Women Behind the Music: Yots K

As part of our short series, Women Behind the Music, Georgia Mancio interviews programmer and project manager, Yots K about her new weekly jazz night.

Just up the river the powers that be are crunching numbers and squeezing the life out of this great city’s arts and culture but seemingly undeterred by economic expectations, one brave woman has laid anchor on a brand new weekly jazz night in a charming floating venue just minutes from the Embankment tube called the Tattershall Castle. Step up Yots K and Oolyakoo Music Room which launched last Thursday with an inspired double bill: Christine Tobin and Phil Robson plus Tony Kofi’s trio featuring Larry Bartley and Winston Clifford.

Yots has become known for her work behind London’s jazz scene: promoting at Octave Jazz Bar and Restaurant for 5 years, project managing schemes for Jazz Services and her current position of Listings, Advertising and Communications Officer for Jazz UK magazine and Jazz Services as well as being a performer in her own right. Opening night was impressively attended by a swathe of top London jazz musicians and movers and shakers and at the end of a truly magical musical night we were all rewarded with lollipops!

It‘s a cliché of course that women cope better with and possibly thrive on multi-tasking but in your case there’s clearly some truth in it. How are you finding juggling all your jobs and roles and what drew you into the jazz scene?

I blame an old casino boss who I used to croupier for in my youth. He was a massive jazz fan and a big influence on me. Someday I will tell you the whole sordid story about my time in the illegal gambling joints of Africa!

My work at Jazz Services & Jazz UK is very fulfilling and keeps me up to date on what's happening on the jazz scene across the country. I do work hard but so does everyone else here. Few people know about all the lost weekends that Chris Hodgkins, the Director, has donated to the cause or how much Joe Paice goes beyond the call of duty, so I am in good company.

For now, my life is consumed by jazz and that’s what matters to me. It is tough but one finds a way. Always there is that little chink of light that lures one on and on – to keep fighting and working and trying. I think somebody somewhere named it, hope.

So Yots we all know Ronnie Scott’s famous quip: “How do you make a million pounds from running a jazz club? Start off with two” What made you take the plunge and start this venture in such precarious times?

I reckon, it’ always a small elite that benefit from the ‘good’ times anyway. The rest of us know that we just have to get on with our lives no matter what is going on around us. Besides, music is so healing and uplifting… now is exactly when we need a fun place to hang that puts on great music.

Tattershall Castle has a really great retro feel how did you come to find such a unique venue?
Uhuh! I can’t give away my sources but suffice to say that we found each other… isn’t it romantic?! It really is a stunning venue and the staff are just lovely… it’s a very happy ship! Jazz has always been a kind of protest music and being a few hundred meters from Parliament particularly tickles me.

This week you’ve got Killer Shrimp who brilliantly describe themselves as “5 killer shrimps frantically trying to escape from a cocktail glass pursued by a tsunami of Thousand Island dressing”. Can you add anything to perhaps enlighten us further?!

Well, they did make me cry! I saw them at Scarborough Jazz Festival in 2009 and their music moved me so much that I became a massive and hopelessly devoted fan. So I am very proud to present them at the Oolyakoo Music Room this Thursday. On paper it sounds like Killer Shrimp should never work but when you hear how cleverly they blend their various influences to make a cohesive original sound with colour, depth and texture then you too will become emotional.

You’re a very expressive performer yourself and your mission statement promises a fun and innovative night. These have obviously informed your programming choices so tell us what you’ve got lined up in the coming weeks.

Haha…I fully concede to my dramatic tendencies. I don’t try to fight it. That’s what I love about Dizzy Gillespie; he is totally himself and cares less about how people see him and more about the experience. Are the audience having a good time, are the band having a good time? That’s what counts! So, inspired by Dizzy, on Thursdays Oolyakoo puts on bands that are innovative in their own unique way but also know how to have fun. Coming up after Killer Shrimp is a good ol’ knees up for St Paddy’s day with Tony Heiberg/Bob McKay’s Ireland Revised Quintet and in the following months you can look forward to the Anselmo Netto Quintet, an inspired percussionist; Alexander Stewart brings melody and romance on the night before the Royal Wedding; we will be presenting a ‘Guitar Hero’ month, an ‘Extreme Drums Experience’, ‘Girls Girls Girls’ and so much more. I will even be doing a night myself which will seriously rock the boat.

For the Oolyakoomusicroom mailing list and a password for concessions, email oolyakoomusicroom@gmail.com.

1 comment:

  1. Chris Hodgkins9 March 2011 at 16:50

    Delighted to see the blog giving a hefty celebration of women in jazz. Terrific that Yots gets a mention for all the selfless work she has done over the years especially for the Octave gig.
    Christine Allen, Sue Edwards and Kathy Dyson receiving deserved mentions are all trustees of Jazz Services and Deirdre Cartwright is a valued member of the Jazz UK Editorial Panel.A major problem lies with the boardrooms of UK companies. I cannot think of one UK company that has 50% of its board mambers who are women directors. An example that exposes the rottenness of it and the rank hypocrisy in public life is the Scott Trust, owners of the Guardian. Only 27% of its trustees are woman. You really think they would make the effort but it is all too much for them even with Will Hutton author of "Them and us - why we need a fair society" on the board of trustees.As for diversity not much chance their either.