Toni, great to meet you. Tell us a little about yourself
Hi Echo, thanks for having me. I am a Dance Music publicist or PR guy who works with big pop acts like David Guetta to super cool indie techno DJs like Maya Jane Coles.
I also work with major labels Warner, Virgin and Sony and cool independent labels too. I get the artists in magazines, newspapers and online. Any interview or review you have ever read is generally arranged by someone like me.
Are we right to think you’re based in Hackney Wick and what drew you to the area?
I actually live in Bow, I moved to East London before it was even considered slightly cool back in 1993. I’ve watched the area grow and morph and change.
It’s a multicultural, almost affordable, artistic, edgy, beautiful, rough around the edges, gentrified and a brilliant place to live and work.
You’re Associate Partner for Neighbourhood PR and Director of your own company Tambo PR, both music PR companies – tell us more, what makes you different?
Neighbourhood PR is a collective of experienced music industry professionals. We all are specialists in our field and we deliver individual and tailored press campaigns to some of the best-known artists around.
We have an eye for lifestyle, presenting ourselves like a fashion brand more than a PR company, and have a sensibility to deliver campaigns that are not restricted to the specialist dance music press. We are 6 publicists based in Newcastle and two in London.
Tambo PR is my own facility to PR the things I like that would not fit in with Neighbourhood but I still love, basically anything that is not techno and overtly commercial.
So, I should probably ask you where the best parties are in your opinion?
One word…Ibiza. It’s a place that has had a magical draw for me and many others. Pacha, DC10, Ushuaia, Space Ibiza before its sad closure last year. It’s a place that everyone is on the same vibe and has the same intent to party.
Bringing it back to London, you can’t exclude Fabric and despite all their recent challenges renewing their license, they’ve bounced back and are now leading the industry again, this time with gold standard club safety. They’ve had an incredible journey.
Printworks is also providing an epic stage for super interesting artists and something that’s very needed in London to help revive the club culture here, which has been under threat.
Besides PR what can you be found doing in your spare time? We hear you have a soft spot for motorbikes and DJing.
Yes, I am a DJ and have been for 15 years, I play a special brand of party music – pop. rock, 80, 90’s classic house, funk and soul.
I also love to ride motorbikes and have a Royal Enfield Classic 500 – it’s a beautiful classic, black and chrome, and eye-catching.
Something you don’t know about me yet is that I also studied Kung Fu for the best part of 10 years, the same style that Bruce Lee did.
How did you hear about Echo and what attracted you to join?
I was introduced to Echo by a friend where I work. I was fascinated by it, thinking how could I contribute to their system, what could I offer? That aspect, I struggled with a bit, it’s not always easy to know what skills you have to offer.
It was over a year before Echo started a scheme that I actually felt I could contribute to, so I jumped at the chance. The scheme was volunteering to teach older people how to use computers, many for the first time. It’s called the Trowbridge Silver Surfers and takes place in Hackney Wick.
Ah yes, the Trowbridge Silver Surfers – why did you decide to get involved?
The Silver Surfers helps the elderly learn how to use computers, tablets, and smartphones. I think I know a lot about computers and thought it would be useful to share that knowledge with others.
I recently taught my 75-year-old mother to use a tablet computer, how to use Skype and Facebook, something she hasn’t put down since. She loves it to keep in touch with family and keep up to date with news. Even watching her favourite TV shows.
I figured that if I could teach my mum I could teach others in the same situation, those a little intimidated by technology.
What’s been your favourite Silver Surfers experience, so far?
There have been many, as well as teaching people how to install apps, check out the BBC news and set up email accounts.
I always cheekily ask for some life advice or shared experience they can share with me. I’ve been advised to stop smoking, stop having self-doubt, spend more time with my friends and family and have had countless local war stories shared with me.
What other kinds of things have you traded on Echo so far?
So after volunteering for so long over so many hours, I have become Echo rich. Mwah-ha-ha!
I thought I should start putting them to good use and have since traded with a handful of interesting Echo members.
I had a special treatment massage from Casey from Revive Therapy, numerous Osteopathy sessions with Danny from CORE Clapton and most recently appointed Marieke from Aspectus, a photographer who took some beautiful portraits of my wife and I. She did a fantastic job, I’m super happy with them.
I’ve also hired Robyn, a personal stylist to give me fashion advice, and even looked into Florence doing a spot of cat sitting. My colleague Oli overheard and is now paying her Echoes to look after his cats whilst he’s on holiday.
To be fair, it’s been amazing. The variety of things you can trade and the system itself of exchanging skills without money is just brilliant.
In my case, you’re contributing to your local community and be rewarded by connecting with a whole new one. It’s a really satisfying initiative to be engaged with I’m finding it very rewarding personally.
What’s been your favourite Echo experience so far?
Getting treatment by an Osteopath was pretty spectacular and it fixed a real health problem I’d had for a while, and also getting personal fashion advice from the stylist I mentioned was also super cool.
To top it all off I got a private 1-to-1 lesson on how to use Photoshop with a local graphic designer called Jan who met me at my office. All things that are practical for my day-to-day work and home life.
What advice would you give to someone just joining Echo?
Initially, have a look at what is on offer and see what suits you and what you would like to learn and find out about.
The nice things is you get 3 Echoes to start you off when you sign up which helps you take the plunge, and then you can think about what you can offer back to the Echo community in return at a later date.
As I said before, it took me a year to really get involved but I wish I hadn’t left it so long, I’ve had a great experience so far.
Finally, what’s your favourite East London hidden gem that people might not know about?
Without doubt Four Quarters at Here East Calanside in Hackney Wick. It’s a bar and retro gaming emporium where you can find all the best classic games from Space Invaders, Asteroids, Super Mario Cart, Pac Man, Galaxian, Donkey Kong, House Of the Dead, and you can use the arcade machines by purchasing American quarters from the bar. Brilliant fun!