Leading up to Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF), we chat to LIMF music curator, Yaw Owusu to give us insider advice on how to get started in events, tips for successful events and his style inspiration.
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One of Europe’s biggest FREE outdoor festivals, LIMF Summer Jam is the main event held at Sefton Park, South Liverpool from the 21st – 24th July and is going to be brighter and bigger than ever before. This unmissable event is one to put in the calendar. With its insane lineup headliners that include Sigma, Lianne La Havas, The Wombats and Wretch 32, LIMF Summer Jam is sure to impress.
Highlighting the festival's continued dedication to celebrating its rich musical pedigree and ever-evolving contemporary music culture will be the unmissable LIMF Presents series - seven artistically directed projects exploring the theme of 'Re-Definition’.
Think music and movements that have redefined and are redefining popular music and culture. Some of the shows happening include 'From The Soul' presented by Gilles Peterson who will look at the evolution of British Soul over the past 30 years and will feature performances by Incognito, Omar, Carleen Anderson, Ady Suleiman, Swindle and Thris Tian not to mention Gilles himself. As well as Liverpool's finest house music export, Yousef musically directs 'House Nation', a celebration of the international sounds of House Music, with a line up that includes Dennis Ferrer (Objektivity, NYC) from New York, Reboot from Frankfurt, HECTOR – VATOS LOCOS from Mexico City and rising luminary Lewis Boardman.
Busily putting the finishing touches on this year’s four-day extravaganza LIMF’s music curator and owner of Nothin But The Music, Yaw Owusu spares a moment to shares his knowledge of the industry, tips on how to get event industry experience, how to make a successful event and his Idle Man top picks.
How did you first get into putting on your own events?
I started doing events out of necessity really. I started my own music collective when I was 21 and wanted another outlet to showcase the artists involved in it. In Liverpool, there weren't many live outlets for the type of music we were making and releasing so we created our own. I didn't know what the hell I was doing at first but managed to get okay at it - especially programming. And now, my company, Nothin But The Music, specialises in that field and have been fortunate enough to do some wicked events across the UK.
Can you tell us a little about the team that work on LIMF with you?
I work with a great team at LIMF. I get to do the 'fun' things like artistic direction, programming and bookings, whereas the team at Culture Liverpool do the essential parts such as operations, event and project management, contracting, design, local PR and marketing etc. I must shout out Sue Lees and Chloe Drury who preside over it all and put up with me all the time. We also have Full Fat PR and Crave Communications contributing national and international PR and Marketing so it's a great, fluid and ever-improving team. I love the guys I work with and I tell myself that they love working with me too!
Biggest challenge you come across when putting on your events?
Every event is a challenge in some way. They are unpredictable at best. However, the biggest challenge will also be plugging a gap when artists or bands pull out last minute. For me, I see line ups and events like a jigsaw and when you get it right, you now feel like the picture is complete and that it has fully reflected your vision. If a key artist pulls out late in the day, that can really ruin the look, feel and flow of your event.
What advice would you have for someone looking to start a career in events?
I think anyone should really learn the craft of putting on or programming events. You can do this by just jumping in and doing event or/and shadowing professionals. I never really got to shadow a professional but learnt by doing. I've learnt a lot in the last few years from my peers and colleagues.
What event would you look to if you were to say “this is how you put on an event properly”?
I think what Rich McGinnis does with ParkLife, Chibuku and LoveBox is incredible. He is really astute with his bookings, the balance of his line ups and just taking chances on emerging talent. He has been a real supporter of LIMF. I love various showcase events too. I constantly marvel at events like Made In America, Eurosonic, SXSW, Coachella and The Fader Fort. In fact, the Fader Fort and the team behind that are so inspirational to me. Big up Rob Stone and Rob English for constantly putting on excellence year on year. Every time I attend one, I feel so inspired and challenged, whilst being ultimately entertained.
Your key elements to putting on a successful event?
My top 5 elements would be:
- A Great Team
- Great Music or Content
- An inspired and engaged audience
How does your career affect the way you dress?
I work with music so I'm quite informal in how I dress. I spend a lot of time in studios, meetings, walking and commuting and I pace a lot when I'm on the phone so I like to dress comfortably - comfy trainers, semi-baggy jeans and sweaters, hoodies or light jackets. I prefer to always flex my individuality but in an understated way.
Where do you get style inspiration from?
I don't know really. I grew up listening to Hip-Hop, consuming Hip-Hop Culture and playing basketball so certain elements of my wardrobe reflects that. As I've matured the clothes have gotten more fitted. But I still love fresh Jordan's, a nice pair of jeans and hoodies. And the occasional fitted or SnapBack cap.
I must admit there are certain people I believe have a certain style and cool and so I'm always inspired when I see the way they dress. This can be friends, colleagues or someone in the limelight like Jay-Z.
What advice would you have to someone who is having difficulty developing their own style?
Do not copy but feel inspired by various styles. If I'm honest I always get on to people's styles and feel no way about catching inspiration or ideas. However I like to throw it together in a way that's effortless and easy. I have young children at home and work too many hours to dress in a way that's too time consuming or rigid.
What are your top 5 picks from The Idle Man?
Herschel's Roy Wallet is an essential as a man needs a good wallet. Van Sk8 Hi Top Black Suede as you can't go wrong with a pair of Vans, especially hi-tops. Classic Harrington Jacket, it's raw yet light - love it. This jacket with a nice pull over hoody or long tee is a good look. Alpha Industries bomber, preferably the Classic Blue if you want to make a splash or black to be smart and understated. Dr Martins, I've never had a pair... I think it's time!