Holding Up The Ladder

6/15/2021

Season 3 - Trailer

Season 300
Welcome to Season 3 of Holding up the LadderIn the few months between the end of season 2 and the start of season 3 it seems the world isn’t calming down any time soon - in fact in many ways, it feels more intense and more far-reaching. We’ve had the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, which doesn’t really feel like a victory and more like a pyrrhic victory - you know where no-one really wins.All around the world - Chile, Colombia, Ethiopia, Belarus, the Israel-Palestine conflict, a surge in Asian hate crimes, the list goes on - we can’t avoid it and I don’t want to. What we’re going to do this season, is to try and talk about it - we’re going to talk about justice, about social change, anti-racism, anti-discrimination with people who know these areas really well and because this is a creative podcast, we’re going to talk about how creativity and the arts speaks to justice.If you listened to last season’s interview with Japanese artist Makoto Fujimura, you will have heard him talk about the art of Kintsugi - that is the art of mending to make new. A bowl or a vessel is brought with all its broken pieces, those pieces are examined and then the pieces are put together with Japanese gold lacquer - we don’t fix, or hide the cracks, instead we accentuate their beauty - in the hope that what we are left with is a vessel that’s more beautiful than before. But before we mend, we examine. So that’s what I’m going to try and do this season - we’re going to examine some of these broken ‘societal’ pieces, with the hopes of finding beauty in the brokenness.And as always, I’m interviewing some really interesting creatives from around the world from diverse disciplines - we’ll be talking about race and racism with writers, historians and academics, about blackness and queerness, about sheltering displaced and migrant people and how architects help with that, we’ll be talking about African feminism through tattoos and scarification, we’ll be talking about diversity in business and tech, not asking for a seat at the table but making our own. We’ll be talking about education and class in the UK, about art and art curation, about fashion, diversity in the music industry, we’ll be talking about environmental awareness through transcribing bird and animal song. We’ll be talking about beauty and justice and as always we’ll be talking about music!One of the reasons Airbnb is sponsoring this series is to support these conversations, so as the season progresses I’ll also be sharing some of the actions Airbnb has beentaking around anti racism, anti discrimination and social change so stay tuned for that. I’m really looking forward to this season, I’ll see you for our first episode on Wednesday 23rd June!Airbnb Report on TravelAirbnb Summarised Report
2/3/2021

Reflections

Season 2, Ep. 11
And so we come to the end of Season 2! And what a season it’s been. I would normally have another wonderful guest to come and share their process with us, but this time I wanted to do something a little different. I feel like I had some real personal awakenings that I’m going to share with you. Using excerpts of interviews from across the season, I’ll be talking about the value of arts in society and why it’s so important to value ourselves! There is a great line in the Jane Campion film Bright Star about the English poet John Keats where his friend, writer Charles Brown says to Keats’ love interest Fanny Brawne, something along the lines of, ‘please don’t disturb us if you see us lying on the grass staring into space, we’re actually working’. That line resonated so much with me because so many of my ideas come from ‘lying on the grass, staring into space!’ This episode is about not only giving yourself permission to do just that, it’s also about why it’s so important to have the space to do so!All over the world, the arts is used to give voice to our cultural, political and social histories, some are celebrated (in the Middle East, for example, poets are considered to be like rock stars, they fill stadiums) some are loathed, some are ignored, some are even killed, many are lauded posthumously. Yet if we understand the importance of art in a society that seeks flourishing over commodity, connection over capital then art and its artists become a bridge.As my guest from last week Shruti Kumar said, artists are ‘orators of our history.’So thank you to all the fabulous guests who have shared their processes with us this season - it has been a real art imitating life, imitating art for me! And a huge thank you to Suzan Kibirge who has been managing all the social media and analytics but mostly to you all for listening.Until next time!Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsEliud Kipchoge running 26.2 in under 2hrs Guest: Yours truly! @matshidisomusicTitle: Reflections - Valuing the arts, valuing ourselvesMusic I’m listening to: Midnight Mischief, Jordan Rakei; Bach Motets by The Pygmalion Ensemble with Raphael Pichon; my Spotify playlist - 'Songs for roadtrips and daydreams'If you'd like to support the podcast clickhere
1/27/2021

