Journey through the vibrant history of DJ culture, soundscapes, and electronic evolution with Paul Noble, founder of London's iconic Spiritland. From spinning records in the early '90s to his deep dive into high-end audio systems and community-driven club concepts, Paul lays it all on the deck. Tap into his insights on the UK music scene, personal anecdotes, and his latest ventures. Whether you’re a die-hard audiophile or a curious music lover, this episode's got something for your ears!

To find out more about Spiritland, head to https://spiritland.com/

Transcript

Adam Gow 0:00

Hi.

I'm Adam Gow, the DJ formerly and sometimes currently known as Wax On. Welcome to the once a DJ podcast DJing and DJ culture have been a huge part of my life. For better or worse. They've given me a massive buzz at times and loads of stress at others, and taught me a load of valuable lessons along the way. On this podcast to speak to DJs from around the world who've made the names when it was just about skills and selection, not social media followers, will discuss their journey through ascendancy and what pie plays in their life now, whether they're still on the scene sector back to the decks forever are still getting sneak in mixing when life gives them the chance. Whatever road that travelled, they were always once a DJ.

Okay, so I'm here today with sound engineer, radio producer and founder of spirit land listening bar in London, Paul Noble, and I've just had a tour of Spiritland.

And listen to the sound system and it's absolutely incredible. Thank you. We gave it a little blast. And we Yeah, and thanks for inviting me and Once a DJ down to the podcast studio here. No problem. How you doing today? Yeah, right. I'm okay.

Paul Noble 1:14

There's lots going on. We're opening another venue next year, and it's going to be another Spiritland. But there's a club in the basement. So there's just a million questions of fun stuff like design and sound system and lighting and room layout and then there's aircon, EPOS data, like, you know, much more. Yeah, boring stuff evolved. I suppose with that. And we'll we'll probably get into more of this as we talk, it's going to

Adam Gow 1:43

be a question of looking at i think something that's interesting about you is it's your approach to the consumption of music, the relationship with it, the intimacy, everything about it. So I guess during the club is going to be quite different. But let's go to the start. And just look at your background really, and see how you got to this point. Because you're from London, right? Yeah.

Paul Noble 2:08

I grew up in Wembley, North London. Yeah. And

Adam Gow 2:11

your dad was frequently down down in town taking you to jazz bars. Yeah, he's got right. Yeah,

Paul Noble 2:16

he's, he was in a folk band, but he's a jazz and he loves you know, like, Oscar Peterson. Joe pass was like a big figure in our lives was an incredible guitarist. And he played I think he did like five nights in Ronnie's. And we went to two or three of them, and I was quite young. So yeah, there was always music in the house, lots of instruments. He plays guitar and sax. And then me and my brother started playing guitar. And then I started playing piano. We're just it was a bit kind of, you know, grab an instrument and play it.

Adam Gow 2:55

So what were you guys all about improv? Or was he like putting you through lesson? No,

Paul Noble 3:00

I, I did. I try piano lessons? I was terrible. I couldn't I already know. I failed everything. I couldn't get beyond grade one. But basically Elton John, just like listening to Elton John. I was like, Oh, that makes sense. I could hear I could really clearly hear chord structures and patterns in my head. And it was really obvious like C G, A minor F. It totally made sense. So I could hear a song. Apart from you know, Stevie Wonder and Brian Wilson who make up their own bizarre chords, everything else. I was like, this is really obvious. And that's kind of how I play piano like pub piano sing along. So it's not, you know, not particularly discreet, but I can work it out for for a singalong.

Adam Gow 3:46

Um, yeah, I'm very much that that if the cards are basic, I can get my head round and I can't do anything clever with inversions very much that four fingers. Yeah, but yeah, yeah, I get that. And so just on the Ronnie Scott's because this was just something I picked out from the monocle interview that you did, right? Was Ronnie would Ronnie Scott's have been? I mean, it's now it's like 100 pound night, isn't it? Yeah, by the time you've had some food and a drink and you ticket would it have been that sort of?

Paul Noble 4:13

I mean, I have no I don't think it was what it was. There was also there wasn't just one is there was the bull's head in Barnes. 606 in Chelsea. The Blue Note was it the blue note before the Blue Note basically in Hoxton were stealth and metal heads and everything ended up and I remember Hoxton was you know really shady in those days but there was jazz clubs everywhere and there was just a wet you know, it was a wicked London jazz scene. It was Morrissey Mullen and Paz and all these kind of amazing fusion the bands around so yeah, there was there was lots of in the family. There was lots of music and there was a lot a lot of like certain musicians sort of featured really, majorly, in my family. So Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, all the kind of Gods of like their instruments, heavy fusion.

Adam Gow 5:12

So if you're someone that can, you can kind of pick out your chords and you've got a comfort with, say, 145 type stuff. What's it like? How are you? Particularly at young age? How are you digesting fusion, I listened to certain fusion and like, have to turn it off. It's just too complex.

Paul Noble 5:33

I suppose we had, I mean, we had a lot of Chick Corea in the car. And then also like George Benson, and Oscar pizza, and like, the more, you know, palatable into Fusion, nothing. And actually weather report, as well, as all there was a lot of that going on. So um, we'd listened to that. And then I was thinking, in thinking about this interview, there was one tape, which one of my dad's friends from work made. And it was the, the track that stood out for me was stuff like that by Quincy Jones, which is the sort of early disco funk track. I just remember. Absolutely falling in love with it, and then sort of sniffing out more, Quincy Jones, and then you get it. You know, I was born in 72. So everything around Michael Jackson Prince, it was all Yeah, hit me hit me just at the right time. But, and then there's also, you know, Simon Garfunkel. And when I sort of moved on from like, whatever was on the radio to my own stuff, I was, I was into lots of like Prague and rock quite early on. So started with the doors and then Pink Floyd and went completely crazy on Pink Floyd and then Black Sabbath, deep purple. got really into Yes, a bit of King Crimson. So I was doing all of that. Maybe between, I don't know, 12 and 15 or something. And then basically, hip hop came along. And that was, that was the end of that.

Adam Gow 7:01

So that's quite early to be our thought sort of 12 1314 I don't think I was listening to anything that exciting. Not the arbiter of musical tastes

Paul Noble 7:12

are. It's a blur. I hope I'm not getting my numbers wrong. But I remember there was a kind of time where I went from like, basically, Capital Radio was the big thing in London. And they would. They had this end of the year countdown every year where they played. I think like the top 1000 songs, which is a ridiculous number. But the top 10 was always Bohemian Rhapsody, Freebird, Baker Street, Hotel California, like all these sort of overblown, epic songs, but like everything on the way. I don't know, I just soaked up all this stuff on the way there. Yeah. Maybe it wasn't 12 I might be bullshitting. We. But I definitely I was like, I was well into my prog early on.

Adam Gow 7:58

Were you buying records by this point?

Paul Noble 8:03

No, not I mean, sort of singles from Woolworths? Yeah. So the first one I bought was Mira man by Human League, which is still kind of, I'm happy to have that as my first track. But what year was white lines? At two? I think it was later. But I remember I remember that coming out. I remember BT Street. I remember sort of the the dawn of hip hop. And you know, on the radio in London, kind of hearing, Roxanne Shante. And all those response records. Yeah. So

Adam Gow 8:41

who were the DJs that were that were playing? Obviously Westworld. Was

Paul Noble 8:45

it Paul Allen? Yeah. LBC. Definitely westward. And then at school, it was like, you know, tapes started going around whenever it was the first public enemy record and then NWA and Tribe Called Quest and, you know, having listened to a few of your shows, it's like, everyone. Everyone was on the same journey. And we will name check the same artists.

