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We had the pleasure of catching up with ACM Music Production alumnus Robert Davies, who has had incredible success with his co-founded music label, Perfect Havoc. The label’s latest release, “Head & Heart” with artists Joel Corry and MNEK, has remained at number 1 in the UK charts for 3 weeks now and continues to do so. After our “Industry Insights” Instagram Live session with Rob, we delved into his recent success, musical influences, advice for students and more…
1) Tell us about your latest releases and who was involved? How did you end up working with the likes of Joel Corry, MNEK and PS1?
Well, Joel Corry came to Perfect Havoc back in 2018 with his first single Good As Gold, he had been recommended to us by a fellow producer in the industry who had suggested Joel work with us. We then did Joel’s second single Fallen and a few months into our relationship we began to get support from all the digital service providers, BBC Radio 1 and KISS FM. This then led us to signing Joel longer term and the next single was Sorry, which took over 4-5 months and lots of persistence and eventually became a summer hit. We ended up licensing the record and our further records with Joel to Kevin Christian-Blair at Asylum/Atlantic Records. Head & Heart is now Perfect Havoc’s 3rd Top 10 hit and our first Number 1 too. MNEK was brought in by Joel and his management team and as soon as we heard he was going to be on the record, we were very excited as he is a huge, huge talent.
The PS1 Fake Friends record actually got submitted to us via our demo page on our website (yes, we do try and listen ). It then turned out that the project was managed by a well-known manager and experienced label head called Dave Lambert. We signed the record, developed it and then partnered with Ferdy Unger-Hamilton and Preye Cooks at Columbia Records. The track is now entering into the Top 30 and we have been working alongside Columbia since March on the release, which has been an incredible experience and a massive team effort between Perfect Havoc and Columbia.
2) What’s your advice for ACM students after graduating?
I think as soon as you set your foot in the door at ACM, depending on your timetable and time allowance, your first goal should be to try and get work experience whilst you study, whether that be in a studio, label, publishing company, tour management company etc., as ideally you want to be ahead of yourself by the time you graduate. This is what I did. In my 2nd year of ACM I actually got work experience at Sony Music / RCA with Adam Griffin who is now my business partner at Perfect Havoc, which happened many years later after leaving Sony and also after working at EA Games for 2 years (also in Guildford). You have to live and breathe the industry and I was so passionate and hungry to work in the industry that I fought hard, bugged HR departments and emailed everyone I could to get my foot in the door. Persistence does pay off!
3) What kind of music does your record label, Perfect Havoc, produce? How do you see things progressing over the next 5 years?
We mainly do dance / house music and recently we have just launched a sub label called Organized Chaos, which focuses on the more club sound. At the moment, it is still only myself and my business partner, so in the next 5 years I would love to be in a position where we have a number of staff working for us and have built our dream team for the label. I think though we would still encourage the ‘work at home’ lifestyle with our label as Zoom has definitely changed the future due to COVID and makes virtual meetings easier and more possible too.
4) What are your main musical inspirations? Have these changed since your time at ACM?
I’ve always loved dance music, but I come from a very pop background as my parents used to always be playing big tunes from artists such as Michael Jackson, Simply Red, George Michael, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Diana Ross etc. As a young lad, I got very into pop, then into Garage, then hip-hop, then dance music, so I was into all types of genres. One of my favourite ever dance records growing up and still to this day is Modjo – Hear Me Tonight; completely timeless and I could listen to that record over and over again still to this day.
5) What did you study at ACM and what was your experience like?
I studied Music Production but mixed up my course with music business modules as I actually really enjoyed learning about the business side too, which gave me an advantage when I started work experience at Sony. I still remember the lectures from Chris Parles who taught us about Music Marketing to this day. I absolutely loved my time at ACM and really felt like it grew my confidence and gave me the knowledge and preparation I required before I went out into the big wide world. I was constantly queuing up for studio time and also bugging the hell out of the business development department for work experience opportunities haha.
6) What have been your main career highlights so far?
I think being 3 weeks at No. 1 with Joel Corry x MNEK – Heard & Heart is probably the biggest highlight and something I am still trying to come to terms with as it’s everything both myself and my business partner have been working hard towards with our label over the last 5 years. According to the Official Charts Company, we are also the only independent label this year to have a Number 1 which is even more crazy. My other career highlights have to include setting up Perfect Havoc with my business partner as it’s been an incredible journey so far and he’s not only my business partner, but also my best mate.
7) How has your time at ACM shaped your career in music?
It definitely prepared me. What I loved about the course was that I learnt a bit of everything from music law, marketing, production, website design etc. That definitely comes in useful in an industry that is so diverse as I feel like I have a good sense of knowledge about the industry from every level, from royalties, collection societies, business affairs, production, marketing, social media, website design etc. As a new label, manager or artist you find yourself doing a bit of everything, so having that base knowledge is really important in the early years.
8) So what’s coming next? Any upcoming releases?
Yes, lots of new releases. We actually are releasing music on our label every week, sometimes 2-3 tracks a week – it’s non-stop (in a good way haha). Head & Heart is still going strong for Joel and we are looking forward to working on the next one with him. We are also currently working on the follow up for PS1 via Columbia, and I am in the middle of a campaign with our artist, Tobtok who we also manage. We’ve published his single This Town to our publishing arm via Universal, which is also released via Big Beat in North America. We have a lot of new and exciting records though to come on the label and have signed a number of DJs/producers on longer term deals such as Kokiri, Dallerium, Simon Field, Moss Kena, Henry Hacking and Fubu to name a few.
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