INTERVIEW: Tom Huggett of Astral People
ASTRAL PEOPLE are an artist management and touring agency based in Sydney. They are responsible for touring acts such as BLAWAN & PARIAH, DARK SKY, HOW TO DRESS WELL, LAPALUX, JIMMY EDGAR and TEENGIRL FANTASY.
On November 10th at The Factory Theatre they hosted the OutsideIn Festival. The stellar line up included SMOKE DZA, OLIVER TANK, FLUME, SHIGETO, AFRICA HITECH, JESSE BOYKINS III, EVENINGS, POLOGRAPHIA, COLLARBONES, plus many more.
Tom Huggett from ASTRAL PEOPLE kindly gave us some of his time for a Q&A session:
How and when did ASTRAL PEOPLE come about?
We formed early last year (2011) and officially launched later that year in August. I was already friends with both Lee and Vic, and we all had a similar outlook on what we wanted to achieve in the Australian music scene. At the time all three of us were looking for something new to do so I decided to introduce Vic and Lee at the Collarbones Iconography album launch, and the rest is history.
Did you ever imagine it would be as big a brand name as it is today? Which booking do you think got the company on the map?
I think we’re in a good position at the moment. I wouldn’t call us a ‘big brand name’ just yet, but I think we’re definitely going through some exciting times. It’s hard to pin point what actually put us on ‘the map’. Our launch at Tone with our own roster in August last year was a lot bigger than we ever expected. Our follow up show with our first international HOW TO DRESS WELL definitely had a big impact on Astral People.
I think it may have been the BLAWAN & PARIAH show in May this year which really set things off. Ever since that show we have been ridiculously busy.
What has been the most memorable gig you’ve put on so far? Who’s the most interesting or most humorous artist you’ve booked in your career up until this point?
The most memorable gig for me would have to be the OutsideIn Festival. Even our most recent gig with TEENGIRL FANTASY, which wasn’t our biggest show but every act on the night absolutely blew me away, especially TEENGIRL FANTASY themselves. If you ever get a chance to check out their live show then don’t even think twice. It was possibly the best live electronic act I’ve ever experienced.
Most humorous act? Well that’s a hard one, just about every act we’ve toured have been total dudes. KNXWLEDGE and SHIGETO were both super funny guys and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with ACTION BRONSON this summer.
How do you find out about the artists you tour? Are international artists who have never toured Australia before a major drawcard?
We definitely try to tour acts who have never performed down this way before. This is because we’re really into unearthing great, fresh underground acts to the Australian public. Like for most people, the internet always plays a big part in discovering new music. When it’s not the internet, we’re usually scouting all around the world. All three of us are always travelling and attending events all around the world like SXSW, CMJ’s, Sonar etc. and looking for who’s going to bring something special to our ASTRAL parties.
After OutsideIn Festival there was a lot of talk and excitement on Facebook about the fact that THOM YORKE made an appearance on the day. How does it feel to have him interested in the artists ASTRAL PEOPLE have booked? Did you get a chance to talk to him?
Yeah that was a huge surprise for all of us. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any better we just randomly see Thom show up on the side of the stage and we all just couldn’t stop giggling like little teenage girls. I said a casual ‘hey’ to him but that was about it. I wanted him to just enjoy the night.
He’s a friend of AFRICA HITECH’s so they just sorted him out on the night.
What is the strangest request you’ve ever had from an artist you’ve toured?
The strangest request we’ve ever had was from an act that actually ended up canceling their Australian tour just two weeks before it took place.
They wanted a bodybuilder (male or female) and a motorbike on stage during their performance. Personally I wasn’t too surprised as I’ve heard about them having these sort of props for their live shows but to the average person to see this on a rider is quite bizarre. This act was HYPE WILLIAMS.
Who are your dream artists to tour?
LARRY HEARD is definitely up there. He’s easily one of my favourite artists, and an absolute pioneer of house and techno music. We were actually in talks with his agent but unfortunately he retired from touring just a week after we touched base with his team.
WAKA FLOCKA FLAME would also definitely be a dream (and a nightmare) to tour. He’s definitely out of our league but fuck I would love to do the tour. A few others we’d love to tour but that probably will never happen include: WARREN G, GARY WILSON, MIGUEL, LIJADU SISTERS, DARONDO and D’ANGELO.
Other than FLUME, which Australian artists do you think will be the most successful in the future?
I really hope all of our acts reach the level of FLUME’s success one day. But other than our own crew, there are quite a few electronic acts I see doing some big things. OLIVER TANK and HIATUS KAIYOTE are obviously destined for big things. SEEKAE are only going to get bigger and I have a great feeling about some new young acts like MOVEMENT, CHARLES MURDOCH and our latest signing COSMO’S MIDNIGHT.
Lastly, what advice can you give young, aspiring local DJs & producers to be booked on a regular basis?
DJs – Be versatile, don’t just play bangers. You’ve got to work your way up so learn to perfect the warm up sets, the more versatile the better. Don’t just play techno/house – we always like to hear rap, r&b, soul, funk and down-tempo gems in the mixes you send to us.
Live acts – We’re always looking for something different, the less laptop-reliant the better! Incorporate different instruments and gadgets into your shows, set yourself apart from what everyone else is doing.
Words by Tony Kingston