Adam Gow 9:10

Yeah, I think what's interesting is for a lot of people, it was a real boom in their schools, and then all of a sudden it vanished. But then some people just kept on with it. Yeah.

Paul Noble 9:22

I just remember they were going forward to the sort of 1516 but the indie that was around just wasn't doing it for me at all. It's like Carter. Wonder stuff. Like nuttin. The Smiths were the only band who I could really get into at that time.

Adam Gow 9:46

It was that pre or post baggy?

Paul Noble 9:48

That's pretty baggy. Right? Yeah.

Adam Gow 9:50

I mean, the baggy kind of crosses over quite a bit with hip hop doesn't. Everything seems to like that little explosion in the late 80s. Yeah. Yeah. seemed like everything was are a bit more accessible if you're into one thing you might like a bit of the other.

Paul Noble:

Yeah. I mean, also there was hip hop, like, Run DMC. I was probably too, I kind of liked them, but I was too young to really engage with them, but they were just there. And now, you know. And now I look back and kind of run Run DMC in particular, what they did and how they just, they were so so far ahead of everyone else. And so sort of their sound is SO stripped back, isn't it? Yeah, it's, you know, like, you can see where the Rick Rubin why he got so excited by them. Yeah. Because see the metal leg. Yeah, I don't know. It's I just, I just completely fell in love with hip hop and those artists and you know, when you're a kid, you're like, trying to decipher black American slang. And there's so much it's like what? You know, I know some words, some of it makes absolutely no sense. And you sort of slowly like unpick it and get your head around the language. So it

Adam Gow:

was easy for you to get to events at that time with with any events coming up going on in London.

Paul Noble:

There were I mean, I didn't. What did I go to? Went to the Africa centre for the soul to slow nights. That wasn't necessarily just hip hop.

Adam Gow:

Is that Covent Garden? Yeah, yeah, I think Jack Frost talks about them, right? Because I think it was a lot of like the rec room.

Paul Noble:

And kind of acid jazz and, yeah, lots of jayvees and Mesa in the max. Did I go to any big hip hop? I'd you know, I probably didn't.

Adam Gow:

I guess it would have been. Some of them were in like places like Brixton at the time, which I don't know if people went to Brixton from

Paul Noble:

I was just too scared. Yeah, the dormouse from like Wembley, going down to Brixton. I mean, I did you know, eventually I did. But no, probably at the time when I was getting into hip hop, because that legendary Public Enemy Beastie Boys show, which DJ food went to and photographed and there's these great photos from it. We've got we've got some here actually. It was more of a listening for me thing for me. I can't say participating. I really, there was a group called caveman. Yeah, High Wycombe who I loved. I just thought that as a UK hip hop group who didn't sound you know, they had their own sound. And actually stereo MCs, like the earliest stereo MCs stuff. I loved

Adam Gow:

their first album, classic, isn't it? But yeah, I think with caveman they start jazz rap, isn't it? They were probably doing that in the UK before anyone else. Yes.

Paul Noble:

But yeah, and then. I don't know. I'll let you kind of lead with the questions. But I was always like, looking at the DJs. And before anyone really knew what's going on. I was like, Okay, so he's got two records. He's got a mixer. What like where's the music coming from? And

Adam Gow:

so why would this always be the DJ? That song with the group? Yeah, yeah. Because I think that that was a thing in the mixtape documentary that kid Capri talks about that. Like his reason for getting into mixtapes was he wanted to be a star in his own right, rather than the person that's backing up there. Yeah, the rappers. Yeah. So was it at that point, you thought? I want a bit of this.

Paul Noble:

Well, I was always an equipment nerd. So for example, you know, like, when Kiss FM started, I was recording all those shows and then picking out you know, I miss this later. But like, Charles Peterson, Patrick Forge, cocart Manasa. There's a guy called Paul Thomas. He did a really good show. So yeah, I was always I was recording stuff, and then making my own compilations. And like the rest of the world, I wasn't making beat tapes on cassette. Everyone did that before they got a sampler. But yeah, I was always kind of collecting equipment and plugging up and tinkering around with it. And then probably in 9293, I bought a pair of decks in New York. I don't know why, I don't know. It felt sort of symbolic. But also it was cheap. It was just much cheaper, because the exchange rate and then I did this bus journey on the Greyhound bus, because I went to Boston and basically was put the decks under the, you know, in the hold under the bus was just had this really kind of paranoid bus journey where every time we stopped, like, someone's going to take them or I'm going to what their inboxes with, you know, techniques written on the side card. I don't know it's the kind of thing you do. When you're young when you're like, This is gonna be really sensible. Schleper paradex across America and then and then bring them home.

Adam Gow:

I guess part of it as well as it's part of your identity when you're young, isn't it? You think that this is what whatever age, Paul does,

Paul Noble:

yeah, I don't know. When you're into that music, and then you go to New York and you hear just kids on the train, just that's where the rhythm of hip hop comes from your head and just talking parabot. And it's like, ah, it all it all comes together. So

Adam Gow:

was it Hip Hop pilgrimage, then?

Paul Noble:

No, I mean, I did. Where's that record shop in Brooklyn. As a JC video, I went to rock and soul. I went to a few places, and I went to a few clubs. I mean, it wasn't really, pilgrimage, is more of an eating pilgrimage than hip hop pilgrimage. But I definitely is, I look back on it. Now. It's like, you know, someone else would have got a tattoo. And I was like, No, I'm going to buy my decks in New York and lagom home. Yeah. And then got back. And that was like, right. So how do you do it? And then yeah,

Adam Gow:

so when you first started DJing Was there anyone specific you were trying to emulate?

Paul Noble:

There wasn't, I wanted to learn how to scratch and cut. I was okay. I'm not basically if my left hand is on the crossfader. My right hand is on the record. I can do like a perfectly okay. Really old school. You know, I can't juggle. I can't do anything tricky at all. But I can, you know, jam around on top of the track. But, you know, very early on, I was like, I don't have the patience or the devotion, like when I've seen people who got really good. And also in that time, it's like, well, where do you find out about you the all the videos were floating around. You're watching like, Cuba or someone insane. It's like watching it is like, going for a jog in the park and then watching an athlete with a gold medal. So I think

Adam Gow:

as well with it, there's diminishing returns with learning to scratch. And unless you're kind of elite level. Yeah, you're just someone who does this thing that a lot of people don't want to hear. No. Can you stop doing that on your on your on your music when you play it out? Loud? Yeah, life? Sorry.