Shruti Kumar

Season 2, Ep. 10
We talk about access to musical education, about bridging the gap between classical music and other musical genres. We talk about the role of arts in society, about creating safe spaces, safe spaces for artists, for women artists. We talk about starting musician-led spaces rather than seeking a seat at the table, about the importance and necessity of creating our own jobs. We talk about trusting your gut, trusting your ear and your own creative expression because as Shruti puts it, ‘- art is meant to be a reflection of you, not a regurgitation of what’s been done before’.We talk about the future of the musical landscape in these pandemic and post-pandemic times and our mutual love of Quincy Jones.This episode was recorded just before Christmas, so you’re not going to hear any references to some of the political changes that have taken place in the States like the insurrection one Capitol Hill or the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.Guest BioShruti is a composer/producer based in LA. Her work has spanned film/tv, pop, and concert worlds and she often finds herself in projects that mix genres and experiences. Her work has been used by/for The National Geographic, NPR, The United Nations, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, FOX India, A24, The 2016 Summer Olympics, UNICEF, and The Nederlander Organization. She spent the majority of the past year in London doing a residency with Spitfire Audio as well as producing out of Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch working with other artists as well as weaving together several years of collected sounds from her travels around the world for her upcoming album "Nodding Terms".She is also a Dublab radio host,"Let's Shake On It” and founder of Sound Travels engaging with culture & arts advocacy as well as aiming to level the musical playing field.Guest: Shruti KumarTitle: All the doors are viable if you keep an open mind about the music you’re creatingMusic by Shruti: Knocked for Six, Feels Good Instrumental and Peel AwayAlbums on Playlist: Nicholas Britell - If Beale St Could Talk, Bach - Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould, Thundercat - It Is What It Is, Fiona Apple -Fetch the Bolt CuttersWebsite: https://www.shrutikumar.com/IG: @tamingoftheshrutiLet’s Shake on It, Website: https://www.dublab.com/shows/lets-shake-on-itIG: @lets_shake_on_itSound Travels website: https://soundcantravel.com/IG: @soundcantravelIf you'd like to support the podcast clickhere
1/20/2021

Elora Hardy

Season 2, Ep. 9
Today, we’re talking about the future - about creating a world we haven’t yet seenand a future that hasn’t yet been imagined. We’re talking about outside the box thinking, dreaming, playing, experimenting. I'm talking AI, living on Mars, the Elon Musks, the Will. I. Ams, my guest earlier this season, Beatie Wolfe who uses technology to push what’s possible in our musical experiences (she sent her music to space, and has contributed to pioneering Dementia research). At times they may seem eccentric to us but actually there’s something they’ve tapped into that we haven’t understood yet - what’s that phrase, ‘it seems impossible until it’s done’.And in the realm of sustainability and renewable materials in architecture and design there’s my guest today, Elora Hardy who is pushing the realms of possibility with bamboo.I first learnt about Elora Hardy and the work she does with design and architecture firm she founded Ibuku on Apple TV series Home - these breathtaking, otherworldly cities made entirely out of bamboo.Born in Toronto, Canada but grew up in Bali, Elora has a background in Fine Art and used to work for fashion designer Donna Karen. We talk about how not having any formal architectural training actually helped Elora to work outside the traditional confines of architecture, yet with a respect for craft, study and skill and how this helped to push the envelope of what’s possible in architectural design.We talk about the qualities of bamboo, bamboo as a new form of renewable material and replacement for fossil fuels. We talk about the process that goes in to designing these other worldly structures in the lush Balinese landscape, about serving materials and the surrounding environment rather than using these materials to serve us. We talk about shelter and space and our interconnectedness with nature and each other. We also talk about her 5 year old son’s love of loud instrumental rock music!Guest: Elora HardyTitle: It’s not going to look the way people imagine because it hasn’t been imagined yetArtists on playlist: Led Zeppelin, Daft Punk, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Steve VaiIbuku Bali Website: https://ibuku.com/IG: @ibukubali Apple TV Home Trailer - https://youtu.be/l2n5DcNXJ8YBambooU website: https://www.bamboou.com/IG: @bambooubali Green School Bali website: https://www.greenschool.org/baliIG: @greenschoolbali If you'd like to support the podcast clickhere
1/13/2021

