Category: Interviews

Knew Knowledge meets – Tre Jean-Marie

I’ve been a big fan of London songwriter, producer and all-round good guy Tre Jean-Marie, 20, for a long time now. His potential as a hit writer has been evident for a while and at last it seems his talents are getting the recognition they deserve as he’s about to put pen to paper on his first publishing deal. So I thought there’s no time like the present to ask him a few questions and spread love and awareness of this exciting, young UK talent.


Knew Knowledge Interview

with…

Tre Jean-Marie, songwriter/producer

TreJ-M

  • Twitter: @trejeanmarie
  • Soundcloud: /trejeanmarie
  • Management: Jordan Jay & Ross Gautreau at Karma Artists
  • Lawyer: Simon Long at Collins Long

Hi Tre. So how did you start out in music?

I come from a musical family. Both my parents and some of my cousins are deep in the industry, so I’ve always been exposed to it. I remember being 9 or 10 years old and sneaking on my Dad’s computer in the middle of the night to teach myself Logic 5, and I haven’t turned back since.

 

Where do you prefer to write your songs?

Studio, home…The tube! Literally wherever I feel comfortable and catch a vibe!

 

What equipment do you use to write and record with? 

I used to be obsessed with outboard gear, but it’s not really practical, so now my set up is really simple. I have a travel bag that fits my laptop plus all its accessories, and that’s pretty much it – I can plug in to wherever I’m working from around the world.

 

What do you like to write about lyrically? Do you follow any themes or concepts?

However the music makes me feel. If I’m writing with an artist I try to pull from their own experiences rather than mine, after all, I’m there to enhance them.

 

What is in the pipeline for you over the next 6-12months? 

There’s lots I can’t mention or go into detail on, but there’s a MNEK single I’m really excited about that I’ve co-written/produced. I’ve been working quite heavily on Jacob Banks’ record too, and Emeli Sandé and Jojo are also amongst my favourites of recent work…The next 12 months should be fun!

 

What has been the highlight of your song-writing career so far?

This interview with Knew Knowledge 😉

 

How do you find with the artists you work with?

Mainly through the usual channels of managers, record labels and publishers. But every so often I’ll hear something fresh through social networks or at a showcase and reach out to the artists directly.

 

You’re close to signing your own first publishing deal. How has this has come about and how it is to be the subject of a signing frenzy?! 

I’ve actually done one [publishing deal] before but things went wrong quite early and I was fortunate enough to be able to get out. I’ve been working my arse off for a long time now, so to have material finally being released and to see it paying off by so many publishers – and even some of my idols putting in offers – is an overwhelming feeling. But that said, I know how important it is to not get complacent and stay focused. I’m pretty close to closing a deal with one of them at the moment.

 

You recently set up your own publishing company too. How easy was this and why did you decide to start your own operation?

Starting my own publishing company was quite difficult at first. I had a lot of meetings with people who were impressed to hear the ideas I had coming from the mouth of a 20 year old, but were too scared to make the commitment – perhaps because of my age, or because I don’t have a history in the publishing world. But I have a lot of talented unpublished friends, and I really wanted to create a model where, when possible, I could source opportunities for them. To me, doing a joint venture with a bigger publisher who was as excited about my vision as I was and saw the long-term potential was more important than finding somebody that was just going to throw some money about. It has started to grow quicker than I could have ever imagined.

 

It sounds like your business empire is growing nicely. Are you interested in doing your own artist project in future too?

I’ve started and scrapped my own project so many times that I think my friends are getting tired of me saying it lol. The trouble is that I don’t want to do it purely because everybody else is – and that’s no discredit to all the producer-artists out there, because there’s some amazing ones – but if I do end up having my own artist project it would have to be completely left, and that would have to come naturally.

 

Describe your experience of the music business in 3 words;

  1. Magical
  2. Cut-throat
  3. Confused

 

If you could be in a writing session with any songwriter dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Pharrell Williams. He’s had hits from before I was born and has managed to stay relevant up to this day. The Neptunes [his production team] have produced and/or written a lot of my favourite records of all time.

10 Best Neptunes Productions – article

Pharrell – Frontin’ ft. Jay Z

 

Name 3 great new artists you have recently discovered…

  1. I’ve been working with this guys called JP Cooper recently, and every time I hear him sing I’m mind blown.

 

  1. Grades is hands down my favourite producer-artist house project right now.

 

  1. There’s this UK rapper called Little Simz I’ve only just discovered. She’s great!

 

What was the first record you bought?

If I said S Club 7, do you promise not to judge me?

 

When was the last time you bought a CD or vinyl? What was it?

I can’t remember the last time! Digital is so much more convenient.

 

What will you be doing/where will you be in 10 years time?

I hope to be be doing exactly what I’m doing now but with a long discography and success that will inspire the next generation of writers and young entrepreneurs!

 

Finally, choose one from each;

Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye? Marvin Gaye

New Jack Swing or Neo-soul? Neo-soul

Jean Michel Jarre or Herbie Hancock? Herbie Hancock

‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson or ‘Bad’ Michael Jackson? Thriller, but only fractionally

Kanye or Jay Z? Yeezy!

Beyonce or Katy Perry? Queen B

George Martin or Quincy Jones? Quincy Jones

Knew Knowledge meets – Jane Jacob, Music Supervisor, Mana Music

Advertising and music synchronisation are taking on an increasingly vital role in promoting and remunerating artists and songwriters. So we met up with music supervisor and former Warner A&R Jane Jacob; originally from London but who now lives in Melbourne working for Mana Music. Her A&R successes include Amy Macdonald & Paolo Nutini.


KNEW KNOWLEDGE

Interview with…

Jane Jacob – Music Supervisor, Mana Music, Australia

JaneJacob_workimage

Twitter: twitter.com/ManaMusicOz

Website: www.mana.com.au 

Describe your job. What do you do?! How did you get there?

I’m a music supervisor so I work on commercials, TV shows, films and promos consulting on music. My days are spent working on music briefs that can be anything from a car commercial to a promo for The Bachelor to obscure briefs such as searching for some Lebanese hip hop for a strip club scene!! Then I have to negotiate fees with the copyright owners and try and get the song over the line for my clients . I meet with agencies, TV producers, publishers, labels, new bands and composers on a daily basis.

I have an A&R background so it’s a natural progression although the biggest challenge was learning very quickly about Australian music and what pleases the audience here!

I did 10 years of A&R in London before coming out to Melbourne.

How did you start out in the music industry? What was your big break?  

I started out working for the MD of ITB (the live booking agency). His clients were Robert Plant, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz and Ozzy Osbourne so it was an amazing experience for a 21 year old. Full on and demanding but the best training. It taught me to think on my feet and realise that the industry is fun but a lot of hard work!! I guess my big break was working at Warner/Chappell as I had always wanted to do A&R.

What was your first/last hit as an A&R?

My first hit was Paolo Nutini’s first single ‘Last Request’ which went Top 5. And my last hit as an A&R was not a hit as such. I had an incredibly talented artist called Phildel whose music was used in a worldwide Apple Ipad commercial. It doesn’t get much bigger than that in the synch world!

Paolo Nutini – ‘Last Request’ (2006)

How closely do you work with artists & management now you’re working in music supervision? How transferable are the skills you developed in A&R to your new role?

We work with artists and management primarily at the start of their careers or if they are not signed. Once they are signed we negotiate with their representatives at their label or publisher.  As in A&R, strong relationships help whether it is with the artist, the advertising agency or with the licensing team

What is the general attitude toward syncs and music placements in Australia?  

Most artists love them and are really happy to get them. Sales here are low in comparison to the UK so it is an important revenue stream for them and synch fees here are quite high. There is a lot of competition to get synch placements because it’s one of the few ways they can be heard by Australia as a whole rather than select radio stations.

What are the main differences and similarities between the music industries in the UK and Australia?

Radio! The radio structure here is totally different to how it is in the UK. Certain artists really fall between the cracks here i.e if they don’t fit into the pop/dance mould but then don’t fit into the indie/left mould. Like them or loathe them, radio 1 and 2 do break artists to millions of people. We don’t have an equivalent radio station here that can break someone as pop as Aviici at the same time as a more leftfield artist…..So the process of breaking artists is a lot slower although maybe a bit more organic. It’s a bit more cutthroat in the UK. i.e if you don’t get on Radio 1, you’re dropped.

…and how do the music scenes compare?

Like in the UK Australian audiences are passionate about their music. Here in Melbourne, there is so much musical activity, it’s hard to keep up!

There have been some huge international successes coming from Australasia over the years. Can you see a time when the continent’s music business is on a par with that of Europe and the US?

To be honest, no! But that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

What do you miss most from A&R and the UK music industry?

I love UK music and always will. It’s so diverse and culturally that’s what I comprehend as a music lover. That said, the Australian music industry is so exciting at the moment because there’s so many artists getting worldwide recognition and it’s not as cynical as the UK music industry. A&R is a fantastic job and there is nothing like finding an artist that really excites you. I’m very lucky I’ve been able to do it. I miss my writers most of all.

As an A&R, you’re credited with signing and developing unheard of talents such as Paolo Nutini and Amy MacDonald. Can you tell us the story behind their discovery and development into multi-platinum artists?

I literally bumped into Paolo and his manager at Glastonbury and went to see him play at the Bedford in Balham shortly after. I thought he was amazing and signed him up. He was only 17 but there was something about him and I was convinced he was going to do well. I was a Junior A&R then so I was lucky that the MD of Warner/Chappell shared the same view and so Paolo became my first signing. It was at the same time that James Morrison was buzzing about the A&R world so the focus was very much on him. I presented Paolo’s music to a few of my A&R contacts but they thought he and his music was ‘too early’. So I put Paolo with a few writers who were very popular with the key A&R people at the time. I’ve read in a couple of interviews that Paolo was not particularly happy about it but at the time it was a good way to get your artist noticed and known and some good songs did come out of those sessions. However, one of the first and most successful co-writes he did as a W/C writer was ‘Last Request’ with Matty Benbrook and Jim Duguid which was a brilliant song. After that Atlantic signed him and the album went on to sell over 2 million. He is a very special artist and I was very lucky to bump into him that day many years ago!!

Amy MacDonald had an unusual rise to the top. She didn’t come up the normal route of playing gigs or co-writing. She was from Scotland and had hardly been down to London and she wrote everything 100% herself which is a rarity. I was introduced to her by a W/C writer called Pete Wilkinson who went on to be her manager. She sung and played her guitar to me in a room and I was so impressed with the maturity of her songwriting. I literally played her songs in my car to death!! Still, I thought she was quite young and inexperienced so I thought I would sign her to a development deal and see what happened over the next year. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Over the next couple of weeks, somehow Pete had created such a buzz, offers were flying in from everywhere and she hadn’t even played a gig! Luckily my relationship with Pete and Amy meant that they still signed their publishing deal with me. Phew! She’s gone on to sell millions of records and has an incredibly loyal fanbase. 

Which campaign that you’ve worked on are you proudest of? Why?

Anything where music can be used as a good cause is always rewarding. We recently music supervised an advertising campaign for breast cancer. They used the Divinys song ‘I Touch Myself’ and got Australian celebrities to sing it. The impact was fantastic. We also did a campaign for Brisbane after the devastating floods a few years back to try and get people back to visiting the city. They re-recorded ‘Come Together’ with a local act and it worked really well.

http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6052082/chrissy-amphletts-i-touch-myself-reworked-for-breast-cancer-campaign-watch

Where/how do you look for new talent now?

I have a toddler so don’t get out much these days but I have two amazing interns who scour blog pages and go to gigs and let me know what they have seen.

When was the last time you bought a CD or vinyl? What was it?

I’m very lucky in that I get given all my music but I did buy ‘Cold Fact’ (Rodriguez) a while back. My husband and I watched the film and wanted to hear the music again over a few drinks! Apart from that I think it I bought a Wiggles CD for my daughter!!!

Rodriquez – ‘Cold Fact’ (album, 1970)

What’s the best piece of industry advice you’ve received?  

Follow your own path and go with your gut instinct. Especially in A&R it’s really important to sign what you believe in rather than what everyone else is signing. I’ve learnt the hard way that that can often backfire!

Describe the music industry in 3 words.

1. Competitive

2. Fulfilling

3. Emotional

Who were your role models growing up?

My granddad.

What makes the perfect song?

Meaningful lyrics and a memorable riff

What was the first album or record you owned?

‘Like a Virgin’ – Madonna. I was 5 and had no idea what the lyrics meant but I thought she was pretty cool.

Madonna – ‘Like A Virgin’ (1984)

What’s your favourite song and album?

Stranglers – ‘Golden Brown’

Soul II Soul – ‘Club Classics Volume 1’ – must be 25 years old now but sounds just as good today. Was the album that made me want to move to London! I also never tire of ‘Rumours’.

Soul II Soul – ‘Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)’ (1989)

Do you have a party trick or any hidden talents?

I play the flute although probably quite badly now!

What advice do you have for people starting out in the music business & want to do what you do?

Be totally open to every genre of music as you never know what you’ll be asked to look into!! It’s also helpful to have a knowledge or interest in film and advertising.

What is in the pipeline for you over the next 6-12months?

More commercials, more promos and more TV shows!

I’m also music supervising a film called ‘The Dressmaker’ starring Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth which we’re excited about.

Finally, choose a favourite from each of these pairs;

Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye? Marvin Gaye

Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Rolling Stones

Pink Floyd or Led Zepplin? Pink Floyd

Beyonce or Lady Gaga? Neither!

David Bowie or Marc Bolan? David Bowie

Jean Michel Jarre or Herbie Hancock? Jean Michel Jarre

‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson or ‘Bad’ Michael Jackson? Thriller

Hologram Tupac or Hologram Michael Jackson? MJ

Knew Knowledge meets….Mark Tieku aka TIEKS

I recently had a chance to catch up with writer/producer Mark Tieku for a chat about his career so far and his fast-rising artist project, TIEKS.
“I grew up listening to house and dance in the days when it wasn’t called EDM. This music, to me, isn’t just a cool fad.”

Knew Knowledge Meets…

TIEKS – Songwriter/Producer/Artist

Tieks-22ei

Twitter: @tieksmusic
Facebook: @tieksmusic
Website: tieksmusic.com

Mgmt: Dan Stacey – dan@hardlivings.co.uk

KK: How does the story begin between you and music?

MT: I think music, especially when you’re a music professional, is something where there is no beginning or end in the story, if you know what I mean. My first musical memory though is quite clear; I remember being two years old and hearing Joe Jackson “Steppin’ Out”. Even though I was two that song sounded like the future to me. It still does. Growing up in the 80s I was massively influenced by the pop of the time. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince… Great records from great artists, the likes of which I doubt we will see again, but being a teen in the 90s really informed what I do now.

Joe Jackson – ‘Steppin’ Out’ (1982)

 

When did you start writing songs and why?

I wrote my first song when was about 14. Probably trying to emulate Wu-Tang.

 

Where do you prefer to write your songs?

On my couch.

 

What equipment do you use to write/record with? 

A laptop. I used to have the whole shebang. A Neve mixer, thousands of pounds worth of mic pres… Even the cabling I had in my old studio cost thousands, but the music I made in that room was terrible. I sold it all and now literally work from a laptop. I even mixed a record for new artist Ben Khan on my laptop.
 

What do you like to write about lyrically? Do you follow any themes or concepts?

I have a rule when I write which is never to draw from my own experiences. A lot of people get great material through things they have been through, but I tend to not enjoy that process. When I’m writing on my own I create an idea or scenario… However when I’m writing for others I do try and draw from what’s happening in their lives.
 

What influences your music? What do you look to for inspiration?

The movies covers both questions. Films like Suspiria, Man Hunter, and Blade Runner have great sound tracks and unforgettable visuals. It’s not uncommon for me to play these movies on silent during a session. I’m very synesthetic, so the colours in movies are important to my creative process. On a musical side of things, Wu-Tang, Daft Punk, Bowie, Nile Rodgers and Brian Eno are all massive inspirations which I draw from regularly. Cheers guys.

Blade Runner trailer (1982)

Suspiria trailer (1977)

 

What has been the highlight of your song-writing career so far?

Signing my first solo deal as an artist. Something I never thought I would do.
 

You have a reputation for working with diverse, new artists and finding new talent early. How do you find the artists you work with?

Luck, and having a good support network of loyal young producers and budding A&Rs that, for some reason, come to me first with a lot of stuff. To be in this line of work you have to have a good ear. But that only takes one so far. I’m lucky in the fact that I have some good people who trust me enough to come to me early with things they have found, so on an industry tip it looks like I am discovering all these new young acts but in truth its always a collective credit.
 

You were one of the first people to recognise the talents of a 14 yr old MNEK. What’s it been like seeing him progress and be nominated for a Grammy this year alongside Duke Dumont?

Well he is like a little brother to me and I love him a lot so it fills my heart with so much joy to see where he is now and to think where he will be in the future. I remember talking to him on the phone when he was still at school and he was such a shy kid. Now he’s totally come out of his shell. I think it’s safe to say he’s one of the UK’s top writers, and with regard to my own career as an artist, his talents are very much a part of the TIEKS sound.

Where did the TIEKS project originate from? Have you always wanted your own artist project?

The project slowly developed over time, but I never put pressure on myself to come out as an artist. In fact I never wanted to be an artist and my dream was always to be a producer. But times change and I had these songs with no where to go and here we are.
 

Is there an album in process? When can we expect it?

Yeah. We’re getting there, but I’m taking it one track at a time rather than thinking of a whole record. That was a piece of advice given to me by Duke Dumont (my stable mate) that’s helped me no-end. Sometimes thinking of a record before you have a decent body of work can lead to a dull output with no highlights. I’m trying to bang out some memorable singles then we can go to the mythical place of an album.
 

Do you think your experience in the studio and working with big artists has helped prepare you for your own artist project & live shows?

On the record making process it has for sure. I know how to make a record and make it relevant just because of learning from the successes and failures of work I have done for other acts. On the live element; no, I’m shitting my self on that front haha! For now I will be mainly DJing around the UK. I’ll get on the live thing once singles are bedded into the minds of the nation!
 

Your writer/producer material has been quite eclectic going from alt-pop to club to soul & urban, but TIEKS is far more club-orientated. Is club/house/EDM or however you want to term it, where you feel most at home or is it simply more of a reflection of the moment?

Well for me, where my own stuff is concerned it would have to be club music – that’s where I am most comfortable. Although I have worked on band stuff and in the pop arena, I come from the world of club music. The fact it’s relevant now is one of the reasons I’ve taken the chance to do my own record. I wouldn’t have been able to do my own record in the mid 2000’s because the market wasn’t ready. So it’s a bit of both in all honesty. I grew up listening to house and dance in the days when it wasn’t called EDM. The music to me isn’t just a cool fad… Records by Todd Edwards, Felix Da House Cat , Daft Punk and Etienne De Crecy inform the work I do outside of the TIEKS stuff too.

Etienne de Crecy – ‘No Brain’ (2011)

 

Felix de Housecat – ‘Silver Screen’ (2001)

 

Daft Punk – ‘Face to Face’ (ft. vocals from Todd Edwards) – 2004

 

Where did you record your last single, ‘Cake’?

My trusty couch. Again.

 

Have you co-written any material for TIEKS? 

I’m mainly trying to work with people I am close to and have worked with before, so MNEK, Anita Blay, Karen Poole, Clare Maguire…I could go on forever. 

 

Describe your experience of the music business in 3 words;

1. Unforgiving
2. Ever-changing
3. Adolescent

 

Do you have a party trick or any hidden talents?

I can touch my head on my knees keeping my legs straight. I was a pro rugby player for four years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_union

 

Who were your role models growing up?

The RZA and Martin Offiah

Tieks_offiah_2317008k

Mr Offiah in full flight

 

If you could collaborate with any artist or songwriter dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Marvin Gaye. Because he had the most beautiful voice of all time.

Marvin Gaye – ‘What’s Going On’ full album (1971)

 

Name 3 great new artists you have recently discovered…

1. Dornik www.soundcloud.com/dornik

2. Lxurywww.soundcloud.com/luxurymusicuk

3. a Girl signed to Columbia in the US named Bettsy. Not sure where to find her stuff online though but watch this space.

 

What was the first record you bought?

Biggie Smalls Feat. Method Man. I can’t remember the name of the record. I ended up giving it to a girl I fancied and never saw it again, or the girl for that matter.

Biggie Smalls ft. Method Man – ‘The What’ (1994)

 
When was the last time you bought a CD or vinyl? What was it?

‘Myths of The Near Future’ by Klaxons in 2007 I think.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myths_of_the_Near_Future_(album)

 

Outside of the studio or stage, what do you like to get up to?

