Shaper: David Jones

Show aired on 3rd July 2015

Transcript

Elliot Moss
Jason Moran with Honeysuckle Rose. Good morning this is me, Elliot Moss on Jazz FM with Jazz Shapers. A special Saturday morning because in one hours’ time or just under we will be live for the next twelve hours at the Love Supreme Festival and Jason Moran is on at 10.15pm tonight in the big top. Make sure you have a date to listen to him. Thank you very much for joining me for this Jazz Shapers special edition as I said. What is Jazz Shapers? Jazz Shapers is the place where you can hear the very best of the people who are shaping the world of jazz, blues and soul alongside their equivalents in the world of business; a Business Shaper. My Business Shaper very aptly today is David Jones. He is one of the directors of Serious. They are a creative production company, the ones behind the EFG London Jazz Festival which was Camden Jazz week, the ones behind other really fantastic music and festivals that happen around the country and many other creative things that have been going on in the UK. You are going to be hearing lots from David very shortly. In addition to hearing from David you will also be hearing from our programme partners at Mischon De Reya some words of advice for your business and on top of all of that most importantly, some brilliant music today of all days here on Love Supreme weekend on Jazz FM so it is going to be The Bad plus Joshua Redman, classic Ray Charles and this from the one and only Herbie Hancock.

The punchy power of Herbie Hancock with Chameleon. This is me, Elliot Moss on the Love Supreme weekend here on Jazz FM. My Business Shaper today here on Jazz Shapers is David Jones; he is one of the directors of Serious and they are the credit producers behind all sorts of wonderful festivals including the EFG London Jazz Festival. David thank you very much for joining me.

David Jones
Good to see you Elliot.

Elliott Moss
Now some people won’t know that you are one of those creative people that doesn’t just look after festivals and doesn’t just look after music, you have been involved in television, you’ve been involved in pop videos. Just give me a little sense of where your head is creatively? Because you’ve got a very interesting brain.

David Jones
Well I’ll take that compliment thank you but I have always loved music. That’s always what’s gone behind what I do but I had a kind of rather strange path into working in music. I remember taking part when I was ten years old in Benjamin Britain’s Noise Flood and I played Mr Ape and I just thought ‘this is fantastic’, I loved the sense of actually being able to take part in music and I was singing and I was doing all sorts of things like that but I could never kind of figure the idea that it was possible to actually earn a living in music, you know, I’ve kind of looked at other places to work. I thought about going into social work. But there was this… I was always going to gigs, that was the thing that kind of pulled me you know so it was something that I enjoyed and then finally there was no way of kind of resisting it, I was inside music. That’s what I did.

Elliot Moss
Now Serious, just help me understand what Serious does. Obviously I mentioned that they are the producers of the EFG London Jazz Festival. You’ve got some acts on today. Give me a sense of where that intersection with music and business has gone for you?

David Jones
Well I think we started off working with musicians, touring them, sort of looking at the live side of what they did, right across, not just in London but all across the country and feeling really drawn into that and finding that we could create work with them you know, that musicians had ideas, that things like festivals made possible to create and to develop and then musicians would start coming back to us and saying ‘can we do more of that kind of thing, we’d love to see that go somewhere’ and the kind of bigger structure that is Serious that I am part of has really grown quite naturally round that, round the sort of just the enthusiasm for artists. It started off just a few of us in a small room and its grown now to be a company that has like development programmes for artists and uses a mix of kind of commercial resource and public funding to be able to do all the things that we want to do and that artists want to do with us.

Elliot Moss
Find out more from my Business Shaper today, David Jones about he has combined his love and passion for creativity and music with a business; yes he is actually making some money as well. It’s time for some music, and as I said earlier at twelve o’clock today in the big top The Bad plus Joshua Redman will be opening and this is called As This Moment Slips Away.

That was The Bad plus Joshua Redman live in a few hours for what is going to be a brilliant brilliant brilliant weekend of live music with Love Supreme, especially here for you. David Jones is my Business Shaper today; he is one of the directors at Serious. They produce wonderful and creative things, often music but often festivals too and we have been hearing a little bit about what David… how he comes to the world. Tell me, the London Jazz Festival, the EFG London Jazz Festival an amazing assortment of people, it’s in its 23rd year I think. How do these things when they begin strike you as, you know, right at the beginning to you go ‘oh yeah this is going to be a keeper’ or do they need to be nurtured? Does the creative product need to be nurtured and grown and changed and evolved and looked after like a little flower?

