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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Will Larnach-Jones, Iceland Airwaves

The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Laura Nagtegaal, guitar technician and tour manager at MsGyver, here.


Will Larnach-Jones
him/he/his
Managing director and head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves
London, UK/Reykjavík, Iceland
will@icelandairwaves.is

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
I felt quite fearless with The Presets and the campaign around their 2008 album Apocalypso. It was a zeitgeist moment for the band in Australia, and some other markets. I was galvanised in my belief in the band’s music and its potential, and my conviction could not be broken.

We cracked commercial radio when no one said we would, and the album entered the charts at #1, hit triple platinum, sold more than 150,000 tickets in Australia across two tours, did all the major festivals around the world, ARIA Album of the Year, J Awards album of the Year, APRA Songwriter of the Year and so on.

I walked over fire and ice with that band. It was luck, timing and amazingly talented guys to work with, and while it was a real rollercoaster, it’s a time I now look back on with real pride.

 

“Your life journey as a queer person has equipped you with more problem solving, truth-seeking, empathy and lateral thinking”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I often hear of deals in the straight world being struck on the golf course, or over long boozy lunches. This is a world I’ve never been a part of. You won’t find me out boozing with the lads. At the end of the day, I guess I’d rather let my work and my passion speak for themselves.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Your life journey as a queer person has equipped you with more problem solving, truth-seeking, empathy and lateral thinking than many other people. You see cultural connections and musical threads where others may not. Trust and follow your instincts and passions.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
More visibility of queer and under-represented professionals at an executive level. I really struggled to find queer mentors and individuals to look up to as I fumbled my way through my early years in the industry.

“The generation of execs who have led out of fear, favouritism and deplorable morals is coming to the end of the road”

A cause you support.
I’ve invested a lot of energy in working with PRS’s Keychange programme over the past four years, striving for better representation of the gender spectrum in the music industry.

I’m pleased that with the campaign in Iceland, the number of signatories has grown hugely in the last six months. Again, as a festival we like to show, not tell. We are always pushing ourselves to be more representational, and with so much talent out there, it’s not hard.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Without bullies and dinosaurs. The generation of execs who have led out of fear, favouritism and deplorable morals is coming to the end of the road.

I remember sitting in meetings with phones thrown against walls, promoters calling me to tell me “you are nothing,” having strips torn off me about an artist’s physical appearance. I won’t tolerate any of this shit anymore, and I think the rest of the industry is finally seeing that you can be good at your job and still be a kind person.

How would you like to see the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
It’s been humanising for all of us, in a good way. The highs and lows of the last twelve months have given us insight into each other’s lives like never before – Zoom calls with people’s bookshelves, dogs, sweaty post workouts, kids etc. It’s forced us all to prioritise better, and I hope we don’t forget this as we head back to ‘normalcy’.

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2021: This year’s queer pioneers revealed

IQ Magazine’s highly-anticipated LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – the first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – can now be revealed.

The landmark list is the jewel in the crown of IQs first-ever Pride edition, which was published on Monday (28 June) and followed by our Loud and Proud agency-curated playlist.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The inaugural cohort comprises agents, promoters, COOs, CEOs, event producers, wellness specialists, tour managers and more, all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.

“IQ received an unbelievable amount of heartwarming testimonials”

In no particular order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2021 is:

Steven Braines, co-founder, He.She.They (UK)
Sean Hill, director of tour marketing, UTA (UK)
Zoe Williamson, agent, UTA (US)
Will Larnach-Jones, managing director/head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves (IE)
Raven Twigg, promoter assistant, Metropolis Music/founder, Women Connect (UK)
Nadu Placca, global event & experience architect, The Zoo XYZ (UK)
Maxie Gedge, Keychange project manager, PRS Foundation (UK)
Mark Fletcher, CEO, Manchester Pride (UK)
Maddie Arnold, associate promoter, Live Nation (UK)
Lauren Kirkpatrick, promoter assistant, DF Concerts (UK)
Laura Nagtegaal, guitar technician and tour manager, MsGyver (NL)
Joanne Croxford, wellness + diversity specialist/ live touring/ tour assistant (UK)
James Murphy, chief operating officer North America, See Tickets (US)
Guy Howes, music partnerships executive, CAA (UK)
Doug Smith, SVP field operations UK & Ireland, Ticketmaster (UK)
Chris Ibbs, agent, CAA (UK)
Rach Millhauser, coordinator, Wasserman Music (US)
Austin Sarich, director of touring, Live Nation (US)
Daniel Brown, event producer/programmer, Birmingham Pride (UK)
Rauha Kyyrö, head promoter, Fullsteam Agency (FI)

