Kieran Yates - Industry Spotlight

Industry Spotlight: Kieran Yates

Industry Spotlight is the name of a new series of weekly interviews dedicated to sharing the inspirational stories of key individuals within the entertainment industries.

In last week’s Industry Spotlight I interviewed one of the London technology scene’s brightest sparks and I think it’s safe to say anyone who read the article came away feeling inspired.

This week the script has flipped as I catch up with an old friend and a young lady I met whilst I was at the very beginning of my post graduation journey.

I was first introduced to Kieran Yates at the Ctrl.Alt.Shift offices in Waterloo, London where I worked on Social Strategy among other tasks that young social activists with enthusiasm for change do. Our shared network compiled a mix of music industry influencers, key journalists and Mervin Martins.

It was through this network where we both worked to seek and create opportunities and while we both ended up in completely different areas of expertise, we kept in touch and I thought it was about time Kieran showcased just a little of herself to the rest you.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Kieran Yates and I’m a (mostly music) journalist for MTV, The Guardian, The Independent, Red Bull and a few others. I also do freelance PR and A&Ring [Artists and repertoire] on the side. When I get time, I write press releases and biographies for artists and have also been known to ‘whine pon the floor’ at Dubstep, Grime, Spoken Word and Hip Hop nights.

At the moment, I front the Urban Bards blog, which is a project I’ve just started, to document the Spoken Word scene in London, trying to educate people about what it is, what’s going on, and to shed light on underground voices.

There’s a lot of voices to engage with on the underground, I support musicians a lot in my work, but Urban Bards is for the poets, and their culture.

How did you get into this industry and why did you chose this path?

Well, I always knew I wanted to be a writer in some capacity. I did a lot of unpaid work experience at places like LIVE and The Guardian. I could never afford to do them in the Summer, so I did them in half terms and just worked like crazy. Through LIVE, I made a lot of good contacts through some amazing mentors, like Emma Warren and Chantelle Fiddy, and then I moved on to work for CtrlAltShift, and then from there, I just fell into all the other stuff by writing constantly.

When I graduated, I tried to attend every night [gig] going, write about it, consistently update my blog, write for free where I could, and now the hard work is starting to pay off.

Was this how you had planned things to go or are you capitalising on opportunities and simply rolling with it?

I didn’t plan anything at all, apart from the fact I knew I wanted to write. I capitalised on opportunities, writing into the night, sacrificing time, all that kind of thing. I just banged on lots of doors until they opened for me. I still do that now.

We’re in a new era where anyone can create opportunities for themselves. Do you agree?

Definitely! It is hard to be creative; but you have to establish your own path and find opportunities. After putting in the hard work, listening, learning from the experts and having loads of drive, I believe if you want anything enough you can get it.

Would you rather have 100,000 twitter followers to market to or an extra £10,000?

The money. With it I would be able to manage projects and make a lot more things happen, such as events, creating various magazines and the like. You can do all that without money, I think it just takes you longer.

What one thing can you not live without?

My notebook. Half of what I do is about being organised, pitching ideas, and waiting for a brainwave, so when they come, I’m ready. Also, there’s nothing better then putting pen to paper sometimes.

With so many talkers and gamers out there claiming to be experts and influencers. Do you consider yourself a smooth talker, a real talker or a don’t talk to me I’m not a talker?

I’m a real talker! I’m my own worst critic when my work isn’t up to scratch and I always try and tell people the reality of how hard it can be to succeed. Which isn’t being harsh it’s just real talk, that’s not a reason not to try tho.

If you wasn’t in this field, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be teaching, probably some kind of social activism… and I’d rally children to look cute, camp outside parliament and make [David] Cameron feel bad for taking away their EMA.

Name three people who have inspired you in your life.

My mum. For teaching me early on that knowledge is power, and being the most inspirational woman I know; she’s amazing.

As for the rest, I can’t narrow it down. People like Charlie Dark, Rahul Verma, Emma Warren, Steve Yates (no relation) and many other along the way have all inspired me.

One of the keys in this industry is recognising the people that helped you when you were coming up, and that’s a lot more than three.. sorry but you know its true.

If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?

Wonderwoman, for the outfit, invisible plane, and thinly veiled feminist sayings. Obviously.

What does the future have in store for you?

Hopefully lots more of the same thing. More writing, more plotting and hopefully inspiring lots of fun things for and beyond…

Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to young creative minds, what would it be?

Don’t be disillusioned by knock backs or people telling you that there aren’t enough opportunities. I had it and you have to push through all that, look at what people are achieving despite the current cuts. It’s a great time for the arts.

Be sure to keep up to date with all of Kieran’s Wonder Woman adventures and her quest for global peace over at her personal blog. Her new project Urban Bards gives a unique angle on the current underground Urban scene so make sure you check that out also.

And if that isn’t enough Yates for you, don’t forget to stalk her on Twitter. Aight!

If you want to suggest somebody who you believe needs a spotlight shone on their head, drop me a line via the contact page or hit me up on Twitter. Thanks

Main image courtesy of Verena Stefanie Grotto

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