Working From Home: Episode 21 – How to lead: lessons from electronic music and formula 1 with Farah Nanji
Nelson is joined by Farah Nanji to discuss overcoming adversity and finding alternative paths. Farah is a DJ, journalist, TEDx speaker, founder of Regions Racing, which is a business that explores leadership lessons from F1, and the host of the producer of the Mission Makers podcast.
- The impact of COVID on the music industry
- Female representation in music and sports
- Finding alternative paths when facing physical limitations
- Performing as an artist
[0:37] – Nelson introduces today’s guest Farah Nanji. Farah discusses her career as a performing artist in the music industry.
[7:38] – The impact of COVID on performing artists like Farah.
[12:12] – How Farah got involved with F1, and how she’s managed her battle with dyspraxia.
[17:02] – Finding alternative paths when facing physical limitations.
[22:18] – Accessibility for women in male-dominated sports like F1.
[30:03] – How seeing people that look like you in a given population, whether athletes or politicians, informs our ideas of what’s possible for us.
[37:08] – How does one measure progress in a creative field like music when there may not be a tangible finish line to cross?
[42:32] – Representation of women in the music industry. The pay gap in the music industry.
[51:00] – Farah’s vision for the next few years, and closing comments.
Nelson: Hello, and welcome to the working from home podcast with your host, me Nelson Jordan. Thanks for joining us today. I’m delighted to have Farah Nanji, who is a DJ, journalist, TEDx speaker, founder of Regions Racing, which is a business that explores leadership lessons from F1, and the host of the producer of the Mission Makers podcast.
As a teenager, she was diagnosed with dyspraxia, a developmental coordination disorder that affects 5% of the world’s population, but ended up operating in two industries that rely heavily on motor coordination, music and motor sport. As a DJ and music producer, she has played with some of the biggest brands around the world from the United Nations to Pascha, Destino and Ibiza, and many of our projects have been featured on Channel Four RTL and the BBC.
Farah, thank you so much for joining us.
Farah: Thank you so much for having me Nelson.
Nelson: Well, that is quite an accomplishment list at such an early age. So I guess the first thing that comes to mind I think for me is the DJing seems very, very out there, so let’s start there.
Farah: [00:01:46] Yeah, it’s definitely quite exciting and that something I really miss right now with the knockdown and it’s been about yeah, eight months now of not really playing music to an audience, obviously a bit of live streaming and stuff, but it’s not, it’s not really the same. But yeah I fell in love with and I was lucky to grow up in the UK in London and obviously we have a very strong music scene, but also a very strong electronic music scene. So I was exposed to the sort of techno in the nineties. And, even before I could go out, I was like a member of Fabric. And I remember like the reason I got a membership that was like £20 pounds a year, but you would get like all these CDs, you know, like compilation CDs and all these artists. And so when I did eventually go into a club, I will admit it was a bit, you know, it was around the age of 15. So, you know, it wasn’t the legal limit, but I do remember like at Fabric like just hearing something on, it’s such an amazing sound system, which particularly with Fabric you’ve got the sound system on the actual floor itself, as well as, you know, above, so it’s like this whole body experience and I just liked the power of the drama just completely pretty in my mind. And, I knew from then on that, like, I really wanted to not just experience music, but I wanted to be a part of people that was showcasing this to the world and transforming people’s lives through music because also just like being on a dance floor that in that moment, like coming I’d come from a school that I was going to was very close minded. And, you know, you go to a dance hall where there’s like everyone is like completely welcoming that, you know, people are just completely free. So yeah, I guess I started to pursue it professionally from around the age of 18, but between the age of 15 to 18, two of my best friends were DJs so I observed their environment for three years and I really saw, you know, what they were doing in the craft that they had of like mixing and reading a room and feeding off the energy in different ways, we’ll try and sending it. and then I went to like actually went to DJ school, my gap year before I went to university and I tried to learn it sort of that way. and I actually realized afterwards that it can teach you a few things, like for sure the skillset and the fundamentals, but really, once you have that under lock and key, it’s really the fundamental skill is being able to read a room and the music that you showcase, that can sort of yeah like change that environment. So, yeah. And then I’ve been doing it now, it’s been, yeah, about 10 years. As you sort of mentioned in the intro, I’ve been really lucky to have a pretty global career, played to some amazing brands and, yeah, and it’s been, it’s been amazing to see there’s electronic music in literally every corner of the globe, you know, particularly as I think Swedish house mafia, when they spread that sound to over the world, I think it really kind of, opened the doors to other types of electronic music to have an opportunity to be in all the countries and yeah, create like an ecosystem and a business model.
Nelson: [00:05:02] Where have you found, of all the places that you’ve played the most different in terms of audience response or just general vibe or what they’re into.
Farah: [00:05:13] I think Kenya for sure was like one of the places where I just loved and was mind blown. It may not be the typical thing that you think about when you think about electronic music. Right. So I think for that reason, it’s surprisingly amazing. People are just so like, the wonders of like Kenyan people it’s really incredible. Like they’re really warm and kind spirited people, they love music, they love tribal percussion and they just go crazy for it. So, and then of course, like, you know, the backdrop and scenery and all that stuff, that’s pretty cool as well.
Nelson: [00:05:50] Yeah. I’m sure that didn’t hurt. Amazing. So I didn’t even know there was such a thing as DJ school.
Farah: [00:06:01] Yeah it’s existed for a while to be honest and actually it’s now on the music GCSE curriculum, DJ and music production is going to be 40% of the grade at GCSE. So the way that we’re consuming music obviously has changed and like, you know, you and I can easily go on an app and just sort of download or on the iTunes store and just download a DJ app and you could get one for free and you could do the basic things. Right. So, yeah, there is a very, there was a very solid way of learning it to be honest, and a quite structured approach to it. Particularly because with technology, there are so many different ways of playing now as well and different genres have very different ways of also of the skillset. So like if you were in hip hop, scratching would be something that would obviously be quite a big skillset that you’d need to have. So yeah, it’s pretty cool that you can go to like schools and that, and that everywhere. I mean you could get them in LA, New York, Berlin, London, Ibiza, I mean all the hotspots for music you have these DJ schools.
Nelson: [00:07:08] Amazing. So how have you, how have you found things changed since COVID you mentioned, an uptick in, in streaming and things.
Farah: [00:07:19] It’s been hard, because it was my primary source of source of income and that just got taken away, pretty much, I mean, I’m still owed a little bit of money here and there from gigs I did just towards the end and that’s always been one of the hardest things about the music industry, as well as like, don’t get paid on time. Like you do have to chase things. You don’t get paid ahead of – like some people will – but if you’re up and coming you’re not gonna get the feed and bombs from the last stuff. So I found it tough because yeah, there’s obviously a huge transition and then the government as well saying, Oh, we should just retrain for other jobs and just forget about like this being a viable profession. it’s quite, it’s a really sad thing to have government say because also say like, you know, in the last decade, 50% of clubs had shut down in the UK as well so the government support in general for this industry, hasn’t been overwhelmingly supportive and it almost feels like, well, now that there’s this pandemic, it’s an opportunity for them to close down more clubs and replace it with, you know, real estate buildings and what are those things? But in some ways I’m one of those people that says we’ll find a way to innovate and push through hard times and so even though yeah, the opportunity to play isn’t that like, of course, on the positive sides of things, it’s given me a huge chance to rest from traveling, which I’ve noticed a huge difference in my sort of sleeping pattern, my diet, like what are those things. It’s given me a little more time to produce music as well, which I wasn’t getting a lot of time in the past so yeah, that’s been really nice and like some new things. And actually what’s been really nice is like a lot of really famous producers have used this time to like put together online courses, and also like live courses with them. So there’s like a whole influx of DJs and producers that are like hitting the absolute top level having access to that production process, which has been really cool. I’ve signed up like three or four different producer, producing courses.
Nelson: [00:09:37] Yeah, I think that’s great.
It’s the other thing, like, even the guys at the top of that profession will still have seen their income absolutely slashed, I’m guessing, especially when, a lot of their income, if not all of it is made from venue attendance, basically from getting people out live and enjoying the music with them. So that’s a big shame, but I’m glad that some people have been able to pivot. I really, really enjoy learning from those people, not just who were in my profession. Cause I’m a copywriter, so I also enjoy learning from people that are fiction writers as well, or in that sort of field. So I love Masterclass cause they do some sessions with Neil Gaiman who’s just a really amazing writer that I look up to, but completely, you know, different style. Like he writes stories, you know, for graphic novels and things like that. Whereas I tend to write commercial direct response, web copy and things, but there’s still a lot of things that you learn. And David Sedaris as well, he’s like a fiction writer for a while. He writes from his personal perspective and then embellishes it. But so the opportunity to learn from somebody, ahead of you in some ways I think that is wonderful, that technology has enabled that and that you’ll still find a way to use this time as an opportunity. It sucks that we’re all in this position, but to try and get something good from it, I think is a noble endeavor.
I just want to switch gears a little bit, I suppose and talk about how you first got involved with F1, with music and your battles with dyspraxia, if you wouldn’t mind.
Farah: [00:11:35] Yeah. I went to this birthday party where a few friends were doing go-karts and staying. Yeah, I’d never really experienced karting itself. Like it’s not like motorsport, it isn’t a sport that, you know, you can’t just pick up a football and go to the park. It’s not very accessible. But I knew I love cars because my grandfather used to watch F1 religiously on Sundays and so I used to watch that with him and we used to go on long drives and like my mum used to say that, you know, to get me to sleep as a child, they would just have to take me like really long drives. And then all these things. So, yeah so it’s there that I really experienced go-karting and my love foods over sport really began as a competitor, because you put that home on and nobody knows who you are, and it’s literally just you in the car and there’s this intense level of focus that you have to get to whilst managing a hell of a lot of adrenaline and that focus is very repetitive because you’re going around 30 to 50 laps, whatever it is. And then so from that moment, I just knew I loved it. I wanted to be a, I wanted to just like, be a part of this sport in whatever way I could. It seemed like a really, really, difficult mountain to climb because there are lots of different formats for motorsport and you need a hell of a lot of money. So karting is one of the best ways to start. So I started to doing a bit of karting and then a couple of years later, I got diagnosed with dyspraxia and that was when it was, that was when it all became very like, what am I going to do as I knew I loved it and I was doing relatively well you know, and so it didn’t feel like to me, I didn’t quite understand, like how could I have a motor coordination delay? But then knowing how to like, drive well, like that shouldn’t be possible. But I realized like probably what it was, was like, I was getting to a point and then I would store it and I wouldn’t be able to advance to the next part because probably that was the disconnect, you know?
It is something that took a long time, it was by doing a lot was how I learned more and more of that. I guess that’s the same for anything really. But yeah. So, I got diagnosed with dyspraxia. My teachers kind of, they just thought like, you know, how could there be this huge discrepancy between getting really good grades in English and history and stuff like that, but then science and maths, like, you know, getting Ds, which is just not acceptable for a school like that. So it was like, you know, see if you can get extra time to help you out in any way, shape or form. And that’s when I spent a day with an education psychologist and she did all these tests and, and some of them were really basic tests, like drawing a straight line, several times. But when you see a dyspraxic present can’t necessarily draw a straight line that well, especially several times, so things like that. And then she says to me, you know, you’ve got this thing and like, yeah, I’ve never had it before and didn’t know existed. A lot of people had dyslexia. A lot of people haven’t heard of dyspraxia and there wasn’t much support after that. It was just like, this is what you have, and we’ll give you extra time. You should use it up top in your exams because your handwriting becomes quite illegible after a certain period of time. And that was it and I have to say like, I didn’t really think about it for long, I was almost embarrassed to have it. It was just like, whatever. and it was actually the most famous Ted talk two years ago that I actually started doing a lot of research into it and finding out a lot more and it actually really helped me like with why, what I have and understanding it in a deeper way.
So I guess for me, it was like, you know, that I know I’m passionate about music and go to school. I know that I’m in some shape or form, I’m good at it for whatever reason. I understand it and okay, I’m not going to go out there and be the next F1 driver, but I am still in the sport and I can still innovate and I can find different ways to be part of the school.
You know music is a little different, but, you know, I, it’s the fact that like, you know, I have this ability to lead a room and to just, play amazing music and be, have the opportunity to travel with the music and to showcase this sound.
Nelson: [00:15:50] So within F1 I thought it was so funny when you, you mentioned about watching it with your grandpa, cause the moment you did that, and maybe it was because we were also talking about, like the impact of music, I just had The Chain by Fleetwood Mac Come on – I just had that instantly in my head.
So I was like, yeah, it’s funny that there’s a link between what you’re talking about, like the music and that. Then also the other thing I was thinking about is The Match of the Day theme tune through the other football thing. Anyway, I don’t want to get too off topic, but I just found that quite funny personally.
So, no, it’s fantastic that you managed to find a way to become involved because I think so many times that happens where there’s like a setback and there’s not necessarily like an easy way to remain involved. When I was in my early twenties, I had a nasty neck injury when I was playing rugby and that basically just meant that well, for a long time, I had to learn how to re-walk and just get myself doing yoga and rehab and physio sessions and that sort of stuff. And that was it for me and rugby and I wish somebody had given me the path I suppose to remain involved. I’m actually looking at the moment, once COVID is not necessarily gone, but things open up again, to become involved with the coaching side of it. Like for the longest time, I didn’t want to, I suppose I didn’t, if I’m being honest, want that much to do with rugby, because every time I watched it, I wanted to play it. And I knew I couldn’t because I was going to risk concussion or another neck injury. But now I think I’m ready to get back into that capacity and try and enjoy the sport from a different angle. So I’m really pleased that you managed to find something there. I think for too many people, it’s the case that doesn’t exist either because like a lack of resources or a lack of path, or just a lack of knowledge that there is a way to be involved, that there is a path forward. What do you think about that?
