In 1995 I popped into The Villa Agency’s office to ask a favour, I didn’t know how to use a computer and needed a typed CV. In exchange I did couple of odd jobs and returned occasionally to help out.
I met our Managing Director Karen Lippitt in a local restaurant (I had a regular night there singing with my guitar) and the girls from the office were in enjoying a mostly liquid dinner. By the end of the night Karen and her best friend Wendy had transformed themselves into the vanKanettes, were playing the spoons and enthusiastically singing along to ‘Losing My Religion’. Our friendships were sealed and a couple of years later so was my part time job at The Villa Agency.
Time flies when you’re having fun – it’s been 16 years. I never really expected I’d end up as General Manager of any company. I’d had my sights set on a record contract for so many years but I enjoyed the stability of a ‘proper job’ and as the years flew by my involvement with the company and knowledge of Portugal increased. Considering I didn’t even understand the mechanics of a word processor when I started I was now designing and publishing our annual brochure, updating our website on a daily basis and building relationships with our overseas travel partners. My responsibilities and loyalty increased and work didn’t feel like work with trips to the Algarve, Lisbon and Croatia as well as an office run by people I class as family.
My passion for music never waned and in 2010 I arranged a surprise birthday party for Karen in a Brighton hotel. I organised a pianist so that I could sing her favourite song ‘Just The Way You Look Tonight’.
That night I was asked to perform at a private party and the hotel booked me for a monthly night. Just weeks later I sang at the launch of Dermot O’Leary’s new restaurant, I performed for a charity event at the exclusive Club At The Ivy in London, and the Savile Row tailor Richard James hired me for the launch of his spring/summer collection. From these events came my regular twice monthly night at the world famous Savoy Hotel in London. For the last two years I have managed to run my music career alongside The Villa Agency quite successfully but gradually reduced my hours and at the end of this month will be leaving my desk job completely and starting my life as a full time musician with a trip to the Middle East to perform in Qatar and Oman.
I will still be working behind the scenes for www.thevillaagency.co.uk mostly on the technical side of things – the girls in the office reserve any IT work for the boys! So although I won’t be answering the phones or dealing with the day to day holiday stuff I am still very much a part of the fabric of this company that has become a bit of an institution to us all!
The Artist known as Matthew vanKan
Formerly know as ‘Generally the Manager’