Henrie and Harry Pinero chat music, culture and taking the reins of revamped Spotify podcast 'Who We Be Talks_ '!
Author: Josh Clubbe | Wednesday 26th August 2020
When 2020 landed, the way in which we would consume our music, podcasts and media would change forever. The nation was advised to work from home, where possible, meaning commutes into work dramatically reduced; some jobs were threatened and the events industry we all love, would battle it out on the ropes for survival. Adjustments came, pockets of opportunity found in a moment of despair and were capitalised on. We saw online festivals, radio shows broadcast from double beds, verzuz battles on Instagram live, infinitely more album releases and podcasts too. Digital content consumption rose, behaviours shifted. Podcasts boomed. In-stepped Spotify, ensuring their users had all the material they required and more.
The Spotify Original podcast Who We Be was always something I used to tune into but there was a break during the whole ‘unprecedented’ period, but recently they were starting to make noise again. I checked it out and as a music fan and loyal listener previously, I wanted to really break it down. It had now evolved into an even more forward-thinking cultural centrepiece for listeners of black music But as everything, things do change. Previously hosted by the legend DJ Semtex, this new format and refreshing take Who We Be Talks was now to be fronted by Henrie and Harry Pinero.
Let me introduce Henrie. Now, let me take it back a little bit. During lockdown, there’s no doubt you probably saw #NS10v10 trending and the Twitter timeline going into turmoil as users debated their favourite songs from artists. Before you got too accustomed to it, some of you probably did what I did, not make the instant connection and go see what the fuss was all about, with a quick deep dive online. Of course, it was No Signal Radio behind this. Henrie? Yeah that’s her station. Lockdown completed and the bag secured. Next, Harry Pinero, the guy renowned for busting out jokes with his witty humour on YouTube, the approach of being cheeky but also no holding back with his honesty. It would be stupid of me to not mention the Link Up TV Talent Hunt, a series shining light on the good or bad talent locations have to show – always an intriguing watch.
After locking in some time to chat, the day was here. It’s a hot and stuffy afternoon, temperatures constantly rising and my computer seemed like it wanted to take off by the the noise it was making. We chilled over zoom and the pair had just finished off an interview with Dutchavelli. So from interviewing Dutchavelli, they were now talking to Josh.
Hitting the ground running, we quickly got on to the topic of when Who We Be Talks was announced as a podcast refresh and Harry goes on to break down the story, because of COVID it was a case of whether it was happening or even more importantly, when? At the beginning we go. Action. “Initially I was with a different production company to Henrie, at the start it was kind of like a bidding war and Henrie won actually, so she was on the winning team of it, but I have a good relationship with Joel [ZS1] who actually was the one of the people we had a conversation with in January, about doing work. From there, he basically said how Henrie is the right fit for me, he said we would work well. So we’ve known roughly since the end of last year, beginning of this year. But, because of COVID, I didn’t know personally how long it would go for. When it got announced, that’s when we knew it was serious and it’s been the best thing really, working with someone who is as confident, as funny, not as funny, but you know what I’m saying, she does her thing and has had a longer career within radio, so basically been an easy transition for both of us. It’s been sick.
One thing you will hear throughout the episodes and the way in which it is conducted, is the clear comradery between the two hosts, like from the outside looking in, it seems these two go way back, but to pinpoint it, it’s not been a crazy amount of years that they have known each other. Henrie goes on to say “The first time I met Harry Pinero, I got invited to some bar by my friend, who I didn’t know was a mutual of ours. Maya Jama came up to me and was like, why are you by yourself? You’re coming over to us. I was like babe thank you, because I was by myself and lonely. Then I met this guy and I was like “Oh my gosh you’re Harry Pinero” and he goes “Oh my gosh, you’re Henrie” and I was like sh*t you know who I am, that’s incredible and then I invited him to be on my show after and at that point was the biggest guest that I’d had, and will still never admit that he was the biggest I’d had on the show at that time. But from there, was good vibes.” As you can see, everything aligned way before, and their friendship is certainly a plus point to why the podcast is received in the way it is now, it’s a lot more conversational whereas it was once one-to-one interviewing which was great, amazing guests and in-depth insight into artist’s stories. Now it’s like sitting with your mates and listening to them follow their points and neither backing down, adding comedic value. Henrie does then add that “We just work around cussing each other, that’s literally the basis of the entire show”.
Hosting a show of this magnitude, and for a brand with such acclaim and stamp within the audio world, the guests who would be down to speak is endless. But who was the guest who they were most curious about? Henrie leads with “For me it was today actually, Dutchavelli. You don’t get to see a lot of Dutch’s character and he is the funniest guy, really down to earth. Unpacking his personality was such a great thing to do, because you kind of see him come more into himself; from someone you would have thought was mad serious, he was actually someone who was actually really quite jokey – it was a really nice transition for me to see that.” This is why Spotify have done well with how they have elevated the way in which we consume this podcast, by having hosts who bounce off each other and have fun with it, it creates a comfortable and friendly place with no daunting aspects to it. In turn, getting the best out of their guests. Harry then spoke the guest he was most curious about
“Julie Adenuga. Simply because, I know who she is. I like to hear people’s views on things that are serious and her episode for me was the best because it had so much information and so much inspiration, for people that listen to her and are also fans of hers as well. But like Henrie, Dutchavelli too, when you listen, you’re going to see a much different side”.
