Manager Spotlight: Rachel Millar

12 February 2021

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Manager Spotlight offers a small insight into the heads of incredible managers. This week in the spotlight is Accelerator Manager Rachel Millar.

How long have you worked in Management? 

I’ve been managing for approaching 4 years! I came from a background in event production, producing the London Jazz Festival alongside major UK tours and stand alone shows with Serious. Having also previously worked at The Leaf Label and been a musician myself, it felt like the natural progression for me and I haven’t looked back!

Who do you manage now?

I currently manage saxophone/clarinet player, composer and band leader Shabaka Hutchings, his two projects Mercury Prize nominated Sons of Kemet, South African group Shabaka & the Ancestors, and my most recent addition to the roster is Cuban trumpeter Yelfris Valdes. Yelfris has collaborated with some insane artists such as Buena Vista Social Club, Quantic, Stormzy, Billy Harper to name a few but his solo project is the one to watch!

Where did you find your first client and what inspired you to take them on?

When I was about 19 I was down in London for a gig and linked with drummer Seb Rochford and I remember him saying there was the new player on the scene called Shabaka Hutchings and to watch out for him. Little did I know that our careers would collide at various points from then on. Initially we worked together when I was at The Leaf Label and Shabaka was playing in Melt Yourself Down, then on multiple occasions during my time with Serious/LJF. When the time came to take the leap into management a mutual friend informed me Shabaka was looking for a manager and after a few conversations we decided to embark on this journey together. Having watched Shabaka grow over the years, interacted and worked with him in different settings, I knew I respected his work ethic, personality and of course loved his music, so it felt like our approaches to, and perspectives on, the industry were very aligned and a natural fit.

What’s a good/bad day at work look like for you? 

A good day is when plans and projects progress and start to come into fruition, or even better watching them actually play out! The days that are creative, collaborative and on-the-ground are definitely my favourite.
A bad day is spent on email fire-fighting, chasing people… or accounting!

What has been the highlight of your management career to date?

This is hard but probably Sons of Kemet being nominated for and performing at the Mercury Prize 2018, resulting in a full standing ovation from the room. It was pretty emotional.

Sons of Kemet at Glastonbury and headlining Somerset House Summer Stage in 2019 is up there too!

What do you think are the big challenges for a manager in 2021?

Finding new and alternative income routes for your artists and yourself! Learning how these new business models work and how the industry is changing. I think every manager is used to being flexible, adapting, handling last minute changes and general stress but 2021, off the back of 2020, is going to push people to their limits and staying positive and motivated is going to be a big challenge for some.

What music are you currently listening to?

This week I’ve been listening to a lot of J Dilla, it would have been his birthday on the 7th and I find his music is like a comfort blanket for me when i’m feeling overwhelmed (with music choices or life).

More generally, Ambrose Akinmusire, fellow Accelerator manager artists Puma Blue and The Staves, JPEGMAFIA, plus the new unreleased Sons of Kemet album and EP from Yelfris Valdes (perks of the job!)

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