Ant Demby’s passion for music is infectious. On a recent drizzly afternoon, FAT and ANG sat down with Demby at NYC’s Soho House and the conversation turned (no surprise here) to music. Next thing you know, laptops are whipped out, MP3s are streaming, heads are nodding, and we left with iPod fodder to keep us invigorated for days. We asked if he might do the same for our fellow Arcade Players, and we promise, you couldn’t be in better hands.
With roles in A&R and management, Demby has shaped the careers of everyone from John Legend to Black Eyed Peas, and is currently working with Quadron, Jessica Jarrell and Brenda Radney. He’s launching a new house release by Erik Rico on his own Lifenotes Music, and has teamed with fellow music heads to craft the new music blog iHearditOn.com. For his DREAM STATE mix, Demby says the inspiration “came from all the groups that made me believe in music again. All the songs on this mix are a sonic reminder of why I know that music is my soul mate.”
As a lifelong music head, when was the moment when you knew you had to make music your career?
I grew up as a musician and I was always the guy on campus in college who knew when all of the new albums were dropping so everyone would always ask me what artists they should be checking for. When all of my friends were headed the corporate route, I decided back in ‘95 to go the road less traveled at that time and focus on the music business. I secured my first internship and I was off to the races.
What’s got you excited about music right now?
My excitement is coming from the fact that music influences people all over the world and everyone in those territories have their own unique perspective. The definition of genre has changed now because all those walls are coming down and the mold has broken. I love artists like Theophilus London because he expands the boundaries of what we know as hip hop. Groups like Just A Band (From Kenya) and Quadron show us what funk, soul and electro sound like to them and it’s all relative. I feel like I have fallen in love with music all over again.
What is the vibe like among the editors at iHearditOn?
The vibe at IHearditOn is great because we all LOVE music. We all have very unique tastes which is great because we are constantly turning each other on to new music and I look forward daily to what everyone’s findings are. There is this artist named Million Young that Andrew Rosen turned me on to and his songs are like individual dreamscapes. Amazing. Our subscribers also turn us onto new music, which means that our model is working and we encourage that. Just recently, one of our followers who goes to Penn turned me onto this band called Flight Facilities and we all flipped out.
You’ve developed the careers of so many notable musicians. When have you learned something from one of your artists?
I learned a great deal from working with John Legend about perseverance. At one point, he had every door closed to him but he was clear about who he was and he was committed to win… and he did. I carry that attitude with me every day I get up. I want to look back at my life and know that my biography was written by me and no one else.
- Dam Funk – “Mirrors”
- Sonnymoon – “Houstatlantavegas” (Melo-X Remix)
- Miguel Feat. J. Cole – “All I Want Is You”
- Aloe Blacc – “I Need A Dollar” (Kurc Remix)
- Theophilus London – “Enjoy The Sun”
- Ayah – “If He Don’t Want It”
- DJ Center feat. Middlechild, “In A Song”
- Gilles Peterson’s Havana Cultura Band Feat. Danay & Carina, “Think Twice” (4 Hero Remix)
- Penguin Prison – “Something I’m Not”
- Just A Band – “Extra”
- Johnny Polygon – “The Riot Song”
- Flight Facilities – “Crave You” (Bxentric Remix)
- Quadron – “Pressure” (Andi Muller Dubby Remix)
- Miike Snow – “Animal” (Mark Ronson Remix)