Ali Kamara

Ali Kamara is a south London-based digital Illustrator, animator and musician. Ali is always looking for creative ways to blend all these things that he is passionate about to make quirky, epic, high-concept work. 

How would you best describe your style?

My art is very concept-driven. I'm always trying to find the grey area between lighthearted fun and darkness, that's the general theme in my art and music. So I'll blend some playful childish imagery with dark fantasy or hip hop/punk aesthetics, or bridge the gap between smooth jazz chords and hard rock in my music. I'm building a world based around all of that. Also I like making funny or cool references to pop culture and bringing it into my world. 

Which one do you prefer? Black or white, or colour?

Colours are more fun, I'm a little obsessed with colour schemes. I did a short series a while back where I was buying colour matching meals from Tesco consistently everyday and posting pics of that online. That being said, so far this year black and white has been the vibe, just to allow me to focus in on building the world and style rather than fiddling with colours. Switching back to colour sooner than later. 

Aside from art, it looks like you create your own music, how did you get into that?

I've always been obsessed with music since hearing Tony Hawk and WWE video game soundtracks as a teen. I got into composing and beatmaking much later though, when I was like 20. I would be on bus rides home daydreaming about visual narratives when listening to instrumentals or my favourite producers as a teenager, so that's the fuel right now. 

Have you always focused your art around artists?

For a while I've been trying to develop my visual style and world-building enough to where it's really recognisable on its own. So I made it a point to avoid drawing pop culture figures/other musicians for a certain time until I could get to a point where, when I do draw these individuals, it would be in my unique way. This year I got to that point where I understood my style, so I started creating stuff around artists like Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, Tyler the Creator. I only really draw artists I enjoy, and they're all big inspirations. I'm getting into original character design at the moment though. 

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I've got quite a few, a lot of them are new age digital artists though. I've always loved Loish's work, a French artist called Moon, Dirty Robot, and Jor.Ros. These guys really have a dope way of designing their characters and creating a universe around their art. Life-wise, a whole heap of hip hop artists - Eminem, Tyler the Creator, J Cole. 

The best compliment you have ever received about your work?

Not sure about the biggest compliment I've received, but a few years ago I was doing a daily drawing challenge on Instagram and someone decided to give that a shot too and said I inspired it. That was probably the first moment that really let me know you never know how you're positively affecting people by just doing what you love.




July at the Pistonhead Foundation

And so, another month comes to an end. Where is this year going?  We supported two amazing events this month at the Pistonhead Foundation, here’s more about them:  

Mr. Greg Bartlett Debut Exhibition

We were pleased to be able to support Mr. Greg Bartlett’s debut exhibition as an emerging photographer: “A Ghost Walking Amongst the People of the Streets”. The ethereal collection took three years of shooting on film to produce, resulting in a beautiful array of everyday life from around the world. The exhibition took place at the AMP Gallery, Peckham on 18th July, to great success.

Check out Greg on Instagram @mrgbarlett

Image: Mia Bartlett

Image: Mia Bartlett

So Young Bristol All Dayer

We’ve had a winning partnership with So Young magazine for some time now. Both of us are committed to supporting emerging musicians, artists and independent venues, so we work towards a similar cause during our projects. We were more than happy to support their All-Dayer in Bristol, presented by Wax Music at Rough Trade Records. A range of exciting bands played: The Rhythm Method, Lady Bird, Holiday Ghosts, Talk Show, Italia 90, Katy J Pearson, Swallow Cave and Some Bodies. Naturally, there was plenty of Pistonhead to go around!

Keep an eye on So Young’s events on their Instagram @soyoungmagazine

low res bristo poster.jpg

Does your event, exhibition, collection or gig need sponsoring? Get in touch via our website and we’ll do what we can to help: www.pistonheadfoundationuk.com/support

So Young Illustrator Competition Spring 2019: Sponsored by Us!

This year, we decided to support the spring edition of the renowned So Young Illustration Competition. Twice a year, the magazine goes on the hunt for the next brilliant illustrator to bring a fresh take on their content.

We are huge fans for the magazine and closely followed their previous competitions. So Young provide an amazing opportunity for artists to be able to showcase their work to an active, relevant audience. As part of the Foundation, we wanted to provide additional funds in the form of prize money to the winner so they can continue to grow as an illustrator.