David Jones
I think there was that sense. Yeah I remember sitting and having a conversation with one of my partners, John Cumming and he was… we were talking about kind of taking what the Camden Jazz Week and going out into Hackney, going into Islington and I was going ‘yeah let’s call it the London Jazz Festival’ and he’s going ‘oh no no no, we should just call it the North London Jazz Festival’ you know and there was that sense of like let’s really create something and it was early 90s, there was a lot of different music’s coming into jazz. There was a way of kind of reaching out, there were people like Nisan Sawney who kind of saw themselves as being part of jazz but were ambitious to go other places and so I guess we both followed that and also tried to change a bit the idea of what a jazz festival was and could be. I mean there are all sorts of artists here. We are in Love Supreme who probably wouldn’t have been in a jazz festival like that ten years ago.

Elliot Moss
Well you’ve got Dianne Reeves coming up later in the big top, I think actually this evening around 8.30. Jason Moran, Fats Waller, Dance Party, you’ve done work over there and Ambrose Akimatsuri is that right?

David Jones
Yeah yeah.

Elliot Moss
Oh good, I am pleased with that and he’s on at 6.45. I mean these are, you know, these are great artists. It must be a privilege to work with them?

David Jones
It’s fantastic and especially to see them, I mean someone like Jason Moran we first worked with when we put him on in the Pizza Express and I met this intriguing guy who had loads of ideas about architecture, who played great classical music and improvised round it, who took little samples off a dat machine that he perched on his keyboard and just played recordings of his grandfather and then played round them. He was just a man who put music together in endlessly interesting ways and I guess that’s a common factor of a lot of the artists that we work with is that they are always reinventing themselves. They are always thinking themselves into new places and so in many ways what we are doing is just bringing opportunities to them and then they let rip with it and I think that’s part of what, you know, the British scene I have never seen as a sort of healthier scene than it is at the moment. There’s people who have had a chance to mature and grow through what they do and it’s such a privilege to be able to work with them and to see what they do and to be able to perhaps provide settings that they wouldn’t have in any other way in London.

Elliot Moss
Well there’s a brilliant setting this weekend and it’s called the Love Supreme Festival so stay with us here on Jazz FM for lots of live coverage. Latest travel in a couple of minutes and before that, some words of wisdom from our programme partners at Mishcon De Reya for your burgeoning business.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers on this the Love Supreme weekend with me, Elliot Moss. If you have missed any of the previous Jazz Shapers go in to iTunes, put in the words ‘jazz’ and ‘shapers’, you will find a whole bunch there but more importantly today it’s all about the live music – 10.00am stay with us for twelve hours of uninterrupted live coverage and another twelve hours if you can take tomorrow as well. Fittingly David Jones is my Business Shaper today. David is one of the directors of Serious and Serious are the people behind the EFG London Jazz Festival and people connected with many of our wonderful artists who are going to be on the big top stage and a few others as well, Dianne Reeves I mentioned earlier and Jason Moran, Fats Waller, Dance Party and all these things are happing today. David earlier you were talking about nurturing ideas and talking about this festival that you created twenty three years ago, helped create. Nurturing ideas is really tricky. There is many forces that swirl around you that you sometimes can’t see coming, there’s internal kind of fracture side that happens occasionally, there’s creative people, there’s people throwing toys out of prams and stuff and very similar for other businesses maybe the characters are different but the facts are often and the themes are often very very analogous. How have you managed to nurture it? How have you managed to make it blossom and become the thing that it is now?

David Jones
Well I think it’s… I think there are three things that we do. One is that we are looking to reach out to an audience that isn’t already… doesn’t know it likes jazz, they may have kind of blues somewhere, they bought it and they’ve heard some stuff and perhaps they like EST or some very specific artist and so what a festival can do is that people get the chance to soak themselves in lots and lots of different kinds of music and find where that’s going. So that’s the kind of audience that’s maybe in its early 20s, teens you know, that is finding out about music through friends and it gives a great kind of social setting for it. So those kind of ways into it but also you know, things like our Seriously Talented programme is very much about developing jazz musicians you know, composers, people who want to be composers, giving them the tools because nowadays you know, like when I started out musicians would go ‘ah I want to sign a deal so that there’s a record label and there will be a publisher for me and there’s a manager’ and a lot of that superstructure has gone so they are reliant now on a much more informal network of people that they trust and that they are close to and Serious can’t provide all the answers for everything but there are a lot of people where we can go ‘yeah you could try this thing’ or ‘how about this, how about this way of working’ so if you look at what we do within the jazz scene, that’s like a really big part of it I would say.

Elliot Moss
So it’s kind of a combination of different strands of constituencies that you are appealing to, trying new stuff, innovating and I think those make perfect sense if one is in a different business as well in terms of projects and brands and so on and so forth. Do you think that the music industry is inherently creative. I mean you area quote/unquote creative person and do you think that makes a difference? Does that mean that people are naturally revolutionary in their attitude?