After the year we’ve all had, surprises are not the thing we look back on with the most nostalgia. However, in the shape of podcasts and guests, and as a fan of the music scene, for my own greed I wanted to know who was the most surprising in how they approached the interviews. The answer across the board… Tion Wayne. “I think Tion Wayne surprised me” Henrie elaborates further, “I wasn’t expecting him to talk about how his time away, affected his music career and I didn’t expect him to have such a deeper understanding about it. I really enjoyed that, because I don’t think I was expecting the conversation to go that way. Harry seconds what Henrie states and agrees, massively appreciative to Tion for his honesty. Harry adds, “He spoke about stuff that’s gone wrong, police stuff and then being cancelled on Twitter and how that affected him. It was good to see that insight of things you would probably think don’t affect people because of the celebrity status. It’s was good to see they are human beings as well, that was a very insightful episode as much as it was funny as well.”
As the conversation proceeded, we discussed about how important it was to have a show that was music centric and gave us as consumers insight to the world of music itself. Most of us find new music through Instagram and Twitter nowadays, then make the pathway to Spotify to solidify that new find. I have always been big on the American radio shows, such as Ebro in the morning on Hot97, Big Boy’s Neighbourhood, The Breakfast Club and Sway in the Morning – stations that helps people align with conversations in music and the wider cultural landscape. Their interviews always being insightful. However, I felt in the UK, those outlets have never matched the scale and importance of those shows in the USA. Information-led, longer, output stopped being as much as a thing, when the way social media changed the way in which we absorb things.
No longer do we have Not for the Radio and Radar (we won’t talk about Radar for obvious reasons) – the BBC radio shows are good, but there needs to be more variety to fill the void (Big ups to Rinse FM, Reprezent, No Signal – apologies for any doing their thing that I’ve missed). But I feel with the way podcasts are the craze, this is where Spotify’s Who We Be Talks becomes this focal point. We then chatted about the importance of this show culturally, to which Henrie goes on to say “I think it’s super important to have a show like this. Especially when you want to talk about black culture, really important. Because yes it’s music focused but we are talking about all the things that black people talk about anyway. No matter who we have on, maybe except for Julie who is our only non-musical guest, everybody else will talk about their music but then we’ll talk about things that have been popping off on Twitter or that we’ve seen online and just things that black people have made the topic. We are not only the forefront of black music but culture as well, we would like to think”. Harry then interjects with his view, “For me, I’ve always wanted to be part of something that gives a black space it’s shine, it’s unapologetic with how we excel as black people and I think being part of it and having people come on here that celebrate who they are, that was the most important thing for me. Henrie and I are both very self-love and that’s why people feel the love here. Longevity will always remain, if we continue to be ourselves.”
Dream guests? Basic questions I know but I was going to ask it anyway. My guests had their say and Harry was quick to reply “Young Thug. Young Thug is the greatest artist of all time, I’m talking about before Michael Jackson and Tupac – who were those people? (Henrie gasps with WHAT?) So for me, I’d love to interview him. I feel like him as a person, what he’s done for music, there’s a lot you can talk about with him. For what he’s gone through, people questioning his sexuality but then finding out that bullet holes will be left in you if you mess around with him. The fact he’s been through that, and done that, he’s allowed a lot to come out of their shells and the music he makes, the features on everyone’s album – I want to know his thought process, what about you Henrie?” Henrie comes through “I would love to get Rihanna on, I think she is achievable because she lives in north London, why wouldn’t she come on. Only because it’s more than her music for me, but she wants to be a businesswoman now. It would 1. be great to hear her accent in real life and her beauty as she is incredible but 2. Just to see how she’s navigated the world of entrepreneurialism.
Both absolutely enjoying the experience whilst hosting this new show of theirs, they were keen to shine light on and thank DJ Semtex for building such a great show before them, and they were honoured to be taking the reins from such a British music legend.
This is one of those podcasts that will be the show that many will tune into weekly, to get their fix on just about everything involved with music and also what’s going on in wider conversations. What’s really nice to see, is each week, Harry and Henrie talk through additions to the Who We Be playlist and back their corner as to why they’ve been chosen, owning the role of radio aficionados – the integration now across the platform is sick, and who doesn’t want to know why certain songs get placed? From an onlooker and listener, having spoken to the hosts, I’m excited to see what more they can do and where it can go as a platform – the opportunities are endless and all I can say is keep doing your thing. It’s a formula nobody can knock.
Listen to the latest episode here: