Women Behind the Music: Lee Paterson

Continuing our Women Behind The Music series, Fran Hardcastle asks agent and jazz PR professional Lee Paterson, about her career in jazz.

You’ve had a fascinating and varied career. What finally hooked you on jazz?

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I was hooked on jazz way back. Hooked is the right word, its a habit you develop by regular and dedicated ingestion. Jazz was the model for my art practice in public spaces and public media, in Australia and the States… essentially proximity, momentum and currency, where the artwork has to be flexible in its form to be able to ‘improvise’ with everything thats happening around it and the range of people who come across it. Thelonious Monk taught me everything I know about space and emphasis. As for making the move to set up the agency/PR business four years ago, it was an unexpected collision of circumstance and timing… I’d moved to Dalston and was volunteering at the Vortex hearing lots of great music, the Necks were looking for some local support, Basquiat Strings just got the Mercury nomination and needed a little organising and suddenly it was all on.

Today’s musicians require an adept business head in addition to their musical skills. From a PR woman’s perspective, what would you suggest are the first steps to creating a buzz around music?

the first steps are pretty obvious… play, play, play – its the music and the people who listen and talk and blog and tweet. PR is predominantly an organisational skill, buzz is creative… band name and pic are abstractions like the music and must fit each other… think of yourselves as a total work of art! A good backstory carries some a long way, further than the music alone would actually get on its own perhaps. And I was delighted by the DIY inventiveness and energy of one band a couple of summers ago, who had rigged up the roof of their van as a stage, and drove around london spotting crowds to whom they could give spontaneous short concerts

Which women in jazz inspire you?

Gee Fran, I think you’re a lot fresher than me today, to ask about being inspired by people! Inspiration for me is more about the play of ideas and a certain sense of spaciousness and possibility…quite elusive! Women I admire in jazz are those who maintain their humour, pleasure and commitment whilst doing the backroom work, where there is barely any creative pay-off; the rare woman who manages to make it more than a a career; and those gorgeous, surprising musicians I’m currently working with – Ingrid Laubrock, Hannah Marshall, Myra Melford and Mandy Drummond. I am inspired by the constant invention of the music… thank you all, no matter what gender, for that.

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