A Q&A with Paul Noble, co-founder of Spiritland.
25 Nov 2016
The northern end of King’s Cross is quietly growing into a bit of a musical hub, with Gearbox Records and Mark Ronson’s studio both in close proximity. The latest addition to the area is Spiritland, the brainchild of Paul Noble; a cafe-workspace by day, bar and live music venue by night, and much more in between.
In September, Noble, along with Patrick Clayton-Malone and Dominic Lake, opened up a spot that appears to be a home for a certain type of music nerd who has perhaps grown a little old for sweaty, sticky-floored live music venues. There’s not even a dance floor at Spiritland; instead there are two ginormous and highly technical speakers, other lavish audio kit and a no-expense spared fit-out with sleek lighting and furniture, and mozzarella flown in twice a week.
Noble spoke to Courier about how he created Spiritland.
How would you describe Spiritland?
I want to create a musical paradise with the best sound system in the world. It’s somewhere anyone can come to for a lovely experience around music and sound quality that you would only have access to if you had a friend who is a billionaire who also happened to be an audiophile.
There’s a radio studio, a deli, a great bar, some retail for things like synths and headphones. It’s just a lovely place to hang out.
How did it come about?
I’m just a big music fan with a background in radio production and sound engineering. I started the radio station at Monocle magazine some years back and worked at the BBC before that, so radio is what I’ve always done. The other stuff around music, food, drink and design are things I’ve always been passionate about. There’s a fair bit of mania and madness behind this.
What was the inspiration?
I loved what I saw in Japan with how music was done in bars. It’s elegant and very considered. It made me think there must be lots of other people like me with the same attitude towards music with exceptional sound and service that wasn’t a live venue. It’s been four years in the making in my head.
How hard has it been to get others to work with you on this?
Lots of people have really backed the vision of Spiritland. Kuzma are a Slovenian company making these beautiful turntables who totally got what we’re trying to do. Living Voice spent two years building these incredible speakers just for this room from their factory near Nottingham. Our head chef is Owen Kenworthy from Brawn on Columbia Road. We’ve worked with great investors who are big music fans.
So is this a passion project or something more commercial?
We’re planning something but we don’t want to say too much right now. I want to hone this experience to perfection. It’s a work in progress. We’ll be tinkering with the hospitality experience.
What’s your thinking behind the programming schedule?
It’s very intuitive for me. It combines people with a big profile like Justin Robertson and Andrew Weatherall with the more esoteric ends of the spectrum, and people who have no profile whatsoever.
How does this sit amid the broader of issue of London’s seemingly under fire music and after hours scene?
We’re not a nightclub but are part of nightlife, I suppose. I do worry that London is being overtaken by Berlin and Amsterdam as somewhere with great nightlife.
Does Spiritland have a function during the day?
We’re open from 8am, and it’s an easy, informal place to work or have a meeting. We’re getting a lot of the music industry popping in. At 6pm we play an album from start to finish and then a DJ takes over at 7pm and we go on until 1am. The energy changes through the day and night.
Photos by Rik Moran