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plugged young & ambitious
Adetokunbo “T” Oyelola
With awards for music management and the opening of
his new venue, “T” is set to be the new Ronnie Scott
The gastro music bar/ restaurant had necessarily wouldn’t be evident to the
always been part of the plan, but we mainstream audience within the UK.
saw it as two separate businesses So I feel she is already there, she
until we saw this venue. It didn’t just may need more of a push.
take a lot of thought as I had been
thinking about it for nearly ten years. What’s in store for Black Grape?
In terms of finance, it was an act of We’re in talks with some US artists,
faith with no money in the bank. but I’m not going to say too much!
The success of the people I manage
How do you see your job role? has allowed me to be approached
I do a lot; I manage the artist, that’s by many people, which I find very
my first role. I’m a concept builder, humbling, but my main factor is time,
an events manager and do event and the aura I get from the person.
promotions! I have an in-house With Guvna B I knew it felt right.
team that I work with when it comes Three artists have my time at the
to creative concepts and designs. moment, but my doors are always
Really, I just add the glue to their open to have meetings with people
projects. It’s not about what I do; it’s over Jollof rice here – it’s no problem!
about what the artists are. When With the venue… this is the start of
people say I’m the brains behind the chain, and Flavour will get the
everything, I don’t like to take it, first taste!
because I know it’s a marriage
between the artist and myself. Has your time at university helped
you in what you are doing now?
How many people are there in the It’s a matter of both; I went to
Black Grape company? Kingston University and studied
Let’s start from the seed… The Applied English and Linguistics and
Black Grape name is structured Business… and Japanese! The
on a concept of a bunch of grapes degree was a ten per cent help,
by which each grape represents but I think the university experience
With warm greetings, alongside a different venture – for example helped more by means of having
the smiling faces of the artists he events manager, management and to fend for myself, having to meet
manages – Eddie Kadi and Guvna television. Black Grape was started people from different universities
B – Adetokunbo “T” Oyelola, greets by me because I was a singer! Ha- and networking. Being broke after
me at the door of his current venture ha… I retired early because I heard spending my student loan in the first
Black Grape Music Venue and my own voice and decided I was not month was the grounding because
Gastro Bar. Located in Turnpike Lane a singer! My talent was not bringing you can apply the same principle to
in North London, he is in the process people together, so I formed Black your business in terms of being able
of adding the finishing touches for Grape Cartel at university which is to move the cash flow around.
the launch of his bar/restaurant. a collective of singers, musicians
Described as ‘the entrepreneur’, and dancers performing as one. How did you fund your project
25-year-old “T” as he likes to be It went on to be very popular and when you were in university?
called tells us that he has never let drew audiences from the Midlands As difficult as it seems, we always
money limit his success. down to Kingston for sell-out shows. tried not to let funds limit us, so I
From there, I went on to doing more was maxing out my student loan and
What type of venue do you see events. In the core of the family, getting as many credit cards as I can!
this being? there are five of us, but we have an I felt that if you believe in something
This is a mix of Ronnie Scott’s, Jazz extended family of 60-100 people strongly enough, then you need to
Cafe and IndigO2 – we wanted there for our projects and we would be able to take a gamble. Never play
to be the first home of black UK use the same people. ‘What If?’. It hurt because there were
entertainment and the overseas times I couldn’t afford to put money
acts that we have. It’s extremely As the manager behind MOBO on my Oyster card but I would see
professional from the sound system award-winning artist YolanDa old university friends driving from
to the lighting and the food. We Brown, how did you approach nine-to-fives in their Ferraris, but
have a mix of Caribbean, African bringing a saxophonist into the if you’re watching people, you will
and Brazilian food that I feel is my urban scene? never progress! Having that faith in
chance to do right, as before it was I wouldn’t consider her to be an my project now allows me to make
not branded in the best way. I saw a “urban saxophonist”, because she what those nine-to-fivers make in a
niche in this market and I ran with it. has different influences from R&B couple of hours.
Food breaks stereotypes! to salsa, and the urban world has
embraced her. Really her project The Black Grape Music Venue and
Opening your own music venue, is more mainstream because Gastro bar is located at 268 West
comes with a lot of risks. How she tours with The Temptations, Green Road, Tottenham, London
did you take all the different risks Errol Brown and she did a gig for N17 3QR. To read the full interview ords by
ords by Simone Byer
into consideration? the Russian President, but that go to WW
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