Who are you and what is your background?
Ouss Laghzaoui, 25 years old. Born and raised in Morocco, moved to Canada at the age of 10. As far as I remember I was into music, my dad listened to a lot of Stan Getz, Astrud Gilberto & João Gilberto. When I was a kid, he made me discover Kraftwerk and a lot of other acts, he took me to shows – my first concert which was The Police (haha) – and surrounded me with instruments. Ironically, he didn’t want me to start playing music seriously. His taste kinda influenced mine. I then actively started playing music around the age of 20 when I got tired from skateboarding. I met Konner Whitney who got me playing bass in his band KoKo, pop punk music. I remember playing my first show at Drones Club, it was on my birthday. I spent the last few years playing in different projects, I did sound for live sessions, I helped curated a 2 days DIY festival called 1601 or Villa maria ? I dont remember. It turned sour afterward.
Through out all these experiences, I met people. Some I kept in touch with, like Gilad Carroll and Adam Soloway. They started a booking agency called First Date Touring, along with a few other people. I helped them lock few shows when they’d send their bands to Montreal. After a while, I asked them if they would want me working with them as an agent and that’s how I stumbled on the industry side of music. I slowly built my roster, booked few tours and eventually met Michael Bardier [Heavy Trip founder] through Emmanuel Éthier [famous Montreal guitarist], things went fast and we started working together without really knowing what I was getting myself into. Turns out he is the best coworker/boss/friend.
Your current job:
– Booking Agent + Management at Heavy Trip
– Festival Programmer at RIDM Festival
– Musician in Hoan
Tell us more about your job at Heavy Trip:
Broadly speaking, I sign bands & book tours for them. That does entitle more steps and work than people can imagine. Booking agents are known for almost never taking days off and for being a pain in the ass to festival programmers (that’s from a friend who has been curating a festival for 16 years). I go to shows often and listen to new music every day, I sign bands I feel connected with and that gives me a certain drive when working with them.
What are the main challenges in your business?
Each band has specific needs, depending on where they are in their career. Most bands and managers I work with are friends, I hang out with them, we are on the same page about what we are trying to accomplish and we work tightly to make that happen. Timing is key to the whole process. When setting up a draft of a routing you have to make sure that every show is a comfortable drive from one another, you have to consider your band’s pull in every market and any imaginable factor that might affect the draw. Once you have a potential routing you start grabbing holds (I like to start securing primary markets first). When working with up and coming bands, it’s important to make sure your band will get enough to make the tour financially sustainable or even a bit profitable in a best case scenario (thank you Canada for Grants). You also have to make sure to be fair and realistic in what you’re asking because without promoters you wouldn’t be able to book tours and vice versa. Tour support slots are the best way to initiate up and coming bands to touring. For exemple, my last signature, Anemone, is currently working on their debut album and will be touring the East coast in October with Mild High Club. It’s a way more efficient way of touring, given where they are in their career.
3 tips for those who are thinking to start a music career?
– Have a good work ethic and always analyze what you have accomplished, find ways to bring it to the next level while being efficient.
– Everybody makes mistakes at some point, put yourself in a position where you can see them coming and address them in time.
– Be genuine and respectful. Nothing good comes from treating people like shit.