Warner Records president Joe Kentish and Various Artists Management on the rise of Ashnikko

Warner Records president Joe Kentish and Various Artists Management on the rise of Ashnikko

Ashnikko has dropped the long-awaited debut album Weedkiller.

The genre-defying artist has amassed 5.9 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Lead single Worms is approaching 20m streams on that platform alone.

Signed to Parlophone, Ashnikko was brought within the purview of Warner Records president Joe Kentish after a company rejig in March

Speaking for our Ashnikko Music Week cover story, Kentish said that he was already closely following Ashnikko’s progress even before the reorganisation at Warner Music UK.

“I’ve always been a little covetous of any artist I see emerging who seems to have a really clear direction,” he told Music Week. “It felt to me as an observer that this was an artist who had something to say, who looked like an original, who looked like they were very creative and had lots of ideas. It seemed like it was gathering scale very quickly, so when I came into Parlophone, I was excited to be a part of it.”

As reported on Music Week ahead of the release, the artist has praised Parlophone for its support.

“The label has been very kind to me and allowed me to put out the music that I want to make,” said Ashnikko. “They really trust my vision. That has been incredibly liberating.” 

“Warner has been so supportive to give us the freedom to push Ash in this new breed of artists that isn’t dictated by the old metrics,” added George Shepherd from Various Artists Management. “The creative mind that Ash is, it’s bold and boundary pushing. There’s still no better system in place for a global network of people to slam the ball home than a major label.” 

Joe Kentish added that Ashnikko is a great example of what he wants the new era of Parlophone to represent.

“It’s artists that have a clear creative direction of their own, artists that have a global ambition and artists that are keen to work with a partner to get there,” he said. “I’m really clear about the sort of mindset and the attitude of artists that we want to work with. It’s about having a really well-curated roster of artists who share goals with us. That’s what I hope that the new regime will come to mean.” 

Warner is the right place for them, Kentish added, because of the company’s success at exporting artists from the UK to the rest of the world

“Ashnikko has an American background but has been based in part here,” he said. “It’s definitely a priority from them and management to be successful on the global stage.”

You have to follow where the creativity takes you if you’re an artist like Ashnikko

Joe Kentish

While there has been strong support within the label, Various Artists group CEO David Bianchi suggested that the biggest challenge has been getting the wider music industry to understand that Ashnikko is an alt act and not a “middle of the road pop act”. 

“There’s a temptation to find an artist like Ashnikko, who’s essentially a punk rock person who’s coming at it from a very archaic left of centre place, and I think people want to take that kind of thing and turn it into something very cookie cutter,” he said. “We’ve spent 18 months or so arguing with people that perhaps Ashnikko knows what’s better for them than a bunch of middle-aged men.”

Joe Kentish suggested that it’s entirely possible for Weedkiller to be Ashnikko’s big crossover moment. 

“I don’t think there’s a prescribed easy way of getting there by making obviously broad and commercial music,” he said. “I think you have to follow where the creativity takes you if you’re an artist like Ashnikko, and I think absolutely you can reach a broader audience.” 

Subscribers can read the full interview here.

PHOTO: Vasso Vu


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