Music News meets Acute Promotions
added: 7 Jun 2012
interviewed by: Luberto Kalwa
Music new's very own bass music maverick has taken the time to explore the hybrid sounds from Dubstep to Drum n Bass to have a chat with label owner and booking agent manager Nikki Acute from Acute Promotions.
MN: So Acute Promotions is a booking agency and also deals with artist management but where did it all begin for the mastermind behind Acute Promotions. How did you get involved in music and starting up your musical enterprise?
AP: Since a young age I’d really enjoyed music, in primary school I learnt to play the drums and later moved onto BRIT School where I studied Dance so I guess I’d always enjoyed music. As I got to 16 I became engulfed in the Drum & Bass scene at the time, out every weekend enjoying the music and also the culture. A massive part of my love for the scene was the fact that everyone was so friendly, every rave you went to you were sure to come home with numbers of random people you’d been chatting to throughout the night, ravers and artists alike.
Naturally, a lot of my friends at the time were into the same music and some of them were extremely talented DJs, so, as I was very sociable I decided to help them get their name to the right people by handing their mixes to artists and promoters I’d been gassing to and built friendships with. That was where the agency started really, I set up the MySpace page, bought the domain and began building more and more contacts! The way I saw it (and still do) working as a booking agent ticks all the boxes of things I love doing. Helping people progress, socialising, organising and making successful links within the industry, so naturally my passion levels are extremely high because I love my job!
MN: You also run two digital labels, Family Tree records and Synchronicity. Could you sum up the sort of sound and producers you are trying to represent and push through?
AP: Both labels showcase different elements of Electronic music. Family Tree was created to release big, hard-hitting tracks aimed at the dance floor, whereas Synchronicity releases are more suited to deep thought sessions, home listening, yet transfer well to the more mature club scene too. We’ve purposely not restricted the labels by stating they are a specific genre, all material we source and put out are connected only by the level of quality.
MN: The Acute Agency currently has the most talked about artists and producer/DJs within the Dubstep scene. Since the underground and urban scene is rapidly changing, are you considering in branching out into the bass spectrum and dwell into different genre’s such as minimal house and Drum & Bass?
AP: Yes most definitely. I’ve already set the wheels in motion to welcome artists from other genres onto the roster. The current roster already showcases a good variety of the Dubstep sound, however, in the coming months we’re also expanding to other Bass music genres. I’ve also just taken on an agent in Greece, Christos, who is helping spread the word of the artists and the agency and I’m also looking for other agents to come on board.
MN: Your latest label release on Synchronicity was by Blacksmif and has been receiving massive support by DJs and especially by the legendary Mary Anne Hobbs. What sort of feedback has the EP been receiving since its release?
AP: We’ve been blown away by the response of Blacksmif’s ‘And The Sun Rose Out’ EP! Especially as it was our first release and Yemi (Blacksmif) is a fairly new producer. Like you’ve mentioned, Mary Anne Hobbs supported the release heavily and even invited Blacksmif to provide a guest mix for her XFM show as well as BBC Radio 1’s Rob Da Bank also playing a couple of tracks and further support from artists such as Whistla (Sub FM) & BunZero. All feedback has been so positive with the rip of the title track being played by Mary Anne Hobbs receiving over 12,000 plays on Blacksmif’s soundcloud and great response from the video we had made by We Free the Box http://vimeo.com/37557663
MN: On the other hand, your experimental label Family Tree has released its third release by none other than Megalodon and Itchy Robot & Skeeze. This release seems to bring back the more pioneering sound of Dubstep with the fusion of the current 808 future bass sound. Is this the signature sound the label is planning to push? Secondly, do you believe that there is still room for the pioneering sound of Dubstep to be played out in festivals and radio or has its time past and gone?
AP: We were blessed to have such a strong release from both acts which was also so different from their normal productions. It definitely does incorporate elements of ‘what Dubstep used to be’ which is probably why it’s so appealing to listeners including myself, but as much as both tracks from Megalodon and Itchy & Skeeze were massive, we wouldn’t like to restrict ourselves to just releasing similar material, I mean, the next release will not be a million miles away simply down to our taste, but when you limit yourself you’re basically shunning so much other, beautiful material just because it ‘doesn’t meet your rigid criteria’ – life is varied, open and exciting, that’s exactly what we want the labels to showcase too. It’s very difficult to say whether the ‘pioneering sound of Dubstep’ has ‘had its time’ or not because it depends on what you mean. Dubstep started underground and has consistently grown and evolved in various ways. The ‘original’ Dubstep sound still remains quite a niche genre so it’s not the style that’s hit the charts. There may be a time when the hype of current chart Dubstep dies down but the original (yet somewhat evolved) sound will still be bubbling away underground all over the world, plus I think there are and always will be radio DJs and specialised festivals that cater for the ‘original’ sound e.g. Outlook Festival
MN: Has the death of pirate radio culture influenced you in solely doing digital releases and not releasing vinyl releases plus do you believe it makes a difference to the scene?
AP: The reduction of pirate radio stations has slowly been taking place over the last 10 years! I remember being 14 and there being another station every tiny fraction you turned the dial, now you’re lucky if anyone even has an FM radio at all! That being said, this wasn’t a direct influence on why we are currently digital-only. The main reason we’ve decided to start primarily digital is so we can release (and distribute) the material we find at a reasonable pace without risking delay from mastering/artwork/distribution companies. And also from a business point of view we now have the ability to walk before we can run, to test the water and see the support we can drum up for these beautiful releases. Once we are established at a comfortable level we will be looking into limited vinyl or CD releases.
MN: You are also the first female that I have encountered to be running her own label(s) aswell as her music enterprise. Do you believe that there is a fixed stigma within the underground scene that females are portrayed as inferior in relation to the business aspect in music?
AP: I now run both labels with my business partner, Kerry, which is great! We’re both loud mouthed chicks that are both organised and have a strong passion for music, perfect combination! It would be naïve to think that this scene is not male dominated, it’s easy to see that – and at times there is an element of inferiority placed on us, but if you let the small things like that get to you then I’d question your dedication! Anyone, no matter what gender, will come up against some form of barrier at one point or another, it’s whether you push through that or let it hinder you, your choice.
MN: Lastly, what would be your advice to anybody especially females out there that are looking to running their own label or artist management/booking agency?
AP: Do it if you love it. I’d say that to anyone starting any business. My mum once recited the saying ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’ to me and it stuck. I left a well paid full-time job to follow this dream, which was a massive decision and one that many potential entrepreneurs will never make due to fear of instability, and although at times it can be financially and psychologically draining, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Each day I progress further, push the boundaries of my conditioning and step out of my comfort zone which is far more rewarding than anything I’d experienced working for someone else. That doesn’t mean to say it’s for everyone, but so long as you love what you do, I think that’s the key to a happy life. Oh and don’t take any s**t. Haha. This scene and I’m guessing any others, are driven mainly by ego, so realise your dream and stick to it :)
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