The brief was to illustrate a song by, or members of, a band previously featured in So Young. These included artists such as King Krule, The Beatles, David Bowie, The Rolling Stone, Grace Jones, Tame Impala, Fleet Foxes, Foals and more. This could be in any style: digital, collage, pencil, anything.

After a fierce competition, the winner was finally announced in June… Naso Sasaki!

Illustrator and designer Naso created an incredible illustration of The Ramones, which you can see below. See more of Naso’s work on Instagram @who.lovesthesun 

The Ramones by Naso Sasaski

The Ramones by Naso Sasaski

There were many close contenders for the prize. Here are the rest of the top five entries:

2. Hotel Lux by Ian Moore @iam.ian.m

Hotel Lux by Ian Moore

Hotel Lux by Ian Moore

3. Dev Hynes by Joe Watson-Price @joewatsonprice

Dev Hynes by Joe Watson-Price

Dev Hynes by Joe Watson-Price

4. King Krule by Marta Guinipero

King Krule by Marta Guinipero

King Krule by Marta Guinipero

5. Girl Ray by Ryuta Endo @re_illust

Girl Ray by Ryuta Endo

Girl Ray by Ryuta Endo

Ten finalists were chosen by So Young and won the chance to have their entries posted on their popular Instagram page, as well as published in the online version of the magazine.

The top five entries won the chance to have their published work in print and online, as well as an interview/feature written about their work on the So Young site, a gallery post on Instagram and a year’s subscription to the magazine.

Then the winner, as well as all of this, won the opportunity to have their work featured in a So Young exhibition at the end of the year and of course, the £1000 prize courtesy of the Pistonhead Foundation!

There were some amazing entries this time around, we can’t wait to see which incredible artists crop up at the next one.

If you’re a creative looking for support, get in touch with us at www.pistonheadfoundationuk.com/support


Maxwell Paternoster

Maxwell Paternoster is an artist/illustrator based in London. Maxwell studied animation and illustration at the University of Westminster but he focused on the illustration aspect more after the first year because animation was very time consuming and he had more of an interest in drawing. For the past few years, he has managed to scrape by with a sole focus on illustration which he finds very satisfying.

How would you best describe your style of art?

My style of art is the sort of doodly drawing cartoony character line work sort of style that you see about the place in various manifestations. I grew up with UK style comics (Beano, Wizzer and Chips, Viz etc ) and in my early teens some underground American comics with such artists as Robert Crumb. I also was influenced by all the animated cartoons, Looney Toons, Tom and Jerry, Felix The Cat and all that sort of thing.

We see you work with colour and Black & White, do you find one more difficult than the other?

My main strength is drawing really, I can do drawing efficiently. All the other things that come with trying to masquerade as a useful commercial art guy (colour, design etc) are like extra skills that I am somewhat mediocre at. So with that in mind, black and white is easier by default, but yea colours are cool. I have focussed my learnings on improving my ability with colour in the past, which has helped. Actually, it can be challenging to create a striking image just in black and white, sometimes the image can be too light and thin, devoid of weight if that makes sense. Something I also find difficult is creating a black and white image to be displayed on a black background such as a T-shirt. quite flummoxing that.

How did you get introduced into creating art on helmets?

I think originally the first one I did was when my pal Richard Baybutt @baybutt got enthusiastic about decorating motorcycle stuff, he got me to do a tank and that probably spurred me on to do a helmet etc. If I remember correctly, I had created my motorcycle blog 'Corpses From Hell' and Richard assisted with the growth of said blog. He's come round giving it all that about how I should do this that and the other, at one stage, he bought this Honda CX 500 tank round and said smash some paint on that and I’ll film you. He contributed many creative ideas in the early stages of that blog, which resulted in helmet paint jobs, photoshoots and t-shirts which actually opened some doors for me. Richard pushed this other idea we had about painting a Ruby helmet and creating a Painting/Motorcycle riding video this one time. We did it, behold, for it is still online https://vimeo.com/66554040

Which project are you most proud of?

Oooo not sure ay, there are a few looking back, I think that changes based on my mood or something. I'm probably most proud of some of the videos I’ve made because I did the music too but yea nobody cares about other peoples stupid music lol. I am quite proud of some of the more striking helmets, such as the Nexx Full Face Jobby I did for a customer. That’s because I went full ham on the detail, proper magnifying glass style, I spent waaayy too long on it but yea came out good. I find if I look back on some art and cringe, it’s bad, but if I look back on some art and still like it, then I can be proud of said art.