Take names on FIFA.

 

What is in the pipeline for you over the next 6-12months? Single releases, tours etc?

There will be another track out into the world this month called “The Number”, then my first single release proper in August.

 

What will you be doing/where will you be in 10 years time?

Directing movies and running a media empire, thinking of how to diversify into aggregates.

 

Finally, choose a fav from each pair of heroes;

Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye? Tough, but gotta go wit Marvin
David Bowie or Marc Bolan? Bowie
Jean Michel Jarre or Herbie Hancock? Herbie
‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson or ‘Bad’ Michael Jackson? Bad
Kanye or Jay Z? Yeezy
Beyonce or Katy Perry? Katy Perry
George Martin or Quincy Jones? Quicey Jones

 

Nice one, thanks M T! 

Knew Knowledge meets….Madeon

I recently caught up with my good friend & prodigal talent Madeon and asked him some pertinently direct questions about his career so far; from starting out winning remix competitions from his home basement to writing songs in a Parisian hotel penthouse with one of the world’s biggest pop icons & his highly anticipated debut album…


Knew Knowledge meets – Madeon – Artist/Songwriter/Producer

HQ_DJ_PAGE_988x490_MADEON

Website/s: http://www.madeon.fr/ https://www.twitter.com/itsmadeon

Label: Popcultur/Sony Columbia

Publisher: Warner/Chappell

Management: Marco Ferraro @ Manajamma

Agent: Solomon Parker @ WME (World ex-US)/ Alan & Paul @ AM Only (USA)

 

1. How did your career in music start?

I won a remix competition for a Pendulum track in late 2010, and that’s when I started making music professionally.

 

2. When did you start writing songs and why?

I was initially much more interested in the technical, production side and somewhat disregarded the songwriting aspect; I wanted to solve the mystery of how those amazing electronic sounds I’d heard on my favorite records were made – it was an investigation. Discovering The Beatles made me appreciate songs so much more and I now perceive the composition and writing as the substance of music, with production only serving as a frame.

 

3. Who or what influences your music?

I’m very visual. I collect digital paintings and photographs I find online and organize them in an “Inspiration” folder. I use them as a starting point for songs a lot of the time, trying to translate those visual emotions in a musical form.

 

4. You shot to fame in 2011 following your brilliant ‘Pop Culture’ mash-up video. How did that change things for you, professionally and personally?

It was a very important moment for me. It really accelerated my introduction to the live performance world. I had never seen a DJ in my life or listened to a full set when I started performing (as a DJ), but ‘Pop Culture’ enabled me to play in front of great crowds early on.

 

5. Where do you prefer to write your music?

Ever since I started making music, I’ve been writing in the same room, in my basement.

 

6. What equipment do you use to write/record with? 

I’m extremely software-based. My set-up consists mostly of my computer, a MIDI keyboard and some speakers. I also have a microphone and a couple of guitars.

 

7. Where did you record your latest release?

The latest song I’ve put out is “Cut The Kid”, but I actually wrote it in 2012. I started it as part of my annual “24 Hours EP” challenge in which I lock myself in the studio for 24 hours straight with no sleep and have to write and complete three songs from scratch. A lot of the songs I’m most proud of started in one of those sessions. It’s a great way to stop overthinking the writing process, forcing you to be confident in your ideas.

 

8. How is your debut album coming along? 

I’m really happy with how it’s coming together. I won’t say any more though!

 

9. Have you co-written any material for the album?

I’ve only started co-writing recently. I can’t talk about everything I’ve done but one of my favorite sessions so far was with Jimmy Napes. He’s an immensely talented musician and a brilliant guy.

 

10.Did the experience of writing and producing for Lady Gaga change anything about your approach to creating music?

Absolutely. She’s a genius – working with her definitely taught me a lot.

 

11.What do you like to write about lyrically? 

I like lyrics that feel natural and conversational and that tell a specific story while staying vague enough to be relatable. I like to write about emotions more than events.

 

12.Where do you rehearse?

I don’t really rehearse; the appeal of DJing is the improvisation and interaction with the audience.

 

13.What does your live set-up consist of?

I use one laptop for the audio and one for the video (which is triggered in real time based on the audio), alongside three Novation Launchpads and two Xone K2 (one of each is dedicated to video effects).

 

14.Which song of yours is your favourite to perform live?

‘Pop Culture’ is always fun. I’ve played it so many times it’s muscle memory.

 

15.What do you get up to on tour in between shows?

Air travel takes most of my awake time. I like to wander in the cities I visit when I have the time, which is unfortunately quite rare.

 

16.Describe the music business in 3 words.

1. Fast

2. Confused

3. Changing

 

17.Do you have a party trick or any hidden talents? 

I used to invent magic tricks. That was my first job actually.

[Well obviously he used to invent magic tricks(?!?), but this is also quite cool – solving a Rubik’s Cube in under 1 minute…I’ve also seen him do this with his hands behind his back which is quite amazing]

 

18.Who were your role models growing up?

Daft Punk, Paul McCartney, Stuart Price.

 

19.If you could collaborate with any artist or songwriter dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Paul McCartney, come on.

 

20.When was the last time you bought a CD or vinyl? What was it?

I think it was The Glitch Mob’s ‘Love Death Immortality’ vinyl. I liked the artwork.

 

21.What is in the pipeline for the next 6-12months?

I’m back on tour this summer and I’ll be performing in Las Vegas regularly throughout the year. I can’t announce anything yet but I’ll release more music in the next twelve months than I ever have.

 

22.What will you be doing/where will you be in 10 years time?

I’d like to spend some time learning as much as I can beyond music.

 

23. Pick 3 new artists…

1. Chrome Sparks :

 

2. Glass Animals

 

3. Tourist

 

 

24.Finally, choose your favourite from each pairing;

Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye?

Marvin

Rolling Stones or The Beatles?

Beatles

Pink Floyd or Led Zepplin?

Pink Floyd

Michael Jackson or Janet Jackson?

Michael

Knew Knowledge meets…Jake Ottmann – SVP A&R

For this week’s industry insight interview we crossed back over the Atlantic to New York and caught up with SVP A&R at Warner/Chappell Publishing, Jake Ottmann.


KNEW KNOWLEDGE meets… Jake Ottmann – SVP A&R @ Warner/Chappell NYC

jake-ottmann

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jakeott

KK: How did you start out in the music industry? What was your big break?  

JO: I started as an assistant in radio promotion, answering phones at the Elektra Records Urban Music Department.  My College roommate Matt Levy’s dad worked at Elektra and I managed to get the job after begging him for a year.

Describe your job today.

I’m currently Sr. Vice President of A&R at Warner/Chappell Music in NY.  I work in the same building I used to deliver people’s mail to and answer their phones.  I get to listen to music all day and try to the best of my ability to meet songwriters and help them grow successful at making money in the music biz.  As I like to say, I’m always three minutes and twenty seconds away from having a great day.  It’s a dream job.

What was your first/last hit?

