Cementing Croydon’s rise as one of London’s coolest and most creative neighbourhoods, Boxpark Croydon, a new pop-up mall from the creators of Boxpark Shoreditch, opens later this month with a two-day music festival produced in partnership with NME and Eskimo Dance. To whet your appetite, here’s a reminder of the borough’s rich musical heritage.
The grime star who cracked the Top 10 last year with ‘Shut Up’ grew up in the Thornton Heath area of Croydon and attended Harris Academy in nearby South Norwood. He’s since vowed to become “the biggest thing ever to come out of Croydon”.
Dubstep producer Benga – real name Adegbenga Adejumo – grew up in Croydon and used to hang out at legendary local music store Big Apple Records. He released his latest album ‘Chapter II’ in 2013 and has collaborated with the likes of Katy B, Example and Azealia Banks.
3. The Kooks
Although they later moved to Brighton, three members of the chart-topping indie band, including frontman Luke Pritchard, first met while studying at the BRIT School in Croydon in the early noughties. They’ve since released four albums, three of which made the Top Ten.
4. Kirsty MacColl
The daughter of folk singer Ewan, Kirsty MacColl was born and raised in Croydon and attended Park Hill Primary School, Monks Hill High School and John Newnham High School locally. She released five albums and collaborated with The Pogues and Johnny Marr before dying in a tragic boating accident in Mexico in December 2000.
5. David McAlmont
This singer-songwriter, perhaps best known for his work with Suede’s Bernard Butler, was born in Croydon and spent the early part of his childhood there before moving to Guyana at the age of 11. During a return trip to Croydon a few years ago, McAlmont said he was surprised by how “edgy” Croydon has now become.
6. Katie Melua
This consistently popular singer-songwriter was born in Georgia and later moved to Belfast with her family, but she was discovered by her manager-producer Mike Batt while studying at Croydon’s BRIT School in the early noughties. She’s due to release her seventh album ‘In Winter’ later this month.
7. Dane Bowers
The Another Level singer and occasional Victoria Beckham collaborator was born in nearby Sutton and went to several Croydon schools before honing his craft at the BRIT School. More recently, he joined Gareth Gates, Kavana, Kenzie and Adam Rickitt to form ITV2’s The Big Reunion supergroup 5th Story.
8. Krept and Konan
Croydon can claim a 50% stake in this grime duo: Casyo “Krept” Johnson hails from Gipsy Hill in Lambeth, but Karl “Konan” Wilson comes from Croydon’s Thornton Heath. They released debut album ‘The Long Way Home’ last year and saw it peak at Number Two.
9. Kate Moss
OK, so she’s not really a musician, but Croydon’s most famous daughter earns a place on a list for her impressive list of guest appearances over the years: she’s appeared in loads of videos, sung on tracks by Primal Scream and the Lemonheads, co-written four Babyshambles songs, and even played tambourine on two tracks from Oasis’s ‘Be Here Now’ album.
The cult electro artist – real name Vincent Frank – also grew up in Croydon’s Thornton Heath District. As well as releasing five albums of his own, he’s produced tracks for Ellie Goulding and Sky Ferreira, and been hired to remix hits by everyone from Amy Winehouse to Lady Gaga.
NME will host the second day of a special music festival to mark the launch of Boxpark Croydon on Sunday, October 30. Rising stars A2, Alfa Mist, Barney Artist, Club Kuru, Jay Prince, Nova Twins and Tailr.Mde.Lvn are all confirmed to perform, with more acts to be announced in due course. Tickets are free and fans can register their interest here.