So you’re a musician as well?

I took it upon myself to learn bass guitar and all kinds of music things years ago, I then went around as a jobbing bass player in jazz bands (Hotel Foyers, Garden Parties and Leisure Centre functions). I then stopped doing that and just started doing my own music at home, on the computer. I create music for my videos nowadays - hence the music on the animations I have on my Instagram feed.

What kind of obstacles did you face at the start of this journey?

Flaming hoop waheyy budum tsss... naa but seriously probably money and stuff, still the same now tbh. Yea so as one navigates this career path one sees colossal fluctuations in the harvest of wealth. In the beginning, there was much baroness in the bank vault and this changes like the seasons. One minute it’s all good and one is 'flush' as it were, and the next minute one is grovelling for scraps out the back of Chicken Cottage, but yea that’s the path I chose which is cool yea. Also, in the beginning, I did actually have a full-time job as a Gold Leaf Gilder, which I did for quite a few years and fitting the illustration in around that was a challenge.

How did you reach the following that you have now?

I seem to have a niche in the motorcycle area of illustration, and I have a lot of followers via that side of things from doing helmets, jackets, being in group shows and bike events etc. I had a blog (mentioned earlier) called 'Corpses From Hell' and this was before social media had really kicked off. People were following and reading blogs back then. The blog did quite well, I would find pictures of motorcycles I liked and post them on there with links and information. I gained quite a following on there and started doing T-shirts and merch. A lot of those fans have followed me ever since so that is nice.

What advice you would give to aspirational artists?

When you rise above the poultry, the rain comes from the top of the clouds into the sun so rain bathe.



How to Get Signed: Advice from a Label Manager

The Sly Persuaders by Chris Patmore

The Sly Persuaders by Chris Patmore

You’ve been creating music for a while and you think you’ve got something good going. The next step is to get signed to a label. If only it were that easy!

Don’t worry, we’ve asked the expert to give you all his top secret tips to getting signed.

Josh Cooper is Founder of Roadkill Records, London’s fastest growing DIY label focusing on quality garage, surf and psych releases and events. The label grew from ‘Roadkill’, a London monthly live music night, and launched with a limited edition cassette compilation in 2016. Now, Roadkill Records are known for sell-out shows across London and incredible vinyl and cassette releases from the UK’s most exciting new bands such as Projector and After London.

Here are Josh’s 5 top tips:

1. Be yourself

Firstly, don’t think about what a label might want you to look like / sound like and don’t try to be something you’re not. It never works. To be on the zeitgeist you need to be doing something new before you hear about it, so if you’re confident about what you do and you enjoy it then lead with that. Labels aren’t looking for you to be the next *insert hype band here* (because they’ll have seen hundreds of them), they’re looking for what’s coming next.  

After London by Chris Patmore

After London by Chris Patmore

2. Do your research

To save both parties time, research the label you approach before doing so. Make sure the music you make isn’t wildly off brand with what they do and mention it in your opening pitch. It’s always encouraging to know an artist has taken the time to familiarise themselves with your roster or what you do before beginning talks. Unfortunately, Roadkill, like every label I’m sure, receives so many emails from bands outside of genres we work with, or asking for services we don’t provide. Set yourself apart from the spammers.

3. Be informative

There’s no use contacting a label asking for a deal and nothing else (yet surprisingly this happens all the time). Include a bio, pictures, links to social media, press and tracks, private links to new releases and anything you may have accomplished yourself already. No one cares if it’s boastful, it’s better than being vague.

4. Involve yourself

If you’re in the position, involve yourself in what they do. Go to shows, take a cassette, CD or flyer with you, engage the team. Some of the most rewarding relationships we’ve built with bands have been off the back of getting to know each other personally on the live music circuit. It shows a willingness to get stuck in. I personally think it proves you’re serious about putting yourself out there. There are loads of contacts to be made and they’re best made face-to-face.

