Catalyst Management is fast becoming the most prolific artists’ roster in the United Kingdom, managing the talents of
Mist, Tom Zanetti, Michael Dapaah and more. Voir’s Editor-In-Chief Jyoti Matoo met up with Guv to get to the heart
of his journey upwards.
Interview by Jyoti Matoo, Photographs © Studio Voir.
Article originally written for Voir Fashion magazine Issue 23.
Voir: From a young age you have carried an entreprenurial spirit. In your teens you used to put business cards together for MC’s and musicians. Can you tell us more about how you started out? Where did your love of music come from?
Guv: My love of music started when I was about six years old. In my early teens, 13 or 14 everyone was trying to MC. There was an MC group I joined, I was terrible. I used to make mix tape covers and business cards. I would cut them out and laminate them and send them off to pirate radio stations and promote it on MSN, basically I did all the marketing. From there it was a natural progression. I would put on house parties and raves, dubstep raves. As the MCs got bigger, I would put on bigger raves up and down the country. Literally, that was my whole thing. I wanted to be the biggest promoter in the game. It was a hard game.
You would take losses, barely break even, work all week and put all my money into the rave...it was really hard. Going up against the big dogs in the game. It was a hard, hard sell standing outside clubs and such with flyers.
I built a big network through promotion which lead to managing, and gained an understanding of the scene…from the bottom upwards. I met my first big act, a beat boxer. So I just managed his bookings for £50...£60 and was learning how to deal with promoters and the industry from that level. Tom Zanetti booked the beat boxer for a gig and that’s how we met, I saw him smash down a rave. I knew he had to become known, so I approached him and we went into business together. I used a lot from my first few projects at uni and immediately put them to action with Tom.
How did you go from 1 to 10 artists? Tell us the journey
I met Tom, worked together then landed a record deal. I had just finished uni, moved back to my hometown, opened a dessert parlour and trampoline park while working in music. Music wasn’t bringing in enough money so I had to bring it in elsewhere. I had to decide between the business I had built and music, thank God I chose music. Since Tom’s first single blew up, we brought on an agent and started touring around Europe. When his second single “You want me” went platinum, everything grew massively. I made managing my full-time job.
From raves I met DJs and producers, like Swifta Beater. After he came out with “Man don’t care” I took him on as my first producer.
Once we were down in Derby and I was in a barber shop, and these kids came in playing music on their phone. It was Mist freestyling and they were mad gassed about it. I got back home, and my little cousin messaged me.
“Yo have you heard this Mist guy. He’s got Punjabi in his lyrics” I did a little research into him and thought this guy is cold, so I hit him up. We met a few times, like ten times but we never talked about business. I told him I would manage him for free until we start making money, so there was really no risk for him. We did it and the rest is history. We toured the world, shot videos and that’s when Banglez reached out to us.
Far Left: Rankin, Left: Blur © Rankin
“When Mist steps into the room, he’s the star
of the room.
People are just drawn to him, simple as that.
He’s always had that and he carries it everywhere.”
We met him in Birmingham, he wanted to produce records with us. He, Mist and I all went down to London and made a record and built a great relationship together. We stayed at Banglez’ for 8 months in his studio and it all came together. He wanted to become a huge producer and was an absolute mad scientist about making music. After staying with him for 8 months we couldn’t say no and we got him a record production deal. They all had record deals and so it all just came together. I had Tom, Mist and Banglez, which made a solid line up for a business.
I was at a random meeting at Warner walking the corridor when I saw the president of the company talking to Michael (Big Shaq). I saw he was by himself, so I asked if he wanted to grab some food. He knew of me but we hadn’t met. I told him the freestyle he released “Man’s not hot” had gone viral and needed to become a record, and done properly with a producer, music lawyer, agreements. I set it all up for him and we started working together. His records were going platinum and we had lined up publishing deals. We ran the campaign, toured the world, built the company and made him a global success. On the back of that, Tom and Preditah made a record together.
“Banglez is a crazy professor in the studio and comes out
with these deep and philosophical tracks.”
“I Know my artists inside out,
I speak to them every day.
It’s like a family unit,
we’re part of each other.”
“Tom is the wittiest, funniest and always makes me smile.
He’s so kind hearted.”
Preditah was looking to move forward in his career and had seen what Swifta was up to, so he approached me about management. I knew of his work so I couldn’t say no despite the back of my head telling me “no more no more.”
Blade and I have been friends for more than ten years, so he’s been in my life before all this happened. I could have managed him years ago but it didn’t feel like the right time. The UK rap scene is part of mainstream culture so I can now propel him so much further. He’s got some crazy news in the works, crazy ,crazy news.
After a while Sam Tompkins started to come around the office to hang out and kick it. We helped and guided him and eventually we signed him on thinking “This guy’s going to be our Beiber.”
You don’t just manage musicians, tell us more about your other clients and how you work.
We work closely with Jessie Lingard, mainly with his image, brand and commercial aspects. All our footballers love our musicians and our musicians love our footballers. We are currently merging with one of the biggest footballer agencies in Europe to bring the players and musicians gathered under one super group. Footballers are so big they’re brands. A lot like American sport stars are. There’s an attitude of keeping within the clubs and keeping to themselves, but they stand and influence so much and can have a huge impact on society. Our job is to bring that to the forefront, therefore the merger.
So its becoming more PR and public image?
It’s a bit of both really. When there’s content we’re involving both footballers and musicians, putting footballers in music videos and promoting new music on the footballers’ social media.
If you could manage anyone, who would you want to manage?
Tupac. I would love to manage him. He was a great artist and great actor, but his vision and work rate was crazy. He pulled out five albums before 25, which is mental, and loads of movies. Ed Sheeran is another one, he just goes out on stage with a guitar and sells out for thousands. 50 cent is another one.
It’s a massive investment on both sides, for both the management and the talents. What do you look forward to most in the process? How do you know you’ve found a star?
I can’t really put into words what it’s like to find a star, you just know. It’s very intuitive. Yes, the music can be great, but they also need the personality and everything else. Every one of my artists is unique and has the personality and strengths to make it. They have distinctive qualities.