Money Talks

Season 200
In this special bonus episode of Holding up the Ladder, we’re talking money! Money and the music industry.I’ve brought in some formidable women to talk about these issues and made a point of including not just artists but people who work in what I call the administrative side of the industry - law, label management etc.So, let me introduce you to my guests:Producer, songwriter, composer and singer, Alev LenzMusic and media lawyer, Honey Onile-EreCreative business consultant, Sam CampbellComposer/Producer, Shruti KumarWe talk about how to navigate the vastly complex and amorphous world of the music industry and how to do it as women and also women of colour. We talk about how to self advocate, how to negotiate, how knowing your value has a direct impact on the price you place on your work. We talk about allies and creating strong networks. We talk about the role that art generally and music more specifically plays in society - how do we quantify the value of music,not the person making the music but the music itself? We talk about the importance of protecting and therefore valuing the arts at a governmental level, how this impacts the value we place on artists and how all of this connects to money.Guests: Alev Lenz, Honey Onile-Ere, Sam Campbell & Shruti KumarTitle: Money Talks - Navigating the Music IndustryGuest bios:Alev LenzAlev Lenz is a German-Turkish producer, songwriter, composer and singer.Alev released her first album in 2009 Storytelling Piano Playing Fräulein, her sophomore record Two-Headed Girl came out in 2016 and her latest album 3 came out at the end of 2019. Her music has featured on critically acclaimed TV shows, Netflix series Dark, Black Mirror and the third season of The Rain.Alev has been working in close collaboration with Anoushka Shankar, featuring on her Grammy-nominated album ‘Land of Gold’ as well as writing and co-producing for Anoushka Shankar's EP 'Love Letters' which culminated in a Grammy-nomination.Alev has also worked in close collaboration with Spitfire Audio creating an interactive sound library.Website: https://www.alevlenz.com/IG: @alev_lenz Honey Onile-EreHoney is a qualified lawyer, with several years of music and media legal and business affairs experience.Honey was Head of Legal & Business Affairs at Warner/Chappell Music Publishing for 10 years, after which she was Director of Legal & Business Affairs at BMG Rights Management. Prior to taking up her role at AMRA, Honey worked as a freelance Business Affairs consultant, working with a wide range of media businesses, from major labels / publishers (such as Universal Music and what was then EMI Records) to independents, including Imagem Music (now Concord) and Perfect Songs.Honey has also consulted for a range of businesses focused on the development of the music business in emerging territories, with a particular emphasis on West Africa, working with both labels and publishers, as well as collecting societies in the region.Website: https://www.amra.com/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/honey-onile-ere-57973135/Sam CampbellSam is a creative business consultant, consultant music publishing manager and consultant label manager with an MBA from Imperial College Business School. With over 25 years music industry experience, Sam creates monetisation models for independent artists and SMEs.She also develops and structures revenue streams for creative individuals.Website: https://www.cdasoundldn.com/Instagram: @cdastylelondonLinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-campbell-mba-8552bb26Shruti KumarShruti is a musician, composer/producer based in LA. Her work has spanned film/tv, pop, and concert worlds and she often finds herself in projects that mix genres and experiences. Her work has been used by/for The National Geographic, NPR, The United Nations, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, FOX India, A24, The 2016 Summer Olympics, UNICEF, and The Nederlander Organization. She spent the majority of the past year in London doing a residency with Spitfire Audio as well as producing out of Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch working with other artists as well as weaving together several years of collected sounds from her travels around the world for her upcoming album "Nodding Terms".She is also a Dublab radio host,"Let's Shake On It” and founder of Sound Travels engaging with culture & arts advocacy as well as aiming to level the musical playing field.Website: https://www.shrutikumar.com/IG: @tamingoftheshruti Radio show, Let’s Shake on It: Website: https://www.dublab.com/shows/lets-shake-on-it & IG: @lets_shake_on_itSound Travels: Website: https://soundcantravel.com/ IG: @soundcantravelReports:UK MusicPRS Billboard Music Week/Sunday Times Rich List If you'd like to support the podcast clickhere
12/18/2020

