Members of the UK music industry have paid tributes to Yasmin Lajoie, a beloved music manager and freelance consultant who has passed away aged 34.
An experienced industry executive with a thorough understanding of the global music market and over a decade of experience working with successful artists across the genre matrix, Lajoie’s career began in the A&R department at EMI, before including stints with Sony/ATV, Warner Chappell, Empire Artist Management and Giant Artist Management.
A committed mentor, keen writer and adept public speaker, Lajoie was also an active member of the UK Music Futures Group, the Music Managers Forum and the BRIT Awards voting academy. She also chaired the intersectionality committee at Shesaid.so, was on the board of trustees for the charity Open Up Music and was helping develop the Music Industry Business (BA) course at Point Blank Music School.
In their spare time she hosted a monthly show on Soho Radio, volunteered for Centrepoint and ran a book club called It’s Lit.
You can read tributes from Lajoie’s friends and peers below.
biLLLy (artist/producer, managed by Lajoie): “Yasmin’s genuine passion for authenticity, equality and talent was unique. She always challenged the norm and was the connector of so many exciting collaborations. She was far too young to leave us and I’ll forever be curious of what amazing things she would have achieved in years to come. RIP Yasmin.”
Paul Bonham (professional development, director, MMF): “Yasmin, a true one off in a sea of bland. Their passion for justice, artists rights and society’s progression were so awe inspiring. Dancing with Yasmin at queer utopia Body Movements will stay with me forever. Yasmin made hearts dance, bodies groove and spirits lift. May she now find rest and peace and their legacy live on in us – and [may] we find the courage she had to challenge, speak up and smile.”
Holly Manners (A&R manager, Warner Records): “Yasmin was one of our OG mentors on our She.grows mentorship scheme – a fiercely bright, articulate and opinionated firecracker, who had time for everyone, and wasn’t afraid to call bullshit when she saw it. I learned so much from Yasmin at UK Futures and Shesaid.so, especially their inspirational work on intersectionality. We’ll miss Yasmin hugely.’”
Joe Taylor (Oyster Management): “Yasmin was an extraordinary writer – I first realised this when I read their piece about their father in the book My Old Man, then their extraordinarily revealing and well-informed social media posts on everything from their dates to hold fees to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. I’d love there to be a collection of Yasmin’s writing. I feel like Yasmin’s mental health struggles were part of who she was, and it was powerful and brave that she documented them on social media. She’d be uncontactable for days, but when she was back and focused on making something happen, she was inspirational to be around. I’ve never met anyone like Yasmin and I feel so grateful to have known them.”
Peter Jarrett (Sweat Entertainment): “Yasmin stood up for those most in need and for that she will be sorely missed. She had an innate ability to verbalise their views which was paired with great empathy and an incredible depth of knowledge. Yasmin became a friend who had my back and gave me strength to remain principled when I needed it. I will think of them whenever I need to find that strength and I know it will bring out the best of me. Yasmin cared so deeply for people, she was far too kind for this world. She put so much effort into helping others and educating us all on topics such as gender race and inequality. She championed the underdog and often put themself in the firing line by bravely standing up when others were unable to speak out.”
Michelle De Vries (publisher and music supervisor): “Yasmin was younger than me, but taught me a lot. She was an inspiring writer, a beautiful soul, great fun to be around. Some people talk a lot but achieve nothing – Yasmin wrote articles, mentored others, set up organisations and would not stop until she achieved their goal. Little by little she was changing the world around them, influencing people, affecting policies and changing companies and institutions. I think of all the things she would want us to do in their memory, it would be to continue to pass on those lessons she taught us.”
Jazz Rocket (67 Artists): “Yasmin was a force to have known, I always saw them leading with their heart and passion and always speaking up for what was right. Something not a lot of people are brave enough to do. I know a lot of hearts are broken over this. I truly hope she knew how highly we all thought of them and that she was such a bright light for so many. She will be missed. R.I.P Yasmin x”
Jumi Akinfenwa (music supervisor/journalist): “I met Yasmin only a few years ago but we had an instant connection. It was such a breath of fresh air to meet someone in the music industry who was so fervently dedicated to social justice and I was always in awe of that dedication. Yasmin was such a bright spark in both a world and an industry that is truly a dark place at times. There are very few people like Yasmin in this industry and quite frankly I think we’re much worse off for it. I’ve never met someone who was so selfless and committed to making the world fairer. I can’t think of a single time where she didn’t try to help someone else, whether she knew them personally or not. She was always so supportive of me and was someone I would consider to be a mentor (though would never admit it!). We shared a lot of the same concerns about this industry and she was someone who always made me feel heard and reassured me that we were fighting the good fight. I will never stop fighting, Yasmin x”
Felix Howard (director A&R, BMG New Recordings): “We fought like cats and dogs, laughed like drains and forgave each other a lot. She was so opinionated and so passionate about the causes she fought for their whole life. It was inspiring to be in a debate with Yasmin because if you put a foot wrong she’d nail it to the floor. She understood things after the first explanation and never needed to relearn anything. She had an academic’s way of looking at the world and was the smartest person in any room, which drove them to many distractions. We could pick up a conversation about anything at any time of day or night and she’d start teasing me straight away. She’d pick a fight with anyone, no matter how big, in defence of anyone she thought needed it, in any situation. A great writer. She was kind. She really loved music. Music was better for them, and is poorer without them.”
Cherish Kaya (A&R): “I met Yasmin over 10 years ago with Felix Howard. He had laughed and said to me previously how much he thought we’d both get on and not get on at the same time – peas in a turbulent pod. Felix and Yasmin came to meet me in the park opposite their Kensington office. I was taken aback by Yasmin’s energy – and the fact that she was No.1 megababe! Whilst she was a friend initially through work, we quickly became closer than close, and spent the next few years in each others’ pockets. We spoke for hours and hours about the hardships of being young women in the industry. She always debated with such articulation and passion, in fact she was so good sometimes I felt bad (but not that bad…) for all the old blokes that might have been in the firing line because I knew she’d always outsmart them. She was certainly more intelligent and passionate than most people you meet, and she <loved> to love. She loved music, people, reading, talking, food, wine and Monster and Nucky and their grandparents. It wasn’t all hearts and flowers, it was lots of shouting and late nights – Yasmin was a whirlwind. Despite not staying as close as we were at the beginning, I was always so excited to bump into them, however their trauma and struggles continued to break my heart. She fought a great fight but sometimes beautiful people aren’t destined to live long in a world full of pain and suffering. Yasmin, I’ll see you in the 15B Urswick Road kitchen for a Gaga sing-along. You were always such a true friend, I love you. <3”
Clare Wright (artist manager): “I will miss Yasmin so much. She was so clever and so beautiful and funny. A fierce activist, fighter and educator for many, many people. She cared deeply about not just their friends, but everyone she met. She has left a massive gaping hole. The last couple of times we hung out were my favourite times with them, she seemed happy, effervescent and so unapologetically Yasmin. Recently, I was nervous about going to a sold out show and she told me I’d be OK and I knew that I would be; because she was there with me. That night we danced, sweated, cried and screamed every single lyric to every Self Esteem song in each others’ faces and it was one for the books. Thank you for being you, Yasmin. Thank you for being my friend. I will never forget you.”
Jamila Scott (Into The Blue Mgmt/Tileyard Music): “An unimaginably fierce, loyal, smart, funny, sharp and beautiful force called Yasmin blew into my life when I was 21 and she was 22. We grew together, cried together and spent late nights dissecting lyrics from The Cure and Beyoncè. The first night I met Yasmin she demanded that we be friends, and so it was. Though it wasn’t perfect, it was a friendship that quickly became sisterly, complete with clothes borrowing despite our height difference and a protectiveness that meant only we were allowed to nitpick at each other, no one else. There was no way to be in the same room as Yasmin and not know it, I wish everyone had known that spirit and energy as there will never be anyone like Yasmin again. I will always love you through everything x”
Laurie Lee Boutet (Wednesday Management): “Yasmin intimidated the crap out of me when I first met them. She was beautiful, intelligent, fierce, passionate, and funny. It wasn’t long after meeting that we quickly became friends, and I saw how caring and loyal she was to everyone she loved. Lord have mercy on anyone who dared insult someone she cared about. Nothing was ever boring with Yasmin, a true one of a kind. I’ll miss you my friend; love you Yasmin. x”
Daniel Lloyd Jones (co-head of A&R, Island Records): “Yasmin Lajoie was a maverick, raw, passionate and direct. All those qualities shone through the day we were in Leeds whilst she was hosting a night at Nation Of Shopkeepers. I was blown away by their orchestration of every aspect of the night, I went back raving about them to Guy Moot and Felix Howard which led to Yasmin joining our team at EMI Music Publishing. She was like that, no-one who has met Yasmin will ever forget them. A complete one off, the music industry will never ever have the privilege of experiencing a spirit like Yasmin again. Yasmin's love for music, culture, literature, art, activism were second to none. She would be the last person on the hill fighting the cause, she gave all their energy to what she believed in, she was unique in that she only had the cause she was fighting in mind – everything else in that moment was secondary. She was ahead of their time. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as open as Yasmin was. There was no filter. Everything was out in the open. You will live long in our memories Yasmin, impossible to forget.”
