In the first episode of Melodownz’ new show, Kava Corner, John Campbell got a bit lit on kava, and it was utterly bloody delightful.
Watching John Campbell do just about anything is guaranteed to make your day a bit better. His calm, empathetic style has been a balm to the nation for ages now, as the first voice you hear in the morning on Breakfast these days, reporting on Checkpoint back in the old days, and presenting Campbell Live back in the old, old days.
So, of course, John Campbell drinking kava is not just going to make your day a bit better, but a lot better. He’s the guest on the first episode of Melodownz’ new YouTube show, Kava Corner, in which the hip-hop artist shares a few shells of the mildly intoxicating beverage with a different celebrity each episode. Here’s what we learned about Campbell in the course of his 20 minute sesh.
John Campbell only drinks two nights a week now
Given that he has to be up at 3:30am every weekday morning, which is reason enough to never be a morning television presenter, he doesn’t drink from Sunday to Thursday. Wise!
However, when he does, he loves a good ol’ buttery chard. Take a note should you ever want to buy John Campbell a drink, Friday or Saturday night only.
John Campbell used to be a regular jet plane lolly indulger
On some of his hardest days, Campbell would stop into the local, buy a party pack of jet planes and “shove them into [his face]” so that he’d bring some joy home to his family. Leaving Las Vegas 2: A Pack of Jet Planes, anyone?
John Campbell used to be a DJ called Sparky Plug
A picture says a thousand words. Or in this case, three words.
John Campbell loves hip-hop, genuinely and unproblematically
Get you a man who talks about you like John Campbell talks about hip-hop. He talks about hip-hop like it cleared his pores, grouted his bathroom, and fluffed his pillow every night. Better yet, he manages to talk about hip-hop with the knowledge that he’s speaking about it as a middle-class white guy, and without making a show of that acknowledgment. Also, he’s geekily nervous when he’s asked what he would do when interviewing Frank Ocean, gushing like an ’80s teenager holding his first cassingle.
John Campbell might be running???
Look, I’m no politics predictor, but surely this is the statement of a man who is planning a run for office: “I am feeling a little bit stoned. Not that I know what feeling stoned feels like.” Given that absolutely anything – even managing the government’s Covid-19 response – would be better than waking up at 3:30am each morning, who would blame him for contemplating a change of career?
John Campbell drops exactly one f-bomb
You won’t hear that on Breakfast!
John Campbell knows who Noname is
When asked what rapper Jacinda Ardern would listen to on her drive into the Beehive, Campbell initially says David Dallas before backtracking after realising Dallas condemned the “Chinese sounding names” incident on ‘Don’t Rate That’, a slating Campbell says was “richly deserved, richly deserved.”
He then changes his answer to Noname’s Room 25, and I’m delighted to be able to include John Campbell and the excellent, boundary-pushing Noname in the same sentence. If my endorsement means nothing, and it should, then take Campbell’s word for it.
John Campbell shares his wisdom, generously
In all seriousness, this is a great interview that I can’t recommend highly enough, and hearing John Campbell talk about who gets to have their voices heard in the media is astonishingly frank, and everybody in his industry should take notes:
“I used to think that journalism was about speaking truth to power, but the problem with speaking truth to power is the people that get to speak to power have a form of power, so it’s the same circle of people interviewing and re-interviewing each other. And it tends to be from the perspective of the powerful. And I became obsessed, probably in the last 10 or 15 years, with speaking to people who don’t have power, the powerless. The people who don’t have access to the media very often, and that’s been the most rewarding work I’ve done.”
The most generous part of the interview, though, is when Melodownz shares a story about a time his music affected someone in his life (I won’t spoil its power by sharing it here) and Campbell says he won’t have any more kava unless Melodownz promises to keep the story in the final cut. In that moment, he’s empowering Melodownz to tell his own story on his own show, without putting the pressure or the weight of that on him.
As Melodownz says, “John Campbell is the man. Certified legend.” Can’t disagree. Now get that man a good night’s sleep, some buttery chard and a couple of shells of kava.
You can watch Kava Corner on Melodownz’ YouTube channel here.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.