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Everyone You Know – savvy London hip-hop duo on growing their personal brand

Everyone You Know (EYK) aren’t just an up-and-coming band soundtracking post-millennial British-suburbia. They’re savvy business people who know that to stay relevant, you have to interact with your audience on multiple levels. And it’s definitely worked for them as they’ve amassed over 52m worldwide streams, sold-out a whole UK tour and signed a record deal just four weeks after putting their first tracks up on Soundcloud.

The Uxbridge-duo, who also provided the music for our latest TV advert, talk us through what it’s like to be in the music industry, their love of football and how they’ve stayed connected during the pandemic.

You currently feature in our latest TV advert, tell us about how that came to be.

Rhys Kirkby-Cox: The Sony Music team got in touch with our management about O2 using the song ‘Higher’, a track we hadn’t released yet but is one of our favourite tunes. We were over the moon when O2 said they wanted to use it.

What’s been the impact of the collab for you?

Harvey Kirkby: We’ve seen a big impact. Shazam searches for the track went up massively, the numbers of people streaming the track went up, and even our social media numbers increased. It’s so surreal watching the BRITs then seeing your tune come on during the adverts too. We love it.

As well as musicians, do you see yourselves as a business?

Rhys: When you have to provide financially, you do have to see yourself as a business. You’ve got to put food on the table, pay bills and pay overheads. There’s a financial responsibility that now comes with our music. So yeah, we do see ourselves as a business.

Harvey: When we signed with the record label, suddenly we were taking our passion and our side-hustle and turning it into a career. That’s when we saw a serious future for EYK.

How do you run your business so it works for you?

Rhys: We’re the artists so we focus on the music, but we do also focus on everything that comes with being a musician these days such as touring and social media. So really, that’s being seen as the front of the EYK business.

We’re lucky to have a team behind us too now, so the label will sit down with us and we’ll talk about where we want to be in a certain amount of time and how we’re going to get there.

Do you each have set roles within the band? Or do you share out the responsibilities?

Harvey: I’ve always been into production and DJing, while Rhys has always been into the vocals and the lyrics. We started off doing it separately then decided to come together as a band.

What does success look like for you?

Harvey: We’re not about the commercial side of it. Music is why we’re here.

Rhys: We’ve always said we want to be headlining Glastonbury. I feel like we have the potential to do it and we’ll work to get there.

You talk a lot about football on your social media channels, why is that?

Harvey: A lot of our fans are into football. We can see that in our demographic breakdown.

Rhys: We’ve been on Soccer AM and MOTDx. A lot of these shows approach us after seeing that we’re big football lovers and that there’s a crossover with their audience demographic too. But also, we just love football.

How have you adapted to the COVID pandemic over the past 18 months?

Harvey: Last year we really made the most of the extra time we had because of COVID. We wrote a lot of music and spent a lot of time with our families. Now we just want to knuckle down in the studio and focus on the next body of work that we’re releasing.

Rhys: Like Harvey said, we wrote a lot of music because we had the time to do that. And we had more time to experiment. It was great to be able to try out new sounds and work with new people.

It was really hard at the start, with people talking over each other on Zoom calls, emailing things back and forth, and sending voice notes.

Harvey: Because we were working with the same people for a long time, we figured out a new way of working, almost a new formula that worked for all of us. So, we had a really good rhythm at the end.

How did you stay connected to your fans during lockdown?

Rhys: Social media was the only way.

Harvey: Our fans are the reason we’re here so it’s important we have a strong relationship with them. I was challenging fans to play Call Of Duty with me, and we hosted live streamed DJ sets and even pub quizzes. It was all about keeping people engaged.

That sounds like you were on social media a lot then. How do you stay on top of it?

Rhys: Both of us are across Instagram and Twitter and we try to respond to every message we get and to interact as much as we can. It’s hugely important to stay connected with our fans.

Harvey: Social media is such a big part of being an artist, we have to make time for it. It’s part of the job.

Do you find you’re ‘always-on’ then?

Harvey: It’s 24/7 and the people following us on social media are the people buying tickets to our shows, so you do have to respond to them.

Rhys: It’s not realistic to be on your phone the whole time though. You have to be able to put it down.

You know your demographic really well, but how do you stay relevant with your fans?

Rhys: Releasing new music, music that’s relevant to what’s going on in our lives and the lives of our fans. That’s how we stay relevant.

A lot of your music is electro-beats based. How do you use technology within this?

Harvey: I’m not a classically trained musician but there’s so much software available that creates a lot of those sounds. I have taught myself how to use the software to recreate the sounds we want on our tracks.

You’ve spoken a lot about how being a musician is a 24/7 job. How do you look after your mental health as a result?

Rhys: We’re very fortunate to have each other and a very supportive family and group of friends. Having my daughter gives me a routine too, which is massively important.

Harvey: I think this last year has been difficult for people living by themselves, or not going to school. We stayed connected on FaceTime and using social media, we’ve been so lucky to have a strong support network around us.

What advice would you give people wanting to turn their side hustle into a business?

Harvey: Don’t give up on your dream. We’ve had people say to us “What are you doing that [music] for, go and get a proper job.” And now we’re getting paid to do our music. You don’t want to get to an age where you think, I wish I’d given it a go.

Rhys: You have to be willing to work harder and longer than anyone else. Before we signed our record deal, I was working a job I hated. I was getting home at 5pm, making music in the studio until 1am, going to bed, and then doing it all over again the next day. It has paid off in the end though.

What’s next for EYK?

Rhys: We have an EP coming out then hopefully touring at the back end of the year.

Harvey: Eventually, we would love to get a clothing line set up, but we’re just starting up, so music still has to come first.

EYK’s track Higher features on our latest TV advert, check it out below.

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