Farah: [00:18:15] A hundred percent. I think it’s so true. And particularly with sports as well, where you can just take one injury and suddenly your whole life’s dedication to a particular sport is like completely taken away and then, yeah, I can totally see that unless you’re playing you don’t want to be in it anymore because that was where you really thrived and got your fulfillment from. But yeah, I think later on coming back to coaching and enabling offices and the schools need those people who dedicated that time. And I think for me, particularly like the more I go into seeing how difficult it was to be in motor sport, not just F1, but like even other, other sort of types of motor sport and how it wasn’t just about that – okay one part is that despite of it, the other stuff is like, you know, the fact that just females for motor sport is really underrepresented and it’s just an area where, you know, particularly in my time, that really wasn’t that much happening at that point. Even getting a job in F1 like there wasn’t even, jobs, career section on most of the teams sites, you know, and that’s like the simple, fundamental stuff. Now of course today, you know, it’s a completely different landscape, but it’s still got a really long way to go before we see that first driver who’s female on formula one. So, and I find that now, because I was still involved with it. You still get to do things like drive and you do still get to like experience it. It’s just not going to be at that intensity. But you learn so much more and it’s actually helped me in so many different other areas of my life too. And that’s why I saw some of this business that was all around the leadership lessons from the sport, because I think there’s so many, and particularly with sports, you know, you’re at a very young age and you have to navigate one of these days and you do tend to become a bit more mature than your peers because you’re living your life in a very different intensity, and then different pressure as well. So observing some of that and then you will need to share is very interesting. So yeah, I completely agree with everything that you say, I feel that often, this starts winding down a little bit.
Nelson: [00:20:30] Yeah. I’d love to find a way of becoming involved in a way that I enjoy that doesn’t make me desperate to play again and remind me of what I can’t do. But within that, because I wanted to talk about you and not so much about, about me. Everyone will be sick of hearing my voice. But have you noticed an increase in… let’s talk about the drivers for a second, in terms of female drivers and F two and a three are the people making their way up the ranks or not so much?
Farah: [00:20:59] Yeah. It’s still a unit. There are as few as like a handful know, not more than like a seventh grade, let’s say, that there’ve been a few very key people in different parts of the sport and have helped to have that real say like Claire Williams, you know, she was the former team principal of Williams and one of the changes that she made was ensuring that access and also Williams, as well as led by a female, you know, it had females in it, which is really important because not a lot of teams, what shall we say, it was really super male dominated. And then she gave Susie Williams the seat, at the developmental seat as what is developmental driver. So that was a huge step forward as well. And then yeah, in time, Sara, you know, there are definitely a few that means also then that they a lot of spotlight and particularly those, the series that started, a couple of years ago to call the w series, which is basically just a female that series and it’s actually really great because you don’t have to pay for your seat. So if you’re good enough you could get in and then there’s a lot of exposure that’s happening as a result of that series. And you’ll say, okay a few of the heavyweights, like David Coulthard knew they’re involved in that series as well, which is amazing. You know, you need that. So I think now more and more people are like, come on guys, look what century we live in. I mean, how is it they just got one of the last sports that equalized their build. So people are like relentlessly sort of trying to turn the wheel. And it’s unfortunately it’s like one thing is women, but then the other part is just the insane amount of money you need to raise. I mean going from college saying, and then, and then going into a single seat around the age of like 14/15, we’re talking like at least a hundred thousand pounds a season, and so that’s a really insane level. And then it could just easily go up into the millions and even people who are in F1.
Now, some of these drivers are there because they bring money into the team. And when we think, you know, a team like Mercedes can spend, you know, 200 million you know, that’s nuts right. You’re not really going to see that money come back either. It’s completely a sum, you know, you don’t invest in F1 to make money. I have to say, yeah, it’s a difficult one to say. Let’s see where it goes. I think the more careers that open up, not just as drivers but other parts, then things will change.
Nelson: I’m hoping because things like engineering are traditionally very male dominated and obviously like the engineering teams within F1, hugely important. So I’d like to think that as well as the drivers, engineering is perhaps a more accessible way for women to get into it. Because at the end of the day, there’s a certain number of available spots in F1, in particular. And you know, if you’re talking, I don’t know I think it’s two drivers per team in terms of the top level.
So you’re fighting for, like even the top men are fighting for very limited spots, I think hopefully we’ll see women competing for those spots and winning them sometime soon. I think engineering as well, just in the nature of there are more engineering spots available, more ways to be involved in a team. It goes back to that, trying to find a way to be involved in something you love, and finding the right path to do that.
Did you find that anybody was like a particular guide for you there in terms of a leading light that you found to show you the way.