Projector by Don Blanford

Projector by Don Blanford

5. DIY as much as you can

There are so many ways you can self-release and self-manage now, you shouldn’t be getting in touch with labels until you’ve got yourself as far as you possibly can already. It’s a great learning curve, it’s rewarding and it’s totally doable. A label won’t automatically make you famous, they’ll just assist in funding and promoting you in ways you wouldn’t have been able to before. But that core fanbase, your output, image, associated bands – that’s all yours to build, and usually you need that before any record label would consider taking you on. And there are loads of funding opportunities now too. But it’s better to be in charge of yourself and have full control than signing for the sake of it. You have to be sure the label you want to work with takes you seriously, that the contracts don’t compromise what you do and that you’re comfortable with their terms. Otherwise, you’re best off on your own. 

Roadkill Records is hosting a festival 10th-11th August at The Victoria, London (sponsored by the Pistonhead Foundation). Check out the event and get tickets here: www.facebook.com/events/727208884363702/

Follow Roadkill Records on social: @roadkillrecords

Listen to the bands here:

The Sly Persuaders 



After London 

Enemy of the People 

If you’re a creative looking for support, get in touch with us at www.pistonheadfoundationuk.com/support



Matt WIlkins

Matt Wilkins (some know him as Matt Sabbath) is a freelance illustrator from North London, mainly focusing on pen and ink illustrations. 

How would you best describe your style?

A mix of psychedelia, cosmic and doomier themes. The eras of the 60s to 70s is a huge influence to me so that has definitely had an impact on my style. I like to use bold lines and bright colours to give my work that classic yet still modern look. 

Which piece of work are you most proud of? 

It's hard to narrow it down to just one, but I'm pretty proud of the shirt design that I was asked to do for one of my favourite bands, Kadavar. It was great to see them selling it at their merch table whilst touring around the world. Another highlight would be the 4 shirts I had the pleasure in designing for the country music legend, Waylon Jennings.

How have you reached the following that you have now? 

It's been a pretty natural growth over the years. Doing a lot of commission work has really helped with getting out there to wider audience for sure. 

Who are your favourite artists at the moment?

There's so many artists that are constantly killing it. To name a few favourites at the moment it would be Bossdog, Maarten Donders, Bayne at Blackwaterbluez, Russell Murchie, Caitlin Mattisson, Chris Alliston, Harley&J and Richey Beckett.

What obstacles have you faced along this journey?

Most of the obstacles were at the start of my career in art. Growing up art was always a passion but never something I imagined I'd be able to make a living of off. I ended up going down a different route academically. It's mainly down to social media that helped me get my artwork out there, as the commissions started coming in more regularly, I took that chance by going full time as a freelance illustrator and I haven't looked back. 

What advice would you give to aspirational artists?

Work hard on perfecting your style, design work that you're personally interested in, instead of what may be popular in that very moment. Use social media to your advantage, post artwork regularly and engage with your audience. Keep on at it and good things will come. 


Just wanted to say a huge thanks to all the rad people that have shown support for me on this journey and to the Pistonhead foundation for taking the time to ask me a few questions. Cheers!




Tony Jaycott

Tony is an illustrator based in Liverpool. He was introduced to watercolour crayons in high school when he told his art teacher that he like drawing but can’t traditionally paint. His art teacher recommended watercolour crayons to him, and since then he has never stopped using them


 Where do you get your inspiration from?

Plenty of artists, but often other things inspire my drawings too:

 • Art Nouveau - Alphonse Mucha etc.

 • Surrealists, like Magritte, Dali…

• Edward Hopper.

• Toulouse-Lautrec.

• Old newspaper satirical cartoons.

• Old fashion illustration, the sort of thing that was in old Vogue magazines.

• Film noir, 1960s kitchen sink cinema, David Lynch films.

• My Granddad was a tailor, and because of him I’ve always had an interest in suits. I don’t really like to draw men without making them wear a suit.

 • Graphic novels by people like Daniel Clowes. I like to create pieces that look like they are one panel isolated from a graphic novel.

• Victorian clutter.

• Various songwriters, writers, poets, thinkers. 

• History, and an affection for the culture on both sides of my heritage: English & Italian + A penchant for Italian American culture.

• There was a video game in the 90s called Grim Fandango, it had a very unique and beautiful style.

 • Obsessed with boxing, and like to weave in references to that sport in a lot of my drawings.


What distinguishes your work from other artists? 

Style wise I think I’ve developed something quite unique - A sort of combination of O.C.D organisation, and ‘romantic’ impulsivity. It’s a bit Jekyll & Hyde, but somehow the combination pulls together nicely.