Paul Noble:

Yeah. No, I mean, I had some DMC videos, and I watched it and it was great. And then I saw DJ swamp, who kind of Oh, yeah, I was it was funky. But it was also like a real performance. And he mixed it with some you know, cepheid's Whois records and all sorts of drama. Yeah, there's

Adam Gow:

the one where he tried to quit his chest as well. Isn't he? Right? He smashes about I can't remember which is the US in which is the worst, but he smashes his record, tries to quit himself, but he just doesn't quite work. Ya

Paul Noble:

know, I mean, I suppose that there's that end of it. And the style I liked was more like, Jazzy Jeff, where it's just, it's really funky is in service of the dance floor. It's in service of the tracks. You can let the tracks play for a

Adam Gow:

bit. 100% It's really that in the pocket? Yeah. And it's

Paul Noble:

just about the groove rather than, you know, absolute fiddling around on,

Adam Gow:

it's gone the same way I think in the breaking is it's gonna be interesting to see the reception that gets in the Olympics. But some breakers dance to the music. Yeah. And some. It seems to me to someone who's not really really in it. I just pull it off their moves. I think we've scratching it can be that people aren't phrase into the music. They just write what's my biggest, the

Paul Noble:

most technical? Yeah, it's like, you know, when you watch someone at the Olympics on the halfpipe turn. Yeah. You know, snowboarding, there's some who are just, they're just vibing. And they're going with it. And there's some are just, it's insane. You know, they're trying to break a record, basically. But yeah, I'll always have an interest in kind of DJs and scratching, but yeah, I mean, when it's got so technical, it kind of lost me for a while.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, I think I watched yesterday, Mike L. Someone I want to get on here. He's a doctor as well as a DJ. His last year is all vinyl world champion. He came second in it this year. And I watched his set. It's really good. And it's really technical. But the the thing that I think kind of causes it a problem is he just looks so relaxed, and like, he's just pulling off this stuff. And it just doesn't seem to be like him. Yeah, it almost like makes it look too easy. Yep. Because you actually it's like, Why doesn't he look more stressed? Trying to do this?

Paul Noble:

Yeah, I mean, there's something really fun about you know, a short routine a pile of records. I think a tracks are really good example of like he's, you know, technically he's completely moved with the time and has developed his own mixer, but he also can just rock any dance floor, up and down, like, no problem. Yeah. And the scratching doesn't it's not like everything grinds to a halt.

Adam Gow:

I think with scrap chin. It became such a bedroom base thing. I think that a lot of not every turntablist to say like a John first, for example, they've done the time in the clubs. They've done the time learning to battle. But I think everyone used to be battling in a way that would work in clubs. But now it's just it's this performance thing. And it just, you know, for some people, it just doesn't quite resonate. But back to your story anyway. Yeah, we're going off on a massive tangent here got straight. What was what was the early days of DJing for you? How long would have been parties or

Paul Noble:

and went to Bournemouth uni. And there was a bunch of different music scenes there. That was 92. So there was a lot of house and funky house and everything was called like funked up and love sexy and it was that era. Like it was that it didn't do it for me. The house music around at the time, but the acid jazz, rare groove, you know, I don't know. Where's Gil Scott Heron. And then I thought what was going on at time like Galliano mo wax? Yeah, I loved all that stuff. I mean, what I was playing them was an absolute mishmash. And I can only apologise to anyone here with me because it was like 45 really badly cut compilation albums, put his head into Drum Bass, it was a complete dog's dinner. And I didn't know what I was doing. And, you know, probably should have spent five years learning how to DJ before I would go anywhere near the decks. But

Adam Gow:

can I just pick up on something you said that about the quality of pressings? Yeah. How much do you think that matters would like were they like really, really, really bad? I mean, I used to have a Stanton mixer that was super quiet. And the only way you could get it to peak peak at zero was to turn the bass and the treble all the way up. So you know, you're hitting your levels, but it's an absolute mess.

Paul Noble:

Yeah, I mean, there's really nicely cut records, and twelves, which really ping out. And then there's compilation albums, really badly, you know, badly pressed too many tracks on the side, and just don't like don't have any wallet in the club, like now. Now I can hear at the time, I was like, oh, you know, great. It's like 10 pounds for a double album and all these tracks on it. And so yeah, I didn't have a clue. But

Adam Gow:

how much do you think that matters, though? I mean, so there's, there's a song that always confused me with organ donor by DJ Shadow, right? Because I thought when I used to, when I used to DJ kind of first had sort of mid 2000s I put on, I'd put that on, and people would love it. And like I like it. But it's not hard. You know, sonically and I just, I would expect that to kind of fall flat, but people loved

Paul Noble:

it. Yeah. I mean, I'm not. I don't know, I'm an audio purist. I'm not gonna say I'm not. But when I go out, if someone's playing an mp3 or a badly pressed record, you can just hear it. And also like most pro DJs, there's no like, it's all straight from Bandcamp or straight from the artist or whatever like that, that the badly press record is not really a, an issue anymore. In clubs, and I don't know, it's such a small number of people who play vinyl out and, and play specific about what they need when they do it. Rightly. It's not, it's not an issue. But you know, going back 30 years, people were playing stuff of compilations we were because no one had the money to pick up all those individual tracks. Yeah, and some of them were nicely pressed, and some of them were horrible.

Adam Gow:

I mean, I still play some that admittedly are pretty badly pressed. Certain tunes like some of the like the Jamaica cat sort of stuff that's on those RCA compilations. They're pretty flat. But the songs are amazing.

Paul Noble:

My I mean, my sort of crime at the time was buying lots of bootlegs from rock and soul in New York, kind of this, you know, Paradise garage or hip hop, Dancehall mashups. And some of the, you know, now I can hear them like they're horrible pressings they're just bounce straight out of someone's computer. But

Adam Gow:

yeah, do you have any policies here on stuff?

Paul Noble:

Not musically, or format?

Adam Gow:

format? Like, is there anything that kind of you don't want people? No,

Paul Noble:

I mean, you can as long as it's uncompressed, you can do a whole evening on a USB or CD. I don't mind what we've learned, and we've been open seven years now and we've done absolutely everything is it's such a revealing system. If you put in for example, if you're listening to like jazz, proper jazz, you know, hard bop, sax lead As it's so imposing is like having a giant saxophone in your ear. And that's fine. If you've done what we just did, where you're sitting there listening and having a sort of intense listening experience. If it's a normal bar night, and there's people in there eating, talking hanging out, it's just, it's just too intense to have a sack, you know, a horn at that level on a system of this level just coming at you. Yeah. And then there's, you know, for example, Northern Soul, we've had some DJs, who play Northern Soul, original sevens amazing b&o collections, but these records been played to death. And there's so much crackle and surface noise. You know, I'd rather hear that same set off a USB, for example, it's not, it's like, it's fine in a kind of crappy basement on that on a sound system where it doesn't matter. And actually, that's all part of it. And I've, you know, I've had some great nights, dancing in places like that. But it's, like I say, it's such a revealing system. And then things like, I don't know, a sort of 70s or 80s, rock music where it's, you know, the productions is really shining. And there's something at every level of frequency, top to bottom, it's just so intense. So, you know, when I'm playing when I'm DJing, here, I'll play dub, I'll play deep house, I play all sorts of stuff, but there's stuff which really shows off the system, which has tonnes of low end, and lots of stuff at the high end, but to have something ELO, like, it's so the production is, it's a wall of sound, and it smacks you in the face, and it's just kind of, it's almost too intense. So, you know, we booked DJs, and just let them do what they want. I don't like to be prescriptive about what they play, how they play it, you know, it's not a club. So there's no point in playing a whole evening of, you know, household tech now. People have done that. And it's sometimes it works, but it's not, you're not trying to get anyone going as a 70 seats in here. And it's always a kind of seated table service experience.

