This week's Rising Star is Jason Kavuma, co-head of production at No Signal Radio and specialist commercial manager at EMI. Hear his music industry story so far...
When did you get into music?
“I actually wanted to be a political correspondent at age 15 or 16, but I was too young to get taken seriously. So I started writing about new music in a blog I looked after with my mate Pete Simmons. I basically covered all black music, he did the inverse, and we managed to get a large spread. Then I was blogging and even covering stuff like indie and alternative in my friend Sam Ford’s So Young magazine. Genre didn’t really matter, I just wanted to contextualise music. Alex Hoffman, formerly of Vice, spotted me being funny on Twitter and invited me to start interning at Noisey. He encouraged me to go to radio, and I ended up at Reprezent. I guess the rest is history.”
Can you describe your 2020?
“I feel like I am slyly living with survivor’s remorse at the moment. 2020 has been such a tumultuous year for so many, but it genuinely might have been the best year of my life. The pandemic gave me the chance to give myself one last push in the avenues I wanted to, as a presenter, in the label system and as a producer. Thankfully, I have a great network of hardworking, creative friends, and amidst the fire of 2020, No Signal radio was born. We spent the year creating a radio station based on our authentic, young, black experience, culminating in a studio, and a mission. I’m sure you’ll be seeing much more from us. Plus, I’ve started a consultancy that I’m really excited to get into over at EMI Records, working to help make sure songs and artists make the biggest possible impact. I think my network and experience will lead me to excel and make a massive contribution to EMI’s black music campaigns.”
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Tell us your biggest lesson so far...
“Despite any obstacles, get up and create. Good work will shine through, and your time will come. And make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. You can build anything on strong foundations.”
What’s your advice for young people?
“Keep going, stay patient, listen and learn. I worked so many jobs while I was trying to work out what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be and how I was going to get there. But each of these introduced me to someone or helped me understand something. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to ask for opportunities. And work harder, as hard as anyone else, but more importantly, work smarter than anyone. Cut through with your efficiency.”
How should the industry approach 2021?
“There’s lots I’d like to say here, but I’d like to remind corporations about the pledges that they made to black organisations and black people. There’s been so much trauma this year, and a lot of people stood up and proclaimed that they were with us, that they wanted to do better. 2021 is the opportunity to act. Better representation is the minimum standard. Understand employees, make them feel comfortable, and do what you can to impact and support communities as we continue to be rocked by the decisions of the last decade.”
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