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Ash London: Bondi’s Fresh Face of Music Television

By Dan Hutton on July 29, 2012 in People

Photo: Andrew Goldie

During the month The Beast caught up with the host Channel 11’s Saturday morning music show The Loop, Ash London…

Where are you originally from?
Well, interestingly enough I was born in Melbourne and when I was about 10 or 11 I moved to the Philippines, spent a solid six years there at an international school and developed a very weird accent, kind of like a mix of Filipino, American and Australian, and then I moved back to Melbourne.

What were you doing in the Philippines?
My dad worked there so I got dragged off when I was about 11.

When did you move to the Eastern Suburbs?
I moved to Sydney in the first week of February and spent a couple of weeks in ‘the Bra’ with an aunty who has a massive mansion with fully stocked beer fridge that I was allowed to use whenever I wanted, which was a highlight. My best friend lived in North Bondi so I’d stayed there quite a lot in the last couple of years and I knew I’d end up in Bondi. Then this really beautiful house came up just behind the Buckler’s Canteen and so I moved to Bondi in March.

What do you love about living in the Eastern Suburbs?
People watching, because there are so many skinny girls that have babies and they’re so good looking and you wonder whether they’re a nanny or not. Did they actually fit that baby inside them? If so, how did they get rid of the baby fat so quickly? I sit here and think, “I’ll never be that skinny or that good looking,” and then there’s this newborn and I’m like, “What?” So that’s a big reason I love the Eastern Suburbs. And all the places I’ve lived in my life have never been close to a beach so to be able to wake up and be on the beach in like eight minutes is the best. I just feel like if you can see the ocean your life is okay, nothing is wrong. It actually puts me in a good mood so I love being near the water and I hope one day I’m rich enough to buy a boat.

A dinghy?
No, better than a dinghy. Somewhere between a super yacht and a dinghy and I’ll just fish. I just love the ocean. And I love Classic Nails too, where Hall Street turns into O’Brien. They do a very good cheap manicure, which you wouldn’t expect in Bondi. If you’re willing to be spoken about in Vietnamese and not know what they’re saying then Classic Nails is for you.

Is there anything you don’t like about living in Bondi?
Oh, let’s be honest, there is a bit of a wank factor, but you know what, you’ve got to let people do their thing. I’m often a wanker myself so there’s no judgment. If anything, it’s expensive. I find that I’ll go out and I’ll have just spent too much money.

Do you prefer Bondi to Melbourne?
I never thought I would say this but I love it here. I’m just a lot more relaxed here and a lot happier. It just does something to you. It’s the sunshine and the water and the pretty people and the skinny ladies and their babies.

What is your heritage?
My dad was born in Lebanon and mum’s Lebanese Irish.

Lebanese Irish?
Yeah. That’s why I’ve got two eyebrows as opposed to just one. There’s enough Irish in me.

Have you been over to Lebanon?
Yeah, I actually spent the millennium New Year there.

How did you get into television?
I was working in radio as a music journalist doing a lot of interviews and I always thought that I’d do the whole writing journalism thing and that’s where I’d end up. Then the company started using me to do some other stuff because I was cheap and could put words together to do little presentations and online stuff. I enjoyed it and it was easy for me to do and then this gig came up and I thought I could do it. So I broke into our studio after work one night, filmed an audition tape and got sprung. They were like, “What’s this for?” and I totally lied and said it was for a client. Then about a month later when I got the gig I was like, “Hey Laura, guess what? That night wasn’t really for a client.”

Can you tell us a bit about The Loop?
It’s the return of music television to free to air television, which is great. Apart from Rage, which has been going for about 100 years and doing a great job, there isn’t much in the way of music television anymore. We do the iTunes Top 20 countdown every Saturday and we also play some old music to try to educate the kids about the greats that have gone before. We also play some new music, which is good because it means we get to play some local independent stuff that perhaps wouldn’t get network airtime otherwise. We also touch on some movie stuff and online stuff. I do the show with my friend Scott, who has become one of my really good mates. He lives just around the corner in Rose Bay so we often will share a burrito or two at Beach Burrito Co. The show is on every Saturday morning for two and a half hours.

