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interview

Ania Kasperek & Magdalena Jensen

Chimes / Balance It Out

Ania is an artist and music marketing manager with 10 years of experience in the international music business. Senior Sales and Retail Marketing Manager responsible for driving maximum promotion and exposure for The Orchard in the Nordics across all digital formats. 

Magdalena is transformational coach, music industry consultant & Creative Director in boutique label Balance It Out. A polymath who has worked in music for 10+ years, a mindful entrepreneur committed to supporting people to thrive in life & business.

Ania Kasperek & Magdalena Jensen

Where are you based?

Ania Kasperek:  For the last 4 years I’ve been living in Sweden. First in Malmö and now in Stockholm.

Magdalena Jensen: Currently, I am doing the digital nomad thing – not sitting in my London apartment. My partner and I decided that we are in the fortunate position work-wise to be able to leave the UK during this last lockdown and it has been an incredible blessing to spend time in Central America and see that the world is still a vibrant, beautiful place! Currently, I am in Mexico City and really loving it.

Where do you work? What do you do?

MJ: Together, Ania and I have run a management and consulting company called Chimes based out of Warsaw, Poland. Our lives have taken us in different geographic directions and as I came to settle into London life, I also wanted a career shift. Currently, I am the Creative Director on two artist management teams with Ania (we manage Hildur and WOJTEK) as well as hold that role within a boutique label we co-own with a couple of other people and work across three artists right now, supporting them in their image-building, artwork, comms and more. Besides this, I have pivoted and am growing a business as a qualified transformational coach, supporting people to thrive in life and work – this kind of work is so energizing and I am loving it!

AK: I’m an artist and music marketing manager with focus on artist development and international export. For the last 3 years I’ve been working for The Orchard, since last year as a Senior Sales and Retail Marketing Manager being responsible for driving maximum promotion and exposure for The Orchard artists and labels in the Nordics across all digital formats. Together with Magdalena I manage neoclassical pianist and producer Wojtek and Icelandic indie pop artist Hildur. 

What are you listening to?

AK: I’m listening to women a lot 🙂 I have my own two playlists that update regularly: ‘Ladies first’ and ‘my fave bits’ with among others Tove Lo, Blu DeTiger, Jorja Smith, Arlo Parks, Caroline Polacheck, Lianne La Havas, and more. I also love Spotify Oyster playlist. I’ve been listening to so much new music, both for work and pleasure, that I actually found myself spinning a lot of classics recently: especially soul classics, groove, and 60s. 

MJ: Recently, there seem to be a lot of bad reggae covers of hit songs in my life… why is that a thing in beach bars?! Otherwise, I like to vibe to a lot of female artists on a “Goddess Mixtape” lil’ playlist I have on Spotify featuring babes like Kacy Hill, Jorja Smith, Jessie Ware, Tove Lo, Remi Wolf, Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande, Biig Piig, Jessie Reyez, Mariah Carey, Robyn, Jamilla Woods… 

How do you discover new music?

AK: It’s mostly a combination of doing my own research on Spotify and Instagram and getting recommendations from industry friends and colleagues. One of my fave Spotify playlists for discoveries lately has been Oyster. 

MJ: I am lucky in that my bf does the heavy lifting for me and combs NMFs and blogs to curate a great weekly playlist that basically serves me anything new. In terms of finding new talent for Balance It Out (our label), I like to keep an eye on talented young managers (as in the ones in their early 20s) and their rosters’ of artists – I don’t have the energy or will to stay AS on top of the new trends as people ten years younger than me do!

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

AK: Mainly streaming, but also vinyls – I have a small collection which my husband and I listen to at weekends or when hanging out with friends. Streaming works best for me generally – most convenient, easy access, unlimited options, discovery mode, etc.

MJ: Definitely streaming. Easiest on-the-go. I have a small vinyl collection and cannot wait to have a lovely space with some vintage speakers set up to play them in… but for now, definitely I primarily use Spotify.

Where do you do most of your music listening?

AK: Since the beginning of the pandemic – at home, on my little vintage stereo set-up. When I used to commute I listened to podcasts on a train. And new demos in a gym / when running. 

MJ: We tend to have music on in the house all the time but I do not have dominance over what’s playing… 🙂 Otherwise, I go for walks to listen to demos as I can concentrate the most and I make notes on my phone as I stroll. 

“I hope I inspire people to check out new things or remind them about some faves.”

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

AK: I get to listen to A LOT of unreleased music, these are mainly releases distributed through The Orchard that I get to work on. I also receive new music from friends and colleagues – I get to work with a lot of music geeks 🙂 

MJ: I admit that I do not really dig up pre-releases or listen to things before they are on NMF, my Release Radar or the Slice! Weekly playlist. But I don’t consider myself to be a typical music fan… too deep in it 🙂

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

AK: Tbh I don’t really have any.. I prefer to stream music, don’t really like to be sent files to download. And I enjoy listening to playlists – I still listen to albums, too, one never replaced the other for me, only format changed (now: streaming, back in the days: mixtapes / CDs).

MJ: I don’t really have any frustrations per se… I am comfortable with my subscription streaming services and find them super easy to use. I also love playlists – they basically replaced the mix tapes and mixed CDs that my friends and sisters and I used to make for each other, burning loads of illegal copies of things and doodling artwork and passing them around to each other. 

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

AK: I try to remember to add tracks I like to my favourites on Spotify, mark with ❤️ or add to a ‘my fav bits’ playlist. If I really like a track from a new artist, I look them up, either on Spotify (bio, about) or Instagram and then I just remember their name (and/ or end up stalking them on socials 😉 )

MJ: I have a million Spotify playlists saved… no decent order and totally a mess but it works for me

Discover the #HowWeListen Playlist

Listen to the #HowWeListen 2021 Picks playlist. Curated by this year’s interviewees.

Listen on Spotify

Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

AK: Yes! I like sharing music on my IG, I swap links with colleagues and friends in the virtual office. I get to work with a lot of music connoisseurs so there’s a lot of links sharing going on 🙂 I also have a collaborative Spotify playlist with a bunch of friends where we add songs we like / discover.

MJ: I love sharing what I’m listening to from Spotify to Instagram and make a point to keep a highlight on my profile with new music there. I hope I inspire people to check out new things or remind them about some faves.

Anything you want to “promote”?

AK: I’ve been anxiously waiting for Cautious Clay‘s debut album – been watching his journey for the last 2 years so am excited the music will finally be out – it’s great! I recently fell in love with Sarah Klang’s deep and moving vocals, too. Sad and beautiful. And I cannot NOT mention our two stars: Hildur and her new project Red Riot, and WOJTEK – he’ll be releasing a series of EPs this year so keep an eye on these.

MJ: We have a lot of fun projects on right now – from pop debut Adum (he’s really kicked off on TikTok and we’re loving seeing that his audience there also seem to like listening to his new track Help Myself) to our planeteer WOJTEK – we have a series of EPs this year to follow up on the carbon-neutral Atrmosphere that we released mid-2020. Definitely worth keeping an eye on Hildur and her new project Red Riot – female written and produced hip hop from Iceland – and their debut track Bounce Back is dope.

"I prefer to stream music, don’t really like to be sent files to download. And I enjoy listening to playlists - I still listen to albums, too, one never replaced the other for me"

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