Welcome to the latest edition of Six Questions With..., a regular short and sharp interview with a live music figure. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to take part or recommend someone for inclusion.
This week's Q&A is with Chris Roohan, head of A&R and marketing at New State Entertainment.
What was your first job in music?
My entry point into the music industry was working with Paul Arnold at Fat! Records and club event Chew The Fat! It was here I first cut my teeth in A&R, signing my first two records by Soho Jo (aka Jody Jenkins, now an esteemed composer for film and television). My work at Fat! eventually led to my first full-time job in music, working with James Horrocks at Resist Music, the record company he set up after the closure React Music. At Resist, I worked as A&R and Marketing Manager on a range of cutting edge compilation albums, from Drum & Bass Arena - Mixed by Andy C & Grooverider, Carl Cox – Global, Café Solo with Jose Padilla, the Good Times series with Norman Jay MBE, and the seminal At The Controls series that featured four albums from James Holden, M.A.N.D.Y, Claude VonStroke, and Agoria.
How long have you been in your current role?
I joined New State Entertainment back in 2008, so just over a decade.
What is your favourite thing about working in the music industry?
There are so many things I love about the industry, but for me personally it has to be A&R. Working closely with artists, helping them develop, and being part of the creative process from start to finish.
I've been fortunate to work on campaigns with so many talented artists over the years at New State, such as Disciples, Majestic, DJ S.K.T, Ryan Blyth, DJ Q, Foor, Karen Harding, Tough Love, Shadow Child, Like Son, Deekline, Freejak, BB Diamond, Arthur Baker, Paul Oakenfold, Dirty Vegas, Lethal Bizzle, Laidback Luke, Tiësto, Paul van Dyk, Chris Lorenzo, Hannah Wants, DJ Rae, Vanilla Ace, Kelli-Leigh, Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Youngman, NVOY, PowerDress, Jamie Duggan, Darkzy, Skepsis, Jack Junior, Smokin’ Jack Hill, TRP, LO’99, Max Venus, and many more.
What is the one thing you would like to change about the business?
I hope there will be greater preservation, protection and promotion of UK nightlife. The UK's long legacy of creating world-class clubs and their influence on the global music scene should be proudly celebrated. There should also be more recognition of the positive contribution of UK clubs to the economy, to communities, and to UK culture as a whole.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It's so difficult to pin that down to one highlight, so I’ll break it into two parts: In artist A&R, I signed and developed Disciples debut release Remedy EP in 2013. I worked closely with the band, helping to develop their first four songs: Remedy, Night, Vibe, Circles. I also helped develop their now iconic branding. I brought in Austin Daboh (now senior editor at Spotify) to plug the EP at radio, which resulted in strong ‘across the board’ tastemaker support, and the lead single Remedy was added to the 1Xtra playlist. Disciples On My Mind was the most played song on BBC Radio 1 in 2017. To see the band continue to grow, and go from strength to strength is amazing to see, and so well deserved.
In compilation A&R, I have curated many albums, and playlists, for leading brands such as Pure Garage, Pacha, Cream, Creamfields, and Godskitchen. Although my personal highlight is creating and curating the compilation album series Pure Deep House, which has over sold over 225,000 units across four albums. Pure Deep House 1 and 3 have also been awarded Silver certification, for over 60,000 sales each.
What's the best gig you've ever been to?
There have been so many highlights over the years, but the event that had the biggest impact on me aged just 15, was a Prodigy ‘all nighter’ at Brixton Academy on Saturday, October 12, 1996. This is not only the best event I’ve ever been to, it’s also now widely accepted to be The Prodigy’s best ever gig - with bonus points added for the stage collapsing during a heavy performance of No Good (Start The Dance)’. This was swiftly followed by a lively house party in Brixton, accompanied by two friends from Hampton School, complete with a DJ set by drum & bass heroes of the day, Spring Heel Jack. Good times!
New State Music release Summer Of Love a retrospective celebrating the summers of 1988 and 1989, and the birth of acid house, this Friday, July 27. The album has been curated by Paul Oakenfold, Nancy Noise and Colin Hudd.