Industry Spotlight: Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson [Complex Magazine] | @JPIZZLEDIZZLE
1. How did you first enter the music industry?
I started out as a small club night promoter in Northampton. I moved from Stockwell to Wellingborough (Northamptonshire) when I was 13 years old and literally moved back to London last year to start with Complex UK. I put on my first ChockABlock club night in April 2007, and had Skepta, Tinchy Stryder, Logan Sama and Bok Bok all on the bill. Looking back at it now, that line-up was kinda weighty for my first rave! After I put that event on, someone from EGG Nightclub (Kings Cross, London) approached me and asked if I would be up for holding monthly events there. They saw the the pictures and flyer from my first night and was impressed, and liked the fact that I was based outside of London. So I went with them. They gave me a monthly budget to book people, and I was there for three years — every month — with everyone from road kids to nu ravers passing through the doors. I always had mixed crowds at ChockABlock, which, I think, is a big reason why it became so popular and why people still talk about it today. That, and the fact that everyone who came to the rave had a genuine passion for underground music; from grime and bassline to dubstep, funky and even some electro house. While I was doing these events, in 2008, I decided to make a personal blog to post general rave flyers and music videos. I was never a writer — my grammar was a shambles — but I made one anyway, just for fun. One day I sent a pitch to SUPERSUPER Magazine — it was a top-tier music, art, and fashion publication — and I wanted to write something about the up North bassline scene. To my surprise, they agreed. My grammar and sentence-building was still terrible but the Editor-In-Chief, Steve Slocombe, liked the story and what I was about. So it came out and because the feedback on the story was so good, I was made Contributing Music Editor. From there, I honed my skills and started pitching to the likes of RWD, The Guardian, London Lite, Mixmag and NME and started to build a little name in the writing thing. But I taught myself from scratch, so that makes what I do even more rewarding, knowing the fact I did it without anybody’s help. Only God’s help. So it’s 2010 now. I get a Facebook message from Arfa Butt, who was a boss over at MTV. She said she had been following my work and that MTV were looking for an Editor for their urban music site, The Wrap Up. I went in to meet Akhil Suchak, who was heading TWU up, and got the job on the spot. I was at MTV UK for two years and it was a great place to learn about the wider music industry. I’m also proud that I was able to bring Yusuff Sitta’s idea for Best Of The Best: UK MCs over to MTV. To help produce and make that was dope, and it’s now seen as an important thing in the whole urban/underground arena. So I left MTV UK and started with MTV IGGY in NYC as their official UK Correspondent. That was sick as well cos I got to write about who I wanted, when I wanted — having freedom in your job is a serious blessing. I was there up until last year June when I got an email from Steve Slocombe. My old EIC at SUPERSUPER. We hadn’t talked for years, as SUPERSUPER folded in 2012, but we were still on good terms. So he emails me and asks me for my number and calls me saying he was helping to start up Complex in the UK and thought of me straight away to look after the music side. Having been a fan of Complex for years, hearing this was kinda like a dream come true. We met up in London and he asked if I could start the following week. I literally moved back to London over that weekend and it’s been a pleasure working there ever since. I always tell people this: be careful how you move on your way up the ladder. Imagine if I was a prick, do you think my old boss would’ve thought to ring me and bless me with such a big opportunity? It’s so important to move correct in this game. Complex launched the British version of their online magazine last year, with you heading the job of Music Editor. How have you found the challenge of such a big role? It’s been a fun challenge, I’ll say that. Complex Magazine is a hugely respected title and I definitely felt the pressure when it came to launch week. As the UK leg of the mag, our job is to deliver top-quality writing about all things UK. I had to make sure that, from day one, the music channel was covering all the right people. First impressions are important. The magazine has been around for years, and has covered rap and R&B music very well. But for Complex UK, I wanted to switch it up and cover grime, bassline, techno, house, electronica, while still staying true to the foundations. So now, you can go on the Complex site and see R. Kelly next to Jme. Justin Bieber next to Wiley. The contrast is mad, but I think it’s dope and our millions of readers seem to agree. We’ve had a little over a year to make our mark as a trusted music source for those genres, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far. But there’s still a way to go. You can never be too comfortable.
2. In the US there are thousands of respectable blogs and publications dedicated to their hip-hop scene, but not as many in the UK for our homegrown music. How do you think Complex has bridged this gap?
By being authentic. I’ve been working in the UK music industry for nearly 10 years now, so I’ve built up certain connections and a certain name for myself that people can trust to deliver quality music coverage from a grass roots level, up. We’re not trying to be like any other title. We know our lane, and we ride down it well. I’ve made it a point to not go down the “urban blog” route because, for one, we’re an online portal for a print magazine and we don’t just cover “urban music.” It’s a publication for the masses and I aim to keep the quality to a high standard.
3. You wrote a “Grime 101″ piece for MTV aimed at American fans who may be introduced to the genre. Do you think the sound will take off there any time soon?
That article was a very basic rundown of the scene. The Editor wanted a few pointers, nothing too deep, for the readers to get an easy grasp on grime but the feedback on it was good so I’m happy with how it came out. I think the sound has taken off big time in the States. I can only see it getting bigger, just as long as we stay true to ourselves and don’t get drowned in all the hype. Skepta’s done a wicked job of taking grime global, but there’s a lot more talent in the underground waiting to be discovered and I hope that, in the near future, US fans can dig a little deeper.
4. What’s you favourite aspect of being a music writer?
Being able to share good music with the people. I’ve never been a writer to write negative profiles or reviews. If I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t say it at all. My mother taught me that from a very early age. Some writers can come off bitter when they write unnecessarily negative reviews — and I’m just not that guy. If someone sends me music and I don’t post it, I usually give them a valid reason why. I won’t tell an artist I’m posting their track or writing a profile on them, and then par them in the piece. What’s the point? I’m just not that type of person and so it would never show up in my work. I’m a bit more loose on my radio show on Amazing Radio, though. My producer might slip in a tune that I won’t hear until I record, and I’ll give my honest thoughts if I think it’s weak. I’m contradicting myself a bit there, but whatever innit. Ha-ha!
5. For all artists reading this article, what advice would you give to them regarding getting noticed by huge platforms such as Link Up and Complex?
Don’t tweet links and write: “Listen to my new track fam!!!!! It’s flames g.” I don’t know you for the “fam” talk and the days of tweeting links are long gone. If I know you, that’s different. But sometimes, I get people tweeting me and they’re not even following me. Liberty! Ha-ha. On a serious note, though, I think people who are serious about their music should invest in a credible PR firm to send out professional emails that professional people can and will respond to. If you don’t have money to get a PR — no sweat. Email us and be your own PR instead. But always come correct. I think people see my snapback and the way I talk on social media and think that I’m mad cool and down with the kids. I am, I definitely am, but I’m still a professional. So the moral of the story is: if you treat yourself and your music with respect, people are going to respect it too.
6. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
There’s been many, but landing my current role at Complex is definitely up there. As well as being asked to be a panelist/board member for The MOBOs and The BRITs. That one gassed me, I can’t even lie. I never grew up wanting to be this music journalist. I don’t really hang with industry people — ha-ha, all my friends flex like rappers — so the fact that I’m in this position and taken somewhat seriously is a big enough highlight for me; because I don’t come from this world. I just stepped in it.
7. Chip or Bugzy?
I don’t really get the Bugzy Malone hype… I’m trying to get there, but it’s taking me a minute. So I’m going to have to say Chip for this one.
8. What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?
Apart from breaking the bank for Christmas presents, I just want to continue doing what I does. And do it to the best of my ability.
Follow on Twitter – @JPIZZLEDIZZLE