Jason Edwards (owner – Hypebrid /UK Music Futures Group): “Yasmin was truly one of a kind. She fought for change and equality every single day with incredible charisma and intelligence. Every time we met, she challenged my thinking and inspired new thought processes every day. You led your life as a fearless leader – constantly challenging the status quo as an agent of change in every sense of the term. In your time on earth, you truly pushed for improvement and your mark has been made on so many lives in more ways than you possibly could have imagined. A true loss to the industry.”
Ellie Giles (founder – Step Music Management): “I only got to know Yasmin over the last few years. We ended up chatting on social media, just chatting crap at first, putting the world to rights, and slowly I really got to know them. Yasmin was principled, opinionated and one of the strongest minds in the room. Boy did we debate, I didn’t always agree with Yasmin but I always respected them. Apart from their incredible intelligence, she saw things that people didn’t see. She was always the first on any music forum to help advise and their advice was always spot on, the best. That was Yasmin through and through, always giving up time to help others and support others. Their fight for what was right was so vital to who she was. She wouldn’t care if she upset others; for Yasmin, truth was more important than anything. A true activist. I will truly miss them. You were fucking special mate, really special. Be free my friend, be free and at peace. x”
Meenal Odedra (label manager – PC Music/UK Music Futures Group): “I first met Yasmin through the then newly formed UK Music Futures Committee put together by Andy Edwards. Not knowing Yasmin at the time, I’d sit in the UK Music boardroom during our meetings, in awe and in quiet admiration. Yasmin had a special gift of knowing when someone needed support, and she soon took me under their wing – as she did with many. Yasmin was there for me during my lowest points. When things were tough, they were there, spurring me on, (even lecturing me at times!). I cannot stress enough how much Yasmin went above and beyond to make me (and I’m sure, others) feel seen, heard and loved during those low points, always without judgement, always with compassion. Yasmin was an absolute force of nature, she was a firecracker who lit up rooms, who didn’t shy away from voicing their opinions or fighting the good fight. Thank you for being my friend, I love you forever x”
Tahnee Kaya (ex-Empire Artist Management & long-term friend): “Yasmin was one of the brightest, most passionate people I’ve ever met. She prioritised educating themself so that she could help others to be and do better. She was open and honest about their struggles to adhere and relate to societal norms, and dedicated themself to advocating for change, equality and justice, and in this work I know how many lives she touched. She never forgot a birthday, always championed everything I did and celebrated their friend’s achievements with pride. She was kind, generous and thoughtful and always happy to see you. She seemed to be the cat that had nine lives and I hoped with each bounce back that she’d find their will to survive but it wasn’t meant to be. There’ll never be another one like Yasmin and I just hope she’s found the peace that she wanted. Rest easy, Yasmin.”
Hiroki Shirasuka (company director, Giant Artist Management/Co-founder, EarthPercent): “I had the great pleasure of working with and befriending Yasmin from their time at both Giant Artist Management and at EarthPercent. I am deeply deeply saddened that she is no longer with us. Yasmin was simply one of the most wonderful, gifted, and inspiring people I have met, so intelligent, caring, and creative. She was a vibe and a force. All the artists and staff loved and admired Yasmin, and she brought brightness everywhere in our lives, from the studio to our hangouts, and to the many late night karaoke sessions! We were all so proud of Yasmin when she let us know about starting their PhD at Cambridge University. Yasmin was always there for their friends, and made us all better people. She was a true champion of the marginalised and those less fortunate than them. Yasmin had remarkable ways to educate and encourage, all without judgement. I looked up to and learned from them so much. Yasmin was a true force for good, and was a leader in making the world a better place. I hope that I am able to find ways to honour and embody their spirit moving forwards. And I hope the music industry is able to too. It will be a better industry for it. Rest in power Yasmin. Thoughts are with their family and friends.”
Melanie Johnson (head of investor services, Utopia Music): “Yasmin was…Well, Yas. Unique, fearless, fierce, uncompromising, intelligent, passionate and kind. We met back at EMI when I returned to work after having my eldest daughter in 2012. As well as work stuff, we would debate the various challenges and frustrations around feminism in the industry and life in general. What some people may not know, or chose to see always, was Yasmin’s EQ - which she would joke was ‘off’ but clearly was pretty bang on much of the time. Looking back over our chats, they range from parenting (she always asked after my girls and wanted to know what they were up to – would life be better, easier, different for them when they grew up?), Stax vs Motown, mental health first aid courses, short vs long hair conundrums, through to bonkers gifs to sum up a moment. She was pretty brave to live life so openly, full force, vulnerabilities and strengths all out there. I will miss you my friend, those random pings when I least expected them. Rest easy Yas, in the peace that you made a difference x”
Andy Edwards (UK Music/consultant and artist advisor): “Life is a little less bright without Yasmin. She was a friend, colleague, and co-conspirator. We first met after she spoke up against sexual harassment in the music business in 2017 and shortly afterward joined the UK Music Futures Group, which I chaired at the time. I was looking for young executives who were doing great things and wanted to change the world for the better. Yasmin turned out to be everything I hoped she would be and so much more. Not only did she speak and write so eloquently (she was also a published author), but she put words into action. Yasmin would turn up when no one was watching and with nothing to gain. If you were marginalised, stigmatised, or rejected by society, she would be there for you. Yasmin spoke openly of their own journey, which took many paths, both high and low. She would challenge you and push you to do better, but she was never sanctimonious or hypocritical. We bonded in our neurodiversity, and when I got diagnosed with ADHD and then Autism, Yasmin sent me a beautiful message full of warmth and empathy. Not content with having a successful career in the music business, she returned to education at Cambridge University. I was half expecting Yasmin to light up the world of literature, but it was not to be. Rest In Power, Yasmin.”
AJ Abram (artist manager, Stone Dime Music Group): “Yasmin, it was an honour to know you these last couple of years. I admired your defiance and innate drive to better society. You were incredibly bright. Behind that often fierce energy, there was someone warm, caring and deeply loyal. In your far too short time here, you accomplished what most of us could ever hope to achieve in a lifetime, yet somehow you always found the time to be there for a friend. Rest in power.”
Fran Malyan (Sony Music Publishing): “Yasmin came into my life at EMI about 12 years ago and we forged an unlikely but great friendship. I was 30 years older than them but we had the same passion for music and our jobs so we gelled and I became their London mum. She taught me so much and I tried to teach them but she was so much smarter than me and full of fire, energy and opinions. She was a constant challenge, but that just deepened our relationship which continued after we stopped working together. She was fierce, loyal and extremely caring all wrapped up in a bundle of energy that was totally infectious. She was an activist who pushed the boundaries and worked hard for change. She will be missed by so many and in Yasmin’s memory we must continue to fight for the causes that she so passionately cared about to ensure that their efforts weren't wasted. Yasmin, it was my honour to have you as a surrogate daughter. Thank you for all that you taught me and for opening my old eyes to a different perspective and a clearer way forward.”
Frank Hamilton (artist & label owner/UK Music Futures Group): “The world needs more people like Yasmin – always speaking up when no-one else was prepared to. Aside from being a wonderful soul with an infectious personality, they were uncompromising in their fight to make this industry a fairer, more inclusive place… and heaven knows we need more of that. I feel proud and fortunate to have been Yasmin's friend, if only for a few short years. Rest well Yas x”
Leah Mack (Sony Music Publishing/UK Music Futures Group): “Yasmin was a true original. She shone so brightly. I had the pleasure of working alongside Yasmin for many years at EMI/Sony and then in more recent years on the UK Music Futures Group. She never failed to impress with their articulate and exceptionally bright mind. A force of nature, she always brought an unrivalled energy into any room. Anything she turned that energy towards, she would make it happen. She truly stood up for what she believed in, whether that be social justice or the artists under their care. That never failed to be inspiring. A warrior spirit with an equally kind soul. Never a dull moment was had in Yasmin’s company. Your loss will be felt by so many. I’ll always remember you Yas.”
