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Bright future for studios where The Animals played

The lads from Loft Music have gone up in the world. David Whetstone meets them in their new studios where Gazza and The Animals once recorded

Loft Music Studios, Carliol Square, Newcastle

Beyond the sign saying British India House, a solid staircase takes you up and up to the very top of this solid block overlooking Newcastle’s Carliol Square.

Here you’ll find Loft Music Studios and any thoughts of the Raj are soon displaced by more recent historical considerations.

“This,” says Andrew Archer, a tad apologetically I have to say, “is where Gazza recorded Fog on the Tyne.”

Paul Gascoigne’s cover version of a Lindisfarne hit – someone’s bright idea as ‘Gazza-mania’ raged in the wake of Italia 90 – owed a great deal to natural exuberance and little to vocal talent.

Memories of more appealing musical endeavours also resonate in the fabric of the building, or at least its upper regions. Once, I’m told, Lindisfarne themselves played here and so did The Animals.

And since Animals bassist Chas Chandler managed the great Jimi Hendrix, is it beyond the realms of possibility that once he might have struck a few spine-tingling chords within these walls? Andrew and business partner John Elliott leave that tantalising question hanging in the air.

Andrew and John were turfed out of their previous premises by the police. No foul play was involved. It’s simply that previously they resided at Kings House, overlooking Forth Banks, which Northumbria Police is now turning into a new police station.

Andrew Archer and John Elliott (left) of Loft Music Studios
Andrew Archer and John Elliott (left) of Loft Music Studios

Back then they were in the basement which, given their name, took some explaining. They took Loft, they say, from an iconic New York music venue. Very cool. But it also meant they tended to get listed among roofing companies in the Yellow Pages.

“We ran a music publishing and licensing business,” says Andrew. “We both have a lot of experience in different areas of the music business but this is a new venture for us.

“This is a very beautifully appointed recording studio and production suite with world class acoustics. At Kings House we had a small studio but no live space.

“We had to leave in April last year and we were struggling to find another suitable place.

“Then this became available by chance. It is a brilliant building with a lot of history and it’s at the heart of quite a creative hub.”

Taken with the top floor space with its studio history, Andrew and John moved in and started bringing it into the 21st Century. In the process, Loft Music acquired a home that matched its name.

Clearly the pair are very proud of Loft Music Studios where, following the extensive re-fit, the acoustics meet modern standards. A band could record a live performance here and so, they tell me, could a classical ensemble.

Then they run through their business pitch. “It’s all very well being a world class recording studio with world class equipment,” says Andrew. “But that’s no good if you are then going to charge bands £500 a day to use it. People can’t afford that up here so we set out to make Loft Music Studios affordable.”

Whether they have succeeded will be up for the musicians to decide and the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

But there’s no doubting the attention they have lavished on the place or indeed their knowledge of the music industry, about which they are also passionate.

Andrew, who is 38, grew up in Newcastle and got his first work in the industry as a 16-year-old, helping out at the company that became Global Underground. “We still work for them as artists,” he says.

Yes, he and John perform as Trafik, a progressive house music duo. “We have played everywhere,” Andrew says: “Singapore, South Africa, Dubai, the Great Wall of China. Electronic music is a huge international thing.”

As Trafik they have released three studio albums on the Global Underground label and also several singles. Their tracks have been used on TV shows and games so they can boast of links with Sony, Disney, Electronic Arts, the BBC and Channel 4.

Andrew started working for Global Underground full time but was also producing and writing music. Then John, who is 33, turned up. He had been in bands since he was 13 and was signed by Polygram as a songwriter at 16.

Sheepishly, he says it was his mother who applied for a job at Global Underground on his behalf. He rose to be its online marketing manager while nurturing a career as a songwriter and singer.

Now they have their lofty new premises, Loft Music are brimming with plans. They’re open for business and they’re even looking to get into management. You can find out more about them and get in touch via www.loftmusicstudios.co.uk


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer