Working towards a fairer music industry

In Conversation With : Selassie Tevie

London based Brownswood Music are one of the most respected incubators for new music in the country. Founded by the DJ, record collector and broadcaster Gilles Peterson in 2006, it is the home of independent record label Brownswood Recordings and talent development programme the Future Bubblers Academy

Selassie Tevie is an A&R at the label and Project Director for Future Bubblers Academy, meaning his obsession for music has a healthy outlet, supporting new artists and industry professionals in their growth. 

We spoke to Selassie to find out more about the role and the developments he’s seen within the industry over the past few years.


Did you go to University and if so, what did you study?

Yeah I did, I went to Manchester Met and studied Business Management. I actually wanted to quit the first week I got there, but my mum convinced me not to. I’m glad I didn’t, as from that point on I knew I wanted to work in music and everything I did from then on was geared towards making that happen and Manchester was the perfect city to do that, for me. 

What was your first job in music and how did that come about?

When I was younger I used to put on parties and DJ . This led to me helping out a friend who worked for iLuvLive with their live shows when they came to Manchester, where I lived at the time. That was a little taste. But my first proper job was at Future Bubblers with Brownswood! But all the things I’d done previously helped; DJing, radio, making music. I had also started my own music collective at the time. 

Can you tell us about your current role and what that entails day to day?

Today I am an A&R at Brownswood Recordings. That involves finding artists to sign and for those which are signed, managing the process of creating their projects. Whether that be suggesting producers, remixes, giving creative input on certain tracks, managing timelines. My job is to make sure the music is created to the best of the artist’s ability and in a timely manner, before it goes to marketing. Also liaising and maintaining relationships with artists and maintaing an awareness of the scene. I am also Project Director for Future Bubblers Academy. 

What skills do you need in your line of work?

Patience! Being able to manage people and relationships. The ability to spot talent and to be able to keep yourself aware of the scene your label is a part of and wider. Also being able to essentially project manage multiple projects at a time. But most importantly, a good ear for music. 

How do you keep your ear to the ground when it comes to discovering new music?

Ah man, it's chaos! But the whole reason I work in music is because I’m obsessed.  It started as being totally obsessed with trying to collect every good song ever and that feeling has never really left me. But there's no one way. My life is just geared towards listening to and discovering music. I’m the kind of person who will find a thread of something I like and search everything to do with that person or genre or label and end up down a rabbit hole. I sign up to all the mailing lists, everything. But the basic things are radio, social media, promos, word of mouth, but even writing that makes it seem simplistic. I get sent a lot of music too. My tabs are a MESS.  

For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about Future Bubblers and its general aims.

Future Bubblers Academy, fka Future Bubblers is a talent discovery and mentor project funded by the Arts Council. Our goal is to mentor artists and industry candidates in tandem and help them make their next steps along their musical journey. We take on four music artists and two industry candidates a year. We focus on barrier free access to industry and leveling the geographical playing field, offering priority access to our programme for candidates based outside of London

Which Future Bubblers projects are you excited about working on this year?

All of them! They’re called T L K, OK Asanda, Shadeemus  an Joii Sol. Our industry candidates are Ebony and Bill , you might see them working behind the scenes somewhere soon too. 

Have you had any official mentors or guidance or have you just had to make your own way?

Thankfully I’ve chatted to and been around some amazing people along my journey some who I still check in regularly with today. I’d say the main person who I'd regard as a mentor is Amy Frenchum, a real G. She gave me a chance at Brownswood and is just an incredible person and super on point when it comes to working in music. She manages Ezra Collective and Yazmin Lacey now. 

What are some of the things you’d tell your younger self to do differently on your career journey?

Consistency is key and don’t wait for people to put you on. If you can't get into “the industry” do it yourself and make the industry come to you. Which in fairness I did to a certain extent, but wish I’d spent a bit more time, when I had more time, on personal projects. 

What are some of the changes you’ve seen within music for young people since you started working?

Obviously the big one is TikTok. I still don’t really understand it! This was the thing that finally made me feel old. Also the shift in thinking towards wanting to be more independent, which even as a person who works at a label I am fully here for. I’m fully here for being self sufficient and using your own resources and fully understanding your own capabilities and in todays world thats easier than its ever been.  

One other thing is I’m happy with how the current younger generation listen to a far broader spectrum of music. I was there at the beginning of the Jazz scene when it was all hands on deck, trying to make noise from our corner of the music industry. Now being into Jazz is very normal and accepted. I’m also seeing that people aren’t pigeon holing themselves as much. They’ll be into Rap, Punk, Jazz and thats just what it is. As so many different types of people are making different types of music, its far easier for people to relate to the artists and have an entry point to different genres. For example a young black boy or girl can see someone young and black making basically every type of music now. I think its super healthy. 

What’s your favourite thing about working in music?

I work doing what I love every day. If i wasn’t working in music, I would 100% have to do a job where I can listen to music and discover new music. I love the process of helping artists reach their potential and enriching their own lives and the fans by putting out projects. 

Finally, what are you listening to at the moment?

I have an issue at the moment where I’m trying to go back to projects more because I’m constantly listening to new stuff. But a few things I’ve gone back to recently are Biospore Farmers by Fields Of Mist, Delasi - Audacity of Free Thought + new PARTYNEXTDOOR !