My love for watercolour crayons is a bit unusual. I don’t really ever come across practicing artists who use them. I think I use them in quite a unique way in conjunction with the fine ink lines. People are usually surprised to find out what my medium is, assuming the colour was some sort of ink or even digital.


How has your work differed from when you started to now? 

I learned how to use all the modern technology (Adobe etc.) when I started college. I don’t hate it or anything, and I see plenty of work that I love that was probably drawn on an iPad. Personally though, at some point during university, I started to really miss making work without using a computer, and started to pick up my watercolour crayons again. I have ended up with one style for which is digitally coloured. Another style for which is entirely done with my watercolour crayons and fine line pens. The two styles differ, but I think you can still see that the same pair of hands are responsible for both.


What do you love most about working in this industry?

I’ve never had a more passionate pursuit than simply drawing pictures. I’ve been doodling since before I could make a sentence. I can’t imagine backing away and letting anything else take over.


What don't you like about this industry? 

I could do something about this myself, but I’m not much of a ‘networker’, and it obviously really helps to have that ground covered.

There’s also still the cliché of people who ask for things in a style you’ve never displayed, or ask for work at short notice for little return.

It’s probably been said a million times now, but with technology and the internet a lot of people have lost the sense of value in creative endeavours.


How has most of your opportunities come about? 

I’ve had quite a few jobs from people seeing the gig posters I’ve made.

Social media has yielded some results. Instagram seems to have become the best option.

I have work on some portfolio websites, I forget I ever published there, and I’ll get an email through those occasionally.


Have you ever worked on a piece for a really long time and not been happy with it? 

I’ve had some exhausting projects that didn’t inspire me very much, and I did personally notice the quality taper off as I started to become jaded, wanting it to end. In those cases the idea is to figure out how to hopefully make yourself enjoy it and still fulfil the brief. The outcome doesn’t suffer if you can do that.


The best compliment you have ever received about your work?

Someone I know noticed how I had started drawing so much again after life had gotten in the way a bit, and then I started getting decent opportunities. She’s a successful painter and decided to work towards going full time. She said I had inspired her to take that leap. It was actually much more meaningful than any nice comments about my work!



I plan on having a solo exhibition somewhere when I’ve created enough personal pieces. I’m challenging myself to have a ridiculous amount, so that the exhibition can look overwhelmingly “cluttered” like an old Victorian house, rather than a few pieces spaciously placed around clean white walls.




June at the Pistonhead Foundation

Another month has passed, filled with busy but exciting activities here at the Pistonhead Foundation. Read on for what we got up to…

Dr Martens x The Who Launch Party

Dr Martens have teamed up with The Who to launch a limited edition collection and campaign. On 6th June, they hosted a launch party for this at their flagship Carnaby Street store. As well as a chance to see the collection for the first time, the party hosted a charity silent auction in partnership with The Teenage Cancer Trust. Guests were treated to the DJ skills of Radio 1 DJ Matt Edmondson, and of course cans of Pistonhead Lager!

Buy the collection here: www.drmartens.com/uk/en_gb/c/the-who-collection

Image: Dr Martens

Image: Dr Martens

No Fun All Dayer at Drop the Dumbulls

Liverpudlian venue Drop the Dumbulls is a recently renovated pub heroing the local music scene. On 15th June, the put on an all dayer, with 11 great bands and 2 DJs. The Dumbulls provided the bands, Howl at the Moon Hot Sauce provided the food, we provided the beer! There was lots of amazing music from the likes of HAMER, Ohmns, Leather Party, Uncle Jane and many more.

Check out Drop the Dumbulls here: www.facebook.com/DropTheDumbulls

Deadwax TV Launch Party

Deadwax TV is a brand new music platform. Their aim is to bring fans closer to their favourite artists in a way that a usual interview setting wouldn’t be able to. They want to share new music and visual art with the world, instead of celebrated mediocrity.

Pistonhead love to champion new music and anything alternative, so when they asked us to sponsor their launch party, of course we said yes. It was an amazing all day gig at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on 16th June. Bands playing included Mother Engine, Kurokoma and many more.