“I never imagined I’d be so thrilled to see my inbox soar into triple digits – that is until we opened nominations for the LGBTIQ+ List 2021,” says IQ staff writer Lisa Henderson, who guest edited the Pride issue. “We received an unbelievable amount of heartwarming testimonials from across the business but, thanks to the help of our revered steering committee, we’ve ended up with 20 exemplary individuals who continually prove that diversity is the industry’s greatest strength.”

Full profiles of the individuals on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021 will appear online in the coming weeks. However, subscribers can read the entire feature in the Pride edition (issue 101) of IQ Magazine now.

Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 


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Live from Reykjavik: A Rey of light

After a strict lockdown in March, and a huge effort to contain Covid with track-and-trace measures and widespread testing, it felt like Iceland and its live music scene was gearing up to return to normal for the second half of 2020.

Then the second wave hit, bringing in measures that rendered live shows next to impossible – strict curfews, distancing rules, and significant reductions on gatherings. While Iceland Airwaves, which was scheduled for 4 to 7 November, had been optimistic about going ahead in real life, we were forced to pivot quickly.

Thus, Live from Reykjavik was developed – a two-day virtual Iceland Airwaves. For this edition, the decision was to focus entirely on local talent and to use the moment to showcase Icelandic music to the world.

Given the situation this year, there was an unprecedented number of Icelandic acts “at home”. It was important for us to give this special edition a real Icelandic focus. The idea for the stream event was to combine some better-known names with some newer artists, or artists who had yet to enjoy significant exposure outside of Iceland. We’re spoilt for choice in Iceland; the musical talent in this country and the creative output is oversized in comparison to its population.

Iceland Airwaves has, for many years, worked to balance gender in its programming. Reaching the pledge in 2018 (and having worked to this brief before Keychange’s inception) meant that it felt entirely natural to bring the same approach to the digital space.

When it came to finding gender parity in the stream, it felt like an easy choice for us. The remit for Iceland Airwaves has always been talent first, not meeting quotas. We choose who we believe to be the best talent out there, and we believe as a festival there’s more than enough talent across the gender spectrum for us to make balanced choices.

Nanna from Of Monsters and Men and Emilíana Torrini have been some of Iceland’s biggest success stories. For bands working hard to break through internationally, we had so much strong and diverse talent to choose from: the dark synthwave of all-female trio Kælan Mikla, the jazz-nflected cool soul of GDRN, longtime Airwaves rockers Mammút, the sucker-punch delivery of rapper Cell7, and Bríet, who’s currently Iceland’s most popular radio artist.

The response from viewers to the performances and how they were captured was phenomenal

Many of these artists are award-winning performers at home, and leaders in their respective genres and on top of their game, so it’s no surprise that many of them are part of the Keychange programme.

The four core team members were also split evenly, gender wise. Over 50% of the team leaders from our stakeholders and sponsors were female. While the production and film crew was predominantly male, the chief producer/director on the film side was female.

As with any other year of our festival, gender equality is part of our identity and the Keychange gender pledge is an important marker of success for us. I would encourage all music organisations to get involved and to keep monitoring representation, so we’re all, as an industry, working towards wider progress and sustainability together – whatever your genre, sector or location.

For Live from Reykjavik, it was was important to select performers who had honed their live shows and that were willing to embark on this adventure with us, stepping up to the challenge of performing with no audience and being filmed in such an intimate way.

The artists were filmed in some of the venues and spaces we normally use for Iceland Airwaves, such as Gamla Bío, Iðnó and the Reykjavík Art Museum. We also went further afield with Bæjarbíó in Hafnarfjörður, and to a couple of recording studios. We had around 90,000 viewers, including around 12,000 from outside of Iceland.

As a boutique festival, Iceland Airwaves typically enjoys 4,000–5,000 international visitors per year, so we were very happy with this as a first step into streaming/broadcast. The response from viewers to the performances and how they were captured was phenomenal – we’ve learned so much from the event.

We know that while not everyone can attend Iceland Airwaves each year, many people are keen to stay in touch with the festival and the Icelandic music scene, and giving some people the option to view online creates more opportunities and excitement for all.

 


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