For our first South Londoners profile we catch up with Richard Walker-Smith, founder of Zoola Live. Having grown up in Beckhenham, South East London, Rich chose South London as the part of town to start hosting his brand of parties. South London Blog caught up with him to find out which areas he tips for South London notoriety and why he has chosen Elephant & Castle as the home for his next event.
1. Why have you chosen South London as the venue to start your Zoola Live brand?
Primarily because that’s where most of my friends live and when you’re starting a night, you rely on your immediate social circle to begin with and I wanted to make it as easy as possible for them. Aside from this, I feel somewhat loyal to South London so I guess it felt right to start on home turf. Having said that, as the brand becomes more established, which it’s starting to, I may consider branching out as there’s only a handful of venues that interest me in the South. Hopefully this will begin to change now it’s starting to steal the limelight that the East has enjoyed for too long.
2. What’s your favourite South London party/gig venue, why?
I guess it would have to be Bussey Building. I don’t like fixed music policies and Bussey have such a range which you don’t tend to get with other comparable venues. Corsica Studios, the home of our upcoming party is a close second, naturally!
3. You recently held an event at the Bussey Building in Peckham, what made you choose the Bussey buildng and would you say that on the whole Peckham seems to be on the rise?
Firstly I love the building and space itself, particularly the second floor. It’s industrial and raw but also has softer touches such as the wooden flooring and the [relatively] ornate pillars, which you don’t normally find in warehouse venues. The size of the space is also a very important factor; the second floor was perfect for us and has a great layout. Finally, its South East location was ideal for our crowd. The only slight problem is that we weren’t able to make the most of the huge sound rig we took with us due to sound level restrictions. I guess it’s pretty hard to sound proof something with so many windows!
Yes, I think Peckham is definitely on the rise, probably more so than anywhere else in London. There was an interesting article in The Metro about it that probably does a better job of describing what’s going on there than I can, so here’s a link: http://goo.gl/5aslX
4.Predictions- apart from Peckham where do you think the next up and coming part of South London be?
Elephant & Castle. In South London it’s easy to spot, you just have to study trends in the chicken shop market of a given area and when Morley’s is overtaken by Nando’s as the No.1 destination, you know it’s about to boom! This happened in Elephant & Castle some time ago. Although in my opinion a weaker indicator, it’s also hard to ignore the multi-billion pound investment being made in the area. And with three well established music venues in Ministry of Sound, Corsica Studios and The Coronet, it already has the foundations in place to follow in the footsteps of places like Brixton and Peckham. I just hope that Boris and Southwark Council don’t overlook the importance of Ministry of Sound and make the wrong decision with regard to the Oakmayne development; the clubs closure would be a huge loss to the area and to dance music fans across the capital and beyond.
5. What would be in your South London Room 101?
I don’t like snobbery of any kind so if someone enjoys something then I tend not to pass judgement but since I’m being asked I would have to say Beckenham; it’s becoming more of a mini Essex week by week. Everyone dresses the same, thinks the same and dances the same. There’s genuinely nothing wrong with that but personally, I think creativity and self-expression are really important, so Beckenham doesn’t stimulate me like other parts of London. There are a couple of occasions each year when I’m roped into the fanfare (usually at Christmas) but despite it being home for me, it never feels that way.