First encounters: Kevin Godley and Sulinna Ong
"Sulinna is hard-core; she's got a black belt in something'
Kevin Godley was born in Lancashire and was a founder member of rock band 10cc and duo Godley and Crème. He is currently working on his music app WholeWorldBand. He has been living and working in Wicklow for the past six years with his wife, Sue
Sulinna tells me we met in the Groucho, or somewhere, five years ago. I don’t remember. I meet so many people . . . We met again, properly and for my first time, when she came to the WholeWorldBand office for interview. She was very impressive, very controlled, very confident. Plus her breadth of experience was impressive – she’d managed bands and even worked with artificial intelligence. More than anything there was the fact that she could move between the worlds of music and technology. She was the best candidate and she got the job.
Sulinna is essential. She’s got a grasp of how business is run as well as a background in music. I like it when work friendships go beyond the job and it’s like that with Sulinna – her private life and fiance, Rod, are part of things too. I’ve the same thing with my wife, Sue, whose background is in fashion design.
I like to innovate; the WholeWorldBand app is a good idea that took a while to make sense. It’s been hard, hard work. I came up with the idea in about 2008; it was slightly ahead of the curve but technology has caught up. When we debuted it at the RDS Music Show in 2012 we thought we’d have it up and going in three weeks. We were naive.
Sulinna is hard-core; she’s got a black belt in something. She’s also a musician and has a way of analysing things, coming up with answers that are efficient in what is a woolly [music] world.
This WholeWorldBand dream is sticking with me. I can see this existing in the world, see it being beneficial, and enjoyable. I’ve put a lot into it.
I love it here in Ireland. Before coming to live here I worked on a few videos for U2 and liked the atmosphere. There’s culture here. Ireland’s more easily navigated than the UK; it’s about making things happen. When I go back to London and get off at Paddington Station . . . the amount of people, the noise. I enjoy the buzz of London, but without living there. This is a good place to be, a great place to be for technology.
Technology for me is the new Beatles: they were all about change, innovation and pushing things forward. Technology can do those things too.
Ours is a good relationship, mine and Sulinna’s, a healthy relationship. It goes beyond working together. It’s very nice when it works.
Sulinna Ong is the daughter of a Persian mother and Chinese father who fled the Iranian revolution when she was a baby. She studied music at the Conservatorium of Music in Sydney and has worked in technology and music. She is head of marketing at WholeWorldBand, the startup founded by Kevin Godley
Kevin and I have been working together for about nine months but I first met him five years ago, in London at the Groucho Club. He doesn’t remember it at all. I knew who he was, his background with 10cc and the videos, and went up and introduced myself. I interrupted him and his wife, Sue, having dinner but he was very pleasant and we had a big chat.
We share the work, and the fact that we’re in Ireland with the people we love. I’m engaged to an Irishman, Rodney Orpheus, and am getting married in October. I had fallen in love and was back and forth between England and Ireland quite a bit so I already had one foot in this country before the job came up.
I’d been in the music business about 14 years; my background was as a musician and I was fascinated by technology. I heard about WholeWorldBand, realised Kevin was behind it and got in touch. They said come to the office. I wasn’t expecting anything but they asked me back and I quickly became captivated by the app.
Everything happened very quickly. I started work in November, with no real chance to go back to my London flat. We’re living in Killiney. I lived 10 years in London and don’t miss it one bit. Where we are at the moment, on the outskirts of a major city, is the best of both worlds.
Kevin and I have got to know one another much better. We talk every day, the work is 24/7 and Kevin is always thinking of ideas and concepts. Day or night, it doesn’t matter. I will tell him whether things are within the realms of possibility or not.
One of the nice things is how he works with Sue. She’s an artist, so it’s a creative as well as a loving relationship. I very much feel I work with the two of them. Sue and I share aesthetic tastes, things like vintage clothing.
When you talk the same creative language trust comes quickly; trust was established with Kevin very quickly. When you work with artists, trust is imperative. What I like most about working with Kevin is that we can discuss things without getting offended until an understanding is reached. We’re both in pursuit of excellence.
The app is out, lots of artists are already on board: Ronnie Wood, David Gray, Stewart Copeland, new artists like Lisa Hannigan and Passenger. You can go jam and play with them.
Though neither Kevin nor I is Irish it’s not surprising we ended up here. Dublin is becoming more and more cosmopolitan but people are so friendly compared to London.