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Spiritland is Speakers corner
Spiritland is Speakers corner
Thu, 10/11/2016 - 16:20
Published:10 November, 2016
by RÓISÍN GADELRAB
IN a corner of King’s Cross, amongst the shiny new developments, lies a haven for the music puritan, a place where recorded music is played at a sound quality only usually preserved for billionaires – at least that’s the claim by Spiritland co-founder Paul Noble.
Spiritland, which opened last month, is an audio gem, harbouring a purpose-built sound system by exclusive speaker producers Living Voice, where an eclectic array of records can be heard at a quality that is hard to find.
DJ, radio producer and sound engineer Paul said: “The sonic environment and the way we listen to music is massively degraded, it’s coming out of the walls like a utility. I wanted to fall back in love with music, and the way to do that is the whole environment, the equipment, the room, the service.
“I don’t want to stand in a bar waving a tenner, I wanted to be in a space where it comes to us… to do something much broader which could go deeply into different genres – jazz, soul, dub, country, rock, the most obscure fusion.”
Upcoming events include Murakami on Music – an afternoon of music and discussion to mark the publication of Haruki Murakami’s Absolutely on Music (Nov 13); DJ sets by Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackie (Nov 27); Ibiza pioneer Nancy Noise (Nov 25) and Bahamian Moor (Dec 2).
Taking direction from his travels, Paul was inspired by a trend for listening bars in Japan.
He said: “I spend a lot of time in Japan where they have these really beautiful bars and cafés with amazing sound systems. No dance floor – they’re not clubs – just listening spaces, rooms for people to listen to beautiful music.
“They do things with amazing attention to detail and rigour. I was very inspired by it. I thought, why can’t we have a place just to listen to music? It’s not necessarily about dancing.”
And so Spiritland was born.
“My background is in music, radio studios, not with restaurants and bars,” said Paul.
“I partnered with Dominic Lake and Patrick Clayton-Malone, they run Canteen and Merchants Tavern in Shoreditch. We started off at Merchants Tavern as a toe in the water to see if people were interested in hearing a broad range of music on incredible equipment. It was supposed to be a three-month pop-up, – two years on, it’s still there.
“Franz Ferdinand, Andrew Wetherall, Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip and Elijah Wood – he’s a brilliant DJ – have all DJ’d there.”
Last month, Spiritland came to Stable Street, part of the new King’s Cross development, with its own purpose-built speakers, no dance floor and strictly no live music.
“There’s no live music ever – it’s just not what the place is about,” said Paul.
“I always said, unless Bowie or Prince wanted to do it, they can, and no one else can, and then 2016 happened. We’re doing a Bowie week in January. It’s not just DJ sets, we’re doing talks and screening and other cultural happenings.”
There’s also a dedicated daily slot for the most revered albums.
“We give DJs a free hand to explore their collection,” said Paul. “Every weekday at 6pm we play an album from start to finish, the big classic albums and some we love that deserve to be heard on that system.
“We’re about expertise and letting people who know their music do their thing.”
The exclusive sound system is designed to do these works justice, said Paul, adding: “We designed and built it for this space, we worked with Living Voice for about two years. They make probably the highest spec speakers you can buy but they are prohibitively expensive, usually only owned by billionaires. Their flagship speakers are £370,000, that’s just the speakers, nothing else. It’s in such rarified territory that most people will never get to experience this unless they are friends with high-rollers.
“The owner is a music lover and wants people to experience music as it should be heard, and not coming out of a laptop or mobile phone.”
The centre is billed as a cultural space with talks, a food menu by the chef behind cult foodie hangout Brawn, and more.
Paul said: “During the day it’s a café workspace, in the evening it’s a bar. It has a full restaurant turning out seasonal New York deli and Italian influences, serving food all day and all night, it’s exquisite, beautifully prepared, the seasonal menu changes almost daily, it’s unexpectedly good in a place where music is the main attraction. You don’t usually have the two together.”
He added: “It’s also a shop and beautifully kitted out radio station where we’re doing interviews and podcasts and broadcasts, collaborating with people also outside the music world. People can hire out the studio. We’ve got a shop selling headphones, vinyls and CDs. If you’re into music, all your needs would be fulfilled