On the road again: Chris Rea on his long drive to the top

It still boggles the mind that Chris Rea – one of the finest British guitarists of his generation – didn’t start playing the instrument until his early 20s. But then, the Middlesbrough-born 66-year-old’s career has always been on the unorthodox ...

Rising Star: Meet Polydor's Tasha Demi

Each week, Music Week profiles the brightest new talents in the business. This week, Tasha Demi, product manager for acts including Stefflon Don and Wretch 32 at Polydor, tells her story... How did you break into the music industry?I started a blog at university and it started hitting decent numbers. I was a runner on a few shoots for MTV and then became music editor at Live Magazine. I realised I could turn my love for music and writing into a ‘real job’, and then got an internship at Box TV, which developed into a full time role. I went across to MTV to work on the EMAs, then got a call from the HR team at Universal Music saying they needed a temp. A year later I was still there and was then offered my current role. What’s your proudest achievement so far?My first Top 20 single! Working the Stefflon Don campaign has been exciting, Hurtin’ Me breaking into the Top 20 was such an amazing feeling. We’re coming for the Top 10 next.  Working on Wretch 32 is special, too. He’s one of our greats. I’ve gone from being a fan to running his campaign. I can’t wait for everyone to hear his new album! What do you enjoy most about your job?It keeps me on my toes! Also, I love my roster! I get to work with an amazing team and amazing artists. Building relationships with my artists and their management teams is key. It’s important that they trust me. And then when we win, we all win together. From the first planning meeting, to release day and beyond - being a part of such incredible campaigns and seeing your ideas come to life will never get old! What’s the biggest challenge?Managing my own time. The trickiest thing is getting that work/social life balance. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to realise how important it is to step back every now and then. To switch off and just do family things, to go and hang out with friends and not be glued to my phone and on emails all through the night. You clear your headspace, and everything suddenly makes a lot more sense. What advice would you give to those looking to break into the biz?Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities. But also, don’t be afraid to create your own! There’s nothing more exciting and inspiring than people creating their own paths. If you’re in it for the right reasons, your passion and love will shine through everything you do. What’s your greatest ambition?I want to be a part of the history of British music. I want to be one of the ones responsible for breaking our artists globally and to help set precedents for what we can achieve. But mostly, I want to remain a fan of music and have that lead me in what I do - I don’t want my job to ever become a chore. TASHA'S RECOMMENDED TRACK:

The Aftershow: BBC 6 Music DJ and Music Week Sync Awards host Shaun Keaveny

The best thing about my job is…“I get to have a conversation with hundreds of thousands of people every morning and they don’t judge me for the unutterable bullshit that I constantly come out with! I get to play great records too, so it’s a double whammy. If I couldn’t do that it would send me crackers, even quicker than getting up at 5am every morning!”The most emotionally satisfying moment of my career was…“Rehydrating a Beatle at the Maida Vale studios when Paul McCartney played a session. Afterwards, we all crowded into a tiny room and everyone was trying to chat with him. I always find that part really uncomfortable, so I handed him a cup of water from the water cooler and he was like, [impersonates McCartney] ‘Great, thanks’. I performed a duty there, the guy had been onstage for 90 minutes!”The best interview I’ve ever done is…“A lot of the time the interviews you most look forward to, because you’re meeting a hero, are often the ones that aren’t always the best. You aren’t always on your best form – you become too reverential. I really like silly interviews when I’m relaxed. We just did Michael Fassbender, who’s a huge Hollywood megastar, and it was really cool. I like those interviews and getting them to play along with my little in-jokes. I have this fictional sitcom I’m ‘writing’ called Back In The Box Room, I just asked him to pretend he tried for a part and that I didn’t get back to him – he did a bit of acting for me!”Radio is a unique format because…“It demands of the consumer a level of active commitment that a visual medium could never [match]. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think for one minute that most of my listeners are paying that much attention to the bollocks I’m talking about half the time. But when something happens on the radio, when someone’s having a really in-depth conversation and then it turns emotional, or when two people are having a real spontaneous laugh, the listener is completely absorbed.”The best lesson I’ve learned in my career is…“Don’t be a cunt. I don’t meet many people who I find objectionable in my job, I really don’t. I’m lucky. But I do still meet people and you think, ‘Fucking hell, mate, you’re not Pablo Picasso!’ If you want to be a recalcitrant, grumpy arsehole and be all, ‘I’m not even walking through the door until you paint it all pink!’, you’re allowed to be like that if you’re Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí or Bob Dylan, because you’ve gifted the world incredible, timeless art. But just about everybody else can’t get away with acting like that.”

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