Last year was so amazing that sometimes I think of its great memories as if they were only dreams I had. It was June 2017 when I met up with Julie Pilat, from Apple Music and Beats 1. Julie Pilat serves as the Global Head of Operations for Beats 1 – Apple Music’s Worldwide Station which broadcasts from LA, NYC & LDN daily. A few days prior to meeting Julie, we are both introduced to each other by Wael – a friend who is a film director and passionate in supporting community work. Last year my company Anyiko PR worked with Wael under One Vibe Africa for the Kenyan launch of Madaraka – a Kenyan documentary shot in Kisumu.
Wael introduces us to each other as lovers and promoters of music. We are keen to meet and exchange ideas. He writes to me: “Julie is all things amazing and good in the music industry. Started in radio and in her long journey she’s now at Apple Music.”
Julie was in Kenya for a visit to Sarara – located in the lands of the Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust in northern Kenya. In her latest and extremely interesting Podcast, Julie interviews Joffy Bastard of Sarara on conservation via The Idea Fountain | Listen in here
Breaking bread with Julie at Carnivore restaurant on a warm Thursday evening in Nairobi was really cool. Together with Julian, they were just two very chill people – so happy and relaxed – I guess mainly from their time in Sarara. I feel like I have to go to Sarara too. I understand how they felt because every time I spend even a day in Maasai Mara, I always come back to Nairobi super rejuvenated, inspired and fresh like words can’t explain. Listening to Julie’s Sarara story and how the conservation work there continues to benefit the people and wildlife is empowering and a challenge for me to get to know more about what’s happening in Kenya, in this case Samburu – where my parents used to live 🙂 My big brother and sister: Bonn and Pollyne were actually born in Samburu.
At the dinner, we had such great conversations on the music industry in Africa and beyond. It’s so epic to hear her talk of Dre and Zane Lowe and pretty much all the global stars you can think of as people she works with very closely. One day I will ask her to introduce me to Dr. Dre. I tell her about my work in music and PR and at that point it was also Coke Studio Africa season so we delve deep into it. She was quite interested in watching the show. I mentioned that on the following week Jason Derulo was jetting into Nairobi to collaborate with 10 other African music stars on the show and she had a lot of praises for his hard work and termed him as “prolific”, adding: “Jason is my guy. I put him on. Just tell him that you dined with me.” Of course, I didn’t do that – because Jason would think I was fronting.
We literally looked into the music industry in East Africa holistically as I explained to Julie how the industry formula changes across the region and what sounds are making waves and why. We also talked about West African music and the difference between sounds from Ghana and Nigeria. Lastly, we touched on South Africa’s fast rising Gqom Wave genre and we debated on which cities would host a Beats 1 live radio broadcast if there was an African tour.
After the dinner, my impression of Julie is that she’s a fun loving person and a free spirit but also a no-nonsense when it comes to work. She is very curious on different sounds, people and music – this is quite similar to my personality, so I go on to research more about Julie. I discover that she’s the real deal in the music industry and is celebrated as one of America’s top music programmers. Best known for her deep knowledge of all types of music and passion for breaking new artistes. She had an instrumental role in launching stars like Nicki Minaj, Pitbull and One Republic. She has also been featured in Billboard’s ‘Top 40 under 40’ and Radio Ink Magazine’s ’50 Most Influential Women in Radio’.
For the release of Julie’s Sarara feature, we collaborated to produce my very first Apple Music Playlist which includes some of my favourite Kenyan artistes and songs: Listen in and share as we look forward to more music exchange and sharing between Julie and I 🙂
BONUS: Thanks so much Julie for this story and playlist and for relentlessly dedicating yourself and your platforms to music discovery. Meeting you was great and I look forward to collaborating more!