Q+A: Joe Rattray (Synergy Concerts)
Joe Rattray currently works as a promoter for Synergy concerts and is the in-house booker at The Hug and Pint. He will be speaking on the Organising & Getting gigs panel at Off The Record in Glasgow on Sat 11 Feb and we had a quick chat with him ahead of the event...
How did you get started in the music industry?
My entrance into working in music came through performing initially. I played in lots of bands back home in Dundee as a teenager, and moved to Glasgow at 18 to study Applied Music at Strathclyde. I started playing in the band Admiral Fallow (then called Brother Louis Collective) in 2007, while studying performance and getting really into music production. I’ve played with lots of bands and artists over the years, and worked professionally as a musician for a few years after graduating. My entry into promoting was after volunteering at Celtic Connections in January 2014 and really enjoying it. I started an internship scheme through Adopt An Intern in February 2014 with Brian Reynolds and Grainne Braithwaite at Synergy Concerts as a booking assistant and have been there since, moving to working as the venue booker at The Hug and Pint in June 2015. Grainne and Brian have been incredibly supportive, patient and really nurtured my interest in the job from the beginning. They’re both so passionate about the acts they promote and music in general; its very easy to throw yourself into that kind of work environment.
As a promoter, what does your job involve?
I spend a lot of time seeking out new artists to potentially promote, devouring new music at an alarming rate. As we’re quite a small team, my job has changed quite a bit since I started, and continues to do so. The whole team get involved in all sides of the job, from booking to marketing and production and everything in-between. We spend a lot of time working on existing shows, making sure our marketing is as effective as it possibly can be and that we’re reaching all the people who’d be into the artists we’re promoting. We put a lot into online promotion, print distribution, and just trying to shout as loud as we can about all the music we’re really passionate about.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The feeling of finding new music and completely falling in love with it is something thats hard to beat. As far as I can remember, this has been something I’ve been doing obsessively. To use that feeling and turn it into a job is a lot of fun, and feels like a pretty natural thing to be doing. It can be like looking for buried treasure sometimes, trawling through hundreds of hours of playlists, recommendations and blog posts for those songs that really hit you, its exhilarating.
I also love working on productions for shows. Being a bit of a geek, its always great to get involved and see what production elements certain artists are bringing in, and how this can really take a show to the next level. I’ve been lucky to witness hundreds of gigs over the years and always been obsessed with figuring out what artists are using to make certain sounds and create their music.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Promoter-wise, being involved in putting on shows by some of my favourite artists has been very exciting. Flying Lotus has been a favourite for many years, so to work on that gig was a real treat. The production was pretty mad, he was touring his 3D cube show at the time, but once the show was up and he went onstage - with Thundercat playing bass behind him - it was an incredible thing to be a small part of (and a huge relief). Mac DeMarco’s shows are always fun too.
The Hug and Pint has been open for almost 2 years now, and that has been a pretty life-changing thing to be involved in. The team we have there is amazing and I love how the place has developed since opening in 2015. Seeing artists like Pinegrove, Jenny Hval, Mitski, Anna Meredith and PWR BTTM coming back after playing the venue and selling out bigger venues has been a total joy to witness. Watching local talent grow and blossom is a hugely exciting part of my job too. Having been involved in music in Glasgow for over 10 years I really think its one of the best places in the UK for music and there’s always loads of great bands popping up.
As a musician, selling out the Barrowlands in 2012 with Admiral Fallow was both terrifying and probably the most exciting gig we’ve ever played, amongst hundreds of other shows and festivals all over the world.
Off The Record takes place at City Halls, Glasgow on Saturday 11th of February for 14-25 year olds. Tickets are £2, and include free lunch and a release with EmuBands worth £25!