interviews

Inside the 2021 BRITs ceremony with showrunners Rebecca Allen & Selina Webb

The 2021 BRIT Awards looks set to be a ceremony like no other. Here, showrunners Rebecca Allen and Selina Webb outline how they navigated a million and one obstacles to bring together the world’s biggest artists and an audience of ...

Rising Star: Meet All Ears & The Pit London's Alfred Afari

This month in Rising Star, we talk radio, promotions and music industry pathways with All Ears plugger and The Pit London founder Alfred Afari... Where and when did you get into the business?  “I began throwing events at 16 with my friends. I took a break for a few years then revised the idea with my friend DJ Darkstepper and we started a radio show. As the show got bigger I was approached by All Ears to become a radio plugger. Three years later, I have worked on dream campaigns such as AJ Tracey, Kano, Jorja Smith, Denzel Curry and more. When I started The Pit with Darkstepper, I was working in security doing admin. I hope people understand that nothing is impossible and you never know where the opportunity will arise. The industry needs to do more when connecting with people from minority and lower socio-economic backgrounds, I was surprised how few there were in the boardrooms, as opposed to among the artists. The tide is changing, but more could be done through things like mentoring and letting people understand that there are more routes to working in music as opposed to being an artist or A&R.” What’s the most exciting thing about working in music? “Connecting with artists. To me, music is a very magical thing and to be able to be part of that magic, whether through promo or A&R, is something that really excites me. I like helping an artist achieve their vision. I had the pleasure to work on Kano’s last album, Hoodies All Summer, and I set up a viewing of his Trouble video at Pop Brixton with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. This was incredibly fulfilling as it allowed Kano to showcase his message as he intended, and I could see it resonate with young people in real time. It will live with me for ever.”  I like helping artists achieve their vision Alfred Afari How do you want to help artists get exposure? “I like to work with artists on how they would like to be perceived and work out a plan to achieve that. That can mean making sure they are being interviewed by the right type of presenters or getting played on specialist shows. I also want to help elevate them by making sure they hit playlists at national and community stations and reach audiences they may not normally connect with. I am currently working with new grime supergroup Norf Face [JME, Capo Lee, Shorty and Frisco]. I set up an interview with the Student Radio Association, which allowed the group to connect with regions across the UK and helped the student radio network launch a new podcast feature interviewing bigger artists. Although national radio is great for exposure, nothing beats artists connecting with presenters on the local level.” Can radio keep up with DSPs and social media? “One way we have been aligning with streaming is making sure tracks are premiered on the radio at the same time they reach DSPs. This prevents the artist from showing a preference. Radio continues to play a pivotal role in an artist’s career and is not to be taken for granted. I will often look to DJ Target’s amazing Target Embargo feature on 1Xtra and advise artists to line up releases on streaming from 7:30pm when Target usually plays the Embargo track. We would also advise the video drops at the same time to allow for the artist to make as much noise as possible.” What’s your ultimate goal? “To have my own festival and record label, showcasing alternative hip-hop and R&B artists of all levels. I believe that these areas are criminally underrated despite all of the amazing talent out there.I will not rest until my records are taking over the charts!”  ALFRED’S RECOMMENDED TRACK:   Browse the very latest music industry jobs on the Music Week jobs page.

Incoming: Gary Numan on Intruder

Electronic music pioneer Gary Numan hit No.2 with his last record, Savage, and is soon to return with Intruder (BMG), an examination of the Earth’s future. Here, he talks chart success and inspiring others... Intruder picks up on the climate change themes of 2017’s Savage, was that always the intention? “No, not really. On Savage, climate change simply sets the environment of this possible future, but what I was actually talking about was the human condition, about how humans would react or evolve. I didn’t want to do a Savage part two. A couple of years ago my youngest daughter wrote a poem called Earth, which I thought was brilliant; it was about the planet and explaining how sad it was and how horrible people were. It was a childlike view of what was going on, but it was pretty cool and that planted the seed for this one. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Earth could speak?’”  Is she getting points on this record for coming up with the idea? “Shhh, keep quiet. She hasn’t said anything about that yet.” Savage was your biggest chart success since 1980. Did that surprise you? “I don’t keep a tab on that sort of thing because up until the one before [2013’s Splinter] I hadn’t touched the charts for 35-plus years. Me getting in the chart became something I stopped thinking about decades ago. It just didn’t happen. And then that goes to No.2, it was just amazing. I cried like a baby when they told me that. It was as if somebody threw a switch. I think it was that 30-plus years of trying to get back to that position and all of the struggles and the ups and downs. That whole journey, which had been very, very difficult for a very long time, all of that pent-up emotion that I didn’t realise had been invested in all of that, it just went instantly. My wife came in and said it was No.2 and I cried for about 10 minutes, and because she’s evil she videoed the whole thing – 10 minutes of me blabbing like a fucking child.” Successive generations of artists keep citing you as an influence. Trent Reznor is a huge fan and so is Lady Gaga, while Prince even allegedly called you a genius – it can’t get much better than that, surely?  “I’m a glass half-empty kind of bloke. It does mean a great deal to me and I’m very grateful for all those things that have been said. For Prince to say I was a genius, you can’t get much better than that! But with that comes a pressure to live up to it and I definitely feel the weight of that. In a way it feels like they’re talking about a character that I created in a book or film – this pioneering innovative person. I feel disconnected from it. I don’t stumble into the bathroom in the morning and think, ‘I’m that person.’ I think, ‘What you did in the studio yesterday was shit, you need to do a lot better today!’ It’s the total opposite. I find making albums really stressful!” By Chris Catchphole

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