Farah: 26:30 So, yeah, I think I just want to get back to what you said. It’s actually really true because like, yeah, there’s only 20 seats, right? That’s it. And that’s the top. And then, there was a really interesting statistic I found, a couple of years ago. That was that like, if we know that karting is the grass roots and where like the talent starts getting nurtured. I mean, only 8% of karters are female, so then to take it all the way to the top. Right. It’s just naturally, that’s just, yeah, that’s partly why it hasn’t happened, but I will say also there’s a huge question because whoever becomes the first, they can’t go into a new losing team. Like they have to go into a mid-pack or… they really have to enter into the mid pack. So there’s that.
Has anyone been a guiding light? I think in the beginning when it was all starting no, because it wasn’t so much, it wasn’t talked about as much, but then as the internet started coming out more and like YouTube and all these things started becoming developed and that’s when there was a lot more, a lot more was happening. So you could look at like keynote discussions quite easily online, Susie Williams again, she was really one of the people that really became a guiding light in that she talked openly quite a lot about what she’s faced and the challenges and the way she’s done it. But loosely say now, like, it’s a bit too late for me to think that I’m going to get that seat, but I’m very involved with her initiative Dare to be Different, which is an amazing organization. It’s actually just recently taken over by the FIA, which is the governing body of major sport. So Susie Williams, yeah it’s amazing what she’s done because, as you mentioned about the engineering and stuff, again, that comes back to, you know, starting that interest from, again, sort of youngish age, knowing the right subjects to take you’re a-levels going to the right university, et cetera. and what she’s done is been phenomenal because she’s basically, I think she’s been exposed to about 33,000 school children and so what she does is like she’ll go to schools, companies, around the UK and they will bring in sort of a team principal or they bring in a female engineer or somebody who is in charge of like making Lewis Hamilton’s steering wheel and they’ll bring the steering wheel and they’ll have this huge STEM activity day which is amazing.
Probably, maybe only 10% of the girls will be interested in it and you know, take it on, but it’s a huge, I’d say huge seed for change. And like I don’t about you but we definitely didn’t ever have that kind of, that, you know, those types of people coming in to talk about careers, you know, cause the first thing is like even the seed or thought may be planted so that you can do this and like, you know, F1 is about drivers, but it’s also like 800 different other roles within the sport.
So I think she’s amazing in terms of what she’s done and also the organization doesn’t just apply to just young females, it’s also a whole community of women even. at any age, you are welcome to go to the different events when they have them and you can, you know, you could be at Williams at one factory, hearing a female engineer talk about how she did it.
So that’s pretty cool.
Nelson: [00:27:59] Yeah. That’s, that’s amazing. I think that sort of grassroot encouragement is so important because unless you’re exposed to those sorts of things, you don’t know they exist. Like you don’t have a clue. You don’t have any idea about the opportunities that are available to you if you basically don’t see something on TV or in your family and your friendship group as a kid, you don’t really think it exists. So I think that’s incredibly important. It’s so nice that they are going into schools and doing that. I think like with my primary school, that it will be more likely to just bring a policeman in, to tell us, to stop acting up. I think that’s the level of a community involvement we were looking at. so that’s really, really nice. I’m getting a sense that what you have seen there from Susie Williams, what you’ve seen from her that has led on to what you’re doing with mission makers at all?
Farah: [00:29:07] She would be somebody I would love to get on the show for sure, because she’s obviously somebody who’s on a serious mission to innovate in the field. But I think the mission maybe is more of an amalgamation of all the sort of inspiring people in those two industries I’m involved with and getting to showcase that stories and the misconception is cause obviously that is something that we even scheduled about because it’s not all, it’s not all what it looks like on paper. Absolutely. So, yeah, that’s, that’s scoop on that one.
Nelson: [00:29:37] So tell us more about mission makers in general. Like what, what is it really for? What are you looking to achieve? What sort of learnings have you, you got already, having started at recently?
Farah: [00:29:50] Yeah, definitely. So it really is about diving deeper into that mindset of misconceptions but also how do you develop that successful mentality. And so, yes, it’s different because it focuses on two completely different things, which is music and motorsport, and then as a third category we’ve got business in general. But like, for example, with motorsports, we could have somebody talking about decoding human performance and he could be a mentor resilience coach for a race car driver and like most sports, you know, really 80 to 90% of success in motor sport comes from your mental state.
Because again, you know, performing at that level, doing it repetitively, not losing it for even a second. And while you have people talking to you and your helmet, you know, you’re traveling around the world, it’s relentless, we’ve got this media scrutiny that’s absolutely, you know, unbelievable. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out that it’s, it’s tough.
So, hearing from that guy is really interesting cause he doesn’t say anything that is very specific to most people. Like you could listen to that episode and then I could adopt those habits 100%, like, and it’s the small steps. So that’s with each episode, it’s like sharing someone’s story and thinking about a specific sort of theme or takeaway that we want to empower our listeners with.
We’ve just launched a podcast. So, you know we strategize who would be our target audience, but obviously that will change at the time. But like particularly some of the people that we want to inspire with our students, because I think having access to that level conversation, you know, at that age, with industry leaders is not something they may get any of their day-to-day lives. So just like having that inspiration – particularly now when the whole educational system and the whole market for jobs is going to be so tough with COVID. Yeah, we hope that it will help people in some shape or form and empower them. And again, with music, which is a really, really difficult career path to embark upon, there’s no formula for success.
It’s like obviously it’s your music at Number One, but dealing with all of the difficulties of the industry is something that a lot of people won’t survive simply no matter how great your music is. So some of those things, like the next episode coming out, we would focus heavily on ego in the music industry and burnout culture and again, those things that are relatable to anyone, not just somebody who’s in music, because you know we’ll have to navigate a working environment where we have to manage egos or there’s politics at play and we have to read energy and, you know so yeah, just hearing those stories in a different lens I’m hoping we’ll have an impact to the people that listened to it.
Nelson: [00:32:48] I think so. I think that’s definitely going to be the case. I mean, when you were saying that, I was thinking in my head about a guy called Elliot Roe. He is a mindset and performance coach who used to, I think he probably still does take on a lot of different clients from very diverse industries, but these days focuses on poker players.
Obviously the mental game is incredibly important when you’re talking about making decisions with money, as all poker players do, and there’s so many different things that become involved. And one of the better aspects of technology is this democratization of information, this increase of access to people.
I mean, working with somebody like Elliot on a one-to-one basis is going to cost you a hell of a lot of money. But you can access, you know, through software, through video platforms, through courses and things like that, you can access this guy’s incredible knowledge and I think that’s very similar to what you’re talking about there.
And at least from an F1 perspective, there’s so many things that get shared that are also relevant in other aspects of life. You just happen to be using that as the focus point. And then like with music as well, it’s really interesting how different they are, right? Because you could probably break down motor sport into a series of things that say, for example, you were a driver. You could probably break that down into a series of things that you have to improve upon. So, I don’t know, like angles and speed going into turns… I’m basically going to show my ignorance now of motor sport.
And you’ll be like, that’s another thing, but that’s fine. But you could break down all of these skills into like their component parts, theoretically, whereas music, I guess you could try and do something similar, but it just becomes far more subjective. Like the objective goal as a driver in F1 is very much clear from the start it’s to finish ahead of everybody else for this one particular race and then you build on races for a season and things like that. As an engineer, you have a very specific goal, right, you’ll whatever engine part that you’re in charge of, you’re supposed to make it more efficient, whether that’s in terms of like the energy that it takes or the weight of it or whatever, but like with music, where do you start? Where’d you even start with something that’s subjective. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Farah: [00:35:36] I do, yeah. It’s actually really interesting what you say, because it’s true. F1 and motorsport is performance obsessive and it’s all about finding a nanosecond to shave off. As you say, there are thousands of days points, which will get read and picked up on, but there’s also this very interesting culture of like, well, if you don’t fail, if you don’t push it to its limit, you won’t know that you can get to that performance state. Whereas with music, obviously you don’t want to break, you need to push yourself to a limit, but you need to know where the boundaries are.
I think on a personal level, how has it translated to music? Okay. Music is so objective or whatever. And people will always, you know, what works for someone will not be nice for someone else, which is fine. But obviously, you need to have confidence in what you play and you need to have enough people that you can believe play and like your music and there’s a market for it, ultimately there is a space. And I think one of the things that I do see some musicians now, not all of them, but is that like people just say, well, I’m just going to play my music and I’m just going to be as good as I can. That’s my job. I know. I shouldn’t do anything else. But in reality, I’m particularly in today’s world when you’ll find some games, everyone else to get heard I think, you know, you need to take accountability for the fact that like, Yes being a musician is a huge part, is the core of it. But around it is like everything else, which is in your control, whether it’s like you don’t have a good website and you know, let’s say you don’t have the money. Well, you can easily go and learn something. Well, you can go on Wix and learn it. It’s not difficult. You know, it’s, it’s how, all of the other areas, you know, social media, all of those things that you have to, you really have to think about and who is in your control and there are benchmarks, and there are ways to measure that performance. But like obviously there has to be a really fine balance between your creativity and not losing that.
And so I think it comes back to, again what you want, because if you want to be that person who becomes like Swedish House Mafia, then sure, you can put metrics in place and you know, it’s always about more and more and more, whereas like, if you’re more underground, it’s more about the quality of the gig and the audience. But it’s good to quantify it sometimes, you know, just to sort of think, yeah, I’ll be happy with this and then if I’m getting dangerously close I know how to pull back or, you know, even like sometimes for your own health. I think Avicii was sadly an example of it was like just doing way too much because people around him were pressuring him too.
And if you think, you know, you’ve got 52 weeks in a year, you know, you shouldn’t be playing for 50 of those weeks. You need to know how much it’s going to work for you and your body and you need to take that step away and be comfortable to sort of say no or like, you know, request it in a different, you know, different next year or whatever it is for you selves because yeah obviously if you want to be around for the long haul, then you need to play the long game. And I also think that with music as well, I think. The other part of it is that it really had an acidic environment. And of course you don’t see that enough one, like in that, on that sort of scale,
Nelson: [00:39:00] Only with the champagne popping at the end.
Farah: [00:39:03] Yeah, exactly. You’ve got the champagne podium. I’m sure that, you know, the teams, of course they love to celebrate when they win and everything, but it’s like they get back to the grind. They do. Whereas with music something I’ve definitely found quite challenging is like, I genuinely know that I’ve had to deal with people on a professional basis who may be taking substances and it could be like 11 in the morning and you know, that’s not professional. You don’t go to work doing that. And some people don’t see it as work. Like they don’t have those professional boundaries because they just think, well, that’s what, you know, that’s what this industry is. And it’s not because the people who actually do end up really succeeding are the ones who have very very good, you know, balance between those things and a discipline.
Nelson: [00:39:51] I’m just curious, because we mentioned it within motor sport, but within music, do you see, within the type of music specialisms that you’re interested in like dance music and things like that, do you see more, more a male, female split?
Farah: [00:40:10] Yeah. I mean, again, it’s still underrepresented. I think in the top 100 DJs, there’s hardly any DJ who is a female, you know, not even 10% or anything. So there is a split, but it’s not as not what it used to be. And it’s not as rare as a female in motor sport in a way but it’s still bad and it still needs to be equalized. Again, there are awesome, really good collectives these days coming together to try and champion those things. I think that the pay gap unfortunately is still a little bit on equal in terms of, you know, female/male performance-fees.
Nelson: [00:40:50] That’s really interesting. I’m just wondering, it’s like for some things like within sports, there’s always been the argument that, I don’t want to get too, too deep into this, but I’ve always heard the argument played with like with tennis, for example, on the difference of fees and the difference of length of games and things like that – between men, male and female and other things within sports about why men and women (whether or not you believe these things, I’m just putting them out there) whether men and women should compete against each other. And things like that. Music though strikes me as something that there should be no possible reason to have that mainly male environment. Right?
Farah: [00:41:41] Yeah. I agree. There really shouldn’t be any reasons for it. I suppose that maybe sometimes some of it’s, you know, what people perceive DJs as quite a rockstar lifestyle, that stuff. But you know, that should be no reason for it. Like, you know, if anything, sometimes females have a different ability of reading energy, as well as a more feminine intuition into it.
Not saying that one’s better than the other, but they shouldn’t be alienated from it because they also can have exceptional skills in it as well. I think that the pay gap is probably something that’s less felt ironically at the top. I think that when you are at the top, like you’ve got your agent representing you, that there’s just no way, it’s just that’s what it is and if you want me, that’s it. Whereas I think in the more up and coming or starting out and stuff, that’s where I think more of the gap is. And again, you know, and that’s not even just a gap within genders. That’s also a gap between how much someone gets paid who’s really famous and someone who’s up and coming, it’s hugely different to compete yet because of the spectrum. But you know, in essence, they are doing the same job. They all are doing the same amount of hours, there’s a similar amount of people in a room, maybe the ticket prices might be different, but yeah, there’s a whole gap. I do know that there needs to be more work done on equalizing the field.
But now obviously we crave it. You know that that’s going to be a really difficult thing. Cause most venues aren’t going to survive this pandemic. And you know, some artists also will not be able to continue, doing this because of, because of COVID.
Nelson: [00:43:23] Do you think it’s unfortunately the case that we’re going to lose, as I think personally is the case for some industries, we’re going to lose like a generation of people coming through, potentially because of this.
Farah: [00:43:36] No I hope not. We might lose that generation of people coming through – I really hope, not, I don’t know. We’ll have to see what happens. because it all depends how long will it be before we can get back to a dance floor environment? That’s the real question. And some countries are getting back to it a little bit.
Surprisingly I heard that in China, they’ve been having parties for Halloween and particularly parts of Asia, which generally have dealt with the pandemic a bit better they have been getting back to it. So hopefully in some parts of the world we won’t lose that generation.
