Global Adventures in Local Sounds
“Jamaicana! Bob Marley! Peter Tosh! Black Uhuru! Reggae musica adoro!”
This was the refrain every time I met someone new while living in Rio, whenever they heard I was Jamaican. I was amazed at how much Brazilians loved reggae and dancehall, and how much they knew about Jamaican culture.
I’ve lead a largely nomadic life – long term committing to multiple countries. I’ve been lucky enough to work in music in different cities around the world, from Rio and Kingston to London and LA. I love the paradox of music driving community and connection, while at the same time encouraging deep individuality and subjectivity. It has been my shortcut to almost everything.
One of the best things about travelling and seeing things through the lens of music is discovering the cultural quirks of music fans. Germans are uber geeks: they’ll always know the precise history of a sub genre: Detroit techno, Atlanta Hip Hop, Northern soul…. they can name every single remix of a track with date of release, and have the rarest vinyl. Either that, or they are obsessed with Brian Adams. Brazilians approach music with wild abandon, passion – just pure glee. In Jamaica music is intertwined with polarized politics and absurdist social commentary. It’s the way we express pretty much everything we have to say, good and bad.
I love that I have met Israelis who are the biggest dub music fans, and Lebanese bands who are obsessed with Mississippi blues. People are often surprised that as a Jamaican my first true musical love was thrash metal.
I’ve worked in the music industry for over 20 years and seen so much exciting and often intimidating change. My career has loosely reflected the general trends in the industry: I started out at a major label doing very traditional marketing, and remember execs saying ‘I don’t know why everyone is making such a fuss about the internet, it will never affect sales.’ When the inevitable downturn came I moved over into the Live sector, which continues to thrive despite anything that happens online or any new market trends. No matter what happens, people want to pay money to see a band or DJ in person while surrounded by other fans. There is no substitute for that feeling of connection and community.
After my stint with a major live promoter I got taken in house at a big global drinks brand who wanted to prioritize music. Brands were becoming a driving force for the industry, not only for funding but also with surprisingly creative ideas around music executions and campaigns.
Now that I am Head of Music for Selina I again feel that my career is reflective of where the industry is going. Old models and routes to market continue to be disrupted, with artists taking back control and wanting a direct narrative with their fans. Artists are seeking partners to give 360 support in key areas: Live. Recording. Online platforms.
The start up culture of Selina enables us to move fast, adapting quickly to artist and industry needs. We provide live performance spaces across all our locations, music studios for artists wanting to create on the road, and music festival summits to give local talent access to the global music industry for bookings and general opportunities. Music is at the heart of our travelling / nomadic communities, facilitating links between artists and music fans. We’re a pragmatic creative hub.
After years of migrating from place to place, I have settled back in London, my favourite music city. Every single genre is accessible. It’s a place that truly supports new music and ideas. London is a city where things begin. I’m excited to see what the innovations of the next decade will bring to an industry that is ever evolving and never predictable for long.