Friday, 23 April 2010
INTERVIEW & EVENT: Ayo | One Mic
Short. Sharp. Facts!
Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria
Lives: South East London
Promotion Name: We Plug G.O.O.D Music
ONiT! caught up with Ayo of We Plug G.O.O.D Music in the run up to their next showcase event, One Mic…UnWrapped...
Who makes up We Plug G.O.O.D Music Team?
I (Ayo) run the We Plug G.O.O.D Music website (www.wepluggoodmusic.com) and the We Plug G.O.O.D Music event team that puts on the show, in conjuction with the dMp, alongside my colleague, Nifemi, in the US who deals with sourcing acts from the States for our website features. We also have a spin off showcase in Lagos, Nigeria, by the same name organised by another colleague, Osagie who also serves as African Music content provider for our website.
How long has One Mic been running now?
Since August 2009
How often does the show take place?
Can you tell us what inspired you to create One Mic?
The main thing was that the website/blogs had been running for a few months and there were many UK acts who we showcased online, which I felt were being limited by only being showcased online, so I spoke to Femi Mode of The dMp and we decided to collaborate to put on a live showcase in addition to We Plug Good Music just promoting these artists via the internet.
The acts aren’t mainstream, that’s not our thing. We’re really about emerging music so the main idea behind the show is that you may have read about the artists on the website and maybe heard some of their work, but that the showcase is your real opportunity to hear them live and for the artists to build a fanbase and a following.
One Mic simply boasts a platform where new and emerging acts can showcase their work and talent to people that may or may not have heard them, but who will appreciate their art.
What would you say have been the greatest challenges in putting on a regular event like One Mic?
It can be difficult when you’re on a certain wavelength, when you can see a particular vision but no one else is on that same page. It’s quite hard to pull people into the same direction, for them to see what it is that you see. Mixing the event with work, studying and the websites, the organisation is quite wide. The showcase event is only one part of what we do, you know? When you mix all of that up, and if you don’t have everyone on the same page, it can become difficult.
On another level, some acts can be quite diva like [laughs]. For example, one snag that we have is that we have 12 acts, they’ve all been hand-picked to compliment one another and the show, with specific attention paid to who will start and end the show. The opening and closing acts can be very difficult to schedule, artists never want to go first! It’s hard work. The artists are generally booked on an even keel so to get around it, we’ve invited an act who doesn’t mind going first, with the specific point of opening the show because no one else wanted to go first!
I love new, emerging music, not mainstream crap! That’s my own personal main drive for putting on the show – I’m not a traditional ‘Promoter’, so I am focused on the talent side of the show, not so much the promotion side of it. I think that possibly in the future, we may have to source funding, because some acts don’t want to perform for free, despite it being a showcase and issues arise because we don’t run the show as a profitable business, we don’t run One Mic for a financial gain. We do it for the love of the art and for the sake of the artists; that we can help them to make it and get where they want to be.
What is so great about the venue, Elixir Bar? What was your motivation behind using it?
The main thing is that the bar is quite cosy, it has a great intimate feel to it. It also comes with full sound equipment and a Sound Engineer, which is a massive help. The venue has a great, live sound in it, which obviously helps the show. When you hear the band play, it’s criss, it’s got that raw, live feel to it and you know you’re hearing quality sound.
Ultimately, what would you like to achieve with One Mic?
To keep the show as a platform for emerging artists. I think that with new UK acts, for that breaking sound that’s on the verge of crossing over, there are industry nights/events especially for them. They’re on the road to being mainstream, and those type of nights are on the way to being mainstream too. But whilst that is great, we don’t want that for One Mic – that’s not the reason behind the showcase, I reckon One Mic might just be the transitionary showcase that will lead to these artists getting on those industry nights/events. The reason is to keep the acts as emerging talent, you know, artists who aren’t already getting major airplay, but ones who are enthusiastic about performing even though they aren’t necessarily on their way to being signed in the very near future - but possibly later down the line. We want to show them at their core, unrefined, undiluted talent.
We want to get the acts to be heard by as many ears as possible, that’s our long-term goal. That’s why we try to keep in touch with the acts that we showcase, play them on our radio show and maintain a connection with them, in order for them to build their fanbase and keep up momentum.
How did the name One Mic come about?
I just thought it was cool! I’m not a huge fan of Nas cos Jay-Z is my man! [laughs] But in terms of the showcase, all I could hear in my mind was Nas’ One Mic. When these acts start up, when they first start performing, they’ll take anything, they’re just hungry for it, they just want to perform, do their thing and smack it, so all they really need is one mic!
Are there any artists that you’ve featured, who you particularly enjoyed or who stick in your mind?
Right now, I think UK wise, or the ‘scene’ wise, Spoken Word is going to go far. From the first showcase that we did last year, we had a lady called Holly McNish, who is playing Glastonbury 2010, which is massive! I think she was great. Also, Spoken Word wise, we had G.R.E.E.D.S, an amazing artist in his own right.
We had Chockz the Rapper. I think UK Rap/Hip Hop is really hard to crack, but with him, and the right team, if he keeps doing what he’s been doing he will definitely go far. Shadez the Misfit, he is doing big things; he’s on the Cordless Show and the Evo Room on Channel Four.
A Singer at our most recent show, Lilly Mckenzie, she was awesome, her set was really great. Shean Williams is dope too and a lady by the name of Shanaz Dorsett. These are artists that I hear and I think, soon, their time is coming soon.
What can the audience expect on the night when they come to One Mic?
What you get at One Mic is good, proper, live, MUSIC! All acts are backed by a live four piece band, so if you like your live music, this is where you need to be.
This show coming up also (25th April), we had to book Travis Jay again, he’s just too funny. From the last show that he did for us, we’ve had so much positive feedback asking for him to come back, so we’re bringing him back. There’s also spoken word from Ross Taker (Rum Punch 'Punch' Champion - February 2010) & Ms*Starry, for all the spoken word connoisseurs. Great music, stuff that you don’t hear out there, spoken word and comedy - that’s the main core plus you can catch the likes of emerging UK Emcee, AKS (in his 1st post-Cordless Show Live performance since winning that competition), Soul-singers Belle and Ashleigh Ashley plus so much more. If you love music, you will have a great time, it’s just that plain and simple.
The next showcase, One Mic - Unwrapped, will take place on Sunday 25 April followed by 27 June, both at Elixir Bar in London.
Win a pair of tickets for One Mic – Unwrapped this Sunday 25 April by answering this question:
Name three artists who have performed at a previous One Mic showcase.
Send your answer via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org the first correct answer will receive complimentary entry for 2 (via the guestlist).