Were you a music television watcher as a kid?
I was always obsessed. My brother was about ten years older than me so he was right into the Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, U2 and the Foo Fighters when they came out. As a result I kind of picked up that taste in music because he would always have it on. And when we went over to the Philippines MTV was kind of one of the only English channels that we had so I was literally obsessed. I thought being on MTV would be the best job in the world. If I ever could get to do that I would die happy.

Are you a cheesy pop fan?

You don’t just put it on for the show?
No, I really am. Everyone says they have their own music tastes but I think you’ve got to just admit eventually that pop music is catchy and you like it and that’s okay. I have no qualms about it.

Is The Loop more of a kids show?
No, I don’t think so. Obviously a lot of the social networking that happens is going to be done by the younger demographic so it would be easy to think that, but a lot of older people watch it. There’s enough of a mix of music that I think the demographic is quite broad, which can be tricky at times because you’re trying to speak to a 16 year old and a 35 year old. I think the beauty of music is that everyone enjoys it.

Do you obsess over how many people are watching you?
No, you can’t obsess. We’ve done really well. For a show that’s new and with Scott and I both being relatively unknown, we kind of expected that it would be a really slow burn but it’s doing really well and people seem to be really responding really well to it. I’m getting recognised, which is a bit weird. I didn’t think that would happen for about two years but it’s starting to happen, mainly from younger people who actually have the guts to walk up to you and tell you that they love One Direction.

What’s the most amazing interview that you’ve done?
I was the most nervous when I interviewed Robin Williams. Predominantly I interview musicians but he was here for ‘Happy Feet’ and it kind of matched our demographic. I love Robin Williams, so when it came time to meet him I actually found myself really nervous and when you’re nervous the last thing you want to say in an interview is how nervous you are, but I walked in and just blurted it out like an idiot, He was so gracious though. He took my hand and then covered it with his other big hairy mitten and we locked eyes and he was like, “It’s going to be alright, darling.” It was an amazing interview and he was so lovely. Hugh Grant was the opposite. I was really excited to meet him because I love his rom coms but he did not want to be my friend. He just gave me nada. He wanted me to die. It was bad. He wasn’t laughing at my jokes, which is one thing you count on.

Did you lead out with a Divine Brown gag or something?
No. He just didn’t want a piece. But Noel Gallagher from Oasis was another good one. He was so warm and charming and I didn’t expect that. He made it so easy. He was a real professional and he was funny and self deprecating. That was a definite stand out,

I read in your bio that you’re hoping to bump into Bondi Vet, Dr Chris Brown, in the hallways of Channel 10; has it happened yet?
Look, I’ve seen him from afar. He’s hard to miss because he’s a good foot taller than everyone else. We’re yet to be introduced officially but I almost don’t want to meet him. I want to keep the distance to maintain the intrigue. I know he’s dying to meet me. I catch him looking at me across the hallways like, “Who is this woman? Who could it be? How can we be friends?”

Do you have any musical skills?
I’ve always been a singer. Now I’m at that age where all my friends are getting married but they don’t want me to be the bridesmaid so they relegate me to the wedding singer instead. I’ve sung at about eight weddings in the past two years. I play some guitar too but just for fun.

You’re not in a band?
No, all my friends are in bands so when all your friends are freaks you don’t want to be the one that’s kind of crap comparatively.

What do you get up to when you’re not working?
I want to get into gardening. I’m scared to start because I’m so desperate to be a good gardener that I feel like if I was bad I’d be really disappointed in myself, so I’m working up to maybe being a gardener. I will let you know how I go with that.

Are you a sports fan?
Because I grew up in the Philippines the only sports they play are volleyball and table tennis. But I’m a mad AFL supporter. When I lived in Melbourne I was at the footy every weekend and now it’s harder but I had to buy Foxtel so I could get the footy live. What’s with that? You don’t have it live on the television here.

