Lime interview - Books & Spoken Word
EDITOR - Vernia Mengot
This month Lime catches up with Dillon Khan on his book The Intern- donned as the ‘Devil Wears Prada for Music Television’.
Dillon Khan born in London, the city that educated him with a rich mix of music has a history in the world of music journalism. In his exciting fictional book The Intern, Dillon uncovers experiences from his own catalogue of work within the industry at MTV for eight years where he made shows about music, lifestyle and youth culture.
Tell us about your most interesting interning experience.
I think I had quite a few actually, I mean in that year I did my internship I managed to see and do a lot of things. The highlight was the MTV awards because everyone was under one roof. I got to interview artists and go behind the scenes, as an intern to be thrown into the deep end was quite exciting.
What made you want to write a book about it?
I think there were quite a few things. I always wanted to write a book. I collected ideas over the years, when I was 16 I worked in WHSmith at the weekends. I started the freelancing and that’s when I thought it’s now or never. When I left MTV and looked at the ideas I had, youth unemployment was coming to a sharp focus. As a music journalist I thought writing a book about this generation, was quite exciting. It includes some stories I had of my own. It was a fun subject to cover. And one that interns past present and future can relate to.
Tell us about the main character in the book, Jay Merchant.
He’s like quite a lot of students when they leave- they have this piece of paper in their hand. In the real world you’re told to get a job and the thing that a lot of employers look for is experience. Jay is like most young people looking to get his foot through the door, it’s about his journey getting an internship and the journey he goes through. With Jay he is pretty much someone that most students who have left education can relate to. And he has to really hustle and work hard to find a way in.
Working in the media is a very fast paced and competitive market, how do you stay so balanced?
Don’t get caught up in the matrix. When you do get into a role, you have just got to keep balanced. Work hard, push yourself to try and get that permanent job. It’s no different no matter what field you are in. Keeping a balance through your work and life, with people keeping you grounded usually your family and friends.
Share a memory from your university experience.
My overriding memory of Uni is a blur; this is the good days where your fees and tuition are paid for. It’s about meeting lots of people- the shackles come off. That’s your moment go out and engage and explore. My biggest memory is probably just fresher’s week because it’s completely new. I think my thing was I didn’t go Uni outside of London, the sites are all over the place and you’re in the middle of a busy high road.
Tell us something that we don’t know about you.
I suppose the most interesting memory that I have was in the final year, I was in the library and bumped into a really good friend. He had an application form applying for a job as cabin crew for British Airways, he said “you have to apply as well” as a joke we both did. About four months later we got called for an interview. I got through, and I went travelling for year. I had a lot of debt, so I couldn’t afford to go travelling, so that was the next best. I went all over Europe and the Middle East.
You’ve worked for MTV over a period of eight years, what was the best thing about your job?
I think the best thing about it was that it was the forefront of youth culture, reporting on where culture and society are moving. Youth culture was at the forefront of that. Social phenomena’s start at the forefront of youth culture. It was an exciting period to be at as there was no recession, money was rolling around, and there was a high level of exuberance at that stage. It was quite a nice time to be reporting that and enjoying it.
An enjoyable stage would be when we set up MTV in Africa; I had to move the team over from the UK to the headquarters in Johannesburg.
Have you always had an interest in music?
Yeah I have, like most young people. My passion was always music. Whether that was collecting music, listening to radio DJ’s and going to gigs. I used to love reading album covers, sleeve notes, knowing where it was recorded and produced. I wasn’t looking for MTV, I didn’t really watch MTV. From there I think my path lead to MTV.
You have an extensive music collection, who are some of your favourite artists?
I think I grew up with a real mix of music, from London. It’s a unique city; a mix of people from different backgrounds and cultures. Music reflects this. From the Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, to Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. Right through to Dre and Jay Z. Taking in things that I learnt at school, like classical music. With my personal culture roots from India, there is the Bollywood influence in music, radio stations in London add to that dance music. A real rich mix. Now, you add dubstep to the mix and more recently afro beats. You get this wonderful mix form living in London; with London what’s quite unique is that it’s everywhere. This makes London a unique.
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the media industry?
Well to the starting point visit the intrern.co.uk. For the website I wanted to speak to industry heads, get the top five tips I spoke to Ben Cooper from radio 1, who told us exactly what they’re looking for, Dylan Jones from GQ for top tips on how to make it in journalism. There are about fifteen to twenty interviews up online on the site; it gives people an insight into those in the industry.
Check out that website, it’s a useful tool with straight talk information, then the book. After that you should be ready. The insight is in both.
Remarkable Men- Which male in the media industry do you most admire?
I suppose I would have to say Jay Z, I’ve been a huge music fan, and for his evolution as an artist, being the head of a label to becoming an entrepreneur/ businessman and cultural icon. That growth is non-stop. He has influenced so many people on so many different levels and broken boundaries. He’s a role model for young people. His achievement is remarkable. To overtake Elvis Presley’s records and the Beetles is staggering especially the world of hip hop. Jay has constantly evolved.
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