Nelson: [00:44:12] I suppose I’m just worried that if we don’t have the venues to go to the people like you and I that have already been exposed to certain types of music will always want to go to gigs and things when things open up. I can remember going to like my first gig when I was like a young teenager or something and being like, wow, this is incredible. And that’s like one of the ways that I got involved with music and that only furthered things for me only made me more excited to go to more and to dig into other types of music. I’m just worried that if those places don’t exist, that those experiences on the same level can’t be had.
Farah: [00:44:58] Gonna take them a long time. I think, yeah. People are how many, there’s probably going to be a generation that feels more hesitant to go out. But then at the same time, young people are young people and they want to go out and have a good time. The pandemic affected more older people than young, so there’s that.
But then there are also, you know, again, you know, hopefully measures that are going to be in place more like you can get rapid testing, then venues should have that as an option and they let people in, you know, one of those things, but for sure, we’re probably going to see more hesitancy with people who want to be in a mosh pit right now.
Nelson: [00:45:34] Yeah, I suppose my concern is less over the hesitancy aspect because as you said, I think young people in general, especially if they’ve got a couple of bears in them (and I include myself in that as well) are less likely to be thinking about the consequences of those sorts of actions with regards to Corona virus and more I’m just worried the places where they would have those experiences won’t exist.
Like I saw a stat the other day on pubs and I think that like 40,000, 45,000 pubs in the UK – that’s like not really the same as bars to you, Americans, but to any Americans listening hopefully will know what pubs are – but you know, that’s huge. Like pubs was such a large part of my experience growing up, like whether I was there with family, whether I was there with friends and also within that, a lot of the places where I did experience music were pubs, you know, that would have people playing on a Wednesday night and a Friday night.
Farah: [00:46:45] It’s true. And also, you know, with London in this instance, the government is putting the congestion charge to 24/7 now pretty much every day until 10:00 PM.
We’re just literally making it impossible for people. I mean, you know, on the one hand you have the ability to come in without taking the tube surely that’s the way you should enter town, because then you’re not going into more of a bacteria filled environment, but then you’re like your discouraging people and then it’s just, it’s awful. Like the government is not doing anywhere near enough to save these people and, yeah, pubs have been a huge part of the British culture as well. So to hear that statistic, that is really sad. It’s really tough to say, what in this country will happen.
You look at places like Berlin, where it’s like the other end of the spectrum, like how they fight to preserve that culture and they have a very different attitude and we’ve actually, I think, we’ve lost a lot of creatives to places like Berlin because it’s more welcoming there.
Nelson: [00:47:48] That’s pretty interesting.
So, we’ve talked about all of your different kinds of projects and things. What does – and I know it’s very, very difficult to say, given what we’re going through at the moment – but in an ideal world, what does the next year to two years look like for you?
Farah: [00:48:05] Yeah, that’s a great question.
I mean, obviously, you know, you’re playing music as soon as possible will be fantastic – no surprises there. But I think also my shift anyway was like, I was lucky because I was full time music for a while, but like the last 2 years I started a venture in the motorsport industry.
So my nine to five, Monday to Friday or whatever, it wasn’t music really. So this venture that I’m working on is called the formula mind. And it’s all about, taking the leadership lessons from formula one and basically empowering senior management teams with some of those techniques.
So, of course the pandemic has forced us into thinking how to have somewhat of a virtual blended experience. Also like the real beauty of it’s the face to face, but, in an ideal world, yeah, I’d love for that company to in the future become successful. We’re not live yet it’s going to be something that we hopefully seek investment into. So yeah, I’d love to get that off the ground. I’d love mission makers to continue being a success. And more than anything just like health and all of that stuff is kept well. But yeah, the world is just free of this virus.
I mean, will we ever be free? God knows. But then we manage to find a way to live and co-exist with it. If that’s really what happens,
Nelson: [00:49:28] I think that’s as good a goal as any of us can have right now. And, where can people find you?
Farah: [00:49:35] Yeah, for sure. So if you want to listen to my music, you can just go on SoundCloud and type in DJ-Ninja, and then it should just come up.
And then if you just want to follow me or whatever, I’m on Instagram at DJ.n1nja and the podcast is Mission Makers. There’s the three main channels.
Nelson: [00:49:57] Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for joining us. I really enjoyed our conversation and best of luck in the future.
Farah: [00:50:04] Thanks so much for having me Nelson see you soon.
Nelson: [00:50:08] And that’s it for today. You’ve been listening to the working from home podcast with me, Nelson Jordan. We’ve been talking about the good, the bad and the ugly side of remote work. Thanks so much for listening. And I really hope you’ve enjoyed the time you spent with us today. If you’d like to discuss the podcast, you want to make a new friend or you’re interested in working with me on a copywriting or digital marketing project, then visit Nelson-jordan.com.
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