Want my job? with Imanja, music producer and co-founder of Black Music Movement

Originally working in gastronomy, Imanja has uscessfully pivoted to working in the music industry, wearing many hats and loving every minute of it. 

Want my job? with Imanja, music producer and co-founder of Black Music Movement

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader? 

Hey, my name is Imanja, aka Jukebox_mgmt

What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?

I'm available 24/7. Most people around me tell me, “don't tell people that because you have to have some down time for yourself where you chill, just be without your phone, anything like that.” That's true, but I wouldn't say that for me, because I love my job! 

I'm an event organiser, and I organise festivals as well. I work for The Roundhouse, I collaborate with Universal, with Sony, with BBC, with Sofar Sounds. I'm one of the co-founders of Black Music Movement, I collaborate with the RAAH Fest, I have all types of different things that I'm doing. I'm in A&R. I'm a producer, co-songwriter. I'm a drummer first of all – I started drumming when I was 7 years old. I can go on and on. Please, if you'd like to know more about me check me out on Instagram: Jukebox_mgmt

What’s great about your job?

It's music. I love music. I live for music, I hear music 24/7, I go to sleep with music, I wake up with music. Hearing all types of different new artists coming up and how they express themselves, or how they want to express themselves. You can never do it right or wrong in some ways. 

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

The toughest part of my job is saying no to people and crushing people's dreams sometimes. Saying the word no to people is definitely something for me personally that's hard. 

What are the highlights of your career to date?

That's a hard one. I feel like I've found my tribe. Of course I'm losing people along the way on my journey, but I'm also gaining people. 

I guess just the experience of being blessed that I can do this everyday. I'm loving it and I keep growing, learning knowledge everyday, and meeting incredible people.  

What was your career path into this job?  Have you also worked outside the arts?

Yes, I did gastronomy, so I am allowed to open up restaurants. I did gastronomy for pastry, and then kitchen, all of that. But then I got allergies, a lot of allergies in 2015, and I had to leave. It got me depressed, and for a year I didn't know what I should do because I was literally focused on working in kitchens. My brother's a chef – my whole family, everyone knows how to cook.. So it was definitely a tragedy for me, being in that environment and just not knowing what I want to do. 

So my mother, she told me, “that's not possible, you're not allowed to be depressed.” I was just like, I'm in a difficult household, so she told me you should do a European trip. You've saved enough money, you've worked hard, you have enough money to do a trip. So I did a Europe trip, and I met some incredible people. I went to the art hostel in Barcelona, where you can play music at the music room. They cook with you every night, they go bar hopping, it's just amazing, it's just really cool. So I met incredible people on my journey from all types of different places, and that's really where I got my interest in music back. 

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?

This is my personal opinion again, but I feel like all the music before 2015 was the best. Of course, there are artists that are taking some of their inspiration from before 2015. But I feel like most rappers and artists [today] just sing and rap about one dollar bills, f**king this and having that – even though they don't have it.

There are so many artists out there, but most of the labels just think about the money. They think about the money and then the numbers, and I don't think like that. I know how to think like that because I work with big labels but if I'm in my personal space, I'm working with an emerging artist or resident artists – all of those amazing people, they're just expressing themselves and just being free you know? 

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

Keep going. I was like, very much overweight. I have a disability and I was very insecure. Just keep going, it's going to be better. I wouldn't really change anything because I wouldn't be here if I did. 

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

Just go for it. I wouldn't say you should lie, just push your experience into a better perspective and a better light. Pimp up your CV a bit.

Always go in person. Always be half an hour, one hour early at everything you do. It always impresses people. Even though you're going to be the first person there it doesn't matter. It shows that you want this, and you always have time to talk with the boss or with the person who's going to interview you or whatever person's going to go there. You have time enough to talk to this person and really introduce yourself and showcase yourself. 

Also the first impression always counts the most, so bring the right food with you. If somebody's allergic, remember them and they'll remember you as well. 

In my field specifically, it depends what area you want to get into. A&R (Artists and Repertoire/Talent Scouting) I feel like is the easiest one to go into. If you already have a crew with you – people that you know are talented – just be their A&R pimp. Push them out there, give them opportunities. It's really social. A&R is social. Events and festival organising is social. Everything in the music industry is kind of social because you talk to people, it's mouth to mouth. People talk, and when they have a job or something they'll remember who they've talked to. Your name will spread through word of mouth – not over social media or anything like that, just people already knowing who you are. 

Just keep pushing, pimp your CV, do your thing, and be open if you have dyslexia or a disability, anything like that. I'm dyslexic, I'm number blind, but I still play drums, I'm still going like a drum, I have my own rhythm. So that's me.


This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

Author

Saskia Calliste

Saskia Calliste Voice Team

26-year-old writer and assistant editor for Voicemag UK living in London. I have an MA in Publishing, a BA in Creative Writing & Journalism and am a featured author in The Women Writers’ Handbook. Currently in the process of publishing a book of interviews with influential Black women called 'Hairvolution'. I mainly write reviews and opinion pieces because I certainly always have something to say.

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