Once again Vince straightened his shoulders, wrapping a stern look across his face. I’d been here before, waiting for him to unleash his masterful wisdom on the world, phone in hand, right at home in his glass office overlooking his little empire. He would sit in here and make comments about people as they walked by – our voyeuristic leader.
He looked away from the screen on his desk, pausing before launching into another of his famous spiels. He asked if I understood the significance of the event.
“We only do this once a year,” He said, “And we do it right. We don’t get maybes from bullshit assistants or winey managers. People turn up, we put on a show. You know what this business is about Emma?”
I hope I knew what this was about, I’d been grinding here for almost four years, still on a wage that was too embarrassing to share with even my best friends, and far off the lie that I had told my parents.
“I don’t want to stand around with my cock in my hand chatting to old !E presenters with bad boob jobs.”
“Access,” He said. “That’s what this business is about. This is an East & Low Records event. I don’t want to stand around with my cock in my hand chatting to old !E presenters with bad boob jobs. There are no questions around who will be there, everyone will be there. It’s just another one of our epic nights.”
I smiled at him, aware that I had hardly been reacting, just sitting there still, staring through him at building across the street, glancing down at notifications on my phone.
“You got this, right?” He asked, some of the swagger draining from his stance. ‘This‘ being a party for five hundred people next week. A party that Sarah had been organizing until she decided to bolt, leaving a two-page handover document and a ‘fuck you’ smile. A smile that Vince deserved. ‘This’ was what my father would call a hospital pass, an inheritance with imminent liability. An opportunity that sensible people would avoid, but something that appealed to my penchant for chaotic control.
I bounced one leg on top of the other and quickly checked my notifications – JR Smith from the Knicks had been in earlier, before he was shipped off to Cleveland, I wanted to see how my selfie with him was doing. Over a hundred likes already – not bad. Michael would hate it, he despised JR, I think he mentioned it on our first date. Maybe that’s why I had to take it.
“Is there anything else other than this crappy handover document?” I asked Vince, “The guest list is all shit, almost no confirmations. Can you at least get them to give me access to her email?”
He got out of his seat, still puffed up from his little manifesto. He said he would do everything to support me, that I was the only one he could go to. He flashed that smarmy (I always get it my way) smile, the one that I’d seen chew through countless girls. Years of watching them strut around the office, organize his life, laugh at his jokes, prop up his ego, only to follow the trail of awkwardness out the door after his gaze fell on someone else.
“He was the kind of guy to get his ass waxed, not that I’m a huge fan of bum bush but the image of him on all fours while some poor lady tended to him was gross.”
He was hot. The moments before his confidence fell off the cliff into snide arrogance, he could turn on the charm. He stood in a position that showed off his body, a product of various high profile New York trainers and whatever the latest fitness trend was. Year-round he could pass for an Italian working on the vines, the tan maintained from various beach trips and multiple sunbeds. He was the kind of guy to get his ass waxed, not that I’m a huge fan of bum bush but the image of him on all fours while some poor lady tended to him was gross – I bet he enjoyed it.
I watched him as he reeled off people that he wanted at the party. “Can you make sure A$AP Rocky is there? And his girlfriend. Actually no, let him decide, he is more fun solo anyway. And I want to make sure our man Darnell gets some top level VIP treatment. Get him to my table and have some nice ladies floating around.”
“Don’t forget about me when we get him on board.” I said, “I have some ideas that would be awesome for him.”
We had been trying to sign Darnell for months, he was the most promising rapper to come out of New York in years, and his positioning between hip-hop, pop and EDM meant a wide audience and dollar signs for the label he signed with.
I wondered how long Vince spent checking himself out naked in the morning. Ever since I moved here I had idealized him. I still remember the first email I got from him, when he finally offered me an unpaid internship. A role that actually cost me money for the first year due to the coffees and food that I had to pay for and struggled to expense, partly due to my hatred of the expensing system but also the fact that they had a mandate to make it almost impossible for people to claim them back.
Just getting the internship was hard enough, there was no set process, not even with my fresh Ivy League degree – from the people I spoke to, you either knew someone that could make a call and get you in or you had to hit Vince up at an event.
You would have thought it might be easier, given the place ran on an army of interns. But this is NY, there was always someone that will work longer and for less. After months of messages, turning up to labels offices and trying to meet people at gigs I decided to try something else to get them to notice me. I focused in on East & Low, creating the hashtag #EastLowShow.
I wrote posts on all of their shows I could get to, reposted content from all of their artists. Nothing. Finally after I managed to get a couple of quick interviews with some of their new signings someone took notice. I mean, why not? East & Low have been around awhile, they are kind of mainstream, no one really posts about them like they do Rockefeller or G.O.O.D Music. When the then manager of the PR team got in touch via twitter I said I was after a job – they finally asked me to join the team.
“Sure, I love surprises. Surprise me,” Vince said. “Just make sure it’s the triple A rated, security escorted, blue Bugatti variety. Know what I mean?”
“We’ll get it sorted.” I said, “We just need to iron out a few of the issues Sarah, when she… left us… It’ll be an amazing night.”
“Stone cold bitch. Sorry to dump this all on you babe, but I know you’ll smash it. Thanks for taking it on at short notice, I just want this done right. Oh, we should probably leak it ASAP, like today I guess.”
Vince was transparent. His quest for eternal social status was the big driver, he definitely wasn’t in the business for his love of music anymore. He already had the money. He wanted power, attention and relevance in a world that was captivated with youth.
He started the label on the back of Hip-hop’s big rise, broadened it into pop and sold a chunk to SONY while the going was good, conveniently cutting ties with his wife right before the sale. Now he was driving a transition to make the most of the EDM wave and focusing on content and advertising partnerships for new revenue.
“He knew how to own a room, how to make you feel like you were it’s sole focus – likely because he was imagining you in a sexually compromising position at the time.”
You could fault a lot of things about Vince but he knew how to hustle, he knew how to own a room, how to make you feel like you were its sole focus – likely because he was imagining you in a sexually compromising position at the time. I often tried to pick the moment when a guy drifted from listening – to considering what it would be like to fuck you. But I think Vince was in this perpetual multi state – who says guys can’t multitask?
He checked his watch and grabbed his sunglasses from the desk, “I have lunch downtown babe. If you have any trouble, just give me a call. Oh, and leverage Katie, I’ve asked her to help out as well. Thanks again for stepping in.”
Ah Katie, the latest intern under Vince’s gaze – famous for her leather skirts and huge designer heels. I’d rather run the whole party myself than babysit her.
This project may just destroy me – but I’ve always preferred a dramatic exit.