In our new series of longer conversations, ‘Bethnal Green; After Hours’, we’re shining a light on all of the fantastic businesses that make E2 such a vibrant place to be at night. The pubs, the clubs, the galleries, the restaurants & the bars – new & old – we’re blessed as an area with some hidden gems and some straight-up institutions that fly the flag for the ever changing, ever-beloved East End.
First up, we caught up with owner Paddy Walsh, from Cambridge Heath Road based music venue Redon. We’re lucky to have such a generous & knowledgeable music man in our midst – nice one, Paddy!
|● Hi Paddy, thanks for sparing the time? what you up to today?
Monday is my day of rest. After a hectic weekend at work, it’s the perfect time to put my feet up and enjoy the sunshine.
● Tell us a bit about Redon – how big is it? where is it and what’s the vision?
Redon is a 250 capacity music and performance venue, located in a Victorian railway arch on Cambridge Heath Road.
The vision was to create a no-nonsense live music venue with excellent sound quality and a well stocked bar. Over the years I’ve been to so many gigs that were ruined by poor sound quality, so getting the sound right at Redon was the first priority. We have installed a brand new Martin Audio PA, which sounds beautifully warm and clear. The decor is by no means flashy, but the space feels very atmospheric and intimate. In my opinion it’s a great place to watch a gig.
Lots of London venues have been closed down in recent years, often due to complaints about noise pollution. With this in mind, we extensively sound proofed the venue so that we can play music at a decent volume without disturbing our neighbours.
In case you were wondering, the name is a tribute to my favourite artist: the French symbolist painter Odilon Redon.
● Why Bethnal Green? Have you got a particular affinity with the area?
I love Bethnal Green. I’ve lived in the area for 14 years, and seen it change a great deal during that time. Gentrification has had a massive impact; the area still retains a multicultural identity but the disparity between the Haves and the Have Nots has never been greater. Personally I miss the more bohemian, arty vibe of yesteryear, but its still a cool neighbourhood with lots to offer. I hope Redon is a welcome addition to the local music scene.
● How can we keep as many people as possible involved in cultural outputs at a time when the area is developing so quickly?
Sadly, much of the artistic and creative community who used to gravitate here have been forced out of the area by sky high property prices. Personally I’d like to see live / work artist studios being subsidised to encourage that culture to thrive. Similarly, it would be great if music venues and recording studios were offered some protection and support by the local authorities. The powers that be have to ask themselves: what kind of a neighbourhood do you want this to be ? Vibrant and creative, or soulless and sanitised?
● Are there any nights you’ve had so far in Redon that have really stood out? What makes for a really memorable night from your point of view as the guy in charge?
We’ve hosted lots of great nights already, too many to mention in fact. One that really stood out for me was a Movimientos party back in April , with a live show by Let Drum Beat. The atmosphere was electric, and Let Drum Beat totally blew me away. If you haven’t heard of them yet, Let Drum Beat are an all-female, afro Brazilian band with a captivating, distinctive sound – I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for a week after that gig.
● Are there venues that you really look up to and are looking to replicate, or is Redon looking to strike brand new chords?
The Jazz Cafe in Camden is one of my favourite venues, I’ve been to countless gigs there over the years. It’s such an imitate venue, where you feel very connected with the musicians on stage. Total Refreshment Centre (TRC) is another inspiration; their programming is consistently excellent. Sadly TRC have been forced to close, at least temporarily. I’m not sure what the situation is exactly, but I hope they are back open again soon. London can’t afford to lose another music venue.
● What have you got coming up that our readers should be getting along to?
We aim to be as eclectic and inclusive as possible with our programming, so I hope there will be something that appeals to almost everyone. In the next few months, we have shows encompassing rock, hip hop, jazz, latin, house, disco and techno, and we’re open to pretty much anything! You can keep an eye on redonlive.com for details of forthcoming events.
This coming Saturday (30th June) we are very excited to welcome Brazilian Funk Legend Di Melo to play his first ever UK performance. This gig was scheduled to be take place at TRC, but following their recent issues we agreed to host the gig instead. I’d also strongly recommend Shakara Soul on 6th July. Their last party with Tim Garcia was amazing, and this time round they have Cedric Woo from Beauty and the Beat headlining the bill.
Finally, I’d like to give a plug to our Queer Cabaret nights, which take place every Thursday. We’ve teamed up with some of London’s best LGBTIQ promoters. who have helped us to create an inclusive and welcoming space for the community. The cabaret performers are often funny, sometimes thought provoking, occasionally outrageous and always entertaining.
● Finally any advice to anyone who’s keen on getting into the music venue game, but who doesn’t know how to get going?
Promoting a club night will teach you a lot of the skills you need, so that’s a good place to start. If you’ve managed to get a successful club night off the ground, you’ll be a good candidate for a job working in house at a venue like Redon.
When you’re ready to take the plunge and open your own venue – make sure you do a good feasibility study first! These days, all it takes is a few noise complaints to lose your license – so choose your location wisely and think carefully about how you plan to avoid disruption to local residents.