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Loughton goes live

PUBLISHED: 11:01 11 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 February 2013

Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson

Two inspiring musicians are giving Loughton youngsters a chance to realise their dreams. Joanne Jarvis speaks to these movers in the music industry

MANY young musicians are very creative and innovative, but not all of them have the chance to develop their talent in a safe and encouraging environment. However, that opportunity is a reality in Loughton since the opening of a new state-of-the-art recording studio called Soundlab Studios based at Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate. It is the only studio of its kind in the district and it offers youngsters rehearsal space and professional recording facilities to get where they want to be.

'We see music, radio and video as vehicles to help us engage with groups of young people that have diverse interests and backgrounds'

James Horwood, his father Raymond and their friend Pat Wallace took their passion for music to a new level when they decided to set up the Soundlab Studios. James, the studio manager, used to work at Abbey Road Studios as an assistant engineer before moving to Atlantic Records signing bands. He explains: 'I have lived in Loughton for 27 years and had trouble rehearsing with my band which meant we had to trek to London. So I thought the area was screaming out for something like this. We want the studios to inspire kids to pick up instruments and we give them somewhere to go. We hope to promote a lot of music from the area and if we help the young musicians go on to bigger and better
things, that's great.'

There are currently around 30 bands that use the studios each week and that is set to increase now that James and his team have formed a successful partnership with the Loughton Youth Project (LYP), which was established by Nick Robinson. Nick carried out street-based consultations with young people, commissioned by the local police and the district council and found that young people highlighted a demand for a safe hang-out space and greater musical and new media opportunities.
Now LYP is working with the studio to run professional workshops and provide young people with opportunities in video filming and editing, photography, graphic design and website building.

'We see music, radio and video as vehicles for engaging with groups of young people that have diverse interests and backgrounds,' says Nick. 'Most successful community youth projects rely on partnership - the working of voluntary, statutory and creative industry sectors. A new, professional music recording and rehearsing studio provides exciting opportunities and a type of engagement with young people which a community hall or school premises sometimes can't.'

The studio has already partnered with LYP to run live Battle of the Bands competitions. It provided free rehearsal time for the young performers during the school holidays and musical industry professionals to advise the groups. The winning band, Dayglo Freaks, have already recorded their debut CD with James.

'As a youth project, our interest in young people's welfare stretches beyond just musical and media achievement,' adds Nick. 'However, the studio partnership and radio project focus are great tools of engagement and ice-breakers with young people. I'm yet to find a young person who hasn't got something to say about music.'

Very soon LYP will be opening The Space - a café-styled social space for young people, open after school and on weekend evenings. This will also be a centre for pod-cast radio and other new media projects. It will be open to those aged between 11 and 19, who want to get involved with projects or simply want somewhere to meet friends. 'In the future I'd like to set up a community radio station,' says Nick. So keep your ears
open in Loughton.

Q & A Nick Robinson

Tell us about yourself?
I live in Loughton and I'm 28.

Have you always loved music?
I started playing the drums at 11 and when I was 14 I played with professional Blues musicians. During my older teenage years I was gigging four times a week and I then I did session work. I started working with an originals band called Moonface in Brighton and we were signed to management, and a record label, in 2004 before releasing a single. But things didn't progress and because I was the youngest, the most enthusiastic and the most experienced member of the band, I was doing a lot of PR for the band chasing radio and the press, so the record label asked me to work on other acts. I'm now a partner in record label BUT! Music and I'm also an equal partner in A&R Producton, which looks for new bands.

How did you move from the music industry to youth work?
Youth work happened at the same time. When I was at college and university I did part-time youth work and community project work for the local council and now it just so happens that I'm combining my love of music and youth work.

What is your favourite genre of music?
American rock, but I have worked with everything from electro house dance music to acoustic folk music. I like anything fresh, exciting and that's got energy.

Have you worked with anyone famous?
Yes, Kenny Jones (The Who and Small Faces), Robert Hart (Bad Company), Rick Wakeman, Toyah Wilcox, 'Whispering' Bob Harris
and The Moody Blues.

What's the most rewarding aspect about your job?
I love working with young people for their enthusiasm and inspirational outlook on life and I want to give them the chance I got myself. My own professional music industry background as a session drummer and record label head of A&R Production also helps convey to young people that anything is possible if you work hard and stay on track in life.

Get connected

Soundlab Studios
Unit 22 Oakwood Hill
Industrial Estate
Oakwood Hill
IG10 3TZ
0208 5082726

Loughton Youth Project
Email Nick Robinson at


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