How do you find out about new music? Is it online? on the radio? or through your friends and fam? What gives you the conviction to support an artist even if no one else is? Is it the co-sign? seeing their music pop off in the club? Or is it just the thirst for something different?
I’m good with uncomfortable silences. I’m good with holding a convo with that person everyone else can’t get along with, and I’m good with supporting music that no one else is. It’s actually what I thrive off and value as a DJ. I like to discover, to see something that no one else does, but in 6 months or 12 months time it turns into something that they catch on too.
I’m good with backing artists purely on the merit of their artistry. Every Arrival night that myself and Chris Wareing put on is a risk, because we never know what the turnout will be. There is no guarantee as to what the turn out will be, we just go off our gut instinct and passion for the music. Obviously with the Young Thug, Migos, Pusha T, and Joey Badass Arrivals we knew they were going to sell out, but to put on a Yo Gotti show with 10 days notice when he wasn’t on the radio was a little crazy….but it sold out. We committed to Anderson .Paak, and the Ty Dolla Sign shows months before the hype kicked in over here, and we booked Russ when no one knew anything about him……or so we thought.
We had no idea what the Russ show was going to do. Cadenza told me about Russ at the beginning of the year, Jayaa clocked what Russ was doing very early on and wrote about him on Nation of Billions. When we announced the Russ show we immediately sold tickets, but the majority of people in the media or industry didn’t have a clue who he was.
It was crazy that most DJs, bloggers, or writers didnt know who he was, the G.list requests weren’t popping, but the tickets were selling. I was telling people about the forth-coming Russ show and people were looking at me like I was trying to put on one of the mandem or something. Russ has been releasing a track a week for the last 70 weeks but few people that I know knew this, meanwhile the tickets kept selling. I’m the only DJ that has been playing his music on air, but the tickets kept selling until we sold out.
It is always fascinating to see an artist sell out a debut London show without going through the usual channels. It was baffling to see a new ‘unknown’ artist like Russ rock a sold out crowd, and see a fanbase recite his material for a solid 60 minute show. A&Rs from US labels flew in to see the show and meet him, one guy flew in from Saudi Arabia for the show without a ticket, and the crowd was 80% stunning women of middle eastern origin. Not only did Russ sell out London, he sold out shows in Belgium, Paris, and other cities.
It was deja vu, incredibly reminiscent of Macklemore and his early UK shows. Like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Russ and his team were driving themselves across the UK motorways with military like tactical planning. Meet and greets were the immediate priority after the show as were the merch sales. It was inspiring to witness Russ putting in the grind and defining his own career in real time. His music is dope, as good as any signed artist and could fit comfortably on the same playlist as Drake or Future.
Before the show I said to Russ “It’s crazy how you’re the best kept secret, that none of the tastemakers have clocked this”, and he responded nonchalantly “Fuck em’ they’re going to have to catch up whether they like it or not”.