New and approved, Nightcrawling delves into the deepest darkest alcoves of London’s underground to bring you cutting-edge club news
Delving into the deepest, darkest alcoves of London’s illicit underworld, our new after-hours guide Nightcrawling is set to take you on a journey to the capitals hidden warehouses, disused factories, abandoned offices and re-invented bunkers. And we’re not talking the latest installment of Cocoon or Paradise. Soz.
First on our hit-list is one of most craftily tucked away gems in all of east london. Down a picturesque, leafy residential road in the middle of Stoke Newington, far removed from the chaos and debauchery of central london stands Total Refreshment Centre. A pastel green victorian terraced house weaved into the midst of its seemingly reserved surroundings. But TRC is the personification of not judging a book but its cover.
Inside is a labyrinth of studios where bands can record, play gigs and produce their own music videos. Its founder, Alexis Blondell, discovered the building in bad shape originally: “this didn’t put me off though, having hung out in a lot of creative squats in south London in my formative years, I had seen places go from trashed to glorious in no time and I knew that with a little bit of DIY and sweat, it could all be fixed up and given a new life.”
TRC exudes DIY ethos, a grass roots collective that allows musicians, producers, sound engineers, directors and beyond to flex their creative muscles. “It’s a place where artists and audience can find time and space to respectively experiment with and experience music in the best environment possible. Experimentation is part of the process, from the composition to the final mixdown of the tracks. Our in house producer Kristian Craig Robinson is the main man behind all the great recordings that have happened here, he has got a way to pick the best out of musicians and show them ways to explore and develop their sound.”
Not only that but their live shows have a particularly raw edge, you can sense the place has been built from the ground up. Under the ambience of neon lights, stage projectors, you can dance freely to some of the most subversive avant-garde artists and bands out there. “We do have sweat dripping from our walls when all the bodies dance as one but it’s not yet another Dalston basement catering for the Essex crowd. The music as well as the audience is mixed, and that’s the way we like it. It creates interesting interactions and unlikely communions. One thing I’ve always tried to stay away from is the cliquy scenes, beardos, rockers, hip hopers… I fled Paris because of it, so I try to cultivate a multicultural scene, coming from all backgrounds.”
When they’re not hosting gigs TRC dabble their hand at theatre plays, setting up a pop-up skatepark and are continuing to expand their space. They recently held an exhibition where people could listen to TRC bands on boom boxes and watch their music videos on projectors. “The idea sprung to mind as I was reading about the the Wu Tang Clan doing a unique copy of their new album that would tour museums, it struck a chord with me. TRC is analogue at heart, we’ll choose vinyl over a youtube clip any day, we’d rather go to the cinema than stream a film on a tiny screen, we prefer a social club to a chat room. And we are quite militant about this.”
Find out more at facebook.com/totalrefreshment.centre
Words: Sophie Hadley