JoJo Walker runs her own music and events consultancy; Walker Management. One of her current focuses is her role as Creative Director for San Francisco's newest venue, Halcyon, overseeing all creative aspects of the business, including event concepts, talent buying, brand management, PR, promotion & production. We sat down with the amazing director to learn more about navigating San Francisco's nightlife.
How did you begin your career in the electronic music business?
If just kind of happened. I was previously living in Ibiza and running a private events agency. My work and social circle had a large crossover with the music industry and as I was pretty well known for my business skills & drive (generally, things in Ibiza are quite laid back, so my contrasting approach stuck out a little!) This reputation resulted in me being asked by a couple of DJ friends to be their manager. I fell in love with the role & industry instantly and it changed my path from then onwards.
I met Gina Milano (now Managing Partner of Halcyon SF) around a year later, again in Ibiza social circles, where we bonded over our passion for music and business and decided that somehow, we needed to work together. Within a year after that, we launched Halcyon and further exciting future projects in the pipeline.
What is the best part of the business?
The people. Having worked across various industries I can safely say that the people in this business are by far the most fun. Everyone I work with has a passion towards dance music as well – being surrounded by passionate, engaged people means that magic tends to happen! The industry tends to work on personal relations, which means that I get on really well with all of my work contacts – my house guest in Ibiza all last summer was my friend Todd Terry!
What are the biggest challenges?
Always pushing to do something different (this is the creative in me)! Too often this industry sees the same thing again and again, which I understand can easily happen for various reasons, but I am a firm believer that it’s important to always try something new, to keep things fresh and interesting. We have a 24 hour license at Halcyon and this means I can be super experimental with what I create for the club. Whether this is doing long set times, so DJs can really get into their sets, or by booking double or even triple headliners for label showcases/branded parties. We’ve just started doing a Sunday morning after hours event at Halcyon called Safe on Sunday (SOS), which has meant we are able to do a true musical journey from night to day in the club (our ceiling skylights really help bring this to life at sunrise also).
What career advice would you recommend to someone else wanting to get into the industry?
Know your music and network – whatever it is you want to do, it will always be essential to know what you’re talking about and you will be taken much more seriously if you do. Also, in such a competitive industry, making contacts is essential - so don’t be shy!
As the electronic music industry continues to grow, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?
For me, it’s about having a skill & being able to grow with the times. As technology and tastes constantly evolve, genuine talent and the ability to grow with the industry is essential. It will be interesting to see which of today’s newly successful artists are still on the scene in ten years time!
What does electronic music mean to you?
Escapism. From the age of 16 when I went to my first dance music nightclub, I lost myself on the dance floor for the entire night dancing, making friends with strangers and just feeling incredibly in the moment & happy. The memory of this feeling & my experiences clubbing ever since is what drives me to be involved in delivering this feeling to other people.
What cities/regions do you think electronic dance music is best thriving?
Right now? San Francisco. Both our venue Halcyon SF and the rest of the clubs/promoters on the SF scene are delivering some really cool events, across such a broad spectrum of the electronic genre – it’s a really buzzing city for clubbing at the moment and the clubbers really know their stuff! We have been focusing on our production and giving the clubbers a really immersive experience, which is mainly from our amazing sound system set up and our lighting – with some exciting events to come as a result this year.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working in the dance music industry?
I’m a semi-pro photographer, so if anything else, I’d be just out shooting images full time I reckon. That or doing some kind of tech start up – I always come up with crazy business ideas I feel certain the world is desperately in need of!