The hit science of topping the charts

2012-11-23 11:08

Benjy Mudie, as the A&R consultant at Universal South Africa, has a knack for turning musicians into chart-topping stars.

From éVoid and Lesley Rae Dowling in the 80s to Elvis Blue and The Arrows today – hundreds of musicians have benefited from this Scottish-born, bass-playing genius’s Midas touch.

Benjy Mudie may not have studied archaeology formally, but his passion for digging up treasures that change pop culture has resulted in a rock ’n roll legacy few can match in South Africa.

His latest signing? Paige Mac (featured in iMagazine on 2 September).

Why the music business?
I started playing in a band called Void – before they became famous as éVoid – to overcome shyness.

I saw the effect music had on me, and those around me, and wanted to somehow be a part of that.

What’s been your biggest success story?

There are two sides to that. Commercially, I’d say MarcAlex and Mango Groove. We sold more than 400 000 copies of Mango’s 1989 self-titled album.

My other proud moments include Falling Mirror and Blk Sonshine – I identified something fresh and challenging in them, and they carved out new aural landscapes. On paper, they shouldn’t have worked, but they did.

Who was the one that got away?

Freshlyground. I filter music in my own way, and they slipped through. I’m not fazed by it, though.

What does it take to do what you do?

Passion is key, and the ability to spot innovation and new forms of expression. It’s not something any  university course can teach. You either have it or you don’t!

Who has inspired you throughout your career?

A local band called Falling Mirror. They had a hit with ‘Johnny Calls the Chemist’ (in 1986) and their music moves me to this day. Their post-60s Pink Floyd sensibility excites me still, decades after it was first released.

Who is your favourite artist/band of all time?
Jimi Hendrix – he was my Rosetta Stone of rock. His music taught me to ‘feel’ music. I am still in awe.

Where can we find you when you’re not listening out for the next big thing?
Climbing Kilimanjaro, riding my bike and enjoying the great outdoors – I love the Drakensberg and especially Arniston. This country has so much to offer if you take the time to dig a little.

Three rules I live by
1. I receive a lot of demo recordings from people looking to get signed. Everybody gets an answer, regardless of whether I pass on them or sign them up.

2. I also pay for every gig I go to – being artist conscious and respectful of the fact that my paying at the door means the artist gets paid, and hopefully because of that we all get to hear more in future.

3. Respect for artists and their music.

» Get your iMag with City Press on Sunday

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