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News > Alumnae Interviews > 10 Questions with...Julia Kisray

10 Questions with...Julia Kisray

We spoke to Julia about her career at Boiler Room, her favourite food concoctions at Roedean, and how she always knew she wanted to work in music, even when she was at school.
21 Dec 2023
Written by Sian Ellis
Alumnae Interviews

Julia Kisray (Former Deputy Head Girl, Keswick, 2004-11) is the Head of Europe at Boiler Room where she is involved in lineup curation, artist booking, event production, making & negotiating deals with global partners and management. Her incredible job has seen her oversee large scale music events and festivals, as well as breaking amazing artists such as Peggy Gou, Fred Again, Chase and Status, and Charlie XCX to name but a few. 

 

1. What is your favourite memory of Roedean?

Choir, Senior Singers and of course the annual House Music & House Plays but (this probably says more about me than anything) I have a lot of key school memories surrounding food. We would sit in the dining room for our entire lunch hour constantly grazing. There were so many weird concoctions that became staples of our diet: 3 consecutive hot chocolates where we’d dip bread rolls in? Sounds delicious, yes please.

Honourable mention goes to Dawn at the tuck shop. We’d be lured down every break time with the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting up the stairs… before the snacks got sense-checked for their nutritional value probably due to Jamie’s School Dinners circa 2005. My go-to order would be Petrified Prawns & a Curly Wurly all washed down with a Fanta Fruit Twist.

 

2. What was the best piece of advice you were given whilst at School?

One day in Biology when we were probably being unruly, Ms. Fraser illustrated that, at the end of the day, it’ll be us sitting those exams that then shape our own path. Therefore, it’s entirely up to us how we choose to apply ourselves in our studies. She probably doesn’t remember this all but it was one of those significant life lessons that became a core memory for me.

 

3. When you were at Roedean, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?

I always knew it was going to be something within music. I was initially most interested in film music composition & journalism. Ms. Fewkes was integral to facilitating that for me, and offering the resources to make it happen.

 

4. What are you now you’ve grown up?

I am Head of Europe at Boiler Room, where I’ve been working for 8.5 years.

 

5. What does your job involve?

Boiler Room curates music events, films them & broadcasts them for all to watch online. These range from classical concerts to club shows & festivals. I jointly oversee all the ticketed events & festivals in Europe which is usually around 25 large-scale (2,500 - 25,000 capacity) shows a year. My job entails: lineup curation, artist booking, event production, making & negotiating deals with our global partners, team leadership & management.

 

6. What have you done that you are most proud of?

There have been so many memorable moments, from the absurd (throwing parties in swimming pools, Chinese restaurants, ice rinks, video game arcades) to the amazing (breaking artists’ careers who are now world-touring headliners: Fred Again, Pink Pantheress, Peggy Gou, Charli XCX, Chase & Status, MIA, James Blake, Khruangbin, Migos, etc.)

The nature of live events is always chaotic & unpredictable. Last month (Nov 2023) we had a venue’s permit in Amsterdam pulled at the eleventh hour due to a bureaucratic issue within Dutch government that was completely out of our control. We had to relocate 3 nights of shows & 15,000 displaced ravers just 4 days before we were due to open doors, pulling in favours from any & every festival / record label / production company we knew out there. It undoubtedly shaved a few years off my life expectancy but reinstated my hope in humanity.

As a company, we have worked with some amazing causes, communities & charities. Most recently, we released a t-shirt which raised £100,000 in 48 hours for Medical Aid for Palestinians Emergency Gaza Appeal.

 

7. What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?

Matches or a lighter. Photos of my friends & family. Maybe an obnoxiously long book like War & Peace that would take me ages to read to keep me entertained.

 

8. What books have had a significant influence on you and why?

Energy Flash by Simon Reynolds – further reading required but this is a good place to start to trace the origins & history of European dance music culture. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – a lot of existential thinking came from reading this, in a good way. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown – I don’t read a lot of ‘self-help’ style books, but this taught me how to lean into being vulnerable which I didn’t know I needed.

 

9. What is on your bucket list?

Not sure if it classifies as a ‘bucket list’ thing but one day I want to be part of the inner workings of Glastonbury Festival.

 

10. If you had one year and unlimited funds, what would you do?

We’re getting married in summer so the boring answer would be to pour it all into the wedding but otherwise I would take a yearlong sabbatical & explore more of the world with my partner. My passion for music since 14 meant I’ve never taken a substantial break to travel. Top of the list would be Mexico, Korea & Cambodia.

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