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What are the Sounds of London? Here’s where to find them!

London’s sonic landscape reverberates through an assortment of venues, each serving as a canvas for diverse artists shaping the city’s musical narrative. Delve into these iconic venues and the key artists who’ve graced their stages, unveiling the kaleidoscope of sounds that define London’s vibrant music scene.

1) Cafe OTO, Dalston: Avant-Garde Hub

Cafe OTO, which calls Dalston home, stands as a beacon for avant-garde music – known as a centre for free jazz, experimental music and improvisation, OTO also holds space for folk, rock, noise and electronica.  Arcus favourite Valentina Magaletti of Holy Tongue is regularly programmed in for multi-day residencies and other events that other venues won’t  always create space for. Hosting experimental, improvisational, and boundary-pushing performances, this venue boldly amplifies the unconventional sounds of London’s underground music scene. From the avant-garde compositions of artists like Moor Mother to improvisational jazz sessions by Sons of Kemet, this venue curates a platform for sonic exploration, push yourself and expand your knowledge by heading down! By night, OTO becomes the ‘coolest venue in Britain’, according to Vogue Italia. 

Cafe Oto in east london, inside, a gig is in progress
The outside of Cafe Oto in east london

2) The Windmill, Brixton: Art & Indie rock Haven

In the heart of Brixton Hill, The Windmill emerges as a haven for art rock and indie music aficionados. This vibrant pub-turned-venue serves as a launchpad for emerging bands on the heavier side of the scene, and showcases acts with a more raw, unfiltered sound and energy. Emerging bands like Black Midi cut their teeth here, while it continues to host diverse acts spanning from art rockers to folk troubadours. The venue’s commitment to programming new and offbeat artists makes it a key step in the underground rock and indie scene in London. Its intimate, colourful & creative setting, community spirit & energetic crowds make every gig an immersive experience. 

outside of the windmill pub & venue, brixton hill, with a crowd in front of the venue
Shot of a gig in progress inside the windmill, brixton hill, full crowd facing two people on stage in the left of the picture

3) The George Tavern, Stepney Green: Historic Melodies

Steeped in history, The George Tavern in Stepney Green exudes a vintage charm while embracing a diverse range of musical genres. From folk to punk and everything in between, this historic venue echoes with the melodies that have shaped London’s music landscape over the years. Known for a blend of indie, folk, and acoustic sounds, it has welcomed local gems such as Marika Hackman and Ghostpoet, fostering an intimate space for artists to connect with their audience. This historical pub continues to champion emerging talent, keeping the spirit of authentic live music alive. It’s also where we first met PEM, who played at a very early Sounder Session.

The outside of the The george tavern in East london
Side view of a gig at the george tavern in east london, showing the crowd and four performers

4) Avalon Cafe, Bermondsey: Acoustic Retreat

Nestled in Bermondsey, Avalon Cafe offers a cozy retreat for acoustic music lovers. With its intimate setting and focus on stripped-back performances, this cafe-turned-venue provides a platform for artists to showcase their soulful melodies and intricate acoustic arrangements. Artists like Nick Mulvey and Roo Panes have graced its intimate stage, captivating audiences with heartfelt performances. Its focus on stripped-back, soulful music creates a delicate space for performers and audience to meet in.

Avalon Cafe in Bermondsey, the outside on summery day.
the inside of avalon cafe, bermondsey, during a gig, crowd in front of the stage which is lit pink

5) Servant's Jazz Quarters, Dalston: Jazz & Beyond

Dalston’s Servant’s Jazz Quarters encapsulates the spirit of jazz and its far-reaching influences. Beyond jazz, this venue delves into various genres, embracing eclectic sounds and experimental music that push the boundaries of traditional jazz, echoing the innovative spirit of London’s music scene. Artists such as Shabaka Hutchings and Yussef Dayes have mesmerized audiences here with their genre-defying compositions. This basement venue continues to be a launchpad for emerging talents pushing the boundaries of conventional genres.

The ground floor of the the Servant's Jazz Quarters, an empty bar tastefully lit
The downstairs of Servant's Jazz Quarters in East London, there is a stage with a piano and a fwe candlelit tables

These venues, each with its distinctive flair and musical identity, collectively contribute to the rich tapestry of ‘London Sounds.’ Exploring these spaces offers a glimpse into the diverse musical fabric that defines the city’s cultural heartbeat. We love checking out what they’re putting on, hearing new music and inspiring the studio to keep supporting artists to create and evolve their sound.

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