by Richard Thorne

Sharing The None Entertainment Umbrella

by Richard Thorne

Sharing The None Entertainment Umbrella

Central Auckland-based None Entertainment has been active since late 2019, offering music services that include studio recording, artist management and events. The first half of 2022 has seen the emergence of a cluster of new creative entities that work alongside and under the umbrella of None Entertainment, providing their own specialist services. The release of debut album-introducing tracks by rap newcomer Sauce40 alerted NZM to the energetic individuals behind Legacy Media Group (Liam Suttie), and 24K Media (Lleyton Watts), who have themselves now combined forces to create 24K Legacy Music. Before this octopus grows any more limbs, NZM talked with the pair, who were joined by Jacob van Pelt of Jodo Valley Productions.

None EntertainmentDiscussing four entities with three interview subjects – this could get messy! Can we start with the ownership structures and how you slot together under the None Entertainment umbrella?

Lleyton: Well we don’t own any part of None Entertainment, and None Entertainment doesn’t own any part of our companies. We are just part of their creative hub, they are give us office space and opportunities to work with them and grow. I own 24K Media and Liam [Suttie] owns Legacy Media Group. Jacob [van Pelt] who is with us at our studio, owns Jodo Valley Productions.

Liam: We’re lucky to have the opportunity to be housed by None Entertainment, who have brought us all together into this studio space and office, where we can all collaborate on projects and try grow each others brands or network. Without None, we might not have been able to have worked on many of the cool things we’ve done together.

Where do you hail from and how did you first connect?

Liam: I was born here in Auckland, but I’ve had a unique upbringing where I’ve been able to live in many places around the world. Right now, Auckland is my home! I met Lleyton, I think online – but we first met in person at a party for a mutual friend, Tom Francis. We’ve just stayed in contact since then. Lleyton invited me to meet the founder of None Entertainment, Mark Callan, and in due time I was lucky that Mark gave me the chance to be a part of the None family.

Lleyton: I grew up in Christchurch and moved up here to Auckland when I was 17 to try and make something happen. I’ve been making videos for as long as I can remember, I think I was given a camera by my mum when I was like seven. I haven’t really stopped since. I love making videos, I love rap music and being able to make videos for cool artists is what I love doing.

Liam: I started making videos when I was young, around eight, and posted some stupid videos of myself just being a kid, onto YouTube! I became really interested in the management and business side of media when I got a bit older, and was interested in how people were able to share their art to the world – and became passionate in helping others do that, and protect their art.

None Entertainment seems to be making a lot of noise, notably with introducing Sauce40 as a new artist. What exactly is None Entertainment?

Liam: None Entertainment is a creative hub that houses a recording studio and label division, and the umbrella that houses all of our companies. We are lucky enough to work on amazing projects to add to our portfolios such as the Sauce40 videos, or the roll-out of his project, be a part of putting together their OTT shows, and their exclusive events. They also help market our services and house us at their office in the Auckland CBD.

Being a part of the None family has helped me learn a lot about the many parts of the entertainment industry. I’ve been able to explore many parts of the media world, and what I don’t take for granted are the many new friends and relationships that I’ve been able to make.

And who/what is Legacy Media Group? 

Liam: Legacy Media Group is a company that provides people and businesses with solutions in PR, marketing and advertising. We work with artists, labels and various companies to promote their songs or products, targeting the right audience and markets. Along with myself, we have Matt Saunders who’s our VP and in-house digital marketing specialist, and Sophia Kwon who is our product manager.

None EntertainmentYou both have an evident focus on our underground rap scene. What sort of impact can 24K Media potentially have?

Lleyton: Well for me, I know that in NZ there’s just so much rap talent here, and I really wanted to try and do my part to grow the scene here somehow, just to get it some more attention. The underground rap scene in America needed someone like Cole Bennet, or a group like WorldStarHipHop to push videos to a bigger audience and draw attention to their artists. I’m not saying that we are anything like Lyrical Lemonade or WSHH, but maybe with myself and 24K, and the work that Jacob who runs Jodo Valley does, we have and are making an impact on bringing the underground rap scene in NZ, and the talent that we have here in general, to more people’s attention.

What are Jodo Valley’s main activities?

Jacob: I’m Jacob van Pelt, I am the founder and currently run Jodo Valley Productions alongside my friend Blue Hamel. We mainly do VFX and 3D animation work on videos for clients in the music industry, but also for companies in other markets and large corporations. I started doing things in the media industry first by directing and editing videos – and that’s how I met Lleyton.

I am also part of the team here and have got an office space inside of the None Entertainment HQ. I met the None team through Lleyton, and because him and I had been working together on loads of projects in the past, they offered to bring me in!

I’ve only been able to be a part of this creative hub for a short while, but None supported me in my recent trip to France with the right equipment to put together videos for JBL and Martin Garrix while I was over there. That was personally a big deal for me and I really can’t wait to continue working on bigger projects as part of the None family. Actually, we’ve got one coming up soon – Sauce40’s next video… Hennessy.

