The Boating Party is a new feature on my blog. It’s a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, designers and the like.
In times of economic hardship the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists view themselves as rebels to society.
Artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.
And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?
I hope a brief glimpse into their lives is as inspiring to you as it is to me.
Next up, Damian Morgan, a music agent with a difference – he loves his ‘clients’!
What’s your greatest personal achievement?
Would it be terribly dull to say ‘my children’? Seems ridiculous when people say their children are their ‘greatest personal achievement’ doesn’t it? But I do feel that. I guess the ‘achievement’ part is that they seem to be fairly well-balanced little chaps, considering they’ve got my genes! They give us a window on a world we’ve long forgotten: That is, the world as they see it. So, my two boys… full of life and wonder, they are the reason I live and breathe.
What’s your greatest career achievement?
My agency, for sure. Brave Music Ltd and the roster I’ve built. It’s had its ups and downs but it’s still there 12 years on and still going strong. The roster I’ve built is a list of some of my musical heroes and people I admire greatly. Artists such as The Smiths and The Specials. Bands I have always loved; bands that spoke to me as a teenager, and still do.
I had an odd moment last year when I took Terry Hall, (The Specials), to see Dave Haslam, (Hacienda), interview Bernard Sumner, (New Order), and as I was sat there, I suddenly thought “If you’d have told the 15 year old me that I’d be here doing this he’d have never believed it”.
What’s been your greatest sacrifice?
Apart from sacrificing my sanity to work in this business? I’d say giving up the momentum of a career to look after my children. Do the stay-at-home dad thing and put their needs first. It was great fun though. And being the only dad at toddler groups led to lots of funny situations and, ultimately, many friends I still have to this day. No regrets and I’d happily do it all again.
To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?
Family. My mum for all the obvious reasons: love, support, nurturing, and teaching me how to iron a shirt. My dad, for his humour, gentleness and full head of hair. Both dead now, and much missed.
I owe a lot to my brother and sister, who had brilliant taste in music which I absorbed, via some sort of osmosis. Cool people and I love them both.
Who inspires you?
In my personal life, a young lady called Joanne Williams, a cousin of mine who was the same age as me but died 5 years ago aged 37. She battled M.E. and cancer. She was full of life and spirit until the end, and we loved each other like a brother and sister. She was funny, clever and wise, and I strive to live the life she should have had.
My inspiration in business, is the famous rock promoter, Harvey Goldsmith – a great man. Hard nosed but fair and with a great ethos. He recently said “British music is bland and tame and pop stars now don’t understand you have to put the work in” – so true!
What inspires you?
Nature, the planet, clouds, trees. An awareness of being a miniscule part of something billions of times more important than me. We are mere blips in history so do your best in life, make the most of it
What was the last thing that inspired you?
I’m lucky enough to hear great new music all the time but, I heard some 15th century madrigals, by Monteverdi, and they are beautiful. Inspired me to seek out early music. Textural, complex, really wonderful.
What makes you unhappy?
Unfairness, hate, poverty, racism, closed minds, being stifled – and the human race’s reliance on an animal-based diet.
What are you reading?
I’m addicted, (as are many), to Scandinavian crime novels. Just reading ‘Mercy’ by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Also, Nile Rodger’s autobiography, which reads better and, is more incredible, than many novels – an amazing life that guy has had.
Who, or what, are you listening to?
A great band from Sheffield, called Screaming Maldini, who make wondrous pop music and have a star-in-the-making in the shape of Gina Walters. I’ve just downloaded all of XTC’s albums, discovering their rich back-catalogue full of clever wordplay and amazing music. Also, the usual diet of Bowie, Smiths, Roxy.
What’s your favourite film?
That’s far too difficult to answer with certainty. Let’s say ‘The Man Who Came To Dinner’ for today. It’s about Sheridan Whiteside, an acerbic New York critic and lecturer who breaks a leg while in a small town and is forced to live temporarily with an uptight local couple who aren’t at all pleased about their new guest. Whiteside proceeds to take over the house, move in his secretary, (Bette Davis), endlessly berate his nurse and re-direct the lives of the couple’s children and generally wreak havoc. Very funny.
What frightens you?
Anything bad happening to my children. The Conservative party. Mitt Romney.
What can’t you live without?
Red wine, cheese, and my mobile phone.
What’s your motto?
Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
If you only had one year to live what would you do?
I’d take out a huge loan that I’d never repay and travel the world. Say sorry to all those I’ve hurt. Praise those I love. And get fat on curry, red wine and chocolate. Then I’d relax for the other 11 months.
Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?
Too many arses and not enough rockets.
Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?
A lift engineer!
Alive or dead? Peter Ustinov or Clive James would be good. Both have great stories to tell. They might suck the oxygen out of the space though…
What are you working on at the moment?
A new agency called Spoilt Kid. I want to be able to help new artists establish themselves in this increasing difficult industry. There are countless horror stories of how emerging acts are mistreated and given bad advice simply because they are not adequately equipped to deal with the business aspects of the music industry. It will give the cream of UK talent access to a wealth of professional services such as a record label, photography, public relations, tour management and booking agent services. It aims to provide a platform for musicians to not only establish themselves, but ensure they continue to flourish. It’s bringing together all the contacts I’ve made in the past 25 years under one umbrella. Fingers crossed!
Which six people would you invite to your boating party?
Bowie, Scott Walker, Morrissey, my dad, Mike Joyce, Terry Hall, they’d be great company. If it was a leaky boat I’d invite Osborne, Clegg, Blair, Cameron, Thatcher, Gove – and only one life jacket.
What question would you liked me to have asked?
If you could go back in time to one event what would it be?
I’d like to have seen the Berlin wall come down. What a party!
Thank you, Damian.
Manchester based Brave Music Agency represents some of the most iconic names in Indie music and up-and-coming live talent.
Drew McConnell, (Babyshambles); Jez Kerr, (ACR); Matt Berry, (IT Crowd); The Chameleons Vox; Mark Burgess; Nigel Clark, (Dodgy); The Rainband; The Narrows; Bethia Beadman; The Pipettes; Ian McNabb, (Icicle Works); Martin Carr, (Boo Radleys); Slow Readers Club; Danny Mahon; Northern Uproar; JayStansfield to name a few.
Mike Joyce, (The Smiths); Andy Rourke, (The Smiths); Kid British; MC Tunes; Danny McNamara; Ciaran Griffiths, (Shameless); Drew McConnell, (Babyshambles); Ann Shenton; Tony McCarroll, (Oasis); Pipettes; Alan McGee; Bez, (Happy Mondays); Charlotte Hatherley, (Bat For Lashes/Ash); Dave Haslam, (XFM/Hacienda); Dirty Pretty Things, (Didz Hammond); Doves, (Jez & Andy); Emmerdale, (Jeff Hordley); Goldie Lookin Chain, Rhys and Eggsy; Inspiral Carpets, (Clint Boon); Moshi Moshi; Phil Smith, (Official Oasis Tour DJ); Shed 7, (Rick Witter); Terry Christian, (TV Presenter); The Farm; The Specials, (Terry Hall); Dan Ralph Martin, (Kasabian Tour DJ); Nick Power, (The Coral); John Robb.