Conversation with... The Arts Room, London

Some people believe chance meetings can be fate. This is how I met the Founder of Inspire Media: Tahrir. Inspire Media is a media company currently residing at The Arts Room London, a multi-faceted media studio with aims of producing premium content across Music, Fashion and Photography (to name just a few of the industries it hopes to conquer).

Tahrir invited me down and I was also able to meet the Founder of The Arts Room: Azee. When I arrived, what really struck me was how much The Arts Room is in its own unique bubble tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It is this seclusion which will enable the focus needed to make this venture a success. 

Azee and Tahrir are young moguls in the making and an underlying theme of my visit was seeing just how much these two believe in their visions. It is Kanye-esque and inspiring as they strive to speak their words into existence. This infallible confidence however, is coupled with youthful playfulness as they show me around the studio gliding through expertly on their hoverboards.

As my tour comes to an end, what becomes evident is the importance of collaboration between other creatives within The Arts Room; and it will be these symbiotic relationships which will be instrumental in its future success.

I was able to sit down with Azee and hear more about what he has in store for The Arts Room.

Azee of The Arts Room, London

So let's jump right in and talk about The Arts Room London, what exactly is it?

The Arts Room London is a Multimedia Hub of creatives in all different industries like Fashion, Photography, Videography, Graphic Design and we also have the music side of things which consists of Engineers, Producers, Artists, Writers etc. We like to consider ourselves as innovative in our approach to business. 

So it's quite multi-faceted, there are a lot of things going on. You guys have everything under one roof, do you think that is your USP?

Yeah and obviously it is good to work with people outside of your group but I think we are trying to develop a culture of doing everything ourselves and putting a team together that bounces off each other. If you’re here on a day when everybody is here and we’re all working, the energy is mad and that’s a formula that we are fully aware of and it works. Bringing loads of different creatives together under one roof, there is only one thing that can happen and that is producing greatness. 

How many people would be working here on the busiest day?

It depends, there could be around 20 people all working at once. If there’s a shoot going on in here alone (Photography Studio) there could be around 15 people but we also have the music side as well. So there is stuff going on in every room. 

Where the Photographic magic happens...

So we’re currently in North London, Finsbury Park, what made you choose this area?

We started elsewhere (Edmonton) in August 2015 and it was just a Photography Studio in a warehouse. I split the warehouse into two and had units that I was renting out which covered my rent on one side and we had the Photography Studio on the other side. But after 6 months, we received notice that they were knocking the whole building down; so we were at a crossroads and had to decide whether we were going to continue the venture or forget it all and move on with our lives. Obviously we decided to continue.

We managed to find somewhere down the road. It had better transport links so that was good. The Landlord had someone else who was also interested in the property and I was keen on getting it anyway and so were the team. But he decided to increase the rent by £150 and at this point, we were in a desperate place; I had my mind set on it being the space to set up. So I contacted him and set up a meeting. I spoke to my team and could hear in their voices that they weren’t sure and I wasn’t even really sure, but I knew that I was trying to make it happen as fast as possible.

Something told me to just have one more look around for another space, so I did. I was on my way to the meeting with my potential new Landlord and was driving while looking up places on GumTree (DISCLAIMER: Don't Google and drive kids!). And I found this place (where the current Arts Room is) it had literally been uploaded 6 hours before; the price and location were good so I called them up and set up a viewing for the following morning at 9am. But I was already on my way to sign the documents with the other guy; I thought it would be best to tell him face to face that I would be declining his offer so I did. 

We came here to view this place, it was literally an open space and nothing was here and yeah we got straight into it and started drawing floor plans and got building. 

And that’s where we are sitting today. So, The Arts Room London is its own fully-fledged company. In terms of acquiring Business Acumen was it trial and error or did you have to go classes and try and learn exactly what it is you need to know?

I’ve been doing business since I was young. I know it sounds cliché like “I used to sell stuff in the playground”. It’s true though, you learn from doing business, I find. I went to University and studied Business Marketing but I find most of my Business Knowledge comes from actually being involved in it, practically.

I feel like The Arts Room is all about collaboration, why do you think that is going to be important going forward?

Collaboration is key. I feel like with collaboration, your market may be different to mine; what you bring to the table, I bring something different i.e. we compliment each other as collaborators and everyone can help each other. Everyone wins. 

It kind of makes this company very dynamic, like you guys can do anything you want to do because you have so many different types of talent coming in. Now my next question is: What is your vision for The Arts Room? 

I want it to just be a young hub. We have mature people in the business, like older more experienced professionals but the people who are at the forefront of the business are younger people. So my vision is to just create a young hub where we’re just producing, flooding social media, flooding all the platforms that you are aware of and we’re just breeding talent. I want us to have loads of creatives in all the different industries that I have already mentioned. I just feel like if we keep going and doing what we’re doing, there’s no reason why we won’t dominate the market if we keep bringing talent on board and creating a platform as well. I feel that a lot of businesses who came to work with us in the past were new business owners. Other studios, just care about the money. I want us to be different. 

We focus on creating that platform and doorway for people who may need guidance or may need that assistance in getting where they need to get to. And I feel at The Arts Room, we have all the resources and networks to do these things. 

Azee made sure to point out he likes to make people feel comfortable which includes serving up their favourite drinks

Okay, so I feel that The Arts Room is an umbrella for other companies to come in. You guys also have 6FigureMusic here, tell me more about what that is.

6Figure Music is an independent record label. It’s like a hub so we have Engineers, Producers, Writers and Artists as well. Big6ix is the Main Engineer and I believe he has managed to create a unique sound with new emerging UK music. I don’t know if people are aware that he has a "sound” yet but there’s a reason why his mixes and his masters are doing well right now because of his finishing touch and people don’t realise that the music starts from here.

If the foundation is not right then you’ve already failed. Music is only timeless if it’s built correctly from the beginning. So there’s a reason why you can’t listen to some (old) songs now meanwhile, others will last forever because you can play that song in the club 5-10 years down the line or you can play it on radio because it fits in; it’s the UK Sound. With a lot of the music produced, the mixing is not up to scratch and that’s the reason it won’t get played alongside Drake or other popular artists so I feel like that’s what we’re trying to do here and keep it all in-house and bring through talent. 

So will 6Figure Music stick to one type of music or will you try to incorporate different genres?

No definitely, we’re versatile. We don’t stick to one style of music. Music is music at the end of the day and if something doesn’t sound right, it doesn’t sound right. But yeah, we do eventually want to start developing artists from the minute they come on board really. We’ve got all the resources needed to do that and the experience as well. 

Okay cool, now this is a question I like to ask everyone: what do you define as success? 

Success is leaving a legacy. Creating something that hasn’t been created before and being able to bring people through. For me that’s success. This isn’t about money, because money will come it’s more about what we’re gonna do; we’re gonna change the game and that’s it. 

See, I told you: infallible confidence. We all need that.

Watch out for my second interview with Tahrir, a collaborator with The Arts Room and Founder of Inspire Media coming soon. 

In the mean time, follow The Arts Room below: