Insider guide to London: Emily Dicks

Emily Dicks, ©JessyBoonCowler
Emily in Brixton Market – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler

If you want to know about music in London then Emily is absolutely your go-to guide. As a radio producer she’s worked on all sorts of music shows in a career that’s taken her from London to Wales, to Jamaica and back to the hallowed halls of the BBC’s London HQ. If you enjoy new music and listen to the BBC’s Radio 1 or 1Xtra you may have heard her work.

Emily Dicks, ©JessyBoonCowler
Emily rifling through records in Brixton Market – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler

Her current portfolio includes MistaJam and Target‘s brand new Saturday night shows and she also produces shows with reggae legend David Rodigan. She also writes and produces the occasional episode of her own radio comedy Two Birds One Phone.

Emily and I started going to music festivals together as teenagers, and we were exposed to all sorts of weird and wonderful world music – her passion for gypsy music and African beats has only grown since then, which makes her a rather wonderful DJ if you’re ever lucky enough to catch one of her sets around Brixton or Dalston.

As a local resident she can tell you where to buy the best fresh fish in Brixton market, which of the latest pop up restaurants is overhyped and which ones are worth your time – you can find her on Twitter @emilydust.

Emily Dicks, ©JessyBoonCowler
Emily in Brixton Market – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler
The Zetter Townhouse cocktail bar
The Zetter Townhouse cocktail bar

My favourite place for cocktails: Zetter TownhouseI love this place – it’s like drinking in an after hours library. The menu changes quite regularly but the Flintock (made with gin, gunpowder tea tincture and dandelion burdock bitters) should give you an idea of their style. One night sitting by the bar I got a full explanation of their homemade tinctures and bitters. Great for an end of the night tipple.

A place more people should know about: Rowan’s bowling alley, Finsbury ParkForget faux 50s chic and overpriced White Russians; if The Dude lived in North London, this is where he would actually bowl. I grew up nearby so it’s an institution for me and I’ve had some extremely random late nights out here over the years. I came here on New Year’s day once and ordered a platter of fried food which turned out to be entirely beige.

Notting Hill Carnival
Notting Hill Carnival – picture by Anna Winston

My favourite place to go dancing: Notting Hill CarnivalCarnival is my favourite weekend in London, no question. Samba dancers, soca floats, huge soundsystems… it’s basically the best bits of London rolled into one, and you get to bring your own rum. There’s something amazing about being in a huge crowd dancing to drum and bass outside a posh mansion at midday on a Sunday. I always try and check Sir Lloyd’s and Channel One. And that’s to say nothing of the dozens of after parties, including my favourite Deviation – usually an absolute roadblock.


Sounds of the Universe Soho
Sounds of the Universe, Soho – picture by Ewan Munro

My favourite place to go record shopping: Sounds Of The UniverseEven though I get a lot of music sent to me already, I often spend way too much money in here. There’s everything from hip-hop to 70s West African funk to upfront white labels. The best new releases all have written descriptions and their affiliated label Soul Jazz has produced some excellent compilations so even if you don’t know anything about a particular record or genre you’re bound to come out with something!

My favourite market: Brixton marketAlthough I grew up further north along the Victoria line, I’ve lived in Brixton for several years. By day I love browsing everything from African fabric to spices, soundtracked by the music from the stallholders along Atlantic Road. In the last few years, Brixton market has changed beyond recognition and is the heart of the neighbourhood’s (not uncontroversial) gentrification. Its evening license means at night you’ll see queues of foodies waiting for tables. Go to Franco Manca for the best pizza in London, Seven for cocktails, Etta’s for amazing fish, Santafereno for massive portions of Columbian fare or Happy Dumplings for mountains of delicious dumplings.

Emily in front of her favourite fish stall in Brixton Market - picture by Jessy Boon Cowler
Emily in front of her favourite fish stall in Brixton Market – picture by Jessy Boon Cowler

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