IMPACT INTERNATIONAL: UK/EURO HONORS
Music Agent, UTA
Welcoming New Opportunities
Inspired, influenced, and educated.” This sums up the state of mind of Hannah Shogbola, who can’t help but feel positive about the fact that events are happening again. She has noticed a new approach as to how shows are done as a result of the past two-and-a-half years, but what has really stuck with her are “the new artists coming through in new and alternative ways, plus just experiencing live music again as a whole.”
Shogbola fell in love with live music in what she refers to as her “neo soul days,” listening to Anthony Hamilton, Slum Village, Talib Kweli and others. “I never thought I’d be able to see them live in concert, so when I did, that was a really profound moment,” she remembers. Another moment sparked her love for electronic music in particular: her assistant job on the booking team of famous London nightclub Fabric. “This elusive Detroit DJ would come in and play, and I would think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is incredible. What is this? Where is this music from?’ This moment filled me with joy and created such a safe environment musically, which blew my mind. House and techno is my one true love.”
Given this background, it’s not surprising that one of the milestone moments of Shogbola’s career includes DJs as well as MCs. In 2017, aside from being one of the only Black female agents in the UK, she’s also become one of the few to sell out Brixton Academy, Roundhouse, The Forum, and KOKO, with her clients Kurupt FM. She was still just 30 years old. “I didn’t actually realize how big an accomplishment that was until someone interviewed me a couple of years ago and brought that fact up,” she says.
Shogbola is passionate about creating inclusive events and safe spaces in the club world especially, but beyond. “One of the biggest projects that we’ve been working on for the last couple of years has been the forming of the BEMAs, the Black Electronic Music Awards. Jaguar, Heléna Star, Niks [Delanancy] from the Black Artists Database, and myself have been successfully campaigning for the MOBOs to bring back that dance and electronic award,” she explains. Her own company DAJU, launched in 2020 to curate and program events as well as develop talent across a range of sectors, is a core partner in the BEMA campaign. It is also the first company to curate an Afrobeats showcase at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. DAJU is about to launch a series of talks on the development of emerging talent within the jazz world at The Hackney Social in London.
The BEMA success tastes particularly sweet, because it was achieved with two of Shogbola’s clients, Heléna Star and Jaguar, who is also the driving force behind a report on gender diversity within electronic music published earlier this year. “It’s an essential pocket of information that I use every day within my job role,” says Shogbola, who considers most of her clients friends. In today’s fast-paced business, some agents hardly ever meet their clients, but Shogbola and her roster spend a considerable amount of time together. “We, for example, have monthly meetings, particularly with a lot of the Black, female and non-binary acts I look after, where we will actively group together and go through some of the things we find challenging, and how we can support and motivate each other. I think it’s so important and crucial, particularly as an agent of over 10 years, to be a soundboard for somebody to talk to,” she says.
Shogbola predicts a different way of approaching business in the coming year. “We have a massive young audience that came of age during lockdown that might want to experience live music in a different way. It might involve teaming up with different establishments I wouldn’t have traditionally worked with before, like doing supper clubs with the [Institute of Contemporary Arts] and bridging the gap between West African foods and electronic music, which sounds crazy, but works,” she says. “It’s just one example of changing the way we’ve previously worked to try and recognize the audiences that we’re ultimately servicing.”