Brought up in Hellesdon, Kylie Olsson is the face of rock on TV. ADAM AIKEN caught up with her between festivals
Tens of thousands of rock fans who attended this year’s Download festival – and many more who didn’t – tuned in recently when Sky Arts broadcast highlights of the spectacular event.
And it was the familiar face of Hellesdon’s Kylie Olsson gracing our screens as she revisited her role presenting the shows, which featured the likes of Kiss and Iron Maiden.
This year’s festival was a special moment for Kylie, who has been the face of Download coverage since 2011 but who – like every other fan – was left frustrated when the pandemic meant the annual pilgrimage to the east Midlands was put on hold for a couple of years.
“I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it was as the energy in that field, both from the bands and the fans, was infectious,” she said.
“You could tell that everyone was beyond happy to be back at the spiritual home of rock and metal.”
Kylie’s love of music was nurtured back in Norfolk while she was growing up.
She was born in London but her family moved to Hellesdon around 1990, when she was seven, and she went to school at Firside Junior and then Hellesdon High before eventually finding herself at the University of East Anglia.
“I loved it there as it’s a fantastic university. It wasn’t my plan to stay local but the film school there was the second best in the country at that time, so it was a no-brainer,” she said.
Her stint at the UEA also gave her the chance to enjoy live music.
“They have some great bands coming through at the UEA. One of my favourite discoveries was seeing Coldplay with about 20 people in the audience.”
But it’s the heavier stuff that really did it for Kylie, who said: “I’ve always had a huge passion for rock and especially for classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Cream and AC/DC. Basically, if it has lots of guitars in it then they are my band!”
Before she went to university, she’d already started doing some work at BBC Radio Norfolk.
“I knew that to make a career out of my passion I needed to do both,” she said.
“So the whole time I was at the UEA I was also working at the BBC part-time and then doing lots of work experience in London during the holidays.”
But it wasn’t just work and music that Kylie remembers about her time here.
“One of the things I loved about growing up in Hellesdon is having the freedom to be on a bike – as a kid I literally lived on my bike.
“And one of my favourite things to do would be to bike up to one of the local farms and go strawberry and raspberry picking. It’s just the best.”
Although Kylie headed back to the capital in about 2008 to start a TV career that saw her rise to the heights of Sky Arts, Kylie said she has maintained her links with Norfolk.
“All my family still live in Norwich which means I’m back often to visit them, so I still have a little toe in the city.”
Kylie used her downtime during lockdown to teach herself to play guitar, and she’s launched a YouTube series called Life In Six Strings in which she interviews famous guitarists before getting a lesson from them.
Check out www.youtube.com/user/KylieOlsson