Remi Harris is the co-founder of Young Guns Network, YGN is a professional networking group produced by and for young people in the music industry. Remi is also the co-founder of Buzz Jam, which brings together computer coders and musicians for one weekend to create a new musical instrument. Watch Buzz Jam’s latest episode below!
I fell into it after graduating (I did a science degree) when I saw an advert for a job at the Association of Independent Music and I leveraged my experience working in admin at a venue into that role. Then I just worked really hard and learnt as much as I could about the industry by going to lots of events and conferences and meeting people. I originally wanted to work as a stage manager or some other similar role in theatre.
Young Guns Network was founded 4 years ago, how would you say the company has changed over the years?
Well we weren’t a company when we started, it was just an idea which a team of us put together and made happen on a tiny budget given by the co-founders and a lot of favours! However we found after a while that brands and organizations wanted to work with us so we set up as a Limited company to do that.
How big is the team of Young Guns Network?
We are two co-founders, and then we’ve had an amazing team over the four years who have event managed, run social media channels, created our website and programmed the events amongst other things, we’ve probably had about 30 people involved over the years plus all our host companies, presenters and speakers.
What do you look for in a person that you want to be apart of YGN?
Enthusiasm, professionalism, practical skills (social media, event managing, web development, curation, dealing with people) and ideas.
Where did the idea of Buzz Jam come from?
It was inspired by this quote from Will.I.Am:
“If artists want to be entrepreneurs, and use their art to build other things, I would suggest instead of an artist looking for a new guitarist, or a new guy to make beats, why don’t you get with a coder…?”
[coder = computer programmer and developer]
We started with that idea, and then thought about how we could bring artists and coders together, and give artists access to top quality coding talent. Labels sometimes bring coders in to work on an artist project but they are normally commissioned to produce an app or some kind of marketing related project, but Buzz Jam allows the artists themselves to work directly with the coders on their actual music – they are both super talented and creative in their own realms and we were hyped to see what they could do if you put them together.
What’s some of the most impressive instruments the groups have made?
It’s so hard to choose, some have been really clever in terms of the coding and others more of a triumph of physical engineering. I particularly loved the chip-tune key-tar from 2015 which used a game boy, parts from guitar hero and neon lights – that was a beautiful artefact in itself. From 2016 “chesslo” the musical chess board was a very elegant idea, and a playable shirt seemed to work really well on stage.
You’re a big believer in collaboration, why is that?
We couldn’t have done any of our projects without bringing in skills from others such as our team for the events, the technical skills from the coders, or support from our sponsors. It helps multiply what can be achieved and increase the quality of the projects.
What advice would you give to people who are looking to get into the music industry?
Well as the founder of a networking group and a former staffer at a trade association I would give two bits of advice. The first is to go to events, meet people and join groups (in real life or online), ideally if you can join a trade association for the area of the industry you want to work in so you can start mixing with the professionals from day 1 and building connections with them. The second is to start something that’s your own, a management company, a band, a night, a blog – the process of doing this and creating and getting known for something should be enjoyable and can lead into professional contacts and opportunities as well.
What does the future entail for YGN?
We’re planning more networking events at the moment, and also promoting our short film about Buzz Jam 2016 in partnership with Red Bull, so you can watch that to see what we have been up to.