"It's been a really amazing start": Ferdy Unger-Hamilton on his chart-topping year at Columbia Records

When Music Week recently caught up with Columbia Records UK president Ferdy Unger-Hamilton, he was considering the No. 1 prospects for Calvin Harris’ single Feels. “I think there’s a definite possibility,” he said. “He has a very good chance.” Today we’ll find out if the Scottish DJ has indeed dethroned Despacito and scored his eighth chart-topper.

Whatever happens in the singles race this week, it’s been a strong start at Columbia for Unger-Hamilton, who joined the label in late 2016. As well as discussing the successful Arcade Fire comeback in this week’s issue of Music Week, he shared his thoughts on Columbia’s other successful campaigns…

What have been your highlights of the year so far?

It’s been an amazing nine months. We started with Rag’N’Bone Man; it was amazing to walk into breaking somebody as special as he is and then what he’s achieved in this year. I really loved working on the Kasabian record, they’re really great people and totally engaged, it’s been like a young band. Calvin Harris has completely reinvented himself and come up with what is undoubtedly a brilliant album.

Harry Styles has been a brilliant project and we’ve just got going with a second single coming soon. It’s great working with Jason [Iley, Sony Music UK chairman and CEO], I’m so impressed with how good the team are here. [General manager] Stacey Tang’s got a great a young marketing team. Charlie Shawcross, who’s worked Arcade Fire, has been brilliant. It’s been a really amazing start, long may it continue.

Arcade Fire must be pleased their first album for Columbia is their third No.1…

Thank god for that, right? It’s great for them to have had a really brilliant radio story. I think they’re a band who care deeply about the work they make, because they invested so much time and love and money and effort into it.

Can Everything Now be as big as The Suburbs and Neon Bible?

I think it can definitely be as big as any of their records, no doubt, I think this is a massive upswing. This is just the beginning for the record. There are two or three great singles coming off this record still. I am completely in love with Creature Comfort, which has a pretty dark undertone but is just an amazing pop record. We all love Signs Of Life, that’s another big one. Put Your Money On Me is a massive favourite as well. We’re not short of big songs on it. We’ll keep going on it and try and persuade the band to come back into market whenever they can.

Were you surprised Rag’N’Bone Man was not recognised in the Mercury Prize shortlist?

It’s a pretty arbitrary prize, isn’t it? Like any of these kinds of panels, anything that takes 12 people and asks them what they think, you’re slightly in the lap of the gods – it’s like being at a dinner party. I think the Mercury Music Prize serves its purpose when it takes a record not everyone may have heard of and takes it further. What’s quite good is when they do what they do well, and take something out of leftfield that has a capacity to get to a wider audience. That’s my personal belief on it.

Are you looking forward to the Foo Fighters’ return next month?

The Foo Fighters record’s a classic, it really is. Greg Kurstin, who produced it, and the band have done an amazing job. I’m very excited for the world to hear what they’ve come up with.


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