Find out more about Deadwax TV here: www.deadwaxtv.com

Music on the Farm for Martha’s Trust

Martha’s Trust is a charity providing inclusive, lifelong care for people with profound physical and learning disabilities in Kent and East Sussex. Every June, they host a lovely family friendly festival to raise funds, on Solley’s Ice Cream Parlour farm in Ripple, Kent. We were pleased to be able to sponsor such a worthwhile cause.

It was a sunny, successful day on Sunday 30th June, and the charity managed to raise nearly £25,000!

Donate to Martha’s Trust here: www.marthatrust.org.uk/how-to-help

Image: Martha’s Trust

Image: Martha’s Trust

Does your event, exhibition, collection or gig need sponsoring? Get in touch via our website and we’ll do what we can to help: www.pistonheadfoundationuk.com/support



Simon Mitchell

Simon Mitchell is an illustrator and street artist currently living in Cambridgeshire. He has produced artwork for Green Day, McFly, The Midnight Beast, BBC, E4, YouTube, Mountain Dew and many more.

How would you best describe your style of art?

 My artwork is comical and colourful street art influence and a lot of character. It’s hard to explain I guess but I want it to be fun and a tiny bit tongue in cheek. I also love to paint on all surfaces and the bigger, the better!

Where do you get your inspiration from?

 My inspiration does come from anything and everything but mostly comics and street art/graffiti. I guess daily life changes my views and also juice me up for making the next bit of work.

Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of

I have a few. For me at 12 I wanted to work with Green Day (at the time I was a drummer and I guess that was the way I thought it would go) however, I never knew how it would happen that way. So, as I got older, I got into art and finally got the opportunity - that blew my mind and I was very proud that the guys I adored so much as a kid got to know (kind of) who I was.

The other thing was winning the UK illustration championships in 2017/18 which was crazy, and I still to this day don't understand how I did it, especially with the amazing talent that I went against in the competition but I guess anyone enjoying my work and appreciating what I do that makes me so so so so so so proud.


How do you seek out opportunities?

It's a grind, some occasionally land on my lap which is amazing, but most of the time it is looking for opportunities. Though sometimes it seems the more images I put online the more interest I seem to get which is something I should do more often but life gets in my way and I have to focus on the jobs I have.

What challenges have you faced?

Life being the main thing, I've had many ups and many many downs. I've learnt to learn from my mistakes/upsets/wrong turns and sometimes I've trusted the wrong people, but it's made me cautious and I believe you have to go through that to help you in the future.


How has your art changed from when you first started to now?

So much! I've had to understand and grow as I have journeyed. Getting my own style was my most important thing, it took me ages to understand that but one day it kicked in

What advice would you give to other aspirational artists?

Get your own style and use the artists you wish you could be as inspiration.



Advice from a Band Manager: All You Need to Know

So, you want to become a band manager, or your band is looking for a manager. Where to start? Music can be a confusing industry to navigate at the best of times, so we’ve decided to make it a little easier for you by giving you an All You Need to Know guide.

To create this, we enlisted the lovely Jamie Ford from Concrete Management, who kindly agreed to help us out. Jamie is the band manager of not one but TWO incredible bands: Hotel Lux and Mystic Peach. Read on for some comprehensive advice from the man himself…

How did you get into artist management?

It was just one of those things I randomly fell in to and started doing myself. I’ve been in bands for quite a few years where I mostly booked our shows and self-released music. After that I started putting on shows, working in-house at a venue and then leaving to create my own live promotions company and label. I found a band I loved and it seemed fitting that I get involved and help!

How did you find the bands you currently manage?

I found Mystic Peach through a close friend. They were just starting out and only rehearsing and putting new songs together – said friend sent a demo over and I was intrigued from then on. They’re locally based to me in Southampton which is great - and has meant I’ve been able to get really involved in the development side from day 1.

My brother began managing Hotel Lux around the same kind of time – I knew them as they’re originally from Portsmouth which is just down the road. As I really love Hotel Lux and have the same music interests as my brother it made sense to join the dots, birthing Concrete Management. It’s a great dynamic between us.

Hotel Lux | Image: Rhi Harper

Hotel Lux | Image: Rhi Harper

Is it good to get a contract with them?

It’s good to get a contract mainly so both parties are clear on what they can expect from each other. I suppose it’s one of those things where for a brand new manager, they may take a while to put a contract in place because they want to prove themselves to the band/artist. A contract is definitely good early on and protects all involved!

How do you help secure shows?