David Jones
I think the music industry, like some of the legendary figures are simultaneously people who were really almost abused artists and they were people who achieved you know, made extraordinary records and kind of broke careers. I think there was a sense of you know, the music industry being a bit like the wild west in the past and I think now those old models have largely gone but musicians are perhaps treated very well but they are almost moved to one side, they are not the central figure in the way that they used to be and I think one of the things that’s growing out of the way music is made is much more collaboration, cooperation, sharing of ideas. I mean, Serious isn’t a company that stands alone from a scene. A lot of the people who aren’t very committed have been shaken out of it because times are hard you know, times are tough and the people who work together are bonding together, trying to share things, trying to build things, trying to get a vision of what they want to achieve. A festival is a really good way to do that, perhaps their work touring through the year is part of that but it wouldn’t work if we just sat there and said ‘this is Serious and we somehow define a scene’, you know, we are part of it, we are part of the ecology and there are people who are running clubs all year round, there are new people that are coming through and it is incredibly important I think to support them.

Elliot Moss
Change and innovation all at the same time.

David Jones
That’s a really good way of putting it. The two things together have to, have to go together. You can’t stand still or it just becomes, it just moves into the past very quickly because things are moving fast as well and the things that you need to know now aren’t the same things that you needed to know five years ago because there are ways that musicians can be much more empowered, can create income for themselves but they probably need to be able to do quite a lot of different things. You know, the days when people could say ‘this is who I am, this is what I do’ have gone. You know we could wish it was different but we will never get them back.

Elliot Moss
Well we are not going to stand still now because inextricably we are moving towards 10.00 o’clock and it will be live… Love Supreme time from that. Twelve hours of dedicated music today as well as another twelve tomorrow. But it is time now for Mr Ray Charles with one of my favourites from him, originally from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it is Hit The Road Jack.

That was Ray Charles with Hit The Road Jack, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. David Jones is my Business Shaper today; one of the directors of Serious, they are people responsible for these beautiful festivals. We talked about change and not being able to standstill and actually if you want to make things happen. What is Serious looking at right now as it moves forward? I sense that you are quite open in your vista? It’s about music but its about collaboration. You mentioned that word, I think that is becoming the word for business over the next five years I predict. What’s going on for you in your world?

David Jones
I am very keen on that idea of festivals, I mean inside London we are launching a new program called The Streets which is going to seven high streets across outer London and bringing lots of kinds of performance into those places, working with people in those communities, looking at how the high street has changed. It is a really interesting thing to be doing from a music performance perspective and then really getting involved in those ideas and the EFG London Jazz Festival will be a part of that, there will be three performances in those spaces so I love that since where you can take music into places it doesn’t normally go. We are also being asked to program more and more festivals you know on the back of the success of the festivals we work with. We have just been asked, I’ve just been asked to direct the Bath Festival, we are creating a new Festival of Voice in Cardiff so that sense of things going out but the most important thing of all is passing on skills. I love the fact that in Serious things happen, that I didn’t know they were happening in the general sense but I am not there micro-managing every project. It’s fantastic to see people who have been there in a while kind of gripping hold of the reins and going with projects and I am kind of really looking forward to a time when I am doing some of those things and passing stuff on but it is other people who are kind of taking the lead and running the projects.

Elliot Moss
Where do you get your ideas from David?

David Jones
I think it’s that sort of mix of having thought about theatre, me and John Cumming both worked in theatre before we worked in music and I think that you sort of think more structurally. You think about the end product rather than just ‘oh can we make this one thing happen’. You are thinking ‘where else would happen’ you know ‘where else could we go with this’.

Elliot Moss
Well there you go, that’s what you have got to think about. Think about the end and go backwards. Final chat will be coming up with David plus we will be playing a track from Jazz FM’s UK Jazz Act of the Year, that’s GoGo Penguin, that’s after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

That was Kamaloca from GoGo Penguin, they will be live tonight at the Love Supreme Festival, 7.15 in the arena. David Jones is my Business Shaper just for a few more minutes and we have been talking about all sorts of things David, I asked you where you got your ideas from and you said ‘well I sort of think in a structured where do I want to get to and I go backwards’. You seem like a very upbeat kind of person but I imagine it isn’t always easy to come up with new ideas all the time. When you are stuck, who do you talk to? How do you get round the obstacles in your brain?

