About Time You Met: Nikki Gordon, Head of Artist Bookings and Marketing at Ministry of SoundBy Angelica Malin
Ministry of Sound is one of London’s most popular clubbing haunts, and week after week boasts line-ups featuring class acts and renowned DJs from across the globe. We met the big ol’ boss behind it all, Nikki Gordon – head of artist bookings and marketing to chat about his latest project, We Are FSTVL and how to crack into the music biz.
Why did you want to get into the music industry?
I don’t think I actually went out of my way to get into the industry to be totally honest; I sort of fell into it by accident when I was in my very early twenties. My mate little Ackie Harris who was a budding DJ at the time got asked by a vodka brand to put a party on to promote the vodka, and he asked me to help him out. We organised a party in a backroom of a club in Old Street. At the last minute the vodka brand pulled out and we were left sucking our thumbs – but we still went on and the party turned into a vicious rave which ended up getting a double spread in Mixmag. From there I was a ‘promoter’ – well if you can call it that, going out getting mashed up for a few years was the job description. I then helped create a successful show at Neighbourhood Club in West London and they offered me a job. After a few years there I then moved to TDK Cross Central which was a festival utilising The Cross/The Key/Canvas (Bagleys). After a couple of crazy years I ended up overseeing the booking/promotions at The Cross/The Key/Canvas/Pacha London. And things snowballed from there.
What gave you the inspiration for We Are FSTVL?
When you’re an independent promoter it’s easy to lose a huge amount of money, so after becoming a dad and a bit more sensible, me and two other mates thought it would be a good idea to put a festival on as a real business and provide stability to our families whilst doing the thing we now love most. It was a bit of a head turner at the time; the brand was super strong and no one else was doing what we’d done in Essex for electronic music.
How does it vary from your position at Ministry?
It’s less stressful working at Ministry, as when you’re an independent festival operator it can be really tough being actually responsible for running the company. So many obstacles at FSTVL: licensing, fencing, managing people who live in the area’s expectations – it’s an endless list. At Ministry we have a super strong team and brand, in turn our numbers are incredible and consistently pushing over 200,000 people through the door over a year, compared to 60,000 at a festival, but a festival is probably 1 million% more stressful to run.
Photo Credit: Ollie Simcock
What can people expect from We Are FSTVL?
All the best electronic acts in the world – plus, as always, exciting new structures exceeding the punters expectations.
Do you feel London could improve its nightlife in anyway?
More accessible subsidised transport 24 hours a day is probably a good start.
There’s been a number of club closures in recent times – how do you feel about the future of the nightlife scene in London?
A lot of people don’t understand evolution. If all the clubs that closed in recent years stayed open the newer venues like Printworks and Tobacco Dock probably wouldn’t have opened or opened as quick as they did. We are one of the most creative industries and will continue to find new exciting spaces. Street Feast is also killing it, amazing concept and if you’re an old fart like me, it’s a great alternative to clubbing.
Anything big on the horizon you want to shout about?
Big up the girl power at Ministry of Sound: Maya Jane Coles 24th February and Hannah Wants 24th March, both headlining. And We Are FSTVL 3 day festival rave up, 25th-27th May with millions of massive DJs!
Any words of wisdom for any one trying to crack the music business?
If you’re a DJ make sure you are producing your own material, and if you’re a budding promoter make sure you’re out connecting with people. Be nice to everyone because in a few years time that person you met on the dancefloor might be an agent!
Where to you go to switch off in London?
You never switch off, doing this job you can’t help yourself. But I do enjoy watching TV with the wife and kids eating a nice dinner, that’s all I need.
One of your favourite restaurants in London is:
When I’ve had a win on the horses, Zuma in Knightsbridge. Smokestak is banging too.
Favourite place to grab a coffee is:
Sugar Pot in Kennington, ask for Little Dom.