I left Elektra to start my own label and management company.  Just prior to that I had released a seven-inch single with my buddy on our label called Fingerpaint, by an artist called Beck, who was an unknown then.   He followed up our release called “A Western Harvest By Moonlight” with a single on Bong Load called…”Loser” (its a game of inches, man!!). My first real success was a band called Superdrag.  I had a Superdrag cassette in my hand and I set out to make it work.  The song was called “Sucked Out.”  It was a long time ago.  My last hit?  I left my old job and started at a new company, but my old roster had a couple of Number 1s this year.  I’m setting it up for a big 2014.

Beck – ‘A Western Harvest By Moonlight’ 

Superdrag – ‘Sucked Out’ 

 

What acts/writers/producers do you work with at Warner/Chappell? Who have you signed?  

I have signed Melanie Martinez, who has a song out called “Dollhouse” that I love.  I work with a band called Junior Prom that have a song out right now called “Sheila Put the Knife Down” that is doing really well, and looking to get real big.  I signed producer Cody Tarpley who co-wrote the Somo song called “Ride” that’s doing great in the charts.  I signed this young rapper kid, Chris Miles, who is writing some really great songs and is coming out with an album this year, and I also signed an artist named Macy Maloy who is amazing and working on her first album.  Other people I love are my producer/writers Larzz and Denis Lapari (who wrote the Oh Honey song “Be Okay”), Rob Coin from After The Smoke, J. Dens, Kinetics & One LoveRockwilder, Smarterchild, The Wind & The Wave and Michael Keenan.

SoMo – ‘Ride

Oh Honey – ‘Be Okay’

 

 

What influences your decision to make a new signing to your roster?

I just like great songs and hard working, creative people.  I also like to see a really solid team around the writer I’m looking at.   Sometimes you bet on the horse, and sometimes you bet on the jockey…Haha!!

Describe the process you have to go through in making a new signing to Warner/Chappell.

I have to love it and want to stand behind it no matter what. Passion.   I also have to prove to the president of the company, Jon Platt, that the song makes smart financial sense to sign.  Sometimes it looks like a crazy idea, but if you can break it down and express it appropriately, then you can get it signed.

You joined Warner/Chappell last year after a long stint at EMI Publishing. How do the companies compare?

Warner/Chappell is a boutique major.  It’s smaller in a lot of ways.  However, the brand is more well known.  There’s something about saying you work for a Warner company that makes people sort of swoon.

 How have publishing deals in the US changed over your time in the industry?

Well, when I started people all used to be in the label side.  It was always, “I’m going to start my own label” etc… Now everyone thinks they are a publisher.  It’s a very different job.  Publishers are worker bees.  You can’t call it in here.  It’s a job involving pennies; and now with streaming, its fractional pennies.  You have to go out and grind and you have to have to hand serious data.  I sort of giggle at people who come in saying, “I want a JV cause I want to be a publishing company. “

Do you look to the UK for new talent? How could a UK artist/writer/manager best get your attention?

The UK always pushes the boundaries of great music.  I think one has to watch what’s going on there always.  Lately I have been very into building out the New York office and finding the influencers locally.   I find the NYC/Brooklyn streets are coursing with Brits!! Ha! That’s a cool thing.

How often do you get to travel outside of New York in search of new talent? Do you ever come to the UK?

I love London.  It’s one of my favorite cities.  I try to get there as often as possible to see bands and industry friends. I like seeing bands in the rest of the US.  New York is so unique to couture. I think its important to see how the rest of the US views music to really get a proper perspective on stuff.

Which campaign you have worked on are you proudest of? Why?

Lately I’m most proud of Melanie Martinez.  The song “Dollhouse” was written by Warner/Chappell writers Kinetics and One Love here in New York , and we basically helped create, market and release the song all online independently.  We made a plan to get a hot record and release it with her incredible social media presence and the plan went exactly according to plan.  The song hit the social media sites and sold a ton.  It still is.  She got a ton of great opportunities from it, including a great record deal with Atlantic.  I think we set out with a plan and it all went off perfectly.  Next up is Macy Maloy!!!

Melanie Martinez – ‘Dollhouse’

 

Describe the music industry in 3 words.

1. Frenetic

2. Exhilarating

3. Grimy

Who were your role models growing up?

Bob Dylan & Jimmy Page

What makes the perfect song?

If I signed it to a publishing deal!

What was the first album or record you owned?

“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

What’s your favourite song and album?

Alex Chilton – Don’t You Know Who I think I Was?  by The Replacements

 

When was the last time you bought a CD or vinyl? What was it?

I bought about 3 boxes of vinyl at a tag sale a couple weeks ago.  All New Romance records.  It was someone’s record collection from the 80s.  It was a score.

Do you have a party trick or any hidden talents?

I used to blow the best smoke rings when I smoked…

What advice do you have for people just starting out in the music business & want to do what you do?

Do your thing.  Learn to be the dog that wags the tale, not the other way around.

What is in the pipeline for you over the next 6-12months? Any big release campaigns, events, signings etc

Melanie Martinez, Junior Prom, Chris Miles, Macy Maloy.  Its gonna be the biggest year yet!!!

Finally, what is your preference from each pair;

Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye? Sam Cooke

Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Stones

Pink Floyd or Led Zepplin? Zep

Beyonce or Lady Gaga? Beyonce

David Bowie or Marc Bolan? Bowie

Jean Michel Jarre or Herbie Hancock? Herbie – I saw him play recently and  he was amazing.

‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson or ‘Bad’ Michael Jackson? Thriller

Kanye or Jay Z? Jay Z… Cause I’m from Brooklyn!

Knew Knowledge meets…Matty Benbrook

In the latest installation of our Industry Insight interviews we caught up with writer/producer Matty Benbrook in his Bethnal Green studio. Matty’s early career took him from in-house studio engineer at Cheeky Records to playing drums for Faithless and into songwriting & production.  He has written and sold millions of records and been instrumental in the development of young artists and writers such as Dido, Paolo Nutini and Ed Drewitt to name but a few.


 

Knew Knowledge meets…Matty Benbrook – Songwriter/Producer

564016_10150977173207717_1635213931_n

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattybenbrook

Genre: Pop/Soul/R&B/Electronic

Publisher: Warner/Chappell 

KK: Where did you start out with music? What was your first ‘job’?

MB: I guess like most people I started playing music at school. I got my first electric guitar when I was 12. First paid gig was working for Rollo Armstrong and Cheeky Records demoing artists they were looking at or had signed. I was paid £200 a week, but it got me started so I will always be grateful for the opportunity.

 

When did you start writing songs and why?

I was around 13 or 14. I think the first was called ‘Telephone Love’. I think if you heard it you’d probably would ask why!

 

Where do you prefer to write your songs?

I don’t mind really but I’m always most at home in my studio.

 

What equipment do you use to write/record with? Describe your studio set up/location.

I have a great set up in Bethnal Green overlooking Regents Canal; a nice space for both writing and recording. I mostly write using Logic Pro, it’s a great tool for getting things started. I guess most things I write start from the guitar or maybe a lyric…

 

What influences your music? What do you look to for inspiration?

