Behind The Brand: Greg Sawyer / Additive PR | Soundspace

Behind The Brand: Greg Sawyer / Additive PR

Behind The Brand: Greg Sawyer

Following almost a decade long stint with Defected Records as their in-house press, Greg Sawyer’s Additive PR venture has become a driving force that holds fort between names like Doorly, Mark Knight and Dimitri From Paris and some of the leading blogs, magazines and tastemakers in dance music.

This month’s edition of Behind The Brand finds us catch up with the Londoner to discuss the transition of going solo, what clients he’s working with right now and where the agency is going in 2019.

So where did the idea for Additive PR come from?

Prior to setting up Additive, I had been at Defected for nearly nine years. I started out as an intern there in 2007 and for the last four or five years had been looking after the PR for the label’s releases and events. To be honest, it wasn’t my intention to become a publicist, but I’d always been fairly gregarious and enjoyed talking to people, which is pretty much essential to do the job. And I’d always wanted a job working with music, and as I have absolutely zero musical ability myself, working for Defected was an amazing opportunity, and I learnt so much in the time I was there.

But after nine years I was definitely ready for a change and thought I had probably made enough contacts within the industry to go it alone, and so I set up Additive. The name was fairly arbitrary, although I was probably slightly influenced by the Positiva offshoot label from the 90s/00s of which I was a big fan. This was brought to my attention after one of my very first clients was coincidentally the person who had set up the label. He was very good about it.

And did you face many struggles starting out in the beginning?

Actually, it was a lot less terrifying than I had expected. I had a few behind the scenes conversations with people I thought I could potentially work with before I left, so I knew that I wasn’t going in completely blind. And pretty much everyone I spoke with was very positive and supportive, so it definitely felt like I’d made the right decision, or at least one that wasn’t going to explode immediately.

What does a typical day look like for you?

An absolute shedload of emails, interspersed with phone calls, Skype meetings and writing press releases.

A lot of my job involves trying to convince various sites, magazines and writers to say nice things about the music of the artists and labels with whom I work, so in one respect, it’s a really positive, fun job, as you’re always trying to portray people in their best possible light, and present them in a way that you feel is going to connect well with the person you’re pitching to. But on the other hand, as any PR will tell you, you have to deal with being rejected, or even more commonly, completely ignored on a daily basis.

Journalists and editors, especially the good ones are insanely busy and understandably, if something doesn’t appeal to them, more often than not they’ll just not get back to you. So sometimes it can feel a bit like bellowing into a void, which can be frustrating, especially if you’re presenting something you really believe in. But that’s just the nature of the business: if everyone spent all their time replying to every single email or call they received, nothing interesting would ever actually happen.

One of my favourite parts of the job is the initial discussions with a client about a new release: talking about the backstory behind a particular piece of music or a project, and then discussing how I can best present that to give them the best chance of getting some decent coverage. I love the pretty much constant human interaction this job affords: it’s never, ever boring and no day is ever the same.

Which project would you say makes you feel the most proud?

That’s a tough one. My favourite projects to work are those that genuinely make a difference to an artists’ career: ultimately that’s what publicists are here for, so when I get feedback from someone that the press coverage I’ve achieved has resulted in increased bookings, or changed public perception about them in one way or another, it’s a great feeling.

In terms of coverage, I worked a Dimitri From Paris vs Salsoul compilation a year or two ago that got a load of really good results across specialist and mainstream. Getting into places like the Guardian and BBC when you’re working on dance music can be tough, so it’s great when those pitches come off.

Tell us the worst job you had in the past before Additive?

Easy. I was a plumbers assistant for two weeks. He gave me some ridiculously unpleasant tasks and paid me really badly. It was rubbish.

What are your main goals for the brand in 2019?

I would love to work on press for a festival, as that’s something I’m yet to do. I’ve worked on a lot of events, but a festival presents its own unique set of challenges, so that’s definitely something I’d like to get stuck into. I’d also like to continue to broaden the range of music I work with. Due to my background in house music, that tends makes up around 80% of the artists and labels I currently work with. I’ve worked a few pop and hip-hop projects, and some more experimental electronic stuff as well, so that’s an area I’ll be trying to broaden for sure.

What projects do you have running right now?

Lots!

I’m currently working on Sankeys 25th anniversary tour; doing a lot of work with Toolroom across their events and releases as well as some of the labels they look after – Saved, Abode, Kaluki etc; a single and EP for a Danish pop artist called KING and a crossover dance act called KOLIDESCOPES. Additionally, I have various retainers with artists and labels like Poker Flat, Mark Knight, DJ Zinc, Eskuche, Gene Farris, Illyus & Barrientos etc. So enough to keep me busy.

Lastly, give us a track you can’t seem to turn off at the minute?

Boy Harsher – LA. Just insanely good. If I just need to get my head down and bang out something momentous, this album makes me do it about 50% faster.