Behind the doors of the old tramway house on Lewes Road, the future is brewing. You can feel it in the vibrations of the walls. Hear it in the music flowing out from rooms. See it in the faces, in the eyes of those who inhabit here. This is Brighton Electric and this is the music of the future.
Last week I sat down with James Stringfellow; marine navigation graduate turned rock star turned owner and director of Brighton’s very own high-end recording studio complex, Brighton Electric. Over the course of our interview I began to see why bands such as Royal Blood, the Maccabees and the Architects, keep coming back to this historic venue. Located in Brighton’s old Tramway Head office, this venue beautifully brings the old-world style of Victorian architecture together with high-end equipment. This creates a unique recording the rehearsal space, to which everyone is welcome, encouraged and supported.
Brighton Electric began however down the road from its current venue in an old soap factory in Hove. Developing out of the need for somewhere to record and rehearse in Brighton, James grew his company from the ground up. With a £700 investment and a whole lot of hard work, he created a space that’s mission is to provide premium equipment at affordable prices. Music to the ears of Brighton’s many students. Over eight years later located on the lively Lewes road, Brighton Electric offers extensive rehearsal suites, premier-league recording studios, a newly installed bar and a café, making sure bands never need to leave. Intentionally decorated to create a homey feel, bands can choose from one of their 17 bright and high ceilinged practice studios. Each equipped with its own drum kit, rooms range from the modest to the huge. Their main recording studio features a large day-lit live room, separate vocal booth and a 70s Neve 5316 console. Not only this, Brighton Electric is one of the only places throughout the UK that offers both Neve and API consoles. Pair this with the unrivalled Pro Tools HD software on hand to make sure any band is able to be well on their way to recording authentic and coherent sounds. Not only this, Brighton Electric offers the space for bands to meet managers and begin networking; building the relationships that are crucial within the music industry.
But why is this venue particularly of interest to many of the students and young people in Brighton? Sticking with their ethos of affordability, Stringfellow offers students 25% off all daytime rehearsal. Students can also benefit from the knowledge provided by the staff of Brighton Electric, always ea-ger to help and assist, as many of them says Stringfellow, have been in bands and the music industry for years. Not only this but once registered new members are given a tour of the space and are guided through any queries the bands may have about equipment. “I would hate to have bands in the rooms struggling with equipment, which stops them from recording or practising, don’t be shy, come and find one of us, we are always happy to help” adds Stringfellow.
As many in the music industry knows, talent can only get you so far, and Stringfellow is a big believ-er in this. When asked on advice to students either starting out or those who want to push their music to the next level, Stringfellow insisted its all about “practise and developing your sound”. “The Maccabees were in studio one for up to a year before they began to record, constantly practicing everyday. And every week you could hear them becoming better and better. The music industry can be very isolating and lonely; you need that ambition and the drive to help you through. Record labels now want to pick up an artist or band when they have already done 75% of the work. They have got the following and the views and have done the tours, so that when the label picks the bands up all they have to do is boost you to the next level. Unlike before when they would develop twenty bands with maybe five being successful, they want to pick up five bands whom are already successful and just need the money to push them into stardom”. Stringfellow advocates that bands should “take the time, develop your sound and your agenda, there are no short cuts”. He also insists on making sure you “do something else”, “go down to the beach, chill with friends, because constantly doing one thing whatever it is, is never healthy.” Stringfellow suggests that what makes Brighton special within the music is the acceptance, the liberal outlook, and the gay scene within Brighton. So, especially being a student make sure you go out and experience it.
Looking on to the future, Stringfellow has plans to expand Brighton Electrics venue, increasing its rehearsal space with three new rooms, a 150 capacity venue and private bar. Not only this but he wants to expand Brighton Electric to also have a “nerdy repair centre” as well as putting on movie nights and more exciting gigs and showcases.