Adam Gow:

So just going back to your uni days, then it was TV, you started off studying. Yeah, I

Paul Noble:

did media production. And I think like, every single person on the course basically wanted to be Quentin Tarantino was, like, we're all gonna, we're all going to be the director and we're all going to change the world of film. And then very, very quickly, like, it costs you know, to do anything and film cost a fortune. You need that it's just so difficult to pull off anything in film. But there was a radio course and there was a studios there and, you know, I always thought like, well, that's my hobby is like, tinkering around with audio. It was pre even digital editing. So it was all on reel to reel. I got into radio drama, bright plays, produce them. Work with composers. Sound effects, work with actors as lovely Nigel on the Unicode. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there was a documentary course there was a drama course and I went for drama. And I really got into it and I just thought okay, there's the like, there's a whole new area of experimental radio drama to happen because the only place you hear radio dramas on radio for and it's very I mean, there's a radio for drama sound which is Oh, hello, I didn't see you there. Oh, come in and or what have you carried like, like the lack of images is a an obstacle rather than let's do some crazy sci fi whatever. So that was for a while I was like okay, this I'm going to get out there and reinvent radio drama. And then I start I ended up at the BBC and started working there and doing radio dramas and I was just like, it's not gonna happen in trying to like turn entire tank around.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, so there was there was was it about five or six people on your would call it an inlet? Yeah,

Paul Noble:

an intake. So we did a sound engineering course. And it was really it was a really long kind of trainee period, where you learn about sort of signal flow about mixer mixing and EQ and compression, editing how to edit naturally, not to chop off the breath plosives the sort of speech editing and then mixing music and music to speech ratios and all of that so you know, the first kind of 10 years of life after university was like deep in radio BBC Radio world and every kind of broadcasting well BBC like radio for radio five, live you know, those big Saturday shows like live from the grounds that has been a golden to wherever and proms and radio three World Service and Africa Middle East section. So I just kind of, I was always in the studio. I was always in front of a desk. Yeah, I loved it.

Adam Gow:

So in terms of doing like the tape editing and things like that, that sounds really intense did did everyone who started the course I did a high percentage complete, or

Paul Noble:

Yeah, we were completed. I mean, some people moved into production. Some people, you know, like, sport, a news or the sort of real high energy radio, like, you've just as high pressure shows going out at the top of the hour, you've got to get your package finished before then. And I always knew I wanted to be a music I was there, but I kind of had my nose pressed up against the glass of Radio One and radio two, which was sort of where where I wanted to be. But yeah, I did loads of speech as a speech radio in it. Yeah, a lot of editing on quarter inch with a white pencil. It's so funny now cuz it's so simple to do digitally. But yeah, there was a early system called CD, which I think was developed for film, which was like, Pro Tools wasn't even around at that point. Yeah, before then it was. You'd record something you top and tail it with your leader tape, chop out sections have bits hanging around your neck, and then play out and quarter inch in on a student tape machine. That's

Adam Gow:

crazy. So when when you finished uni, you came to do that? Had you always known that you will just come back to London?

Paul Noble:

Yeah, yeah, it wasn't I wasn't sort of, I don't know. I was eyeing up the states, but I had no idea how I was going to do anything there.

Adam Gow:

Was that because of hip hop or? But yeah,

Paul Noble:

I mean, just I don't know growing up in the UK is like it's the Promised Land, isn't it? And you just sort of all the films we've watched as a kid it just,

Adam Gow:

it's just a draping places. Yeah. I think not being based in London, you come to London, and there's a certain energy. But then yeah, you go to New York. And there's it's almost like that kind of multiplied. Yeah. So when you came back to London, were you still kept DJing in Bournemouth, I did you kind of had,

Paul Noble:

there was lots of kind of DJing in the house. And I was in a house of music nuts. And we were all getting deep into kind of Ambien and chill out and sort of experimental electronic stuff. Who are we listening to? At that time, lots of Cypress Hill. Lots of like Mixmaster, Morris, Zion train, sort of experimental electronic stuff. But I never I was never looking to put it together as a as a DJ set. We were all kind of tinkering around and then someone bought a sampler. And I bought a W 30. Roland keyboard, basically because I'd heard that Liam from the Prodigy had done the entire first prodigy album and I was like, right? Oh, there you go. That's, you know, how hard can that I was such a horrible keyboard. It's so difficult to programme should have born MPC, but

Adam Gow:

if you thought it was easy to become the Prodigy. Yeah, exactly.

Paul Noble:

That's, you know, the confidence of youth. And yeah, I'd say like there was always always tinkering around with equipment and someone definitely had NATO aid, you know, in our, in our scene. But yeah, it was only really when I was back in London when I sort of started getting really deeply into what was going on currently, actually, like mo wax and all you know, everything that Jamesville was doing and well yeah, I mean, so first of all, the blue note was incredible at that time, the ninja chin knights were amazing. There was a club in Brighton they want to get my years mixed up, but it was a kind of trip hop Hip Hop night. Yeah, it was a really fertile time for kind of beat led music which wasn't household techno I mean, there was obviously a whole world of house techno going on at the time, which I wasn't tuned into. And it sort of since discovered loads of great artists from their time but Kokott were like they were my leaders everything Yeah. Started on their radio show and they were a real musical education for me with experiment electronic stuff hip hop, go go funk I'd like I can remember hearing certain tracks on there and then digging out the artist or the label.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, cuz Go Go was a really interesting one because that that seems to have had a big influence is like for like a regional music.

Paul Noble:

Yeah, it's mad how it's kind of you don't hear about it. You don't really hear anyone talking about it. But there was a time where there was like, acid jazz hip hop, gogo. No one was talking about Trouble Funk. You know, they were playing here. Chuck Brown junk, your band was all like it was just kind of around alongside hip hop. And then you go to a Go Go show. And it's like, it's just not it's like a DJ set, the drummer doesn't stop. It just keeps going, you know, it's one song, it's all kind of at the same tempo. It's all about the, you know, the drums and the percussion and then just,

Adam Gow:

it tends to all be the same sort of swing as well. Yeah,

Paul Noble:

yeah. Every so often like it sort of pops up in an artist's work someone will just like, you know, for one track or one bit we'll just like suddenly DC for you know, a few bars with no it's still around, but it's just

Adam Gow:

yeah, that there was a I think it was a production team while a Roy did a tune it was really go going. Yeah, it samples. Love hanging over by Diana Ross. Okay, but then as all the like, Go Go percussion. Wicked.

Paul Noble:

Michelle, I never know how to pronounce a surname in Daegu. Cello is big into it. And there's moments on sort of all her albums where she will suddenly have a Go Go moment. Yeah, I think maybe the gogo revival was overdue.

Adam Gow:

It could be I mean, it's interesting how for some of these scenes were you know, the big be broken be trip up there was so big for a time and then they kind of the physical snow there. But then acid just seems to have had like a Rene suns now. Yeah. What? 25 years in the wilderness?

Paul Noble:

Yeah. It all just comes around, doesn't it? Yeah. Same into fashion.

Adam Gow:

So how was DJing for you then when you were back in London.