Obviously other music is an influence, intentional or not. I think inspiration is all around us; music, art, people, places, news etc.

 

What do you like to write about lyrically? Do you follow any themes or concepts?

Not really. I tend to start from little phrases that work within the context of what I’m writing about and build the lyric from there . It normally takes me few goes to get it in a place I’m happy with.

 

What was it like performing around the world with Faithless in the 90s?

It was a lot of fun! It was my first real experience of touring at that level and it seemed amazing that you could get paid for playing drums, going round the world and having a good time. I’m still pretty amazed by it.

 

Do you miss playing live and touring, or are you now more comfortable in the studio?

I definitely miss gigging but I’m sure if I went off touring again I’d be screaming to get back in the studio. I still get involved from time to time with some of the artists I work with and always love it.

 

You’ve been heavily involved with Paolo Nutini’s career. How did that start?

Kieran Jay, lawyer extraordinaire, hooked us up. He represented both of us and thought it was a good match up. We got on well from the start, liked the same things and he lived near our studio at the time so we just hung out a lot.

 

Paolo’s known for liking a party. What’s you favourite story – that you can tell us about Paolo?!

Nothing I want to tell here but whatever happens is usually due to too many Jaeger bombs kicking around. He is very good fun on a night out, I will say that!

 

What other artist projects are you working on at the minute?

I’ve been working a lot with George The Poet, he’s great and a very exciting prospect, too smart! Sarah Leo, who is an artist we have signed to our production company – it’s a long process doing it yourself, but rewarding. Jake Isaac has been in recently and he’s a great new artist. Jack Savoretti another great voice and talent. Aosoon – they’re a band from south London and are worth watching out for. Also for the first time in a long while I’m working on a project of my own called Little Drum with the wonderful Pauline Taylor and Donny Little.

George The Poet – ‘Blame Game’ 

Jake Isaac – ‘Long Road’ 

 

Through your work with Dido & Paolo especially, you’ve developed a great reputation for artist development. What is it about working with upcoming acts that appeals to you?

I think co-writing is about having a good and close relationship with who you are working with. The best stuff comes out when you delve deep and that’s not easy to do if you only meet someone for a day or two. Some artist/writers need to feel comfortable and at home to get the best out of them. This is not always an easy thing to achieve with established artists due to time constraints and record company pressures etc.

 

Which song of yours is your favourite to hear on the radio or played live and why?

(Paolo Nutini’s) ‘Coming Up Easy’ is always nice to hear. I’m happy to hear any of them, but I do like hearing one of my productions.

Paolo Nutini – ‘Coming Up Easy’

 

Describe your experience of the music business in 3 words;

1. up

2. and

3. down

 

Do you have a party trick or any hidden talents?

I can fall asleep standing up…

 

Who were your role models growing up?

My folks; they’re pretty cool. Trevor Brooking (although I think that’s coz I met him once). Oddly at about the age 10 -11 I adored Joan Armatrading.

Joan Armatrading – ‘The Weakness In Me’ 

 

If you could collaborate with any artist or songwriter dead or alive, who would it be and why?

It’s a funny one that as most people I’d like to work with aren’t quite the same now as maybe they were when I got into their music. We were offered a chance to work with Tony Joe White a few years ago but there weren’t the same feelings I got from his newer music as from his early records. Maybe Stevie Wonder in the 70’s would be cool. I’d like to spend a day or two with Pharrell to see how he works too.

Tony Joe White – ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’

Stevie Wonder – ‘Higher Ground’

 

Name 3 great new artists you have recently discovered.

1. Sarah Leo – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht093qghJOE

2. Aosoon – http://www.aosoonmusic.com

3. Jake Isaac – https://soundcloud.com/iamjakeisaac

 

What was the first record you owned?

‘Blame It On The Boogie’, but not Michael Jackson’s version – the original Mick Jackson version, odd I know but it happened.

Mick Jackson – ‘Blame It On The Boogie’

 

When was the last time you bought a CD or vinyl? What was it?

Paolo – ‘Caustic Love’. Can you believe no freebie?! 😉

Buy the album here – iTunes ‘Caustic Love’

 

Finally, choose you favourite from each pair  – 

Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye? Marvin Gaye

Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Beatles

Bacharach or McCartney? Bacharach

David Bowie or Marc Bolan? Bowie

Jean Michel Jarre or Herbie Hancock? Herbie Hancock

‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson or ‘Bad’ Michael Jackson? Thriller

Nick Cave or Jeff Buckley? Mean question! Jeff Buckley

Kanye or Jay Z? Jay Z

George Martin or Quincy Jones? Quincy Jones

Knew Knowledge meets – Le’Roy Benros

The second of our Knew Knowledge meets… interviews comes from the New York-based artist manager & label owner behind the careers of Angel Haze & Das Racist, and who is currently refuelling the NY hip-hop scene with the Nas-endorsed, MF Doom-collaborating Bishop Nehru. Knew Knowledge meets…Le’Roy Benros


 

KNEW KNOWLEDGE meets – Le’Roy Benros – Noizy Cricket!!

Le'Roy Benros

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeRoyBenros

Website: https://www.facebook.com/noizycricket 

 

How did you start out in the music industry? What was your big break?

I started off by doing a series of internships with Sony Urban, Kanye West’s G.O.O.D music and TVT Music Publishing back in 2006-2007. These opportunities kept me busy and gave me the time to understand what it was that I really wanted to do in the music business. Eventually that led me to my “big break” when I discovered Charles Hamilton. I unintentionally became his manager, I didn’t even know what a manager’s duties were until he told me I was doing them already. The work we put in caught the attention of some high level execs, which led to some very important meetings. Chris Lighty, founder of VIOLATOR Mgmt reached out to me and we discussed how VIOLATOR could help grow and guide (my business) Noizy Cricket!! into a real company. He believed in my vision and we decided to become partners in Charles’ career.

 Charles Hamilton – wiki

 

What was your first big success?

I guess there are different levels of “big success”; I thought the things I accomplished as an intern were major! [laughs] Getting my first artist signed was a big success to me. As you go through your career you notice that all your accomplishments are just building blocks to your next big move. Successfully running the bookings for NYC’s legendary SOBs was a highlight and it transitioned me to my biggest success, which was to own and run my own label. Turnfirst believed in my vision and work ethic enough to secure a joint venture deal with Universal Music Group. Success is a culmination of making the most of all your opportunities. Without the little accomplishments, the big successes don’t happen.

 

Describe your job now. What acts/writers/producers do you work with at Noizy Cricket!!?

My job is to build and continuously shape the structure of the company. I don’t operate my company like a traditional label, I don’t want to sign 50 acts and hope 3 or 4 break. I want to sign projects that I 100% support and make sure that they are all successes. I’m currently working with Bishop Nehru and Kwamie Liv. They are each in different stages but both require full attention.

 

How did you come to work with Angel Haze? Are you happy with how she has progressed?

I found Angel online early 2012 by reading an interview she had done. The way she expressed her thoughts and replies intrigued me to the point where I had to check out her music. At that point, I knew she was special so I reached out to her. After a few ups and downs we finally clicked and started making some serious momentum. In a year, she was the hottest new female artist in the game. I’m happy with her progress especially knowing where and how far she’s come. One of her goals was to be heard and to be a voice for the youth and she’s accomplishing that. I wish her nothing but the best.

 

What influences your decision to make a new signing to Noizy Cricket!!? What makes a great artist?

The artist has to be special, the music has to excite me…it has to be contagious. There are many types of artist; I like ones who can paint vivid audio pictures. An artist that can control your emotions for 3 and a half minutes. You know when someone was born to share their art.

 

How has working as booker at S.O.B’s helped your career?

I think the most important thing I learned from working at SOBs is understanding the monetary value of the artist in correlation with his/her live show. Understanding how much to offer the act based on the ticket price / capacity and anticipated draw is valuable knowledge to have. When accepting offers for artists on my roster, I now have more experience to understand what makes sense and what doesn’t. The relationships that I’ve built with agents, artists, labels, sponsors etc. have been incredibly valuable as well.

 

Tell us about what you’re doing with Bishop. It seems like he’s picking up great momentum across the globe…

Like with every new artist, the name of the game is to consistently create quality content, generate awareness & exposure. If you do this, the result is a continuously growing fan-base and more & more opportunities. The important thing is to keep the momentum going.

With all that being said, Bishop is wrapping up his upcoming project with MF DOOM titled ‘NehruvianDOOM’ scheduled to come out early summer 2014.

 

How did his Nas co-sign come about?

I sent over Bishop’s music over to Nas’ manager and the rest is history.

 

What’s the next step in the strategy for him?

You’re going to have to stay tuned for that HA!

 

Is Bishop part of a renaissance for rap and hip-hop in New York? Are there any other artists coming through we should keep an eye out for?

I’d definitely say Bishop is a breath of fresh air for the culture – a young, talented guy who does it all…I’m excited by another hip hop artist based in LA named Doja Cat. I think she’s going to be a force.

 

Which campaign you have worked on are you proudest of and why?

 Man, that’s like asking who your favourite child is! I’m proud of all the campaigns I’ve worked on over the years. Every campaign has its memorable moments. From Charles Hamilton’s “Hamiltonization Process” where we dropped 1 mixtape every week on a chosen blog (digital tour style) to breaking Das Racist into the urban market with 2 awesome mixtapes “Shut up, Dude” & “Sit Down, Man”, to launching Angel Haze’s career with releasing “Reservation” and now working with Bishop on one of his dream projects with MF DOOM. They’re all very exciting campaigns.

http://dasracist.bandcamp.com/album/shut-up-dude

 

What makes the perfect song?

A song that can control your emotion in a positive way.

 

What are the main differences between the UK & US industries right now?

RADIO. I’ve gotten more records played on UK radio in one week than I’ve done my whole career here in the States. Seems like DJ’s in the UK support what they like and are eager with being responsible for introducing the hottest new music first. In the US you need ridiculous budgets, there are also many different markets in the US.

 

What was the first album or record you owned?

MC Hammer – ‘Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt Em’ (album, 1990)

‘Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt Em’ – Wiki

 

When was the last time you bought a CD or vinyl? What was it?

Last time I bought a vinyl was about 2 months ago when I got my new record player. It was Kanye West – ‘College Dropout’

 Billboard.com album review

 

Does free music have an important role in today’s industry?

I believe that free music is one of the best entry points for an artist. Weather you want to call it a mixtape, free album, its still the best way for potential fans to decide if they actually want to become a fan. At the end of the day fans buy into brands that they support. I’ve bought plenty of albums even after I’ve downloaded it for free. Music is a catalyst for the live show, merch, the overall brand. It took a while for artists to embrace “free music” but once we realised that it’s actually a tool to help foster a fanbase (if done correctly), revenue is actually generated from it.

 

Describe the music industry in 3 words…

1. Competitive

2. Cluttered

3. Chess

 

What song and/or album have influenced you most in life and your career?

Kanye West – ‘College Dropout’. An underdog who personified ambition and perseverance through his craft. Plus it was dope…I dropped out of college to pursue my dreams and goals so I can relate to the journey that comes along with the “risk” of relying and believing in yourself.

 

If you could style-out a duet at Karaoke, which band or artist – dead or alive – would you duet with? And to what song?

Biggie and the song would be ‘Notorious Thugz’. I’d do Biggie’s verse, BIG would do Bone Thugz’ verse [laughs]!

 

The artist you signed/manage/represent wins a Grammy and asks you to collect the award; would you make a long, heart-felt acceptance speech on their behalf or shuffle off stage nervously?!

I’d keep it short and sweet.

 

Do you have a party trick or any hidden talents?

I’m a beast on the grill. BBQ’ing is my #1 stress reliever [laughs]

 

Who were your role models growing up?

The Ultimate Warrior and Barry Sanders were two athletes that I looked up to as a kid.

 

What advice do you have for people just starting out in the music business & want to do what you do?

This is not an easy game to be in. Be a hard working intern, observe everything and be prepared to make the most of all opportunities. If you want to be successful, you have to make this your life. Be patient but always stay relevant.

 

What is in the pipeline for you over the next 6-12months? Any big release campaigns, events, tours, signings etc

Wrapping up and releasing (the Bishop Nehru and MF Doom collaboration) ‘NehruvianDOOM’ in early summer, putting a supporting tour together & releasing Kwamie Liv’s debut EP this summer. Announcing a new signing soon too.

 

Finally, choose your favourite artist…

Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye? – Marvin Gaye

Rolling Stones or The Beatles? – The Beatles

Pink Floyd or Led Zepplin? – Pink Floyd

Beyonce or Lady Gaga? – Beyonce

David Bowie or Marc Bolan? – David Bowie

Jean Michel Jarre or Herbie Hancock? – Herbie Hancock

‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson or ‘Bad’ Michael Jackson? – BAD MJ

Kanye or Jay Z? – Kanye

George Martin or Quincy Jones? – Quincy

 

Copyright Knew Knowledge 2014

Knew Knowledge meets – Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson

To kick off our brand new series of insight interviews with artists, creatives and industry execs, we caught up with Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson – music editor/journalist/radio host/artist manager/tastemaker – who started the now-legendary ChockABlock club night and has since worked with the likes of MTV Iggy, The Grammys, SuperSuper Magazine, BBC Radio 1, MTV UK & Amazing Radio.

 

Joseph Patterson

    KNEW KNOWLEDGE meets… Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson

    Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jpizzledizzle

    Website: www.josephjppatterson.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

KK: How did you start out in the music industry? What was your big break?

JP: It all started for me in April 2007, when I put on my first club night. It was called ChockABlock. After the first event in Northampton, which had Skepta, Tinchy and Logan Sama headlining, I launched it at EGG Nightclub in London where it stayed for three years on a monthly basis. Mostly everyone in the grime scene has blessed the stage and decks at one point or another, as well as a few known names in dubstep and bassline/4×4. In September 2007, I put together a blog site — just to kinda write about the events/raves I would go to and post videos that I was rating. And, one day, I was brave enough to pitch to SUPERSUPER Magazine (R.I.P) about the up North bassline/4×4 scene. They ended up giving me four pages and, because they loved what I had done, I was then offered the role as Contributing Music Editor. From then on, I’ve stuck with this writing thing. I taught myself everything, didn’t go to college or uni, so it was a struggle in the beginning. But, I don’t think I’ve done too badly [laughs].

 

Describe your job now.

I’m a music journalist, radio host, and artist manager.

 

How did you come to work with MTV, Amazing Radio and the Grammys’ blog? 

In 2010, I was headhunted by MTV UK’s urban music team to be the Editor of their urban music site, The Wrap Up. I stayed with them until 2012. I then began working for MTV IGGY (USA), where I’m now their UK Correspondent. The GRAMMYs column came about via me pitching them an idea for a post and them offering me a regular monthly column off the back of it, which was dope. And Amazing Radio, they actually approached me to host a two-hour show, which was a blessing following the shutdown of my monthly 15-minute segment on BBC Radio 1 (they had to cut it due to new time schedule). I love doing radio. Every Thursday night from 7-9pm, myself and Hyperfrank get to chat breeze and play the best music that the underground scenes have to offer. Good times!

 

What’s been your hardest or most troublesome interview so far?

Honestly? I haven’t had any. I’m in a position where I can interview who I want, so I’ve been able to pick and choose who I interview. Every singer, MC, rapper, producer and DJ I’ve interviewed so far has been super cool. I like to go into my interviews making the interviewee feel like we’ve known each other for years. It flows much better that way, and you’re able to get much more out of them if they feel like they’re kickin’ it with their homie.

 

What makes a great artist in your eyes?

Talent, first and foremost, and they have to know their roots. I hate when people get too big for their size 10s and forget where they come from. A down-to-earth attitude makes anyone appealing. I mean, who wants to spend their hard earned money on a prick? Sometimes, characteristics can override talent. Sometimes! Me, I can watch or read an artist being an asshole in an interview and be put off their music for life [laughs].

 

It’s pretty well known that you like your raving. What are the best clubs/nights/events in the UK right now? What town is reliable for a good night?

Outbreak in Leicester is pretty decent, but that’s a sporadic event. Circoloco goes off! London always goes off, though: Defected at Ministry Of Sound, and EGG on a Friday and Saturday always works a treat. I’m trying to chill on the weekly raving, however. I’m getting to old for it. I can’t cope [laughs]. It’s all about festivals now. I’m heading to Amsterdam next week for DGTL Festival, which is a house and techno two-dayer. Looking forward to that one a lot. 

 

What are the main differences between the UK & US scenes right now – for new music and raving?

I was into American hip-hop and R&B up until ten years ago, when So Solid Crew came through and changed life. I’ve been UK all the way ever since. We’ve got enough talent over here to keep us busy, I think. And there’s a million and one US music writers covering US music, so why would I – being from the UK – try and make a name for myself by writing about US music? It makes no sense to me, which is why I’ve devoted my career to the promotion of British music.

When it comes to raving, I don’t even know how to rave to hip-hop and R&B anymore. That’s bad, I know. House and techno just brings a different vibe, and I don’t think shuffling to house music will ever take off in the ghettos of America like it has over here [laughs]. I love the UK, man. “We different, yeah, we different…” [laughs]

 

What was the first album or record you owned?

Soul For Real’s ‘Candy Rain’. I was 7 years old. It cost £2.99. I bought it ‘cos I thought I sounded like the lead singer when I sang [laughs].

 

When was the last time you bought a CD or vinyl? What was it?

I get sent so much music that I don’t really need to buy music. But if I like it, I’ll support it with a coin. The last CD I bought was Youngs Teflon’s The Renaissance.

Young Teflon – iTunes

 

Does free music have a role in today’s industry?

It does, especially for new artists trying to get heard. But, people need to start buying music a lot more than they do. Too much good free music is just flying around. For the industry to grow and the same level of music to be made, people need to invest. Don’t moan when your favourite artist gets dropped from their label because they got over two million SoundCloud plays and only 10,000 single sales. Just sayin’.

 

Describe the music industry in 3 words.

1. Strange

2. Complicated

3. Exciting

 

What song and/or album has influenced you most in life?

I’m a church boy at heart, so gospel’s played a big part in my life. Kirk Franklin’s ‘Brighter Day’ has got me through some dark times. It’s super uplifting.

 

If you could style-out a duet at Karaoke, which band or artist – dead or alive – would you duet with, and to what song?

Biggie and ‘Sky’s The Limit’. That tune right there! It still get regular reloads.

 

The artist you manage/represent wins a Grammy and asks you to collect the award; would you make a long, heart-felt acceptance speech on their behalf or shuffle off stage nervously?!

The latter, most definitely. I’m a shy person, so accepting it in front of the crowd and knowing there’s millions at home watching would be hard enough for me to cope with [laughs].

 

Do you have a party trick or any hidden talents?

I’d win in a riff and run competition with Usher, let’s just say [laughs].  

 

Who were your role models growing up?

God and my pops; they still are my role models in life.

 

What advice do you have for people just starting out in the music business & want to do what you do?

Be prepared to work hard and after-hours, ‘cos slackers usually get left. Don’t be naive, be thick-skinned, and remember: not everyone is your friend. Knowing what you’re talking about inside out usually helps, too.

 

What artists have you recently discovered that have got you excited?

1.  Lukas Freeman

2. Kelela

3. Novelist

4. Little Simz

 

What is in the pipeline for you over the next 6-12months? 

I don’t like to plan ahead; I just take my days as they come. Currently, I’m co-managing Lukas Freeman and One Over. There are some big meetings happening right now, so just expect some big things from the trip-hopper and house & bass producer in the coming months.

 

23. Finally, choose one from each:

Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye?

Marvin Gaye!

Rolling Stones or The Beatles?

The Beatles have made more bangers, so I’d have to go with them. ‘Hey Jude’ is my jam.

Pink Floyd or Led Zepplin?

Erm, Zepplin.

Beyonce or Lady Gaga?

C’mon, course it’s gonna be Bey! Gaga’s a bit too weird for me, man. Saying that, though, I don’t think she gets enough props for her voice; put her in front of a piano and the soul comes out. 

Wiley or Dizzee?

This is a tough one, but I’m gonna have to go with Wiley. His production work plays a big part here.

Jean Michel Jarre or Herbie Hancock?

Call me uncultured, whatever innit, but I had to Google both these guys [laughs]. But yeah, Herbie Hancock’s a don on those keys! I love a good piano riff, me.

‘Thriller’ Michael Jackson or ‘Bad’ Michael Jackson?

For me, it has to be ‘Bad’… I still can’t believe the man’s dead!

Kanye or Jay Z?

Jay Z’s a vet in this ting! Kimye still has a way to go yet.

George Martin or Quincy Jones?

Quincy Jones

 

Copyright Knew Knowledge 2014