We have a booking agent for Hotel Lux who is really great, though we booked shows for them up until late last year. I book all shows for Mystic Peach currently and it mainly comes from having good relationships with other promoters (as I’m a promoter in Southampton/Portsmouth too). The more you play good shows in other cities and release music, the more demand naturally comes in from other promoters. So I do a lot of reaching out to promoters and sometimes management about support tours, but you also get a good amount of demand come to the inbox.  It’s important to target the right promoters and/or support shows.  

An element of this is also on the band – it can help if they’re a social bunch and make friends with other bands. That can lead to good shows. We managed to get some European tour dates for Hotel Lux with Shame last year thanks to that.

How do you help promote artists/tours?

Based on the schedules for announce we get set by festivals / support shows or the announce we set for our headline shows, it’s all based on social media really. It does depend on what the tour is and whether we have any new music releases around it as to how we promote it (i.e. if it’s accompanied by our video or artwork visual). Both of the artists I manage are quite different on social media, Hotel Lux are brilliant at being regular and posting funny things on Twitter on Instagram stories – and Mystic Peach are a bit more secretive and ‘mysterious’ I suppose. I guess you change socials strategies over time and depending on their genre and tone of voice.

Do you need to study to become a manager or is work experience best?

Having some background knowledge wouldn’t do any damage, but it’s all subjective based on the artist and their commerciality / genre / ambitions. Sure, I could read up on how to get a record deal – but it’s never the same journey for any band so that would be false knowledge almost. It’s all about work experience and getting to know your artist – knowing exactly what you want to do and don’t want to do. The best thing in terms of study is to know different areas of the industry: how publishing works, what kinds of record deals labels are now offering, looking up promoters and venues you’d like to work with, knowing when it’s worth having a press person on board etc.

What are three qualities that make for a good artist manager?

Persistence, passion (for what you do and more importantly for the artist(s) you work with), and finally just be friendly – it goes a long way in this industry! It’s easy to be remembered or known for being a dick.

What’s the difference between artist management and tour management?

In artist management you’re managing and guiding an artist’s career – making decisions with them, coming up with a timeline / plan / strategy. Tour management is what it says on the tin really: managing a specific set of tour dates and making sure the band are there on time, are looked after in terms of catering and being paid and often doing the driving too. I always try and manage tours for both of my artists and that reinforces my relationships with promoters at shows.  

Mystic Peach | Image: Mix It All Up

Mystic Peach | Image: Mix It All Up

What’s the best thing about being a manager?

It’s really exciting. You get to craft a team around you over time who more often than not want to really help the band succeed. One thing I love is being part of the development stages of music; hearing a new song and then watch it be worked on by the band, structured, taken to the studio, mastered, video made, sent around and then finally released and watching all of the great feedback come in on socials, email and at gigs. A lot of work goes in to a release and making sure every part of the puzzle is in place, so it’s very rewarding when it’s out to the world.

What’s the worst thing about being a manager?

Struggling to answer this one really. I’m lucky that this hasn’t happened but I guess the worst thing would be any internal bust ups between the band members which you’d have to try and settle.

There can be a lot of pressure when a release is coming up making sure all the plans are in place with label / royalty collection / tour dates / travel booked / video / press etc. but it’s usually rewarding after watching all the feedback come in from fans.

Do you have any advice for becoming a manager?

The most important thing is that you and the artist are on the same page. Be realistic in what you can offer but make sure you really love that band/artist’s material. It can be demanding but really fun too. It’s good to have a line in the relationship, but also good that the band can see you as a friend as well as a manager. It’s your job to have more contacts (and awareness of the industry) than the band so get out there and don’t rely on just email.  

Do you have any advice for artists looking for a manager? 

Make sure they’re the right fit for you. Sharing the same vision and actually have a passion for your music. Think about whether you need a manager yet – there’s so much you can do yourselves in this day and age to begin with. Be persistent but friendly, go to your local venues and meet the promoters and venue staff.

Thanks for chatting with us Jamie!


Follow Jamie on social:

Twitter/Instagram: @jamietheford

Hotel Lux:

Twitter/Instagram: @hotelluxband

Facebook: http://facebook.com/hotelluxband

Mystic Peach:

Twitter/Instagram: @mysticpeachh

Facebook: http://facebook.com/mysticpeachh


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