Daley

Season 2, Ep. 8
I’ve probably said this before but the thing I love most about music, apart from the music itself is who you get to meet through it, the relationships that are forged - I’ve made friends whom I now consider my extended family. One of those people is the reason I know today’s guest. His name was Richard Antwi (he unfortunately passed away a few years ago). He was a lawyer and my manager and became a really good friend - he was instrumental in the careers of many artists, he signed the likes of Adele to her record deal, he also put some of the UK’s grime artists on the map, think Lethal Bizzle, Boy Better Know and Wretch 32. He also managed my guest today, singer Daley. Hailing from Manchester in England Daley has one of those voices, so soulful and a falsetto that’s as clear as a bell. If you think I’m exaggerating, Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder also agree - he has sung with both of them at their request - Daley even told me after we ended our interview that he was at Stevie Wonder’s house for Thanksgiving last year!I met Daley soon after he got signed and became his piano teacher. I was fortunate enough to hear some of his songs before they were released. Since then he has gone on to record 3 full length albums, worked with Pharell, sung with the likes of Jessie J, Marsha Ambrosius of the band Floetry, Jill Scott, Maxwell, Angie Stone and as I mentioned the legend that is Stevie Wonder.We talk about Daley’s journey into music, the UK music industry’s approach to RnB & Soul artists compared to the States, about signing to a major label. We talk about hindsight, about finding your voice. We talk about career highlights, being creative in a pandemic and trusting your instincts even if it goes against the dominant voices in the room.Guest: DaleyTitle: Don’t second guess your gut feelingFeatured songs by Daley:Slow BurnThose Who WaitAlone Together ft. Marsha AmbrosiusTry (The Line) ft. Bad FruitMusic on Daley’s playlist: Phantom Thread (original motion picture soundtrack) - Jonny GreenwoodRoisin Machine - Roisin MurphyMusic I mention:If Beale Street Could Talk (original motion picture score) - Nicholas BritellA Room with a View (motion picture soundtrack) - Richard RobbinsLieder ohne Worte (songs without words) Felix Mendelssohn - Daniel BarenboimWebsite: https://www.daley.tv/Instagram:@daleyYoutube: @daleyofficialTwitter: @daleymusicIf you'd like to support the podcast clickhere
12/11/2020

Building Creative Community

Season 200
In this week’s special bonus episode of Holding up the Ladder, we’re talking value systems and building creative community. I’ll be sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned/am learning over the past 8-10 years building my music production company. I’m joined by my good friend Ramona Harris- she is global head of language services at Hogarth, the world’s leading creative production partner for many brands and agencies including Coca-Cola, Nespresso, Dyson.She is extremely pragmatic and has a gift for taking bigs ideas and knowing how to practically implement them - I run a lot ideas past her. Hopefully you’ll see what I mean during the course of our discussion. We come from very different worlds but I strongly believe in working with people and having friends who hold similar values but very different perspectives, if done right I think they actually help take you further than if you’re only interacting with people with similar thinking.And here are the ‘Principles’ for building creative community that we speak about:What are you trying to building, knowing your whyValuing the people you work withBe kind to peoplePaying it forwardPrinciple of reciprocityLearning when and when not to compromiseFinding your tribe/your communityJust do it!Guest: Ramona HarrisTitle: Building Creative Community - Establishing value systems with Ramona HarrisLinks to some of the things we refer to:Book - Impact Capital by Sir Ronald CohenFilm - Brooklyn BohemePodcast episode about my friend Ian Toothill who inspired principle No. 8, Just do it!If you'd like to support the podcast clickhere
12/4/2020