David Jones
I think it is very much that sense of sharing things isn’t it and I also think the thing that finds ideas is hard graft. I mean you sometimes get people come in and they go ‘oh you know, me I am more an ideas person’, it’s like what other kind of person is there to be you know. The people I appreciate are the people who work really hard and then when you do that and you work alongside people, that’s when the ideas start to bounce for me. I am not somebody who tends to go off into an isolated place and say ‘right I’ve come up with the way we are going to do this’. I like to try things and I like to see other people kind of shaving the edges off them and perhaps even giving them a good tap and saying ‘let’s change them, let’s move them somewhere else’ and that’s what is so brilliant about Serious because I think I am naturally quite a loner but the structure of the company means that I have to keep responding to other people’s ideas and I am responding to other people’s ideas in turn, you know, there’s three people of kind of equal status at the top of the company; me, John Cumming and Claire Whittaker and we all have our specialities, our enthusiasms but we all sort of trust each other’s instincts and let other people who have been inside the work for a while kind of come into them to. And I think artists are part of that as well you know, when you talk to… when you are talking to an artist you are not just talking about what is right for them but what is their perception of what you are doing and where should it go. Someone like Guy Barker for example has had an enormous impact on what Serious does and the ways that we do it because every year we work with him on Jazz Voice and we share ideas with him. We don’t have a business relationship with him, we just you know, it would be stupid not to listen to someone who is so full of ideas himself.

Elliot Moss
And what about this… you mentioned something that intrigues me. The hard graft piece, I am with you, I don’t… I am not very good with people who don’t work hard. How do you handle people that don’t work hard? Where do they end up in the David Jones’ world?

David Jones
Well you can find a way to… I mean some people are just fun for one thing, they have a source of knowledge you know, the fact that they may be sort of terribly lazy probably means that they are not on the payroll but there is other ways of working with people. There is other ways of sharing ideas. I mean Serious has literally hundreds of people who are in our orbit and will come in and work on a particular event or share a particular kind of focus with us so I don’t think there is one size, there isn’t one kind of person who is right and everybody else is outside.

Elliot Moss
You’ve been great as a guest, thank you so much David. We’ve come to the end because very soon we are going to be live from the Love Supreme Festival. Just before I let you go though you have a chance to tell me your song choice today and why you chose it?

David Jones
I chose Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness because until I was in my late teens all I liked was instrumental music and if I ever heard a song I was kind of listening to the music inside it and then somewhere, I can’t remember, I think it was Otis Redding, there was that moment where the kind of soul in the music just overtook me and this song for me is just one of the all-time greats.

Elliot Moss
And here it is especially for you, thank you so much for being my Business Shaper.

That was Otis Redding with Try A Little Tenderness, the song choice of my Business Shaper today, David Jones. Creative person but absolutely understood that you have got to be a grafter, someone who has to graft super hard to get to that creativity that you require. A collaborator, someone who fundamentally believed it was critical to join with other people if you want to create something of worth and a nurturer, someone who understood how to take an idea and really make it blossom. Fantastic lessons for anyone in the world of business. Do join me again, same time, same place, that’s 9.00am next Saturday morning here on Jazz FM. More exciting though in a few minutes time we will be going live to Glynde in Sussex for the 2015 Love Supreme Festival with Nigel Williams.

David is one of the three founding directors of Serious, a creative producer of international music. Responsible for a wide range of concerts and special events, the company works with artists, venues and festivals in Britain and internationally.  Within Serious, David holds long-standing artistic relationships with artists as diverse as Kronos Quartet, Hugh Masekela and Woodkid. He helped to create and develop the EFG London Jazz Festival, and has a particular interest in events that explore international and cross-media ideas, producing the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music and VSO’s Stars of Africa concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and shaping the BT River of Music Olympic programme. David programmes the contemporary music at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, created the K-Music Korean music festival, and has just been made Joint Director of the Bath Festival for the period 2016-2018.

His background spans a variety of the performance arts – working as the executive producer of The National Theatre of Brent; producing Brian Eno’s video installation Place #11; creating and directing the Bloomsbury Festival and the Crossing The Border Festivals; producing the six-part series The Corner House for Channel 4; and forming Speakout Concerts, before joining Serious.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

I could never figure the idea that it was possible to actually earn a living in music – I’ve looked at other places to work.

Finally there was no way of resisting it, I was inside music. That’s what I did.

We tried to change the idea of what a jazz festival was and could be.

We are looking to reach out to an audience that doesn’t know it likes jazz.

A common factor of a lot of the artists that we work with is that they are always reinventing themselves.

I have never seen the British jazz scene healthier than it is at the moment

The people who work together are bonding together, trying to share things, trying to build things, trying to get a vision of what they want to achieve. A festival is a great way to do that.

You get people who come in and say ‘oh you know me, I’m more of an ideas person’, it’s like, what other kind of person is there to be?

I am naturally quite a loner but the structure of Serious means I have to keep responding to other people’s ideas.

Change and innovation have to go together.