Social Notes: music for one and all

Social Notes: music for one and all

Social Notes: music for one and all 1920 1280 Karishma Puri

If you have an idea for your community, but need money and support to get it off the ground, you could apply for the We Make Camden kit. Find out how the team behind Social Notes did this to help them set up an affordable place to create music.

Social Notes is an initiative to give local young people the opportunity to explore their love for music with affordable access to space and professional quality equipment. It was set up by Matt Doolan, Sam Hagopian and Robbie Carter who applied for the We Make Camden kit grant to support their idea in 2021.

Initially Matt was involved with Number 19, a space for the people of Kentish Town to collaborate in shaping their neighbourhood. Driven by his passion for how spaces can be reused, he brought in Sam for a visit. Sam recalls, “I saw the space – there were one or two free rooms, and being in a community building something pinged off in my head.” Social Notes was then born, and through donations of key equipment from Roundhouse, support within Number 19 and the ‘We Make Camden kit’ grant, they were up and running as a fully equipped recording studio.

Two young men smiling in a music studio

Music for all

Sparked from personal experience, the team wanted to keep the space affordable. Sam explains, “Over the 5 years of creating and producing rap, me and my friends just bounced from bedroom studio to bedroom studio. It held us back. I know lots of immensely talented creatives who did not have an affordable place to let free and do their thing. This space seemed like it could be a haven for that, that’s what we are about.” The studio was set up so anyone could rent it for just £5 an hour.

“It shows that this collective sharing of information and connections, working together as a community, can help us reach any goal.”

Sam Hagopian

The right place, with the right support

The team applied for the ‘We Make Camden kit’ grant, which they felt very supported with. Sam expanded, “We were allocated an officer from Camden to take us through the process of applying. She was very clear, calm and patient.” However, they were initially denied the grant, which made them look at other avenues to set up the studio.

“It was a bit disheartening,” Sam continues, “but I think that definitely pushed us in the right direction, because it made us focus on an up-cycling ethos, and through that we’ve been able to source a lot of things without any funding.” Being based in Number 19 helped with shared materials to up-cycle. Matt explains, “We’ve been really fortunate to be in a building with so many great organisations, like Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK) and Cooperation Town. We’re in a space where there is so much material – it wasn’t difficult to source wood to make our booth, or egg crates for initial soundproofing.”

Along with sharing materials within the building, they found the people they met in the other organisations helped them to make essential connections. Matt highlights, “Steve Bedlam, who partially runs RCK connected us with Roundhouse, who donated key things such as the keyboard, mic and audio interface that have basically made the studio whole. These are the things that would have cost us a lot of money.” Their progress was then boosted further after successfully working with Camden Giving to build on their original We Make Camden Kit application, reapply and be awarded £1500. Sam adds, “All in all it shows that this collective sharing of information and connections, working together as a community, can help us reach any goal.”

Growing confidence

The challenge for 2022 is to find a new studio location as Number 19 was a temporary home; but although this project has only recently got off the ground, Matt, Sam and Robbie feel it is already a success. What initially felt like a massive undertaking turned into a fully functioning studio used by creatives. Matt reflects, “Personally I’ve struggled with a lot of self doubt, not seeing myself in positive places, so to be able to build this from nothing has done wonders for my self esteem. I feel I am achieving my purpose in life, which has always been to create purpose in someone else’s life. While doing that, I’ve learnt so much about up-cycling, I’ve made some great friends and have learnt more about music.”

Social Notes has given each founder a sense of purpose, along with making music accessible to everyone, so they can reach their potential. Robbie expands, “Having this studio helped me progress to the next step of my musical journey in a time when I had everything written and no resources to record, now I have the means to, and the means to help others achieve their dreams as well.”

The journey from conception of the idea to having the studio up and running has been quite a learning experience for the team. To people who are interested in starting their own social enterprise, Matt emphasises, “it’s not as hard as I initially thought, you don’t need as much confidence going into it – just play it by ear.” In agreement, Sam adds, “Never underestimate what you think you’re capable of. And remember that pressure makes diamonds. Always keep on pushing.”

Photo credits: Karishma Puri

Apply for funding for your idea

Have a great idea for your community? Like Matt, Sam and Robbie, you can apply for funding using the We Make Camden Kit on the Camden Giving website, which gives money and support to Camden citizens and community groups who want to start projects or initiatives. We’ve already awarded over 30 grants, so why not apply!

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