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Backstage Stars – Waithera ‘Wai’ Mundia

Features
12 April 2019

Perhaps one of the reasons Wai Mundia won Unsung Hero at last year’s Live Music Business Awards is because she holds down three roles at venue owner, festival organiser and promoter DHP Family. She is PA to DHP owner George Akins, head of concert assistants and works on concerts herself, liaising between promoters and venues, and being a bridge between shows marketing, ticketing, production and finance.

What are your first live music memories?

“Growing up in Kenya, my first memory of exposure to music was from the video tapes of Top of the Pops that my dad would rent from a store in town each Friday, probably a month of so after the programme aired.

“Tracy Chapman’s self-titled album played a massive role in holiday road trips to the coast, and usually the one tape we had on. The first gig I went to was in the first term of my first year at Nottingham Trent University, and that was Ash at Rock City in December 2001.

“I’d never heard of the band prior to this, only went because a friend dragged me along and had no idea what the hell was going on. I just stood there staring. I then attended many more, Rock City being the place I frequented the most.

“My first mosh pit experience was watching Korn at Download festival in 2007, I got caught up in it all, jumping up and down until the wave was so intense there was a period my feet weren’t on the ground. I had to be lifted over the crowd and front barrier. I didn’t learn my lesson and a few years later watching Enter Shikari in Rock City [2008], off I went crowd-surfing – never to be repeated, though.

How did you get into the music industry?

“I had left Nottingham to do a masters at The Royal Military College of Science, as it was called then, at Shrivenham, but a friend persuaded me to move back to Nottingham the following summer, so I did and completed my masters there.

“A few months after moving back in May 2006, I was living with one of the Rock City managers at the time, who helped get me get a job on the Saturday and weekday evening shifts on the Rock City box office.

“From the box office, I did numerous jobs within DHP before I got to the position I am in now. Because the company was still small back there, I was called upon to fill roles before the positions were filled by full-time staff. I did office management, procurement, HR, ticketing amongst other things.

“I got more involved when I started working with the other DHP promoters – holding dates, learning the jargon etc, and now most of my time is helping George with tours ranging from 100-cap venues to arenas, working on artistes such as the Human League, Flaming Lips, Dropkick Murphys, Tash Sultana, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Gipsy Kings, Happy Mondays, Garbage, Enter Shikari and many more.”

What were your greatest low and high points?

“Business is business, but watching artistes you’ve worked on for years get snapped-up by other promoters or offered 360 deals is frustrating.

“On the upside, the three The The shows we promoted last June at the Royal Albert Hall, O2 Academy Brixton and Troxy, which all sold out in a day, was special.

“Working on a Lana Del Rey show in August 2017 that went from initial conversation to on-sale in just under a week, with a month to show date was exhilarating.

“But generally it always boils down to watching the crowd on show day, knowing all the work that goes on behind the scenes and seeing the joy you see on people’s faces when they watch those gigs

“Winning Unsung Hero award last year blew me away, being recognised by my piers was a great boost and came at the right time.”

Where do you see the industry going?

“Technological advances are always interesting, and watching how they influence the way the industry moves, be it selling tickets or enhancing the customer experience.

“The recent publication of the gender pay gap stats leads for an interesting read. It will be fascinating to see what significant changes the bigger corporations make, if any, to bridge the gap.”

How do you unwind?

“I have no exotic hobbies, I’m afraid, but I did once inherit a Leopard gecko who I named Mr G. He was a rather lopsided creature but loved music.

“Nothing beats a walk in the countryside and I like catching up with music, discovering new artistes and exploring genres. Reading is a big passion, swimming helps clear my mind and dog-walking is great when I can borrow a pooch, or I’m looking after one.

“I would love to do The Mongol Rally [10,000 miles from Europe to Mongolia] one day or in fact, any of the adventures offered by The Adventurists.

“But for now, I’ll continue to travel when I can, nothing broadens the mind more.”

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