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EarPeace Interviews: Simon Whitehead

by Alex Cox November 24, 2014

Simon Whitehead has come a long way in the music industry after initially starting his music career with his own club nights as a university student in Exeter. He is now responsible for Marketing & PR at Food Music Group and also produces music under the alias Xhosah. We had a chat with him about his music, career and a very crucial concern in the industry – tinnitus.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do in the music industry? 
I’ve been involved with music from a really young age. I learnt to play the drums at 6 and my interest in Djing and electronic music was triggered by a chance meeting of Ibiza veteran ‘Brandon Block’. We met on a holiday when I was 9 and I was immediately fascinated by the whole concept of DJing. Before I left he gave me a Defected double 12” Promo of ‘Roger Sanchez – Another Chance’. This gesture was more than enough to get me started and I got my first set of vinyl decks the next christmas.
From that meeting I knew I wanted to end up in the industry, although I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. There’s so many sides to the music industry and I’ve always wanted to explore as many aspects as possible.
So far I’ve started club nights and am still involved with events but I mainly focus on my role at Food Music alongside my own DJ/Production project.
What is the Thick As Thieves club? How did it come to life? What are the upcoming events? 
TAT was born whilst a group of friends were at Exeter Uni. The scene there was initially heavily focussed on generic pop/top 40 music, which while I appreciate has its place, the lack of variety left a lot of people wanting more, especially our group of friends. A new venue was spotted called The Cellar Door and Thick As Thieves was born. The cellar was wicked – a 250 person space with black brick walls and a naughty Function 1. It became the perfect space for our parties which to be honest, were initially started just for our mates to hear the music we like on a big system. The night became really popular; it became normal for tickets to sell out instantly and huge queues to form for those that weren’t so lucky. We were blown away by the support.
Last summer we launched our first outdoor large scale event called ‘HiJacked Festival’ in Exeter. We had Gorgon City, Bondax, Karma Kid, Blonde, Oneman and Chunky top the bill and the full 2000 tickets sold out in advance. Our focus now is the HiJacked series and this summer we’ll be in 3 uni cities across the UK. Keep your eyes peeled!

What is the Thick As Thieves club? How did it come to life? What are the upcoming events? 
TAT was born whilst a group of friends were at Exeter Uni. The scene there was initially heavily focussed on generic pop/top 40 music, which while I appreciate has its place, the lack of variety left a lot of people wanting more, especially our group of friends. A new venue was spotted called The Cellar Door and Thick As Thieves was born. The cellar was wicked – a 250 person space with black brick walls and a naughty Function 1. It became the perfect space for our parties which to be honest,  which were initially started just for our mates to hear the music we like on a big system. The night became really popular; it became normal for tickets to sell out instantly and huge queues to form for those that weren’t so lucky. We were blown away by the support.
Last summer we launched our first outdoor large scale event called ‘HiJacked Festival’ in Exeter. We had Gorgon City, Bondax, Karma Kid, Blonde, Oneman and Chunky top the bill and the full 2000 tickets sold out in advance. Our focus now is the HiJacked series and this summer we’ll be in 3 uni cities across the UK. Keep your eyes peeled!

Could you tell us what you do at Food Music Group? Are there any upcoming events or releases we should watch out for? 

At Food Music my job is essentially to make sure the brand and releases get the coverage they deserve. My role is quite varied but mainly involves planning and executing the Marketing & PR for the label alongside managing our online presence.

We’re currently midway through the UK part of our 2014 tour. We still have gigs in Birmingham and Liverpool to come before the new year. In terms of releases, we have our first compilation album coming out in mid-December. Its titled ‘DNA’ and as been curated by Kry Wolf. I’m really excited for this to come out and see what people think of the new material. I can’t say much about it unfortunately, but theres some great names on the comp and we’re in talks about something really cool for the launch… all will be revealed soon!

You also DJ under the name ‘Xhosah.’ What kind of vibe can we expect from one of your sets? 

The Xhosah project is based around a love of interesting percussion and tribal elements. The music I play is generally underground bass-led house. I’m a big fan of that ‘warehouse’ sound and artists like Lo Shea, Darius Syrossian and more recently A Lister tend to feature lots in my sets.

I also present a monthly show on Hoxton FM with Thick As Thieves which I’d recommend checking out. We’ve had guest mixes from Simba and Toucán so far and have A Lister coming on next month.

In addition to your projects, you have been working on a very crucial problem which affects many within the music industry—both fans and professionals—tinnitus. 

How did you first hear about tinnitus? 

I think it was after watching ‘Its All Gone Pete Tong’! After seeing the film and the potential damage I wanted to know more and did my research.

Do you suffer from tinnitus or know of anyone who suffers from it? Can you elaborate on what they experience because of this condition? 

Before wearing ear plugs, I used to regularly get ringing after nights out and gigs, but like most, thought nothing of it. Unfortunately, I was one of those cases where I only sought protection after some damage had already been done. I was DJing at a gig and kept noticing the high frequencies from the monitors being really harsh on my ears. I turned them down for the remainder of my set but only noticed the damage the next morning. I woke up the next day not being able to hear properly out of my left ear. This carried on for a couple of days and then thankfully it stopped and returned to normal.

What steps should be taken to raise awareness of tinnitus? Is raising awareness enough? 

I really think that awareness is slowly getting better. I’ve certainly seen an increase in people wearing hearing protection over the last couple of years but I still don’t think its enough, especially in the younger generations.

What is the role of DJs, musicians, venues and promoters in raising awareness and preventing tinnitus? Do you think there is enough support from the industry? 

I think venues and promoters are the key here. Theres very little signage or information at venues warning about the dangers of loud music. At the same time, theres only so much that the promoters or venues can do. The real effort needs to be made by the individuals – they need to understand the damage that can be done.

Could you tell us about your campaign, “Sounds For Life”? How did the campaign come to life and how was it received?

In my last year of uni myself and a good friend were heading up the university’s electronic music society called ‘Beats & Bass’. After my ear incident we spoke about how little our audience or even us knew about the dangers and decided to start a campaign that addressed this and spoke to our age group in a way that would resonate with them.

The campaign went down extremely well. We spent a day on campus playing a high pitched tone and explaining exactly what tinnitus was to students. We also gave free earplugs away on campus as well as venues across the city. Before long, we had received support from a number of notable DJs such as Huxley, Eats Everything and Shadow Child. The campaign was then picked up by BBC Devon who featured it on the BBC News site.

Any words of wisdom regarding tinnitus?

Don’t wait for a reason to protect your ears – you only have one set!

Just like Simon says don’t wait for a reason, buy some EarPeace here and protect your ears:  http://uk.earpeace.com/ 

The post EarPeace Interviews: Simon Whitehead appeared first on EarPeace.




Alex Cox
Alex Cox

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