interviews

The Aftershow: WIN chair/chief executive Alison Wenham

The best advice I would give to someone in the biz is… “Have conviction and belief in your talents and strengths. If you’re a woman, avoid being one of the lads too early on. Learn, learn, learn. And find a ...

Diamonds are forever: Elton John & Bernie Taupin on their 50-year songwriting partnership

Elton & Bernie on…Their Songwriting TechniqueElton John: “We’ve never written a song in the same room, ever. And I always say that’s why we’ve lasted 50 years. Even from the word go, because I’m not a lyric writer, I’d have a lyric from him and a story would come to life and I would go and be inspired to write a melody to his lyric. It’s very odd. I’ve never questioned it, I’ve never said, Why is this?’ I’ve always gone with the flow. It’s never changed from then to now.” Elton & Bernie on… Your SongEJ: “With Your Song, he gave me the lyric, I took it into the living room and sat at the piano and read it through. It’s a beautiful lyric; I thought I mustn’t mess it up, it’s so good. I was very inspired and I wrote it very quickly and I called him in. I think when we both heard it we knew we were really on our way. It was the first great song we wrote. Considering it was the first big hit, you’d think, ‘How do you follow that?’ and we’ve been lucky enough to follow it. But I’ve never got tired of singing it, and it’s lasted. For me, it’s the perfect love song, and it’s never dated.”Bernie Taupin: “There’s a certain naivety to it that has generated new listeners over time. There’s a time that people go through in their lives where they have that sense of innocence and there’s always that coming along, so it resonates.”Elton & Bernie on… Bennie and the JetsEJ: “It’s one of the few songs that is recognisable by one chord: ‘Boink!’ When we recorded it Gus [Dudgeon, producer] wanted to put the audience on it. Princess Margaret used to say, ‘I hate that song, it’s so atonal, I loathe it’. Luckily, R&B lovers everywhere… Because I grew up playing in a blues band, and playing soul music from Bluesology, it was one of my greatest loves of all, the fact that we had a record on the [R&B] chart which was No.1 was probably one of the greatest thrills of my life to that point, and still is, because it led me to appearing on Soul Train.”BT: “You were one of the first white artists to appear on Soul Train…”Elton & Bernie on… Their RelationshipEJ: “We have been friends for 50 years; and we have never had an argument; never had bad words between us. There have been times he’s been very, very upset by what I’ve worn and upset about my behaviour, but… Some of my behaviour when I was drinking and taking drugs was not appropriate. And he would say the next day, ‘Do you remember what you said last night?’ And I went, No’, and he would say, ‘You were terrible, you were an embarrassment’ – but never in an unkind or cruel way. So, 50 years of being together – and sometimes apart – and that’s what’s kept us together, wouldn’t you agree?”   BT: “You said it all, brother.” EJ: “We’ve lived our separate lives, he became the Brown Dirt Cowboy, I became Captain Fantastic. Because of the distance in our relationship and that we’ve never interfered in our personal lives, we have remained the best of friends, and it’s gotten better and better and better. How wonderful is that? In the music business, you usually hear horror stories about relationships going wrong. It’s so upsetting when you hear about Bacharach and David breaking up, because they are two of the greatest songwriters together in the history of music. We’ve survived that, and it’s incredibly unique, I think. It’s incredibly touching and incredibly moving and I have to point that out. I’m so amazed by it. He’s been my friend for 75% of my life and I can’t thank him enough.” BT: “Thank you, brother.”Story By: Music Week Staff