Paul Noble:

So I was going to a club called mega triplus, which was heaven, which was in the main room, it was quiet banging, trance and techno. But in the side rooms there were in the second room. It was just really eclectic. Certainly, I saw Giles there a couple of times. I ended up DJing there a few times with my friend, Dave, who's my kind of musical. He was like my musical partner in crime. And we're playing just weird stuff. Weird electronic. Sure, we took a delay unit with us and start, you know, playing slow down versions of the BGS or whatever we were doing, just trying to freak people out. But I very clearly remember hearing sound of the police there for the first time, right at like in a backroom at heaven. And just thinking this is the ultimate Hip Hop tune. Never heard anything. This tough and, you know, hit like, KERS won his voice, his performance, what he was saying, the track, it just was like, I'm done. This is it. There's no way further to go from here.

Adam Gow:

And I think as well without children, what an amazing hook. Yeah. Like, you get some really, really, really talented rappers that just don't do hooks. Yeah, it's word wordplay. Yeah, but yeah, it's amazing,

Paul Noble:

incredible. But to cut to the chase about my DJ was like, I didn't DJing clubs that much. I started doing bars, private events, friends parties, so was always DJing. You know, my name wasn't on a flyer. And no one was paying to come see me. And also I was kind of, I could do a disco set. I could do sort of Guilty Pleasures pop set. I could do hip hop set. There was a lots of like London bars was just playing funk and jazz and hip hop. Yeah. And a bit of Dancehall

Adam Gow:

where you kind of observing and thinking about how people are consuming the music and what, how the music almost occupies the space.

Paul Noble:

Yeah, I don't know. I just felt like the pro level DJs were just in sort of such another territory. I was like, I wasn't looking to get there. And also, you know, my interests in music are I love Beach Boys Frankie Valli, really harmonic, sort of four part vocal stuff. I love metal. I love techno I love hip hop, I love drum and bass. It's all Americana in my house at the weekend, so I kind of like pretty much everything. And musically, I was such a sort of, you know, getting about musically on these different directions. I didn't want to be a hip hop DJ, and I didn't want to be a sort of Ambien horizontal DJ. And I didn't have the tunes to kind of be a household techno DJ. So I don't know, I was just I was I was eclectic, but like without any real any direction. And I was just kind of kind of happy for other people to specialise.

Adam Gow:

Cuz it's like even although you're in so many different genres, it's not quite being an open format DJ there is it because you deep into Yeah, this, this, this, this and this. Yeah.

Paul Noble:

But I can, you know, I could sort of play to a brief and I dig into bits of my collection. And you know, doing balls where it was like, I'd have two bags of records, everything was kind of you could dance to it. It was all it was all funky. And then I'd have you know, a few random seven inch weird pop tracks, which I'd throw in. Yeah. But yeah, I mean, the, the DJ who blew me away and I still just think is incredible, as Mr scruff who takes that sort of room to funk console, you know, that, that sound, but does it? It's so polished, and he does it in a main room style with, you know, his whole universe of visuals and you know, his approach around it. And also he, before anyone was kind of talking about audiophile sound systems, or he was he was doing that, you know, I remember him at The Big Chill festival where he had his own tent, and he'd get there, you know, days before anyone else with a spirit level with his Yeah, tractor setting up the deck on, you know, his approach to sound was always so

Adam Gow:

amazing video of it. It's from Oh, two in Bristol, I think where's this going through his setup with his nose insulating walls, concrete slabs and stuff like that?

Paul Noble:

Yeah, he just takes it really seriously. Whereas, you know, part of being a DJ is just being sort of Yeah, winging it. And

Adam Gow:

it's annoying enough having to take your decks let alone a lot of concrete.

Paul Noble:

Yeah. Learn a spirit level. Yeah. But also sorry, you know, to finish that thought, like musically as well. He could bounce around 20 different genres. Yeah. And piece it all together. And you know, have big moments have moments where it would all right. always impressed me.

Adam Gow:

Very nice guy, by all accounts as well, the guy, lovely guy. So this would be we're getting to the sort of late late 90s, around 2000 When you left BBC didn't even start brands are kind of a brand radio consultancy. Yeah.

Paul Noble:

I started an internet radio station called Space FM in 2000. And I wanted to move into production at the BBC. But it was just things were very slow moving there. I just just impatient. So I left and with some friends, we found a space in East London in Shoreditch in the Truman brewery, built radio studio, and basically started broadcasting. And it was a kind of classic, two year two thousand.com kind of disaster, where we, we had loads of enthusiasm, loads of good intentions. We were ahead of our time, but not in a good way. And then no one had broadband. So no one could listen to us. We were broadcasting away. But the show people listening to the shows were kind of in Silicon Valley where they had capacity to listen to this thing. And there was another station as well at the same time called mo city, who were a lot better funded than us. But anyway, it was what you know, everyone. It was kind of like the first internet Gold Rush wherever it was, like, wow, you can download stuff on Limewire. And you can order a pizza and like, like, everyone was getting their heads around the internet was so early. But we had a studio. We ended up doing lots of breakbeats Rennie pilgrim had a show at the time. And then that led to shows with like, the plump DJs and budget and scarper and that was kind of what was going on there. It was a big chill show on it for a while. There was lots of house. We shared a studio with the guys from Santo Panzer, etc. pans out and if you know them, they do. Man, Jim, they have always done these fantastic warehouse parties in London. They used to do carnival for about 20 years, then they always had this colossal sis sound system and great DJs and both parties, so they were part of the gang. And that was probably where I got, I started really getting into house music and that kind of deeper end of house music and

Adam Gow:

said, Did you build that network? Was it just a case of being in their own

Paul Noble:

literally, they were like they had a desk next to us, right? And then funnily I had a book on my table last night at DJ save my life. Yeah. And a friend of Santos Kevin came in was like, Oh, you've got Bill and Frank's book. And I didn't know them. I was like, Oh yeah, I'm really I'm absolutely loving it. This is the book I've been waiting for. And he's like, Oh, I'll introduce you. So this was 2000 met Bill met Frank. Both of them have you know, become really solid friends and part of my musical life and Bill and I I've done. We've done edits together, we've had a record label with DJ together, we've kind of been on this musical journey still going on. He's played at every incarnation of spirit land, including some we've been doing part warehouse parties in Lisbon recently. He's been playing there. So, yeah. So just all the, you know, all these things have just happened organically just from leaving the BBC saying, right, I'm going to start a radio station. The radio, it was done within two years. What was

Adam Gow:

the brand partnerships are stuff that you did then? Was it diesel?

Paul Noble:

Yeah, that was a bit later. So I did. I had a company called pop up radio. And basically I was kind of I will come and sort out your radio problems because I technically could build a studio and operate it and get it sounding good and get it on air, but also musically, could do music supervision. So any brands who wanted to do any anything in the world of broadcast I could help help out with so diesel had originally there was diesel you music? Yeah. The prize. I think Milo came through that. But the main man at diesel Renzo is a huge music guy and had this vision of a global radio station. It was already up and running. But I went to work there. And we ended up we did around the world. We did shows in New York, went to the diesel headquarters, kind of deep and rural, literally. We sort of took it around everywhere. And it's great. Really fun. Yeah.

Adam Gow:

And then in the monocle interview, you mentioned that you were working with the Guardian on some of the podcasts. Yeah. Lee, what was that experience? Like? Did you think that take off?

