Manon Dave chats to a member of the Hip Hop Society SUREN MAZ PAHLEVAN WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

In November 2020, while I was still an undergraduate at Leeds, I was revisiting Che Lingo’s debut album, The Worst Generation. Out of excitement for the production on the album, I tweeted: “YOOOO WHO TF PRODUCED THE WORST GENERATION”, knowing I had a chance to network via Twitter with the person who made the tracks that Che raps on.

“It made me realise that networking vertically is possible without spamming someone’s DMs”

A few hours later, I checked my phone and saw that Che had liked the tweet. In the comments, the album’s executive producer, Manon Dave, had left a raised-hand emoji. Manon had noticed that I was from Cambridge, replying that he was from here too and that he was glad I enjoyed his work. I was excited to see that the producer behind the best album of the year was another guy from Cambridge; it made me realise that networking vertically is possible without spamming someone’s DMs.

If you’ve listened to “Dark Days” or “South,” you’ll know how talented Manon is as a producer. I’m glad I met him on Twitter, and continued to follow his placements and achievements over the following year. After becoming involved with the Hip Hop Society this year, I knew I had to reach out to Manon and ask him to give a talk to hip hop fans, music producers, and other musicians at the University.

The Hip Hop Society hosted Manon in November last year. We were privileged to have the opportunity to hear him discuss his multi-sectoral career and to ask him how to make money whilst doing what you love.

Manon began by telling us that, as someone from Cambridge himself, he felt more excited and more nervous about giving a speech at Cambridge University than he did when speaking in front of 2,000 people at the Barbican Centre just three months earlier. Later, Manon mentioned that he spent a year at Oxford studying artificial intelligence (which came as a betrayal to the Cantabrigian audience!).

“You can be in the niche of the niche, such as the lo-fi homework girl”

Ollie, the president of Music Production Society asked Manon: “If you’re starting out as a bedroom producer today, how do you make it in a career with absolutely no network or audience at all?”

Manon responded: “What I’m realising now is that there’s really a huge value in the niches. Before, it used to be that if you made Rap Metal, you’re targeting about 130,000 people. Whereas now, you can be in the niche of the niche, such as the lo-fi homework girl, and the producers who make mood music are making the same amount of money as Dua Lipa, who has a huge team behind her.”

When asked if social media image and marketing are more important than talent, Manon mentioned that he discovered Che Lingo (before Che even had a manager) on YouTube while browsing upcoming artists. He emphasised that both talent and internet presence are important to stand out in today’s market.


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Manon also spoke about working with Idris Elba to produce the song “Biggest”, which was featured in the iPhone 14 advert. The audience were amused to hear how the track was originally created for Elba’s “Daily Duppy” but the duo thought it was “kind of corny”, and didn’t do anything with it. It wasn’t until they were trying unsuccessfully to create a track specifically for the advert, that Manon decided to submit “Biggest” and ended up landing one of his most iconic placements.

What I’ve realised, having met Manon and having heard his advice for young producers, songwriters, and musicians, is that a lot of networking and success in the music industry can be spontaneous and unexpected. Therefore, it’s best to maximise your luck and potential with creativity and genuine interest in other talented people. That, in fact, is a pretty good explanation of how I was able to link up with the best producer in my home city, two years after a music euphoria-induced lockdown tweet.