Kicking off a series of interviews with this year's queer pioneers, IQ speaks to the head of diversity and talent management at Dansk Live in Denmark
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Continuing a series of interviews with this year's queer pioneers, IQ speaks to David Davies, founder and head of live at Double D Live (UK/IE)
By IQ on 27 Jul 2022
The LGBTIQ+ List 2022 – IQ Magazine’s second annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the Pride edition (issue 112) this month.
The July 2022 issue, which is available to read now, was made possible thanks to support from Ticketmaster.
To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each individual on their challenges, triumphs, advice and more.
Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Catch up on the previous interview with Can Büyükcinar, head of operations at Wizard Promotions in Germany.
The series continues with David Davies (he/him/his), founder and head of live at Double D Live and head of experience at Catapult, operating in the UK and Ireland.
Your favourite queer space
I’m involved with a night called Buttmitzvah, which is a Queer Jewish party we’ve grown from The Glory to The Troxy via Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, Brooklyn, NYC and a few others. It takes the form of a bar mitzvah party and has a whole range of interesting moments you wouldn’t expect to find at a nightclub: Jewish dancing, speeches, bubbas (grannies) trying to get you married off to a doctor and a serious obsession with fish balls. I play the MC (think red tailcoat and heels) and host the night from the stage. It’s one of the few places where I’m able to celebrate both my Jewish and my queer identities.
What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
It’s painfully basic but… be yourself. You don’t need to hide who you are. Being queer is a core part of your identity, but it does not define you. You are more than the sum of your amazing parts. Your queerness is a massive piece of you and helps inform the whole puzzle. Live music is an industry where we are asking an audience to have a real emotional response to our work, so we owe it to them to be real and honest about who we are.
One thing the live industry could do to be a more inclusive place?
I think transgender rights are the next battleground in society and the workplace – regardless of industry. We need to support our trans colleagues, siblings, performers, artists and network. Obvious but easy things we can do include having company-wide policies like placing pronouns on email signatures that remove the stigma around the choice to include.
Being queer is a core part of your identity, but it does not define you. You are more than the sum of your amazing parts
The queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
I don’t often get to see shows when I’m not working, but I would love to go and stand in the audience at a Becky Hill gig and sing (tunelessly) at the top of my voice. Becky’s current show includes four incredible performers from the scene: Margo Marshall, Prinx Chiyo, Dosa Cat – and my absolute fave Freida Slaves. Her show is amazing – it’s the perfect mix of pop and dance bangers with one of the most incredible voices in the UK.
Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
I grew up in London and garage was the music of my youth. Garage gave way to grime and it’s where I’ve found a large proportion of my clients. In 2016 I was working as the producer of Mercury Music Prize Awards Show. That year both Skepta and Kano were shortlisted for the prize amongst 10 other amazing acts, and the Album of the Year was ultimately awarded to Skepta for Konnichiwa.
I had grown up listening to Skepta and as he won that night, I said to a member of our team that I wanted to produce his next live show. Ten weeks later, I was side of stage at Alexandra Palace as Skepta stood on top of a burning car and in that moment I felt that I wanted to do this every night of my life!
I think transgender rights are the next battleground in society and the workplace
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
I believe in the nobility of failure – give it a go even if it scares you – just ensure you learn from it. I took a job I thought I wanted – more settled, regular hours, structure etc. Total disaster, hated it, railed against it and didn’t perform well. It didn’t work for my employers or for me. I realised I crave creativity and flexibility as much as I need structure. Finding the balance between those has been what has led me to my best work.
Tell us about a professional challenge you’ve come across as a queer person in the industry.
I’ve been out as gay for a long time. I came out in 1997 when I was 13, and in those days I was defined as ‘straight acting’. Luckily the world has moved on a lot since then and that phrase has all but disappeared, but in the early days of my career I would have people in the industry make openly homophobic/anti-queer comments realise I was in the room and say really awful remarks like – ‘we don’t mean you, you’re not one of those gays’.
Again – it’s been a long time since I’ve heard those comments but in my early 20’s it really galvanized my feeling that gayness or queerness is fine as long as it’s not obvious from a hundred yards. It took me a long time to get over that feeling – and now fills me with shame that I accepted the idea of those gays.
It took a long time but the industry has moved on. I think that who you are, and how authentically you embody that, matters more than ever. I also think that as we continue to fight for acceptance and a place at the table we are more comfortable being less palatable – which is exciting and necessary.
As we continue to fight for acceptance and a place at the table we are more comfortable being less palatable
A cause you support
There are two amazing causes in the UK I support. Diversity Role Models is a charity that works with schools to facilitate sessions where queer role models go into lessons to talk about themselves and their stories. It’s an amazing experience and for the students, it may be the first time they’ve knowingly been in a room with a trans army officer or a lesbian ballerina etc. The children are given the opportunity to ask anonymous questions and I’ve been in some incredible sessions where students have asked really probing (but respectful) questions.
I also support the London LGBTQ+ Community Centre which is a safe, sober, intersectional community centre and café where all LGBTQ+ people are welcome, supported, can build connections and can flourish. They’re currently running a pop-up centre which was set up in response to the isolation many LGBTQ+ people felt during lockdown. The community centre aims to ensure groups within the LGBTQ+ community have the opportunity and space to run their own events and that LGBTQ+ organisations are able to expand their services and reach new audiences.
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