Paul Noble:

Yeah, I mean, I then started, I was basically like radio, just sort of radio. Swiss Army knife. So I was doing some, I was doing editing for the BBC, I was working on documentaries. For some of the independent companies who service the BBC. Something else was the big one. I was doing a bit of live music production for one extra. So you know, went out to Jamaica and did some festivals with sizzlers place like, ended up in some really kind of mad scenarios. But then the next week, I'll be doing like music supervision for McDonald's, De Beers or whatever. So yeah, so it was a bit of everything. And then podcasts were starting to happen. I started working on the Guardians film podcast. So that was every week interviewing filmmakers and actors. I wasn't the presented, Jason was putting that together and delivering that as a show. So it was all it was all sort of bumbling around around radio music, but not with one focus, just freelance life, whatever comes up, you say yes to you then work out how you're going to do it. Yeah. And it might be a really nice client like iTunes or Coke, or it could be there's no money, you just have to turn up and multitrack something and mix it, you know, for torrents. And then I got a call or an email from Luke Turner, now is one of the founders of The Quietus and an author. And he said, I'll monocolor opening a radio station that magazine and it's a sort of very high end, global globally minded international affairs, design diplomacy. Aviation vote is very, it's not niche, but it's it has a very specific worldview. And I love the magazine. And yeah, I'd love to sort of, well, they're moving into radio, what does that mean that they had a, they had a podcast, which went out every week, went to the offices to meet the editor, and he said, We're launching a music and news radio station, and we're gonna do six hours of live news a day, which is a huge amount. It's more than the BBC. And, you know, knowing the number of people you need to get speech on the air. I mean, music radios, fairly straightforward. You have a DJ, if you're lucky to have a producer. If you've properly funded, you've got researchers and guests and marketing, but you know, you and I could do a music radio station here tomorrow. It doesn't. Whereas speech radio, you need researchers, cues, contributors, packages, it's a totally different territory. Anyway. I joined them and I started as exec producer, and the radio station was called monocle 24. It's called monocle radio now and we had daily shows, hourly shows we had a sort of a culture show a design show, news LED shows and contributions from around the world. So there were Studios in New York, Hong Kong, Istanbul. Eric,

Adam Gow:

what was the sort of listenership then

Paul Noble:

sort of, I'd say small but select it same with the magazine, it's not the number, the numbers are not crazy, but it's the, just the right people and they and the advertisers, you look at who's advertising in there, and they know who they're talking to. Because very, very targeted. And everything's Bruce beautifully produced in the magazine, the shoots the writing, that the topics they cover, is just exquisite what they do, and, and radio, which is not traditionally, a luxury doesn't, doesn't the luxury world and radio don't go together. If there's adverts on radios for Quick Fit, or McDonald's, whatever, you're not gonna get Prada, advertising on classic FM or anywhere. Whereas Monaco completely reinvented this and said, We're going to go directly to those brands, who they worked with already in the magazines, and they can sponsor an entire show. And the link to this is that they had a studio in a bureau in Tokyo, I went out to go and set it up. Just fell in love with Japan, as you know, that's all you can do. When you get out there. It's just a sort of magical place. Yeah, the first time I went, I was like this is I'd always wanted to go. And I'd had this sort of, well, I'm going to wait to be taken or you know, and it's like, I'm not no one's flying out there to DJ, just get over yourself anyway. So when they with monocle, absolutely loved it, and then went back for five weeks, with my wife, and we travelled all over the country. And they have this amazing approach to music, where there's these listening balls there, where you'll sit, and some of them are tiny. It could be eight seats. There'll be a cover charge to get in. There's a wall of vinyl, one or maybe two turntables, lots of vintage audio equipment. And obviously Japan is full of, you know, amazing electronical gear and devices. And like they just, they have this really elegant, rigorous approach to listening to music, which is I've not seen anything like it before. I'd heard about it. They're called kissa 10. And obviously, the jazz ones are the ones that everyone talks about. But they're split by genre. So there could be a blues bar, there could be a jazz bar, there could be a country bar as a famous classical bar, where they'll sort of announce the piece and the performance, and then play it in full. And I just wear music and listening was in London, which just wasn't it, there was nothing inspirational about it there. There's the massive venues where you sort of go because the bands won't play anywhere smaller, but everything else about the experience is just horrible. There's the clubs, which weren't really doing it for me, I'm not gonna go to one of the massive clubs, but also I didn't want to go to one of the sort of grimy warehouse places either. And then there's the balls where it's kind of it could be anything it's on in the background. Certainly in London, there's a kind of this down the middle like jazz, funk soul thing of everyone plays sort of similar stuff. And just going around these bars. And it's also it's not just in Tokyo, it's in these tiny little cities, you know, the equivalent of like a wherever, hole or something, not, you know, any city will have your walk in, there'll be a, you know, really gorgeous sound system. And just be one guy serving drinks and playing records. And you can make requests as well, not for tracks. But for albums or an artists, I was just so inspired by it. And I spent my whole the whole time just banging on about it. Like why don't we have this in London, you know, I've got all my musical interests. I kind of it's me on my own at home, on headphones, or in front of my speakers just sort of on my solo musical Odyssey and then sharing it online, in kind of discussion groups, but to go and sit in front of an amazing high performance sound system and have someone play what their personal passions or what you know, I was like, I'm sure I could fill a room in London, you know, people who responded to that.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, there was something he said in the monocle interview that I found really interesting which was our relationship with music has become so devalued by the way you consume it now. You pay for it like you pay for it like a phone bill or utility. The days of buying a record living with it and decoding it it's long gone. And that really kind of hit me it's such a such a good point. I've talked with some people on here about it. and intimacy with music and how we consume and stuff. And yeah, that kind of the subscription element does take something away, doesn't it because it's all there for a flat price, you've not got to pay 50 pounds for this album, or you find this one for two pounds at a charity shop or, you know, there's none of that.

Paul Noble:

I mean, it's sort of, it's just a result of the era we're in where to rewind, 30 years, you save up, you buy an album, by whoever the cure, and you kind of you live with it, and you play it backwards and forwards and analyse the sleevenotes. And you know, that's that album becomes your life. And then the next one comes along. Now, you know, Tidal or Spotify or any streaming, like it's amazing, if you can't say, you know, a record pops into your head, or an artist, and suddenly you can listen to their entire discography and bounce around and then make your best offs or whatever. So I mean, you know, the genies out of the bottle, but to listen to it, you know, the idea of an album was a piece of work, which starts finishes, there's like 810 12 songs, and I still really love it as a format of like, okay, you've got between like, 30 and 50 minutes to say what you want to say, that's your album, it's like, you know, in cinema, you got your 90 minute film, in literature, there's your sort of three 400 page novel, I really liked the format of an album, and to sort of sit and do nothing, and also, you know, treat it like watching a film. Yeah, it's such a, it's such a, it's a joy. It's a privilege. Now, we do every day here at six o'clock, we'll play an album. Sometimes it is more of a background experience. And sometimes we'll crank it right up, and it's sort of, okay, we're just going to give this album loads of love, and sort of, that's how we'll start our evening here. But yeah, it's not. It's not that I'm a vinyl fascist, I'm not sort of we could play on CD, we can play on USB on reel to reel. I love the the idea that the artist has said, right, this is my vision for the album. This is the you know, has progressed from the last one, or it's a 180 from the last one. I just think that kind of love should be shown. That's what we do. We're here to sort of put this out in a frame and say, Listen to this. And if it's not an hour, it could be an artist. So we'll do we quite often do a nights of just one artist. We've done all the sort of ones you might imagine Prince Bowie, Beatles, but we've also done Croft work New Order, prefab sprout, we just did a massive Louis Taylor night, which came at the end of the Lewis Taylor week because I'm obsessed with Lewis Taylor and his music and he's he's just released an acoustic album is rereleased all his old downs on B with records you'd released a new album, so we're like, okay, let's, you know, he's our guy. Let's just go all out on this Taylor. And then, you know, for example, when blur paid Wembley, suddenly, we're just in a world of blur. Ditto pulp. So we, you know, we've got time and space because there's no dance floor here, you can say, we're going to programme a week of pop albums,

Adam Gow:

just to whine back then, when you came back from Japan. I mean, we were sitting in spirit land Kings Cross now, but this wasn't the first iteration. Was it? Like, how do you have this sort of concept? For something with this level of equipment? How do you test the waters and have a proof of concept? Or how do you find that, you know, how do you get into all that side of starting something like this?

