The JD Family, Part 2.
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
Hello, and well done if you made it this far!
I never meant for that last blog to be so long, but I hope you enjoyed reading about all those beautiful people. I’m not quite done yet though, equally as important as the gang mentioned in part 1 (check back my last blog if you missed it!) are all the people who work behind the scenes. The engineers, staff, touring crew, videographers amongst many more who are less in the spotlight, though equally deserve the credit. There are honestly countless people I have to thank and I would love to tell you about all of them but here’s a handful of stories about some amazing people, how some of us met and how we work together!
Not sure how to start off this one, so i’m going to take a throwback trip to 2015. I was being managed for a brief period by a young and keen Sam Jackson. I met Sam when he was booking bands for a venue in Banbury called Also Known As which I’ve played in many times. Sam looked after me for about 6 months and it wasn’t ever a contractual deal, more just a gentleman’s agreement. Sam helped me get my 2nd EP The Best In Me out, we got a couple of plays on BBC Radio 1 with it and had a couple of UK tours around the same time including some festivals opportunities that I got through BIMM, highlights including Leeds Festival, Y Not? and Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany. I’m still good friends with Sam now and we speak pretty regularly for hours over the phone about projects we’re working on, sharing ideas as well as just checking in. Sam is genuinely one of the good guys of music, and I feel very lucky to be able to bounce ideas off somebody who I trust completely who also has my best interests at heart and isn’t involved in my project actively, I think this is something that really helps me and I don’t take his time for granted. There’s nothing in it for him! Ps. if you’re looking for some new music to listen to; check out a band he currently manages called Only The Poets.
Whilst Sam was managing me, we made a couple of music videos for releases at the time and he introduced me to a videographer named Alex Rawson. The first time me and Alex met up we got on really well, I was very nervous on camera but Alex made me feel comfortable with plenty of nerdy guitar chat and conversations about gigs, things I love to talk about! He mentioned a whole bunch of bands/artists in his diary, one who he worked a lot making visual content was Northampton singer/songwriter Billy Lockett. Alex told me how closely they worked, and that he was actually tour managing Billy for his upcoming Europe and UK shows including a headline show at The Borderline in London. Alex told me Billy was writing an album, thought we would work really well together and wanted to connect us so he stuck me on the guestlist for the show and introduced me to Billy after the gig. I could write a whole blog about Billy & the last 4+ years, but the fact there’s so much to talk about there just goes to show what can happen from meeting the right people at the right time. I’ll save that for another blog about some of my experiences as a session musician. I still shoot videos with Alex and I feel very lucky that he is so supportive of all the things I do; amongst a million amazing things about him, when it comes to videos & photos he has such a great eye for capturing performances exactly how I hoped and really cares about making content the best it can possibly be. Hero!
Having people around you that you trust is so important when you’re creating whether that’s the music itself, the visual content or when making any other plans to try and move things forward. It can be scary when trying to find your own way through as an artist, i’m no expert but so far it seems you have to create your own steam in order make any movement and nobody’s going to do it for you (which if i’m honest.. as frustrating as it can be sometimes, I do genuinely enjoy) so having people around you who support your endeavours, encourage you and help your ideas blossom is important to me. When I moved to Brighton in 2014 I met Zack Dad; a fellow BIMM student who was on the events management course a year up from me when I was playing at an open mic. He was looking for a support act for a show he was running at The Haunt and after spending the whole night chatting in the pub about what I was doing with my music, Zack agreed to let me open the show. He seemed really keen to support me but that turned out to be only the tip of the iceberg. Since then, Zack has become an integral part of almost all the touring I do as an artist. He has tour managed me around the UK countless times as well as a handful of trips to Europe, but the role he plays is so much more.
