With its rich musical heritage encompassing reggae, punk and indie, Westbourne Park and Notting Hill can lay claim to being one of London’s true music hubs. The Notting Hill Carnival, Island Records, and Basing Street Studios helped forge this reputation, while The Clash were originally touted by NME as “the sound of the Westway”. Local resident and Blur frontman Damon Albarn, who has had a lifelong love affair with the Portobello Road, rented an office in Westbourne Studios for his side-project Gorillaz.
World Music Day, held on June 21st each year, is celebrated in 120 countries and 700 cities around the world. Naturally, London will be playing its part, with free gigs and workshops taking place all over the capital, many outside in the street. With this year’s World Music Day approaching, we dropped in at Westbourne Studios, Workspace’s bustling business cluster under the Westway. It’s home to several well-established players in the music industry, among other creative fields.
Here’s a rundown of five music companies based at Westbourne Studios who are carrying the torch for the area’s long-standing music traditions.
David Guetta, Deadmau5 and Avicii have all featured on Cr2 in recent years, while the label is still home to the likes of Eric Prydz and Fedde le Grand. Cr2 moved to Westbourne Studios in November 2015.
“It’s a vibrant space with lots of activity and a great cafe area downstairs for meetings, grabbing a coffee or even having a break to play some table tennis,”
“It’s a vibrant space with lots of activity and a great cafe area downstairs for meetings, grabbing a coffee or even having a break to play some table tennis,” says Dave Golder, Cr2’s General/Business Development Manager.
2. Electric Mastering
London’s premier analogue record-mastering suite is a treasure trove of vintage valve equipment. Electric Mastering includes the only 1970s EMI mastering desk currently in use outside of Abbey Road, imported specially from Nigeria.
From here the founder of Electric Mastering, audiophile Pete Hutchinson, also runs The Electric Recording Company: a vinyl label that represses and re-releases classical recordings from the golden era of the 1950s and 60s in limited editions. One seven-LP boxset, a re-release of a 1956 recording of Mozart’s Parisian compositions, is strictly for the connoisseur: it currently retails at £2,750.
Specialist music agency UKNY books high-profile acts for festivals and corporate or private events. Founded by former artist manager Zak Biddu, UKNY benefits from close relationships with musicians, pop-stars and DJs from Mark Ronson to Janet Jackson and Alicia Keys, to ensure the best price and a premium, tailored experience for the client.
Recent work includes booking Bloc Party to play their first gig in India and persuading Puff Daddy to open a set with I’ll Be Missing You — a complete one-off, we’re told.
4. Blue Raincoat Music
Set up by industry heavyweights Robin Millar and Jeremy Lascelles (the man behind the Euro ’96 anthem Three Lions) Blue Raincoat publishes songs and manages artists, including Detroit techno pioneers Juan Atkins, Kevin Sanderson and Derrick May, aka The Belleville Three.
Since acquiring legendary indie label Chrysalis from Warner last year, the company now puts out records as well. Chrysalis, which boasts Athlete and The Specials on its roster, now has its own soundproof studio in a brightly coloured garden shed on the roof of Westbourne Studios.
Independiente is based in the courtyard at Westbourne Studios. Once a well-known indie label that was home to the likes of Paul Weller, Embrace and Travis, Independiente no longer releases music but instead acts as a music sync business, placing songs from its catalogue in film and adverts.
“There’s still that whole creative vibe here”
And while the area may have changed a lot over the years, the creative spirit hasn’t left Westbourne Studios. “There’s still that whole creative vibe here”, says Clare Antoniou, the Centre Manager at Westbourne Studios. “The courtyard area is full of people buzzing around and meeting each other.”
“The courtyard area is full of people buzzing around and meeting each other.”
If you’d like more information or to see a 360° tour, head over to our Westbourne Studios page or you can contact us to find out more.