NME has visited London’s prestigious Tileyard London, and discovered how the star-studded space provides a sense of community and collaboration in its design, as well as an array of top music equipment.
Just off the beaten track in London’s King’s Cross, hidden amidst the industrial courtyards, lies one of the most star-studded music hubs in the city: Tileyard. Home to some of the biggest music businesses and the personal studios from the likes of Noel Gallagher and The Prodigy, the space boasts everything an artist could need, all in one location.
Formed back in 2011, the location has steadily expanded from a quaint set of studios located next to a sprawling car park, into something of a musician’s utopia – hosting everyone from Dua Lipa to Sigala, Lewis Capaldi to Mark Ronson. Yet, despite the big names, top equipment, live performance venues and onsite cafes/bars, when you speak to anyone on-site about what makes Tileyard so special, one word will always come above all else: “Community”.
“That’s what we are. Businesses have moved to Tileyard over the 12 years that it’s been here for the sense of collaboration,” Marketing Manager Bryan Borcherds told NME. “We’ve got everything from record labels to music publishers. Artists to companies that do merchandise. Digital distributors like CDBaby and SoundCloud are based here too, so everyone can collaborate amongst themselves.
“Because in all aspects of the music industry, it’s not just a band releasing an album — there’s the touring side, there’s the release schedule side, the album cover and artwork — all those things can be done at Tileyard, just from hopping from one unit to the next. Collaboration is at the heart.”
As well as playing host to over 130 music studios, designed to be accessible to musicians of all entry points, the location also is home to over 150 companies including Apple Music, Spitfire Audio, and SoundCloud. Seven production suites, vocal booths, content studios and meeting rooms also come installed — meaning musicians can write, record, mix and master a song, design the artwork, conduct a photo shoot, create online content and promote it on a podcast, all within the same location.
What may be most impressive, however, is that despite the lavish equipment and big names at Tileyard, the space also offers accessibility for those often unable to finance time in a London studio and often forced to stick to a home setup. This catering for new artists comes in the form of Tileyard X: a set of studios that runs on a membership basis, and allows musicians to tap in and out of the studios and access top music equipment, without breaking the bank.
When talking to co-founder Nick Keynes — former member of the ‘90s boyband Ultra — it immediately became clear why the space is designed with the artists at heart, and equipped to overcome the obstacles that gate-keep them from meeting contacts and having access to top equipment.
“There are a lot of artists that are doing it on their own and it can be quite lonely — quite a tough old existence,” he said, explaining what motivated him to create a space accessible to new and established acts alike. “I think that the key to Tileyard is that empathy. I always felt quite honoured to be in a room with someone that’s an amazing musician. To me, this is just about facilitating an environment where people with talent can thrive.”
“It means people who might not necessarily be used to the traditional studio setup can still use the spaces to their full capabilities, essentially,” added Julia Bernat, the Community Manager at Tileyard X. “It gives established musicians that security, and it gives us an opportunity to curate those who are new here as well… At the end of the day, a creative is a creative, regardless of what level they may be.”
While these two factors — practicality and community — are easy to boast, Tileyard seems to be one of the few that embodies that purpose and strives to showcase it in all 150,000 square feet of its design.
Not only are onsite sound engineers available to help artists understand the equipment they are provided with, but even beyond that, Tileyard incorporates multiple aspects to help support those across the industry; through its post-university education programme (Tileyard Education), its on-site health and wellbeing centre, and its community outreach programme that supports aspiring industry moguls from underprivileged backgrounds (Small Green Shoots).
“We’re very privileged that we can be here, but there are a lot of people with very, very few opportunities,” Borcherds explained to NME. “We want to see the potential. If there are things that you need, we’re gonna help develop you. We need to give support.”
As for why Tileyard has also attracted countless industry heavyweights, it is the custom-tailored approach that it takes towards each artist, the owners explained, as well as the atmosphere of collaboration that it prides so highly.
“[The artists here] very much made their spaces their own. With Noel [Gallagher], for example, he wanted a larger live room so that his band could actually rehearse them instead of going externally, spending loads of money at rehearsal space,” Borcherds said.
Keynes added: “There is that feeling of being quite safe up here too. It doesn’t feel like you’re networking, it just feels like you’re just part of a community. You have a bit of polite chat and, before you know it, you’re talking to someone that you end up collaborating with… This is a sort of an environment within which you can do everything.”
As for the future of Tileyard, it seems that the London space is only the beginning. Already, the King’s Cross location is gaining another attraction – a Dolby Atmos live performance space – and, even more impressive, a second UK branch is close to completion, coming in at 135,000 square feet and located in Wakefield.
“The plan is, long-term, to expand into further sites in the UK,” confirmed Bernat. “We’re looking at five different cities right now in the UK as well as sites abroad because, as we know, the best networking is done by a complete chance in this industry.
“Wherever you are in the world, you can collaborate with whoever you happen to meet at Tileyard.”
Find out more about Tileyard London here.