By Brian Poe, Esq.
At first glance, Gilles Walters, who is a graduate of both Emory University and Howard University School of Law, has all the right schools and contacts of many successful attorneys in Atlanta (as well as other major cities). What separates him is that, while moving forward on his attorney’s track in entertainment, he has also made bold moves in the world of entertainment as an artist as well. Walters, whose stage name is simply his first name, “Gilles,” has had a passion for rap music since he was 4 years old. Once an education was under his belt, Walters decided to pursue his career in rap music and has since released three albums: “Successfully Lost,” “Super.” and his newest work, “A.L.O.T.” which features industry titans, Cyhi the Prynce, Project Pat, King Los and many more.
Tell us about your current legal career?
“I kind of do my own thing. I work pretty closely with Reynolds Law Group doing a good chunk of the entertainment practice there, and then I have a few close friends in the industry so I handle all of their entertainment-related legal work too. Every now and then, I also do a bit of residential closing work with some real estate attorneys I’ve developed a close relationship with over the years.”
Music distribution and compensation of artists is more complicated than ever before. Do you, as an artist, lean heavily on your legal training as you consider music deals, or are you relying on another attorney?
“Both actually. I mean, I know a lot from seeing things on a day to day but 1 of my 2 managers is also an attorney and she’s about as thorough as they come in this field as well. Coincidentally enough, we actually met in law school. Anyway, I try to lean on her as much as possible so I can just concentrate on creating but, as to be expected, I will certainly have opinions on things just because I’ve seen a ton of deals too. We know what’s reasonable, what’s negotiable, and of course, the things we need to stay away from.”
Is it possible to grow as an attorney while simultaneously growing as an artist, or do you find one career creating roadblocks for the other’s growth?
“For me, I find both to be necessary. First off, we’ve developed a ton of relationships from practicing in the entertainment industry. In fact, our current distribution deal came about through a legal relationship. Not sure how many people can say that. However, perhaps the best illustration of how the two worlds have come together to work in our favor is that the legal stuff often helps to finance the initial investments on the artistry side. We get to do a lot of what we want to do because we can simply do and not wait around for someone to ‘let’ us. We don’t have to settle as much either because we don’t have to rely on other people’s money and resources to create this music and present these ideas how we want them presented. The thing you learn on day one in the entertainment business is that whoever is doing the spending gets to make the decisions. Being who we are and knowing what we know allows us to take some of that power back. We’re able to control our vision because we’re building from the ground up.”
Give us a glimpse of the career of Gilles Walters — 10 years from now.
“Lord willing, we’ll have a full-fledged and functional record label, with an in-house creative direction department, marketing department [and] legal department. They don’t really make those anymore. That’s the big dream: To do exactly what we want and be able to employ people who will love what they do, too. I’m not knocking anyone, but, and I think Lionel Richie said this: “I may be just a foolish dreamer, but I don’t care.” My goal … my task … my responsibility is to myself and my team—That’s to devote this energy into making our dreams a reality.” AT