LWE/AMAAD (A Man About A Dog) head of events Jeff Gray looks back on a 20-year career that has seen him work on major electronic music events, including Junction 2 and Elrow Town. Having recently launched the ION Festival in Albania, he is currently preparing events for new London venue The Beams.

What was the first live event that really had an impact on you?

The Homelands festival, in May 2001, at the Matterley Bowl in Winchester. Watching dozens of incredible artists like Orbital, Carl Cox and Laurent Garnier play in front of thousands of people was a sight to behold and inspired me to want to work further in the industry.

When did you realise you wanted a career in events?

 I went to university in Bournemouth to study marketing. This is where I started to meet like-minded people with a love of electronic music. Here I recognised that my passion for marketing and deep love of music could be combined by coordinating events. This is where I started my journey as a promoter and I have not looked back since.

 How did you get involved in Club Class Music Management and how formative was the experience?

While studying my degree I was taken under the wing of Cliff Lay, a house music promoter from Bournemouth. I spent a couple of years trying to soak up as much information as possible as to how the industry works and what it takes to put on successful events. It’s from these events that I met a young DJ called Nic Fanciulli. Nic was instrumental in securing me a position at Club Class, where he held his residency. I worked as an understudy to his management team of Sergio Bienati and Greg Firth. I learnt a tremendous amount from them all and we achieved some truly great things during this time, most memorably helping to bring Radio 1’s Big Weekend to Maidstone in 2008. It was a great apprenticeship.

 What were the highlights of your time at Lock ‘N’ Load?

After leaving Club Class in 2009 I went on to enjoy eight great years at Lock N Load. Our biggest achievement was watching our summer festival South West Four go on to reach great heights and become a key fixture in London’s clubbing calendar.

What’s your current priority at LWE?

My focus is still very much on London, pushing the electronic scene in the city forwards and working hard to bring through the next generation that embrace our culture and its roots. Our next major project for the city is the opening of The Beams, a 4,000-capacity warehouse space located in the Royal Docks. It’s one of the most impressive venues I have ever stepped foot in and we can’t wait to open its doors later this year. In addition, we are working hard on developing our festival portfolio further in 2023 and bringing Junction 2 back to Boston Manor Park for the first time in four years. This summer also marked our first ever festival abroad, ION Festival in Albania.

 Who has influenced you most in your career?

My time at Lock N Load spent working alongside Danny Newman was a phenomenal experience. His unrelenting passion and drive for our industry was a sight to behold and he taught me how hard work truly does pay off.

What is your perfect relaxing scenario?

A Sunday summer evening enjoying friends’ company over a few drinks after a successful weekend of shows. Bliss.