we should be through their podcast, Fluid, which has just wrapped series one.
In Fluid, Nic – joined by special guests such as historian Randolph Trumbach, psychiatric nurse Deblina Roy, PRIM.BLACK creator, K Bailey Obazee, and others – examine the imporance of queer spaces, queer mythology and history, Britain’s changing relationship with queer sexuality, and much more. Needless to say, it’s essential listening for everyone, both entertaining and educational.
As well as Fluid, Nic also co-hosts a foundation fm show with their sibling, the musician Harve. ‘Smooth Operator’ gives Nic and Harve the platform to spin tunes from unsigned, queer and underrepresented artists and talk about life, love and emotions, playing everything from 70s psychadelic rock to the latest releases.
Notion caught up with Nic to chat about all things Fluid, prepping for series two, working with Harve, the changes they’d like to see in the world, and their dream superpower. Tap in!
How did you first start your career and get your foot in the door as a radio producer and presenter?
Well before I graduated from uni a couple years ago, doing something completely different to radio, a careers officer hooked me up with a training programme that was taking place at Reprezent FM. I felt really compelled to sign up, and since the rest has been history. It was the first time anything had really clicked for me. Shoutout Reprezent, it was here that I was able to cultivate my skills and meet more people in the industry.
You’ve just wrapped series one of your podcast Fluid, which examines narratives that position the LGBTQ+ community as abnormal, exploring queer history and the importance of queer spaces. This sounds like essential listening. For those who have yet to tune in, what can we expect from the show?
Yes! It definitely is essential listening. Firstly you can expect to be surprised. I was surprised with some of the history that I uncovered – namely that everyone was bisexual in Europe before 1800. Live laugh love honey!
Fluid combines history the LGBTQ+ community are so often denied, with present day queer experiences. It’s this historical underpinning with an open heart that creates a cradling atmosphere. Our existence and presence is as old as time! Expect soundscapes, affirming sentiments, iconic queer chats and more broadly, how fluidity, how openness, is important for every single person – queer or not.
You’re working on a second series right now – what’s on the cards topic-wise?
Yes I am! Ahh.. it’s so exciting. I definitely want to uncover more cool queers doing awesome things. Don’t get me wrong, we love to sing and dance – but series one really wraps up with the profound understanding we are everywhere doing everything (gay farmers!). I’d love to highlight some more off kilter stories of queers that will keep shattering the mould that our queerness has to be commercialised.
I’d also love to interview some non-identifying queer people. As a bisexual person, I have countless friends who identify as straight because they don’t want to impose or take that which “isn’t theres”. We need to break down this notion that there is a line in the sand between straight/ queer. Sexuality is fluid! As is gender. What a tonic, to allow this into our hearts, to allow ourselves to be open.
Have you got any special guests lined up yet for series two? Who would be your dream guests?
A couple of special guests who have listened and would love to be involved – I can’t give anything away though hehe! Have to stay locked on @fluidpodcast insta to get the first peep. Dream guests, wow. Hands down Janelle Monae – an icon. Boy George, purely because he ruptured the queer volcano of my youth, and I’d love to challenge him on things he’s said regarding gender in recent years.
As well as the podcast, you have a radio show called ‘Smooth Operator’ on foundation fm with your sibling, the musician Harve. What’s it like working with family?
Intense! Haha. They will vouch for that one. We’re very close. But it’s perfect – it’s what we’ve always dreamed of, and really it’s just the beginning of what I’m sure Smooth Operator will become. My sibling and I have really been each other’s rock through thick and thin, opening space up for each other to transform, to reinvent ourselves without judgement or fear. That I think is such an admirable quality for any relationship.
They’re so awesome and share such beautiful gifts with the world. We are each other’s biggest stans, I definitely think this energy transfers through the airwaves.
You play an eclectic mix of music on the show and use it as a platform for underrepresented and queer artists. With so many amazing musicians out there, how do you select which to spin?
Yes, good question. Well, we just go with the flow to be honest. I think when I first started broadcasting I was self conscious about my music taste or felt like I should temper it to be a bit more uniform and modern. I’m more confident and chill about all that now, we love and respect so much music, let’s play it all.
Also, I think most musicians or people in the industry know how centralised it can be in terms of whose voices we hear. Smooth Operator is a space for us to play sick, talented musicians who might be unsigned or just starting out, or for whatever reason are deemed less palatable for those making playlist selections on streaming platforms.
You seem to be drawn to creative pursuits. Have you always been this way?
I have, admittedly. I’ve always painted and loved the drama club at college, but I was also great at business studies and more logical subjects in my teens. I accidently pigeonholed myself as a “creative person”. As I’ve got older, I’ve realised that creativity can be found in anything. Audio production for example continues to be this heavenly playing field where meticulousness and creativity fuse together.
What changes would you like to see take place in the creative industries over the coming years?
More Black people in positions of power and as key stakeholders (in all industries). More trans people, more queer as fuck people represented at board level. The facade is falling, especially since Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place since last summer, there’s more scrutiny as to who actually are the gatekeepers. We can’t just have old straight white men creaming off the profits of the “diverse talent” that front their brands.
I’d like to see creatives paid properly for their content. Streaming is incredible, it’s allowed our music knowledge to expand beyond comprehension, but at a price to those creating it.
Lastly, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?
To speak every language! How cool would that be, to talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything.