interviews

The Aftershow: BBC editor, special events Guy Freeman

The key to making music work on TV is... “An occasion - it needs a reason. If you just call it music performance then that sounds specialist to a lot of people and something that may not be for them. ...

Hitmakers: DJ/songwriter Jonas Blue reveals the secrets behind Mama

Mama started out in November 2016. I was actually in an Uber in LA when I came up with the title, and when I have an idea I quickly put it in my phone. A few months later I came back to London and went into the studio with a couple of songwriters, Sam Romans and Ed Drewett. We had booked the day just to write a song and see what would happen. They asked me if I had any ideas so I looked through my phone and saw that note, which said, ‘Mama… Could be a cool idea for a song title’. Whenever I start a song I never have any pre-planned musical ideas. Generally, it will be me coming up with something fresh on the day. I loaded up a piano, which is the way I always start my music - it’s never at the computer - and I always focus on the melody first. I had this melody and I knew that it had something about it, so I kept it on loop for a while and then worked on crafting the song with the guys. We pretty much came up with Mama in one day, but it took a second session to complete it because it felt like the drop was lacking. That’s when we put in the secondary hook, ‘Mama, mama, mama, hey’. I always had in mind that it would be William Singe on the vocal. I’d become a massive fan of his YouTube covers and knew he was an amazing talent. He’s Australia-based and I was lucky that I’d had a No.1 with Fast Car over there and could use that as the entry line. I reached out to him on Twitter and said, ‘You have to sing this song, I didn’t envisage it with anyone else in mind, it was only you. Please, please, please can you sing this song?’ Usually, I record everyone in my own studio - I’m quite particular about how things need to sound - but he was in the middle of a 43-date North American tour and had a gig every single day. The good thing was that we had a great demo - Sam and Ed both sang on it - and I just asked William to put his own spin on it. He had a USB mic in his laptop and did the initial demo, which sounded great, but there was an issue with his laptop and we lost it because I only ever got the one initial bounce. He got a new laptop straight away and re-recorded it, and the song you hear today is pretty much him recording it on the tour bus. Mama is basically aimed at a girlfriend or a friend. It can be your mum, your sister, whoever - it’s just that very American way of calling someone. I wanted to create a song about being carefree, just enjoying life and music and not thinking too hard about anything. I made a conscious decision to take Mama down to 104bpm from where I’d been with my previous single, By Your Side, which is around 123bpm, to explore a different kind of sonic. There is definitely an American influence to the verses, but it still has this very danceable drop and big chorus in the breakdown, which is part of my sound. I only put music out if I get that gut feeling that it’s going to be something amazing and impact the world. Mama got off to a little bit of a slow start, but then it caught on and became one of the biggest records of the summer. It was pretty much a projection of my life at that time and I’m so glad it has gone on to do the amazing things it has.Writer’s NotesPublishers: UMPG/Warner/Chappell/Warner-Tamerlane/ Songs Of Roc Nation/Sam Roman MusicWriters: Jonas Blue, Ed Drewett, Sam Romans Release Date: 05/05/17  Record label: Positiva/Virgin EMITotal UK sales (OCC): 914,544 

Rising Star: Meet MTV's Roberta Hickey

How did you break into the music industry? I started out as a digital ad buyer for Samsung and Coca-Cola and just used to try and involve myself in any music related campaigns. I then took a social media content course so I could move over to a more creative role that was more music-focused. From there, I landed a job as Carl Cox’s social media manager and it all grew from there. What’s your proudest achievement so far? This year I curated and booked all the panels and parties at the first ever House Of MTV pop-up. We partnered with MixMag, Disturbing London and New Gen for some really fun events and had super-exciting industry people on the panels as well as artists such as Donae’o, Ms Banks, AJ Tracey and Eats Everything. Ten of the events were sold out and we had lots of positive feedback from both the industry and audience alike. The House was staged in association with MTV Breaks, our pro-social arm of MTV that provides young people with opportunities to get into the creative agencies, and their inbox was full of people thankful for and inspired by the event. Knowing I had been a part of something that motivated others made me feel really proud. What do you enjoy most about your job? Discovering new talent and being able to devise different ways to give the artists exposure across the MTV platforms. I also get the opportunity to see lots of live music at gigs or other cool events, which I love.What’s the biggest challenge?Time! I wish I had more time to go to more gigs, there’s so much amazing live music in London, I wish I could split myself into five each night and see it all. There’s also so much exciting music out there, especially from UK artists making some real waves, and I wish there were more hours in the day for me to hear it.  What advice would you give to those looking to break into the biz? Don’t be afraid of showing your passion! There’s no shame in geeking out on your favourite artists and showing enthusiasm and knowledge in interviews. It’s important to know about the company you’re applying for, if it’s a label then know who’s on their roster or if it’s a publisher have in mind favourite bits of content from their platforms. What’s your greatest ambition?To create content with artists that is truly engaging, as well as to grow opportunities for emerging talent.

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