Amanda Maxwell (artist manager to Ellie Prohan/UK Music Futures Group chair): “It’s really difficult to find the words to express what it meant to know Yasmin Lajoie. Like many others, I had the honour of working with and knowing Yasmin through their work personally for us both through UK Music Futures and She Said So. Yasmin was bold, thought provoking and had a way of captivating a room when she spoke and it was with grace even if the subject was close to their heart and emotive that she could do it so well.You felt what Yasmin was saying and you knew that she really meant it whether that be gender rights, mental well being, music education and environmental issues there weren’t many things that weren’t close to their heart and again that just shows what a incredible soul she was. Not only that but their outfits and flair for life were always so colourful, something else I much looked forward to when I knew I would get to see them. Their laughter which after a few glasses of red would always make me laugh more and their big brown eyes were equally just as beautiful. I think these tributes highlight what an incredible person Yasmin was and I feel very privileged to have known them – it still really hasn’t sunk in. There is so much she taught us and so much we can each take forward with us with their approaches, passions, love and care that was felt so vastly by so many that we must continue to emulate in their honour. Beautiful, kind, passionate, strong, fierce, whitty, intelligent, magnetic, hilarious, empathic, wise and everything else in-between, Yasmin Lajoie may you rest in power and in love. Sending love to Yasmin’s family, friends and peers who will miss you very much now and always. Xx”
Rich Austen Smith (company director, Giant Artist Management): “We first had the pleasure of having Yasmin as part of our company. She was an inspiration in the way she put marginalised people and communities first in everything she did, challenging and encouraging the best out of us all. As a friend, we had some wonderful times together, a lot in karaoke bars. Yasmin’s spirit, attitude and gift for bringing everyone together is something that will stay with us all and we can all count ourselves fortunate to have been part of. An amazing person who will be truly missed but had an incredible impact on us all. Rest in Power Yas.”
Andreea Magdalina (founder, Shesaid.so): “Yasmin, you are dearly missed. Your contributions to the shesaid.so community have been monumental: starting with your participation as a member, your leadership as our intersectionality committee's director and your knowledge as the creator of our intersectionality guide. While we weren't close on a personal level, our work-related interactions left an impression on me. I immediately knew you were someone who truly cares and wants to make a difference for women, BIPOC, the LGBTQ+ community and anyone who has experienced discrimination or marginalisation. I remember thinking how lucky we are to have you in our corner as someone who, in spite of experiencing your own challenges as a mixed race gender non-conforming person on your self-discovery journey, you always found time to uplift others. I feel so sorry that this journey hasn't been easy. On behalf of the shesaid.so community, we thank you for your tireless work and we will always cherish your memory. Rest in peace.”
David Ventura (Sony Music Publishing UK): "Everywhere Yasmin went the light shined on them. That’s how we should all remember Yasmin. I clearly recall my very first day in London having moved from Paris 12 years ago. She welcomed me with open arms and said, 'Hi, I am Yasmin, nice to meet you. Welcome and don’t worry, we will be working together and I’ll look after you – I am the best!' She struggled to understand my answer, not only because of my very poor English accent, but because I was shaking with stress and fear as I felt lost in this new city, job and life. She felt it and looked after me with compassion and kindness. She is surely the reason why I did not quit and return to France. We worked closely together for two years, we had our ups and downs but I always felt care and friendship between us. Yasmin was a force of nature and had immense passion for everything she was engaged with. Thank you from all of us for everything Yasmin, the world misses you."
Martha Kinn (artist manager and mental health advocate): "Yasmin and I came up in the industry together at the same time and were the same age. I felt such an affinity with them, their beautiful spirit, their passion for music and for social change, quite frankly I was a fan! I didn’t know anyone as intelligent, eloquent, compassionate or brave as them. Yasmin took no prisoners, she was fighting that good fight long before it was trendy. They dedicated their life to speaking up for the marginalised and most vulnerable in society. She bravely spoke on issues that most would shy away from, whether it be sexual abuse, the rights of sex workers, living with borderline personality disorder or their feelings around suicide. She also knew how to party! I remember a wild night out at a BRITs afterparty in 2020 (Azim’s hotel anyone?!) The next day she messaged saying, 'You are a diamond in a rhinestone world' and this was so typical of them, their capacity for positivity and kindness was boundless. I hope she knew that she was the real diamond, she shone so brightly, we were lucky to have them on this earth as long as we did.' I was so proud of them for getting into Cambridge to study Human, Social, and Political Sciences, they were always finding new ways to make the world a better place. I saw the industry rally around them with the funding she needed – a real testament to the love and respect we had for them. I hope she knew deep down how much support and love there was for them. It blows my mind how much they achieved in their short 34 years! It breaks my heart to know that she had so much more to offer the world. Their death mustn’t be in vain. I encourage everyone to engage with Yasmin’s work, to face the uncomfortable and darker sides of life that she so bravely tackled. We must check on our loved ones and acquaintances, we must interrogate ourselves and our biases and we must spread more kindness. We still have so much to learn from Yasmin and we must find a way to continue their work."
In the coming weeks Lajoie's peers will be discussing ideas to honour them and continue their legacy – they encourage anyone reading to get in touch if you have any thoughts or ideas to add.
'Please love each other fiercely and fearlessly. Life is such a fragile thing.'
- Yasmin Lajoie
If you have been affected by any issues contained in this story, contact Samaritans.