The Masters has jumped up a notch in terms of making me think about what it is I want to do, where I can do it and how to get there. Granted there is a little more in the way of assignments, project proposals, Gantt charts and the small matter of a dissertation to get through but the juices are flowing. On a side note I will be plucking some of you out of thin air for that dissertation. This is your only warning. I was struck in the early hours of this morning about how I got here and what I know so far. I was reminded of the lessons friends shared, the experiences and the accidents…
Over the last 15 or so years many people have shared crucial knowledge with me, whether they know it or not. Four people in particular have taught me very different things. There is one important caveat to this post. Had they collectively taught me this prior to 2007 I would have signed Two Door Cinema Club when they played in McHughs basement for Oxjam Belfast and you would have been reading a very different blog. Take note.
Edited to add this video. Oxjam Belfast 2007. In 3×4.
Sean MacEachaidh, not the drinker I thought he was.
It turned out that drinking with a teetotaller could actually be a lot of fun. I was never short of a lift home at any rate. Sean taught me a number of things, primarily, follow your heart. No matter your age, your intellect, your ability, follow follow follow. Take care of others, find room for altruism, build in love for those near and dear and look out for the little guy. Be relentless in the denial of negativity. First things first though.
Joe Lindsay, TV star, superstar DJ (and bawbag).
Joe taught me how to make a truly epic party. Find a theme, a hook, an idea, brand it, make it yours, get a great designer to show it off, think about the space and the atmosphere, buy a ton of lasers, lights and inflatable props, play the best music there is and kick some ass. Be focused in doing so to the detriment of just about everything else. Have fun. When it stops being fun do something different, change it up, make it fun again. Do right by your punters and ask for a little more sometimes, when the need arises. There is no reason you can’t have fun and raise a few quid for others along the way.
Carolyn Mathers, creative genius, lover of musicals.
There have been many lessons over the years. Yes have a party. Yes pay everyone. Yes put on entertaining, enthralling events. But none of it means jack if there isn’t a long term vision of artist and sector development and a plan to build on what is there. Get the industry involved, get flights booked, get them here, get hotel rooms for them and get contracts signed. One does not continue without the other. Grass roots is all well and good but if you’re not thinking world domination there is no point.
Stuart Bailie, the fifth manic, ex NME editor and writer of prose.
Stuart gave me a very valuable lesson in paying people and pampering punters on a shoestring. It doesn’t matter what your event is, doesn’t matter what its for, the creative talent, the artist, is key. They are central to everything. Exposure doesn’t pay the electric bill. Everyone gets paid. Everyone.
When I put all these bits of advice together I get a sense of it all. It doesn’t matter how absurd the idea, how ridiculous the concept, a belief in your skill set, a belief in your people and delivery method and just about anything is possible.
Make monumental foul ups.
Learn from every single one.
Try not to kill anyone.
You want to guarantee a dry night in Ireland in an October three years from now in exchange for a million-pound investment and a weekend of insane PR across the world? Go for it, no one is watching. Yet. The weather will be beautiful (Dry) and the world will see the place lit up like a Christmas tree. It will be beautiful and no one will care about Rihanna’s romp in the fields. Besides, you’ll have killed that off.
You want to convince a serious artist that there is a comedy career ahead of them? Go for it. They’ll win awards and tour on it. They’ll sell out a month of shows in Edinburgh with no prior comedy experience, they’ll be nominated for awards and win a couple. They’ll also end up being able to build on the serious stuff they make and they will grow and flourish. They may still be as crazy as a bag of cats but they’ll create magic along the way.
Want to convince someone that a gig on a ship in the middle of a forest may just be the finest thing you’ll ever see? Sing brother! Sing! (watch out for fashion designers in trees)
Want to get your hands on a ship and put a show on? I guarantee it’s out there. There will be a woman with access to a ship and she will let you use it for actual music and she won’t rip your arm off for payment. It will be a damn sight better than a pub quiz.
Want to put on a festival with absolutely no experience, wing it for years and tell everyone how you did it so they can copy it? You want to say you were part of a project that raised 4 million for charity? Yeah, you can. Anyone can.
The single biggest rule is a simple one. Be bold. Face the world with an up yours, extend the middle finger of determination, add a healthy dollop of the good old f**k you and you can do anything you want. Anything.