Makoto Fujimura

Season 2, Ep. 7
Born in Boston, Makoto Fujimura or 'Mako' the name he goes by is an artist, arts advocate, writer, thinker and filmmaker.He studied 16th & 17th century Japanese art in Japan and practices the Japanese art of Nihonga or ‘slow art’.This beautiful ‘refractive’ art requires you to slow down in order to see what’s happening in the painting, sometimes 10-15mins at a time and then a whole world opens up - colours that you hadn’t seen before unless you slow down to look.We talk about the work he does with the organisation he founded I am Culture Care, creating a space where culture isn’t fought over but rather nurtured like a garden. We talk about hearing the music in art, about art as sound.About finding genesis moments in art, creating out of darkness, out of suffering. We talk about creating communal tables that to quote Mako, ‘[e]nduring art cannot be created without a covenantal community’.We talk about the Japanese art of Kintsugi - the art of mending to make new, finding beauty in brokenness.Guest: Makoto FujimuraTitle: Mending to make new - the Japanese art of KintsugiArtist on playlist: Susie IbarraWebsiteshttps://www.makotofujimura.com/https://iamculturecare.com/fujimura-institutehttps://iamculturecare.com/Instagram: @iamfujimuraKintsugi Instagram: @academykintsugi/CollaborationsQuartets - artistic response to T.S. Elliot’s 4 QuartetsNew York Times Op ed pieceWriting - https://www.makotofujimura.com/writings/art-love-and-beauty-introductionhttps://www.makotofujimura.com/writings/art-love-and-beauty-on-art-lecture-1Culture Care Podcast Culture Care bookIf you'd like to support the podcast clickhere
11/27/2020

Pura Fé

Season 2, Ep. 6
It’s not everyday you get to talk to artists you admire and then they turn out to be even more wonderful in person. I’ve been listening to the music of today’s guest for many years now and every time I return to it I’m reminded of why I love music from authentic voices.Pura Fé (meaning ‘pure faith’) is a musician, songwriter and activist originally from North Carolina but raised in New York. She is in many ways the embodiment of America’s rich and complex ancestral history - with her Native American Tuscarora Indian, African American (specifically Yoruba and Ebo), North Carolinian, Scottish, Puerto Rican roots - all of which is also expressed in her music.We talk about growing up in a family with 8 generations of singing sisters who sang opera, a mother who sang with the likes of Duke Ellington, how piano legend Thelonius Monk is also a relation, about falling asleep in all night church services where jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis among many others would come to play. We talk about her musical education at Lincoln Square Academy in New York and why Pura Fé chose not to sign with Sony and label exec Tommy Mottola (the person who signed and married Mariah Carey) or any major record label for that matter. We talk about singing with Anita Baker about singing at an event with Lena Horne in the audience.We talk about what is American music and particularly the story of Native American people and their music.Guest: Pura FéTitle: I think I was born with a fist in the airSongs all by Pura Fé:Great Grandpah’s Banjo from the album Full Moon RisingMahk Jchi from the Ulali project bandMy People My Land Pt.2 from the album Hold the RainRed, Black on Blues from the album Full Moon RisingMy People my Land Pt 1 from the album Hold the RainLet Heaven Show from the album Hold the RainWebsite: https://www.purafe.comInstagram: @pura.fe.9Trailer of RUMBLE: The Indians That Rocked The World - https://youtu.be/hovJUoyxulcClip on the history of the banjo with Rhiannon Giddens - https://youtu.be/DkGSns7-_e0 Artist on her playlist: James BrownIf you'd like to support the podcast clickhere