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Steve Backman joins Matt Hanner’s Runway Artists

Independent UK booking agency Runway Artists has hired Steve Backman, formerly of Primary Talent International, as its first agent appointment.

Set up by former ATC Live agent Matt Hanner in the spring of 2020, Runway represents artists including Lanterns on the Lake, the Futureheads, Sleeper, Highasakite, Ned’s Atomic Dustband and Wyldest. It was one of the first of many new agencies to have launched in the UK since the start of the coronavirus crisis, being joined since by Ben Ward’s Route One Booking, Jon Ollier’s One Fiinix Live and Natasha Bent’s Mother Artists, among others.

Backman, who joins following a 19-year stint at Primary Talent, brings a roster that includes Emmy the Great, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Steve Lamacq, Gabriella Cilmi, the Bootleg Beatles, the Mission, Art School Girlfriend and Odina.

“It’s great that an agent of Steve’s pedigree had enough belief in what I’d started to want to come on board,” says Hanner. “We have a shared ethos and approach to the way we work with our artists, and I think we will benefit from working together.”

“We are the masters of our own destiny, and that is really freeing”

“It’s a chance for me to put my knowledge to something new, fresh and exciting that we have control of,” adds Backman. “We are the masters of our own destiny, and that is really freeing.”

“The independent agency world has ballooned over the last 12 months; there are some big players in it now, and there is a lot more scope to shake things up and work in a slightly different way,” continues Hanner, who says that having achieved financial backing, Runway Artists is looking to bring more agents on board in the near future.

“We have the freedom to push into areas where we might be able to offer more for our acts and benefit them in the long term. Different artists want different things from their careers, and we’re committed to delivering whatever it is they are trying to achieve, rather than feel we have to push every act into trying to fill arenas.

“It feels like a really exciting time to be putting a new company together. This is a serious proposition. We are ambitious and we are looking to grow over time.”


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New signings & rising stars (Mar–Apr 2019)

MarthaGunn (UK)

Agent: Steve Backman and Stefan Romer, Primary Talent

This five-piece band formed in Brighton and are named after a local heroine known as “the priestess of the bath.” Drawing from the bandmates’ various influences, MarthaGunn are mining an eclectic mix of the ’70s, indie- rock and classically tinged pop music.

A large proportion of the last year has been spent in a remote house in Wales, writing what will be the band’s next batch of releases and eventual first album. During this period they have also toured with AnnenMayKantereit in Germany and Austria, and Findlay and Blind Pilot in the UK, and have played a number of festivals including Kendal Calling, the Great Escape and Womad.



Arielle (US)

Agent: Phyllis Belezos, ITB

A music industry triple threat, Arielle could enjoy an impressive career solely either as a singer or songwriter or guitar player, but has combined all three of those gifts to create a unique artistry that defies genres and borders.

She opened for Eric Johnson on his three-month US tour last year, and has also supported and played with the likes of Vince Gill, Gregg Allman, Heart, Joan Jett, Country Joe McDonald, Eric Johnson, Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons, and many more. Arielle has already made the cover of Guitar Player magazine and released the single ‘California’, which reached no3 on the CMT Pure Country chart, while her most recent release, ‘My Gypsy Heart’, debuted for eight weeks in the Billboard charts in 11 different categories.

Arielle was the guitar player for Avery in the TV show Nashville (also the city where she currently resides), and the purity of her four-octave voice draws comparison to Karen Carpenter and Eva Cassidy.


Morgane Ji

Morgane Ji (Fr)

Agent: Markus Rogue, Agents 4 Music

Morgane Ji is the perfect example of the successful blending of multiple ancestries with her African, Indian and Asian roots. As for her style and aesthetic approach, no one has managed to pigeonhole her; she strives to create the unexpected.

A pop-rock musician and practitioner of world electronic music, Reunion-born Morgane Ji is immediately recognisable thanks to her unique voice: protean, raspy, soft, animal-like. Her wide vocal range, melodic lines and shamanic cries offer audiences entertainment and excitement, as her performances feel like journeys through deep emotional and visual worlds.

Her album, Woman Soldier, was released last year to critical acclaim. She will be taking her unique talents to Colombia in March for two shows, and appearing at festivals in Russia, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands this summer.


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