Off to a flyer! We talk to Columbo Group’s head of music - Andy Peyton

  • Rock & Pop
Off to a flyer! We talk to Columbo Group’s head of music - Andy Peyton


Thu, 15/09/2016 - 12:44


The Camden Assembly – formerly Barfly
The Camden Assembly – formerly Barfly
15 September, 2016

WE all know by now that Barfly is no more. 

One of Camden’s pillars of indie has been replaced by The Camden Assembly, which opens to the public today (Thursday). The venue was taken over by The Columbo Group earlier this year, shortly after they extended their reach in Camden from owning The Blues Kitchen to snapping up the Jazz Cafe. 

Their record to date seems to be not to mess with the formula too much but to stay current. We have seen that with the Jazz Cafe, where they have stayed true to the more traditional bookings while mixing in some newer, electro acts and other promising talent. 

So, what does this all mean for the Barfly? Is indie no more? We spoke to The Columbo Group’s head of music, Andy Peyton (pictured, below), to find out what is in store for the venue.

Andy Peyton

Andy, who moved to London to study banking and international finance at the age of 18, soon broke into music promotion while managing Islington’s Elbow Rooms while trying to break the monotony of his studies. One of his breakthrough nights came at the Barfly during the height of indie, at a time when the Libertines and other notable indie acts were emerging. 

He said: “I was working in Cargo four nights a week while getting good enough to be a promoter. I put on a few parties in various places and I got a call from a guy called Ollie, and he was saying, ‘I’ve seen one of your parties, do you want to host Killthemallletgodsortitout (a popular Barfly indie night)’. 

“For me at the time Barfly was the coolest venue, the centre of indie. It was a huge deal for me. I was so excited I told all my colleagues. After that, Barfly offered me a monthly night. Barfly meant an awful lot to me then but I eventually moved on and now do an awful lot of dance music. I book DJs for XOYO, Phonox, The Nest (three of The Columbo Group’s other venues).” 

More recently, Andy believes Barfly fell into a bit of a decline. He said: “I feel like the venue dropped off in recent years. Maybe straight-up indie music isn’t as prevalent as it was. I’m looking forward to making the venue great again.” 

So, will it remain true to its indie roots? Andy has thought hard about this. 

He said: “When we got the venue, that was the biggest question for me. What do you do with this place? Do you keep it indie? I spent a lot of time asking people. Some promoters were very traditional. ‘Camden is the Clash, Libertines, don’t change that’, they said. 

“The biggest thing I drew from it was that, 21-year-old me, I would listen to all the bands around, The Futureheads, Bloc Party, The Libertines. If you look at 21-year-old indie kids today, they are different, if you look at Reading Festival they have Skepta next to Disclosure next to Radiohead. NME covers Frank Ocean more than bands. I realised there’s no such thing as an indie kid anymore, people have really broad tastes, they listen to Drake...”

The venue will have bands generally seven days a week but will consciously cover a wide spectrum of genres, while focusing on upcoming acts. 

Andy said: “Our opening week will have house music with the 2 Bears, afrobeat/jazz with Andrew Ashong, indie with Temples and Spectre and grime with AJ Tracey and D Double E. Our idea is, it’s diverse musically deliberately so, but aimed at a young crowd.

“Naturally, because of the capacity of the venue, you end up with newish acts anyway, but that’s definitely it. More than one person said to me this is the best space of its size in the city, with regards to space and sound, but a lot of their artists wouldn’t play it because of the stigma of being part of the older Camden music scene – trilby hats and pointy shoes. 

“Artists wanted to play elsewhere because they didn’t want to be pigeonholed.” 

Andy said he hoped the new venue would change that. And then there was the discussion over the name. 

“We wanted to change the name because, even though Barfly has an amazing history, we consciously don’t want to play on nostalgia,” he said. “We want to be forward-looking, not backward-looking. Coming up with names is a nightmare, essentially it’s three of us sending names back and forward to each other up until the very minute we have to decide. 

“You’ll see the branding looks kind of a school emblem. For a venue this size it’s everyone’s first step, a band’s first step on the rung, a play on the beginnings.” 

As for the revamp?

“The toilets are now beautiful,” said Andy. Upstairs is still the same layout with the stage, but we’ve put in an absolutely world-class sound and lights set-up – there isn’t a set-up for a venue that size in the city.

“Downstairs always struck me as a holding pen for what’s going on upstairs, so now we want people to use it regardless of what’s going on upstairs. 

“We’ve put in a kitchen, with Lucky Chip doing food, so hopefully that will add to the pub feel downstairs. 

“We have the ability to have DJs downstairs but largely we won’t. 

“On Thursday we’ll have an open night for industry, so if you work in hospitality and you bring a payslip, you get half-price drinks.” 

Aside from the opening week, Andy says he has a lot of exciting acts coming up. 

“There’s going to be an LCD Soundsystem tribute,” he added

“An artist called Galaxians is doing ode to LCD Soundsystem. We have grime artist Casisded, who I think is going to be a star, that happens at Halloween. Lots of exciting big acts will be performing.”

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