Women In Music 2017: Meet International Woman Of The Year winner Sas Metcalfe

Sas Metcalfe is coming home. Kobalt Music’s president of global creative is now so well-established in Los Angeles that many people probably don’t even realise she’s actually British. But the exec – born and bred in North Wales, and still with the accent to prove it – had a long career in both publishing and recorded music here before becoming Kobalt’s first ever employee in 2001. She still keeps a watchful eye over the UK market and makes regular returns – and is looking forward to this visit in particular. “I came to Women In Music last year and it’s a great event,” she laughs. “It was fun to see everybody – and it’s a lot more boozy than American awards ceremonies! It’s very nice to be recognised because I don’t have a British address anymore, but I feel I’m still part of the British music scene.” Time then, to sit down with Music Week and talk us through the secrets of her success… Why are there so many successful British execs in the US at the moment? “Musically, we’re quite internationally focused. Being Brits on an island, we’re always looking outside of our situation. Music’s coming from everywhere in the world now and it needs less separation, as it should. Brits maybe have a little bit more focus on the world rather than just the US. The success of some of the British artists in America has possibly helped that perception over the last five years as well.” Do you put Kobalt’s run of success down to anything in particular? “We are still truly independent and an alternative situation to a major. We stand alone. A lot of people are trying to move closer to our model but we are on a journey that we built from the start and we only improve. We’re not changing anything, the change came when we decided we were going to be transparent, use technology and be service-oriented. Our message has been true from the start. Our aim is to offer complete transparency to the writers and offer great service for all their needs. And they own their copyrights. We act for a lot of publishers as well but what we offer to the individual writer is unique.” Did you have a female role model or mentor in the early days of your career? “Unfortunately not. I’ve worked with some great females over the years in different departments but I can’t say I’ve ever had a female boss. I haven’t had that luxury.” Was that difficult? “I suppose it was at times, but I can’t say I’ve felt that I’ve ever been held back. Maybe it’s just my nature but I just ploughed through by working hard and doing a good job. You are judged on your results and I suppose I’m proud to say I was probably better at it than a lot of guys. I can’t sit here and tell you I’ve had a terrible time and it’s been a journey from hell. There’s been times when it has and I’ve definitely sat in rooms with the boys’ club, but I’ve never allowed it to get me down and I’ve never allowed it to stifle my voice. I just got on with it and hopefully I’ve done a good job so people don’t question me, male or female. But there are other people who wouldn’t have the same story and I do recognise that. It’s a very bad thing if people aren’t heard due to be being female.” Now, Kobalt has several female executives in senior roles… “It really is a good environment for women. Willard [Ahdritz, CEO] is very equal-minded. He doesn’t come from any background of looking at it through the history of the music business. He wasn’t in the music business as such, so he just doesn’t have that network of guys. He employs the people who are right for the job. In my team globally, there are more women than men. It’s not intentional. They’re all very good at working day-to-day with the writers so it just works out that way.”The issue of sexual harassment in the entertainment industries has dominated the news lately. Does the music business have a problem? “The music business does have a problem but I’d say most businesses do. Entertainment [features] names of famous people but you could probably work in a bank and find the same things happening. It’s more glittery to talk about the entertainment industry because you can name names that people know. But we must remember it happens to a lot of people who might not be celebrities, but it’s still not good. There are a lot of people that won’t get heard because it’s not in the interests of the press. But I do think what’s going on in the press at the moment should change the landscape going forward. People are going to wake up to the fact that it has to change.” What’s been the biggest challenge in your career? “The balance between having a family and working day to day. I’ve worked very hard for a number of years and that’s been a challenge. It’s not easy when you’ve got young children. My children are now older so it’s much easier, but it was tough in the early days, having nannies, and getting home – or not getting home and missing sports days and birthdays travelling. It’s never easy. It wasn’t a 9-5 job, it still isn’t. There’s no routine to your diary and that’s a challenge.” What advice would you give young female executives about having a successful career? “Be true, be honest, trust your instincts and speak your mind. Be your own person, own it – if you think something, say it. You’ve got to be an individual. I’d say that to a guy as well. If you’re good at something and believe in it, do it.”

Women In Music 2017: Meet Businesswoman Of The Year winner Rebecca Allen

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Women In Music 2017: Meet Music Champion winner Clara Amfo

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Rising Star: Meet Columbia Records' Joel Quartey

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