Paul Noble:

So I'd been sort of as well as, you know, my musical journey. I've been on this like, audio upgrade path. Where are you kind of, I suppose it started off with like, richer sounds, gear and then I was like, I'm going to get a CD player from Lynn or or Campbell or whatever. And just tinkering around, you know, upgrading bits and bobs. I had some quad ESLs which are these sort of big radiator speakers? And then I was playing around with DAX and yeah, I, I ended up a Hi Fi show Munich called high end, which is room after room of the most insane sound systems. 10 grand for a lead, everything's just it's just completely bonkers. I was there really just to kind of go in here, it wasn't looking to buy anything. And then I went to a room called Living voice or the company is called Living voice and that's run by a guy called Kevin Scott. Based in long Eaton there Nottingham, and he makes really, insanely high end speakers, and then pairs them with similarly high end sources and amplifiers. And the cabling and just the whole approach sort of no compromise. And I heard the speakers I was like, This is it was totally revelatory. It was insane performance detail. I talked about it's like a time machine when you hear. And often at these shows, you hear that kind of same, there's certain tracks, which you just hear the whole time because people want to show off their system and the certain reference tracks, but he was playing a big band from the 50s. It's like a time machine. There's the horns. There's the tambourine, it's, it's so immersive, it just took my head off. Now, he also makes kind of real world speak, you know, he makes the, some of the head speakers are enormous, colossally expensive, beautifully made. The people who buy them a sort of wall own football clubs, and yachts and airlines, whatever, but he also makes real world floorstanders For people like me. So I started a going to his demo room and then buying equipment off him. So he advised me on, you know, amps and cabling and put together a sound system, my house, which just sounded lovely. And then after Japan, I said, you know, I've got this idea called Spirit land. It's a listening bar. It's not a club, but there's DJs playing every night. And would you want to be part of it? Like, yeah, sounds great. I'd love to do it. We'll build a pair of speakers. Now. The speakers which you can see out here are very 70s. They're very inspired by Japanese design. They're quite. I mean, they do look, you know, they've got this array of three tweeters and mid range horns. They look pretty esoteric, and funky, but nothing compared to the sort of speaker that he makes for some of his clients. But yeah, that was so initially to rewind at Munich, I went to Tannoy. I always liked tantalise and said, I'm opening this pop up in a restaurant in Shoreditch restaurants called merchants to happen. And Angela Hartnett was the head chef there, along with her husband, Neil. And it was a really gorgeous room, which had a bar at the front and a restaurant in the back, right in the middle of Shoreditch, but it was people were you like having a cocktail and then going through for dinner, like you would at hotels, and it wasn't part of the shortage bar scene. But like, everywhere around it, there was all this stuff going on. And I met the guys who founded it with Angela, and just said, I've got this idea called Spirit land. It's DJs. But they're not. You know, they're not mixing. They're not playing. And I have house. It's a it's a listening experience. And shall we road test it in the bar? It will happen really quickly. I think I was back from Japan in April, and we opened in October. Oh, wow. So it was a it was a really it was really quick one Tannoy loaned us a pair of speakers, Kevin, living voice loaned us a pair of Canary amps. We used a Bozak mixer, which had been upgraded by ice and no, we had a pair of upgraded techniques with a sort of 12 inch tonearm on them. So we had some some really nice gear. There were CD players there, but not CDJs, they were kind of just quite discreet rack mounted Sony ones. The mixer wasn't between the decks, it was off to the side. So just sort of lots of cues of like, it's not a club. It's a listening room. And it was supposed to just be a three month pop up, it ended up going for two years. But I programmed kind of everyone who I'd work with and you know, all my musical friends to just come and play whatever they want. And it was a sort of free reign of like, you know, you don't need to get a dancefloor going so you can play wherever you fancy,

Adam Gow:

we kind of pay in them for Wakko was it like?

Paul Noble:

Not I mean, it was kind of what you'd get to play in a bar. Yeah. So it was it was free to come in. And it was they, you know, we'd have a like, really hefty tab. So everyone was like, great. I have the oysters and, you know, everyone was, it was such an enjoyable place to DJ because no one's requesting anything. You can play whatever you fancy. And it's a lovely room and lovely and also just like playing music on that sound system. So that's what

Adam Gow:

I was wondering was were people like with the DJs like, I want to come and play on this. No, yeah,

Paul Noble:

yeah. And it all happened really quickly. And then, you know, we'd have DJs like people like Justin Robertson, or Richard Norris, who kind of they're used to playing to lots more people and they can play a sort of really banging electronic set, but it's a chance for them to play all of their weird stuff kind of from the back of the box which you they could never play out usually Um, we Franz Ferdinand played and they played a really sort of fun set. I mean, I remember playing football fight by Queen sort of stuck in my head for some reason. Zach Cowie, from LA and Elijah Wood the actor because collectors. Zack then went to set up something called in sheep's clothing, which is sort of similar to what we're doing. They came and played like krautrock Turkish funky 70s prog, like really just amazing set with a DJ fit to the kind of musical cohort. And then Andrew weather all just got in touch and said, Oh, I'm around the corner. I know, I love the food. Can I come and play? And I was like, What the hell am I am I dreaming this? You know? And he's he was, you know, like a god to me. Like it was such an amazing DJ, producer, lifeforce, you know, just an incredible person, which, since he died, I sort of I think everyone has understood like, what, you know, what he meant, and his approach and his uncompromising nature. And, you know, it was there, but we never quite saw it, because it was around he was around and about, and then, yeah, anyway, so he he played, he played an evening of rockabilly and some dub. And it was just really funny, because there were people in there who are like, massive weather all fans. And then there are people in there just popped in for a drink on the way home. Yeah, couldn't get into the bar around the corner. Alright, so it was just amazing kind of time. And the press, we got some really lovely press on it very early on, where they just understood that we were doing something different. So yeah, that was next year will be 10 years since we started that. So it was just a sort of toe in the water of like, is this something people are interested in. And then we started getting approached to do album launches. But from artists who needed the sort of, you know, high, like a high security album launch, where you can't have any recordings and videos, we'd have to shut the kitchen, which we couldn't do, because it's not our venue. So we started looking around for like, what, okay, let's do this as a dedicated space, and where in London does that live. And we went to look at all sorts of sites and then got talking to Kings Cross, which, at that point, didn't look anything like it did. Now, it's kind of still still being built. The world sort of ended at the top of our road where Dishoom was beyond that, it was just a colossal building site. And this space we're in was Google Glass, the specs with the cameras built in, and the whole project got pulled very suddenly. And so suddenly, they had this space. And we just, we went for it. We built, built the room, built the sound system, put this radio studio in, which was always a big part of what we do. And we launched in September. And, I mean, that was seven years ago. And we've we've sort of just stuck to our guns musically. And that means, you know, some nights you'll hear, like really the sort of, you know, you could walk in and it will be Fleetwood Mac, or, I don't know, some that like you could sing along with it. I'm not encouraging that. Like very well, no music, sometimes it's totally esoteric, and it's sort of the private passions of whoever's playing. We are, you know, we're very pro pop. So it's, you know, we will do Pet Shop Boys. And George Michael and I had no Robin and like, they were not kind of snobbish, but we are snobbish about keeping the quality right there. But yeah, I mean, sort of nine DJs a week, seven years, we've done as a lot of people and a lot of music and a lot of different directions. And that's just here. And then we then opened a shop in Mayfair selling headphones, and sort of personal audio equipment. And then we opened a big site of the Royal Festival Hall on the ground on the sort of basement floor of the Royal Festival Hall for the sound Southbank Centre. And we just did. We just got completely tanked by the timing. We opened at the start of 2019. So we spent one year kind of finding our people building off following letting people know there's a great bar and restaurant and music venue in the Southbank and then everything fell off a cliff in 2020. The Southbank Centre didn't reopen between the pandemics, so the whole area just was a ghost town for a year and a half. And then when it did open it just into a very Different world, very different London, the 3d week is a real thing. Lots of people have made a break to the coast or Europe or wherever.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, I went down there a while ago. And it seemed quite like a touristy sort of area. More than than anything. I don't know if that can the music consumption message would have maybe not. Yeah, I think kind of resume.

