CITIZEN FUNK linked up with Jack Swallow, an Brand Account Executive for PrettyGreen. The company’s aim is to bring ideas and brands to life via PR, experiential, events, digital and promotions. As a result of working for an established organisation such as PrettyGreen, Jack has worked on numerous campaigns and exciting events for well-known brands, Cadbury, Nandos and also Red Bull Music and Culture. In his spare time, Jack enjoys a spot of DJing, where he can be found playing at various venues around London.
Photography By: Migle Ka
How did you get the opportunity to work for PrettyGreen?
I was working at a shambles of a music PR company on a commission basis. One of the directors there was asked to freelance at PrettyGreen for a few weeks and took me as her assistant. I went into the office with zero expectations and immediately got on with the team, after a few weeks they took me on more permanently. I was lucky to find the right people at the right time.
What did you find most helpful when you were starting out in PR?
Most important by far was being surrounded by people that had infinite patience and understood that I was on a massive learning curve. Outside of that, I think if you have a simple awareness of general trends, whether you like them or not, combined with a level of creativity, you’re in a relatively strong position to start out in PR.
What do you most enjoy about working at PrettyGreen?
No matter what your job is, you’ll always be able to bitch and moan about it, I’m no exception but the enjoyable thing about PrettyGreen is that no matter how frustrating work might be, the core of it is a lot of fun. I really enjoy the space for creativity I’ve been offered at PrettyGreen, so two of us were given a substantial amount of money to create a mini recording studio, we’ve installed decks to make mixes and host parties an we record a weekly podcast. On top of those projects we also have Red Bull as a client who are an amazing company to work for and fit with my interests pretty perfectly, so we get to be involved in some great things with them.
Recently Pretty Green launched its own music specialist division; can you tell us what this entails?
Yeah, I mean it’s simple really, we are a PR agency with a music-arm. Rather than representing artists and labels directly though, we work with brands that want to be involved in music or push their brand using bands and artists. That’s wank PR talk but we basically get involved with anyone with a musical interest and create plans and decent events for them. Could be a beer company, could be a denim company, whatever really as long as there’s some element of music involved. It’s cool though, being able to work on different stuff and still be using our music knowledge is a rare thing! Plus, I’m all about free drinks events which is an integral part of business.
After graduating with a Psychology degree, did you ever think you would end up working as a PR Account Executive and DJ?
Not in a million years. Once I graduated I had some DJ experience but a lot of friends who were incredible DJ’s (and still are!) so I didn’t see myself being able to perform with them at any point, plus, I didn’t really have a clue what PR even was until I’d been working in PR for at least 6 months so that was pretty much nowhere near my radar. Schools aren’t telling the kids what’s really available out there!!
Do you find it difficult juggling between the two professions?
No not at all. Before I worked at PrettyGreen I worked in the Hawley Arms, DJ’d most nights at Westend spots and was working part time at the music PR place. I never ever slept. That was hard. These days I work standard(ish) hours at PrettyGreen and therefore have the freedom to just accept the gigs I want to play as opposed to endlessly chasing money. So I guess in a sense it’s made DJing more fun! It’s also a great outlet after the stress of a PR company, head out and play angry hip-hop ha!
What lead you into DJing?
As I mentioned I had several friends who were amazing DJ’s, and are still amongst some of the best I’ve ever seen but it was around the time when a flood of people were getting into it with zero talent whatsoever. I just realised that there was some really good money to be made from something I knew I’d really enjoy, just by learning the basics. DJing was also perfect for me. I’ve always wanted that ‘frontman of a band’ experience, just making people have a great time and being responsible for it, definitely ego trip! Once I realised I wouldn’t ever be the new Josh Homme, DJing offered the next best thing.
Where do you perform?
I’ll play anywhere I know the crowd will be into what I’m playing. That’s generally hip hop and increasingly more bassy tracks. I run a night with DJ Tayo at Concrete in Shoreditch on the last Saturday of every month called the Concrete Block Party. It’s basically a trip through hip hop history. I also play at Shoreditch House when possible, a few festivals. I’ve also DJ’d a few events through my connection with Red Bull. It’s very much as and when gigs turn up as opposed to regular slots.
Are there any contemporary music artists you find inspiring?
I find so many artists inspiring. I’ve got a very diverse interest musically. In terms of contemporary people I’m massively impressed by the likes of Hudson Mohawke, Lunice, Alt-J, Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Jamie XX, Rustie, Mele, Bondax, Disclosure. That’s quite a list. In terms of all time inspirations it’s Josh Homme, Jack White, Jay-Z. Anything that begins with J apparently…
If you had the chance to put your on your own dream event, what would be on offer?
I ALWAYS think about this. It would be a gig in the desert, somewhere completely inaccessible but there’d be thousands of people, watching some desert rock. There’d be a free bar, a huge stage, sun. The bands would turn into huge hip hop acts followed by DJ’s later. I’m seriously trying to find sponsorship for that, be ready, it’s going to be a bloodbath.