Jamal Edwards started out making short firms of urban foxes at the age of 15.
His friends on the grime scene messing about on a £200 budget video. Now 27 the founder of video channel SBTV, the key player in bringing grime mainstream.
Do you think you can be more fearless when you’re young, that you’ve got less to lose?
I’m fearless now and I was fearless back in the day, but in different ways. Now failure is much more in the public eye. But I do believe if you lose your fear, you lose your passion.
What’s a time when you took a big risk?
I think one of the earlier risks I took was when I took SBTV from underground to mainstream and a whole new audience, filming people like Ed Sheeran and Rita Ora.
Music has no boundaries but people were
You were one of the first people to ‘get’ YouTube as a platform, launching some of the careers of our biggest music stars.
I wanted to shine a light on talent that wasn’t being repped by mainstream media and make local voices go global. People call us the millennials but we’re the do-it yourself generation.
How do you feel about failure?
I never regret any failures and I learn from the failures I make. I think one of my biggest failures is rushing into things too quick, but it’s also the biggest lesson I learn. Failure is a hiccup. It’s a bump in the road.
And the flipside, success?
Successes are ‘oomph’ moments and everything in between is just life. ‘Oomph’ moments for me have been getting my MBE at 24, hitting half a billion views, the 2011 Google Chrome advert and now I’m filming 10 Years of SBTV with people like Jesse James and Ed Sheeran.
When did you learn through a failure?
I was fearless going outside Acton into all areas with my camera. Not in a nosey way, but following what I was interested in. My friends couldn’t believe I was going all over London.
How did you come back from that failure?
That taught me a lesson – I should have asked and had a team with a director and a producer, not just jump straight in. I’d messed up this time, so I wanted to keep on working hard and prove myself by making really good content, so they’d get back in touch – which they did. I dusted myself off and carried on. That’s why I don’t really believe in failure – it’s a lesson learnt.
Do you think it’s hard to admit to feeling you’re failing?
Yes I do. Back in the day I never talked about failure with my friends but as I’ve grown as a person I’ve started talking about it a lot more. I wanted to show it’s not all about the ups. It’s important to show the downs because with social media it looks like everything’s lovely. I want to show the real. I feel a responsibility to talk about mental health issues and trigger more conversations. I’ve had lots of lovely messages.
When you were starting out, what drove you?
Ritchie Rich and films like that where kids had everything. I wanted a rollercoaster in the garden and I knew I’d have to graft for myself and work really hard. Now it’s funny I don’t like materalistic things. I want to be comfortable and enjoy what I’m doing.
Ten years is a half way career and 20 years is a proper career, so I’m at my half way point. The next five to 10 years I’m going to be scaling it up. I’m building SBTV for longevity. I care about the legacy. These 15 and 16 years old born into tech are the future. You gotta push on.