You’re a Collingwood supporter, aren’t you?
Massively. They’re the greatest team in the history of the AFL, did you get that? Go Pies! Premiership 2012! You watch out for it. I just love football and I always said that I’d never get into league, that it was lame. The old ball and chain is into his league and I’m getting quite into it now. We went to the pub for game two of the State of Origin and the Blues won and it was really great atmosphere.

Is your squeeze a Sydney boy?
He’s actually from Coffs but he lives in the Maroubra. And he hates Bondi. He’s a real Maroubra snob and he won’t actually visit me. He’ll be like, “I’ll meet you halfway in Coogee.” He seriously hates it. It started off because he couldn’t get a park but I’ve got a driveway now.

Do you have any other skills besides being a mind full of musical information?
I’m a trained writer. I studied film and television at uni with hopes of writing films. I’m actually a real movie head; I love cinema, particularly ’50s cinema. I’m obsessed. My first son will be called Jimmy after Jimmy Stewart. I just love it. So I’m an avid writer and I’m also a good cook. I love cooking and baking and having people over and cooking lots of food. I think if I wasn’t going to be like a TV music presenter I think I’d get into like food journalism. I love that you can cook for people and nourish them and they can come and be social. I just love it.

We hear that you’re a fan of beards; is that why you moved to Bondi?
Well I didn’t know at the time that there would be so many beards here but I’m in beard heaven. My boyfriend has an office job so he has to keep his relatively well groomed. He has stubble but I cannot wait for the day when he like quits, just surfs all day and grows this massive dirty beard. It’s going to be amazing.

Do you have a career highlight thus far?
Probably interviewing Phoenix, who are one of my favourite bands of all time. They were really, really great. I thought, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” I just loved it. I wasn’t an idiot, I didn’t break out into any sort of rash. I had to take an antihistamine beforehand though because I do get a nervous rash.

Is it true that you won $30,000 on ‘Deal Or No Deal’ and, if so, can we see the footage somewhere?
It was about a month before I was moving to London. My friends called me and said, “Ash, we’re going to audition for ‘Deal Or No Deal’ but Cara has pulled out; can you come with us? It’s just around the corner in the city.” I was like, “Yeah, sure.” So we went and auditioned and the producer they put us with was a ranga with a beard so I was like: a) it’s a sign from God; and b) I can now I chew this guy within an inch of his life. So I pulled out all the stops and at the end he was like, “Great, we’ll give you a call in the next 3 or 4 months.” And I was like, “No, matey, I’m moving to London in a month so you will need to call me before then.” Sure enough, three weeks later I get the call. So we went in. It was about three days before I flew out and I hadn’t saved up enough money. I’d been working seven nights and six days a week to earn cash and I still didn’t have enough. Four of us went on the show and we agreed that if one of us won we’d split the money between us. I got called up, Andrew O’Keefe and I became best friends and I won $30,000. Everyone was like “No deal! No deal!” but I’d said to myself that once I got to $30,000 I’d take the deal, so I did.

Did you end up seeing what was in your brief case?
I don’t want to talk about it… $100,000… whatever, that’s fine. After the show, AOK said to me, “You’ve got a gift of the gab. You should be doing what I’m doing,” and I said, “Do you want to give me a job,” and he was like, “No, but I think you’ll be here soon.” That was the first time that I was actually thought that maybe my mouth could actually get me a gig. So let’s just say I owe career success to AOK.

Have you encountered AOK since you’ve been at Bondi, because he’s a Bondi resident?
We share a personal trainer so there’s my connection. Maybe if we have a Bondi PT Christmas party or something he might be there.

In an ideal world what does the future hold for Ash London?
I don’t want to plan too much because my life so far has only been full of good things and good things just kind of come. If you have an idea of what you want you kind of set yourself up for being disappointed. Life always surprises you and that’s why I love my life. So I think in an ideal world life is full of surprises and challenges and adventures and good music gigs.