Paul Noble:

You know where we are in Kings Cross. There's loads of creatives. There's loads of agencies, there's loads of music, industry and film and arts and at the Southbank, you're next to the London Eye, you're next to the aquarium. Every other restaurant, there is a chain. You know, we were trying to do something really distinctive. And we did, and, you know, who knows, in another reality it would have worked, but the day to day, it just wasn't, it just wasn't working. So we did lots of parties there. So we put in a sound system, very different ones. So this was a living voice system, but there was also a DNB, German brand, PA system in the ceiling. So we did lots of club nights there.

Adam Gow:

So would you use the cars? Because I know you mentioned here, you don't have the studio. You don't have monitoring for the DJ booth, partly because it's about the cues for not being about mixing but partly so that you're not confusing the soundstage. Yeah, so would you would it be the PA or the

Paul Noble:

it was both systems, it was both and it was it was a sort of distributed sound. So it was all time aligned through the room. So wherever you are, it's kind of cohesive sound, but it just had tonnes more low end. It basically had great big subs. It wasn't it was loud. It wasn't like a pulverising club sound. It was still kind of pleasant, but it wasn't that like, body moving. Yeah, ministry, plastic people experience. But we've really punched above our weight with our DJs and our programming. And initially it was it was very much like, let's have the odd party here. And we did it monthly and it was all friends and family. So Patrick forged at the first one, then Bill Brewster, then Santo Panza, and then sort of just people I've been mentioning, like people from our, our musical universe. And then we got talking to quantix agent who said, Oh, he quite liked to come and play. Love contact. Okay, so he played and and then we just after we started doing the more and more and then after the pandemic, we reopened, and we just went all out. We're just like, we're just going to do this every Friday night, and we had Danny krivit Yeah. Francois que Fabian groove rider, Lauren Garni, a Sasha. And then like Jane Fitz love vinegars Heidi Lordan. DJ crossed, I mean, he names great names. And then, you know, people who we love John Gomez, Mafalda. Killeen, Cosmo Murphy, Roy played there a bunch of times, Jarvis Cocker, Alexis Taylor played together several times at the opening and the closing party. So yeah, we just kind of we, we just absolutely went for it there. And, you know, I feel like the dance floor side of what we do is sort of yet to be fully explored, because that space was a restaurant, which turned into a club. So then every time we did there, it's like all the tables and chairs out. And it was, it was nice. And we had, you know, I did the door, all of them with Sophie, my business partner. The security were really friendly. It was it was like a real old school kind of house party, rather than you don't we're not scanning your ticket or anything like that. And also, for me, it was like, I got to meet everyone. I got to meet all the, you know, our guests and people coming through and it was like a lovely, social experience. But yeah, it ran its course, we couldn't keep it going any longer. We closed it at the beginning of the year, which was a sort of a tough one, and also a massive relief to sort of, you know, yeah, say goodbye.

Adam Gow:

So what's next for Spirit land,

Paul Noble:

we are opening another bar in London. And it's going to be another spirit land cocktail bar. It's going to be a little bit more along the Japanese model of we're going to put a massive record collection, record and CD collection in there. So we've been accumulating records here just in the time we've been going and also my record collection at home, which is sort of just sits there and loved is all going to go in there as well as a big CD collection. So you'll be able to come we'll give you the black book, you request a record or a couple of records and our team will play them and then in the basement, we're going to do a dedicated clubs space. And it's about 200 capacity. And it's basically so we can carry on where we left off at Royal Festival Hall, probably more along the lines of residents than guests and all the clubs in my sort of with my like, disco historian nerd hat on, like all the clubs I've been really interested in, it's all been about the residents who play the whole time, week in week out and can really refine their sound and you know, anthems are built and that that's where a lot of the interesting stuff happens. Because it's fairly straightforward, you know, to book a guest, you pay the money, you deal with the agent, they come you sell the tickets and the rooms full, but actually to have people on their way up who are sort of defining their sound and looking and looking to do something just unique. That's, that's really interesting to me, and we've had it. I mean, I wouldn't, they're not our residents, but we had certain people who played me, you know, multiple times at Royal Festival Hall. Look, you know, Maurice Fulton, Jane Fitz played a bunch of times like that, you know, giving them the whole night to do their thing. letting them play, you know, start to finish is just, it's just a magical thing. And it's, I don't know, I feel like London's kind of missing a dance floor at the moment. As a smallish one. So that's what we're, that's what we're going to do. There will be house disco, but they're at, you know, the beat lead stuff, what we do, but also, you know, some indie and some more left field and some more, you know, Northern Soul, and it's not just going to be a club club club is, I think about it as a discotheque. Yeah, the sound and the room treatment. And that's, that's, you know, kind of what we're working on at the moment. But again, the drinks will be nice, the seating will be nice. It'll be the you know, it'll be in like a lovely experience. And what we've what's been so satisfying about what we've done at this whole project is like, there is a community that has built up around what we're doing. And it's kind of, there's music lovers, but there's also just cultural themes. We've come from different areas of the arts, and just different worlds of creativity. And we've sort of given everyone somewhere to just come, play, come and do their thing.

Adam Gow:

Yeah, I think, because I think promotion is a really hard thing, because you're trying to get an existing community to go from where they currently are to where you want them to be, which is your thing. So I think if you can do something where you're creating your own community, that's really positive and it kind of means you're not kind of battling for people. You know, you're like, This is something USP, isn't it? But yeah, I think particularly after locked down as well, to be able to like kind of building these kind of smaller communities is really valuable thing rather than expecting people on mass. So yeah, good luck with it. Thank you. Sounds fantastic. Thank you very much for your time today. Thanks very much for your time today, Paul, and good luck with everything. Cheers.

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