What defines Aotearoa’s underground rap scene? Is it simply any artist who isn’t yet widely known or talked about?

Liam: I think the term ‘underground’ kind of represents a range of people; from those artists who are active as an artist, but perhaps not widely known enough to say that they have a so-called ‘fan base’, all the way to those who have a decent following and avid listeners, but aren’t yet been put into the limelight of the mainstream NZ music industry. Or maybe an artist that just hasn’t quite gotten a label deal yet. It can really depend on how you see it.

Lleyton: There’s great rap talent in NZ and there’s a few that have made quite a bit of noise to help push the scene in the direction that we feel like it could go towards. There’s successful artists we all respect like Melodownz or Vayne, even some of our friends like Lilbubblegum and Letoa, or Kid Rey, that have really help start the new wave in their respective ways.

Is there a shared overall vision in what you guys are wanting to achieve? 

Lleyton: Everyone in this office, and the great artists we’re working with, are all trying to take the NZ rap scene to the next level. We want more people to pay attention to the artists that we have here as well as bringing the production level of underground rap to the same level as what the mainstream pop artists and those signed to major labels are putting out. We might not have the same resources as a major label, but I feel like our teams have enough talent and experience to at least compete with them on a production level.

Liam: I think we are at an interesting place where the generation of creatives who have grown up with the internet are more globalised and able to be influenced by different sounds and cultures so that the art they put out is able to connect with so many different people.

That’s why for us in the rap and music scene, we are just trying to help independent Kiwi artists get their songs heard and videos seen by the right people, because the quality and content being put out by artists here is so good that its bound to connect if put in front of the right audience. We want to create a platform where we are able to provide the right services or tools that artists need to take their careers in the right direction, or to help take the next step in trying to break them.

It’s NZ Music Month 2022, what projects are you currently focused on? 

None EntertainmentJacob: I’ve actually just come back from France where I was lucky enough to go to a festival in the alps hosted by JBL, thanks to my friends at Jupiter Project. It was really insane to be surrounded by so many creative people involved in the music industry, and I had the crazy opportunity to be on stage with Martin Garrix. Right now I have a video in the works for Sauce40, the video for his next single ‘Hennessy’, and hopefully some other international gigs again soon.

Lleyton: Right now 24K Media is working together with Jacob and the Jodo Valley crew to finalise Hennessy for Sauce40, and we have just completed videos for Lilbubblegum and Letoa, as well as a video for Lil Dust. With Liam, we have just started 24K Legacy Music, a collaborative project that provides services for unsigned independent artists for their music.

Liam: Alongside Sauce40, we have 24K artists that we are developing named Yung Maac and Partiszn. Those two are super talented individuals and we can’t wait for their music that they’ve been working on to come out. We have just started 24K Legacy as Lleyton mentioned, and one of our first projects together is with $4L (Set For Life), a collective of artists from South Auckland who are signed to the producer Sprout. We’ve just completed filming videos for their artists: Nola, Bad1, YM and Jaxx. We’re also currently working on a marketing strategy and campaign for Letoa.

That’s already quite a list, are there any other artists you think people should be keeping an eye out for?

Liam: Apart from those artists, I think people should keep an eye out for Steezy, an artist from Christchurch, K.Kila, an underground rapper from Otara, and Jama, a friend of mine from Auckland who’s got some really raw talent.

Jacob: You guys should keep an eye out for Lilbubblegum and Letoa, those two are Kiwi artists I’ve done some work with who I think are going to blow up even more than they have already done soon.

Lleyton: Well like Liam said, we’ve got Yung Maac and Partiszn in 24K as artists and their music is something people need to hear as I think it’s great to listen to and can suit different types of moods.

How do you see your work fitting into the goal of pushing a new age of NZ hip hop into more mainstream audiences? 

Liam: The more noise that is made from NZ the better. That means more quality in the sound with more artists improving their craft. When there’s momentum behind a movement it’s really hard to stop it.

Lleyton: Most people that are making rap music right now are looking for a way to grow that into something bigger than just a hobby, but have no idea how to do that. I think what we are doing might be the start of building the blocks for people to break into the mainstream audiences here in NZ, then branch out internationally and really challenge the world with their sound.

Jacob: I’ve been lucky enough to go from making free music videos for small domestic artists to working on big money projects for major label artists overseas. If I’ve managed to do something with my hobby in the industry from here, that means more people can too.

Are there any bigger driving factors in your conviction to push your vision? 

Liam: I’ve always felt something in myself that pushed me towards building something tangible in the creative community that can inspire others to pursue their dreams. Sometimes in NZ, maybe because of how far we are from other countries, as a young person I felt stuck. But the best way, in my opinion, to get out of that feeling, is to build something for yourself that can pull you out of that place. I’m lucky now that I’m surrounded by friends that are all pushing towards a similar dream. I want to make an impact with my friends that inspires people younger than me to keep creating with their friends, and inspire them to connect with like-minded people.