In the heart of London’s east end stands The Premises, a pioneering recording studio with a social and environmental ethos. The Hackney studio offers fourteen high spec, low cost music studios for rehearsing and recording. Used and loved by well-established and unsigned talent alike, the Premises has the support of an amazing and eclectic group of artists. Its client list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the UK music industry, including Marianne Faithfull, The Specials, Courtney Pine, Madness and Florence and The Machine.
“All sorts of people come through – from Tom Jones to Lily Allen – and we get new people everyday.”
“Big name endorsements are important way of promoting the studios. In this industry people aspire to be like their heroes and heroines; they want to work in the same space as them,” says Premises director Viv Broughton. “All sorts of people come through – from Tom Jones to Lily Allen – and we get new people everyday.”
The studio has a social record to match, helping local people and unsigned musicians alike to achieve their ambitions. The Premises Music Education Programme charity has been running since 1996, offering a range of courses for musicians of all abilities from a women’s music technology workshop to apprenticeships in studio management.
Former student Nicole Elizabeth initially took part in two month placement, working as promotions manager for their gospel music workshop, and continues to work at the Premises part time. She explains how the impact the charity can have on the local young people it supports: “Working for these amazing people has been life changing. I came from a difficult background and I see them as my second parents. They’ve got good business sense, but they give much more socially and emotionally.”
Six years ago the Premises set about developing a new studio which has raised the bar for standards of innovation and environmental credentials. The building used as many reclaimed and recycled materials as possible. The floor is insulated with 150 old car tyres, plate glass came from Enron’s London offices and an iconic bronze window was salvaged from a bank in the city. Solar panels on the roof above supply the power, and have recently been joined by hives housing 200,000 bees.
“It’s the first solar powered recording studio in Europe. We did it for ethical reasons but it makes good business sense too, helping to differentiate us from other studios,” says director Julia Craik. “We’re doing more than just 9-5; more than just making money. We’re a bit like Triodos Bank in that way – they have their set of principles, as do we, and the two overlap.”
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