Why I Left the Music Industry

…and how the fuck I ended up doing what I’m doing now…

We all have those “oh fuck” moments, when something falls apart, alters our whole trajectory, shakes the foundations of our world and makes you question “where the hell did I go wrong?”. I’ve had a few in recent years. I had a breakdown in 2011. It was mostly spurred by that break up – you know, the one we all go through that takes forever to get over, but later reveals it has absolutely nothing to do with the person who broke your heart. Then I quit touring, not knowing what the hell I would do next. The road had defined me and without it (and the ex) I was no one. The other major event was earlier this year, after splitting with a band I loved and had put my heart and soul into for six years. It wasn’t my choice, but I’m now at a point where it all makes sense and was probably one of the best things to ever happen to me. In fact, I’ve realised over time that all these events have defined who I am today and to be frank, I actually really like who I am these days, which comes as a surprise.

Music has always been my life. Growing up, I was in chat rooms with kids in the States until 5am on school nights, learning all about the scene over there, dreaming of the day I could move to America to go to every Modest Mouse or Promise Ring show I could get myself to. I’d stalk Chicago based music agents Tom Windish (Windish Agency) and Tim Edwards (Flower Booking) online before they made it big, knowing that any band they touched was a band I needed in my life. And years later I ended up working with both of them. The land of hope. The land of endless possibilities. I had to get myself to America, somehow. And eventually I did.

I quit university, much to my parents dismay, and somehow I managed to get a job at Fat Cat Records (early home to Sigur Rós). Svefn-G-Englar was the theme tune of 1999 for me, alongside my obsession with Radiohead, and I ended up convincing everyone that I should move to Iceland and work for Sigur Rós directly. Within a matter of months I’d gone from an obsessed regular on the W.A.S.T.E message board (Radiohead fans will know this was the epicenter of Radiohead fandom back in the late 90s/early 00s), to going on the road with Sigur Rós opening for Radiohead, and running their record label in Iceland. I was 19 when all this happened and I’ve no idea how or why I fell on such amazing luck, but it was happening and I grabbed it with all my being. Failure was not an option.

Jonsi & Kjarri of Sigur Rós – Reykjavik, 2000

I lived in Iceland for two years, working with incredible artists. It was beyond a baptism of fire, but with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. Einar Örn from The Sugarcubes put me in a headlock one day and told me I would be the PR manager for Iceland Airwaves that year. There was no arguing. It was a sealed deal in his mind and I had no choice but to accept the challenge. So that winter, I ended up looking after a slew of industry people coming to the festival. Suddenly I found myself skipping down Laugavegur with Jim from Sparta, again thinking “how the fuck did I get here –  eight months ago I was jumping around my bedroom to ATDI”. But it happened. Somehow.

My obsession with music was the very thing that meant I couldn’t possibly do anything else. I grew up playing piano and violin, had a music scholarship and won all the music awards my school could give me. It was everything. It became apparent I had synaesthesia around the time I discovered the piano and as a result you couldn’t tear me away from it. It was my first drug, a lasting drug that I’m grateful to experience, even if it is overwhelming at times. It’s probably the only positive side effect of manic depression. And so, here I was on the outskirts of the music “industry,” and I wanted in.

Again, somehow I started selling merchandise on tour for bands I loved in the early 00s; Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, The Rapture. I progressed to tour managing and production managing for the likes of Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs and We Are Scientists. I saw the world numerous times over from the window of my bunk, or an airplane, but I saw it nonetheless. I was in. People knew who I was, people hired me and I had really made it my life.

 

Source: Why I Left the Music Industry

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