When I started doing my own headline shows I always found myself being offered rubbish deals from promoters (low fee, high expectation on tickets where the more i’d sell the more % i’d get per sale) which I always understood as it was them carrying the risk, but I found the more I thought about it; I would rather take the risk myself and not let anyone down but also if it paid off then I could use any profits to reinvest and progress to bigger shows/tours etc. Zack has helped me book and run all of my headline UK tours in the last 5 years and without his commitment & hard work I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of those shows. We made no money on loads of the shows but always managed to make it work, the gratitude I have for Zack is immeasurable, his commitment to simply supporting me is something i’ll never be able to repay!
One of the ways I’ve been moving things forward in the last couple of years on the live touring side of things was setting up Infinity Music Group. I have so many ideas for this brand that when the time is right I will put into place and grow in new avenues, but for now I mainly use this to run my shows and have done since 2018. Firstly, it allows me to control where tickets are sold therefore reducing chance of secondary ticket sites scamming fans (which I’ve seen happen with my tickets a few times) as well as allowing me to keep prices fair so the money made can be used to put on the best show possible and pay all the band/crew/staff/support acts as well as possible. There are a few key people that help make this possible who not only work extremely hard when we have events in motion but also who talk through all my (usually wild) ideas with me to help me figure out the next steps, whom without lots of things would never work out or even get off the ground! The people who come to mind instantly here are Jade Sewell; who as well as being a constant support for my artist project, has worked alongside my former manager Chris helping with countless jobs for me including running the door and merchandise at the church shows. Jade is somebody who can always be relied on to take care of anything & everything and will always give me her opinion straight, which is something I value highly!
Speaking of the church gigs, my team of technicians are the honestly the real reason that show is even possible in such an under-equipped (but beautiful) venue. Tom Schofield & Liam Hicks who I met touring with Tom Clarke, and Brett Orzel (who I met way back in I think 2012 at 14 Records) help me bring together all the staging, audio & lighting for the show which is no small task! Putting on a show of such size in an old church like All Saints was always going to be a challenge logistically & technically, but these 3 guys work tirelessly to make it work and all do so with so much love and care for what they’re doing. I feel so lucky that all these insanely talented and hardworking people come together to help bring my ideas to life. I could go on for pages about each of them and all the work we’ve done together with different bands etc, but my point is that these people are truly amazing at what they do and deserve so much more credit than they get behind the scenes. So keep an eye out for them at my shows (when we’re allowed again) and thank them for everything they do, they deserve it!
The final person I wanted to mention in this blog is Miguel Lyons.
‘Quick’ story. (Promise!)
3 years ago I opened for Hannah Trigwell in St. Pancras Old Church, London. The sound engineer was late due to traffic and had to set up really fast to make sure everything was ready before the doors opened. I offered to help and he trustingly let me. I played my set and after the whole show was finished I stayed to help pack down. We got talking and he told me how much he enjoyed my set, especially Close To Home and the story about why I wrote it. I shared with him the link to the music video which he seemed excited to check out. 1 year later I get a totally random email from a promoter (Miguel) in Spain, offering me a slot at a songwriter festival in Barcelona. I took the gig, me and Zack flew over there and met Miguel the day before the show. He began to tell us how his friend (who is a freelance sound engineer in London…) sent him the Close To Home video and how much he really loved that song and just wanted to help me. Miguel books shows all over the world for some of the biggest names in music, from James Taylor to Jessie J! I was so flattered he had the time for such a small act like me and since then he’s continued to support me by booking me more shows in Spain since then, including a huge 2000+ capacity show supporting Alfred Garcia. It will always amaze me how music can travel and it’s precisely why I don’t take anybody sharing my music for granted because you literally never know who might end up hearing it.
The fact that someone with no connection to me whatsoever would hear my music and want to support me in this way seems so rare and I feel so special to be given these chances. If i’m honest (cringe alert) it’s how I feel about anybody who gives me a chance whether it’s support in the industry or just listening to my music or sharing it to help get it out there. I just wanted to share this handful of stories with you out of my love and appreciation for each one of them. There are so many artists/bands out there who are worthy of all the support in the world and these people could help any one of them and the fact they make time for me is something I will always be grateful for. Just like i’m grateful for you supporting my music too.
I’m the lucky one!