Remember the amazing female post-punk band SAVAGES we all fell in love with last year? Do you love Cat Power, Kurt Vile and Queens of the Stone Age as much as I do? Then you don’t want to miss this interview with super rad London lady Natalie Judge, label manager for Matador Records in the UK.
I met Natalie at my usual Coachella abode, always made possible by my kind friends Hope and Blaine. We spent the first night chatting away next to the pool and became instant pals. I just knew this bad ass woman had to be a part of the blog so all of you could get to know her too.
This is how Natalie describes herself and her love for life and music:
LLL: How would you describe yourself?
NJ: Anxious, generous, forgetful, driven, tired.
LLL: Who are some of the people you have worked with and in what capacity?
NJ: I’ve been part of the Beggars Group of labels for around 8 years. I am the Label Manager for Matador Records Ltd – running the label for territories ex-US. Our most recent success was with Queens of the Stone Age “…Like Clockwork” last year. I also signed Savages, who are an all female post punk band from London. They were nominated for the Mercury Award last year. We also release Cat Power, Kurt Vile, Iceage and many more.
Here’s Natalie with the guys form QOTSA and Martin Mills (founder of Beggars Banquet) at the Primavera Sound festival in what she describes as a “…classic Natalie Judge photo.”
LLL: Is there a woman who has inspired you? who and how?
NJ: Alison Wenham of AIM (Association of Independent Music) – she tirelessly works with the independent industry to keep it alive, and fight for equal rights against the majors. She’s a very inspiring lady and hugely intelligent – also not afraid to stand up next to the ‘old school’ music industry types. She gave me a lot of confidence early on in my career.
LLL: What are some of your favorite experiences working in the music industry?
NJ: Seeing an audience engage live is always the best bit. You can read a great review, have the tingle of hearing a song played on the radio, but nothing matches how live music makes you feel.
LLL: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face working in this business?
NJ: Keeping up with how fast it all moves. It’s a full time job, which doesn’t finish when you leave the office, and it’s very unforgiving in that respect. In order to keep competitive in the industry, you have to keep up to date on technologies, new possibilities for reaching potential fans. It’s tough to keep up and the industry is getting younger and younger too – I don’t have as much stamina as I did when I was 21 🙂
LLL: How has being a woman helped and/or affected your career in music?
NJ: I’d be lying if I said that I felt like my career had been hindered due to being a woman. I’ve been very lucky to have had complete support and faith from my bosses right from the start. I was very young when I started at Matador – 23 – so there were a couple of “who? YOU?!” moments at the beginning from older males in the industry. But it actually gives you more drive to succeed and prove your worth. It still is a male dominated industry at Board-level, which is a shame and I hope it will change soon.
LLL: How has this industry impacted your personal life?
NJ: This and the next question meld into one really. It’s improved it greatly in certain respects, but there’s also been times when it’s stopped me from doing ‘normal’ things. I’ve missed a couple of weddings because of it, which i feel sad about.
LLL: Any romantic or sex stories you would like to share that would not have happened had you not worked in music?
NJ: Haha well I met my boyfriend at work – then he changed that job for another – and we now have the same job – but for different labels. So he’s basically my direct competitor. We haven’t come to blows over a band – yet. You have to be strict to not let your entire life become about work – and to do things that are completely removed from the industry. We go to the seaside a lot.
LLL: What are some of your hopes and expectations for your future, both personally and professionally?
Even though I see the benefit that streaming services can offer, i’d be sad if the physical format disappeared. It doesn’t seem like that’s in danger of happening yet, thankfully. So I sincerely hope that people will continue to buy records and have beautiful artefacts in their homes for a long time to come.
Personally and professionally, I hope that I will continue to be challenged, inspired and excited by music.
LLL: Thanks so much for the interview Natalie! I hope we can share some tequila and more conversations very soon.
If for some crazy reason you missed the amazing SAVAGES, here’s my favorite tune of theirs: