INTERVIEW: Polestar Studios | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Pauline Murray by Ian West

Becoming an intrinsic part of the North East’s musical landscape doesn’t always come easy, just ask Penetration’s powerhouse Pauline Murray. Having originally set up Polestar as a record label to release her own music in 1984, the punk songwriter always harboured a dream of opening a recording and rehearsal studio. “I was always looking for premises even though I had no money. When Uptin House in the Ouseburn came up in 1990, I took a leap of faith, signed the lease, and had to make it work or I was in trouble!”

Uptin House became Polestar’s home for twenty-one years before they moved to the current location at The Depot in Byker. Pauline grappled with keeping the business afloat while dealing with repairs to a deteriorating building whose landlord kept putting the rent up. “Our main challenge was in 2008-2009 when the financial crisis hit which affected us immediately and we were working just to pay the bills. Fortunately, by chance, we found a derelict building in Byker and took another leap of faith, re-energised the building and moved in 2011.”

Pauline acknowledges that the area’s ongoing gentrification is a cause for concern for many. “It has always been difficult for independent venues in the city as developers move in with little regard for the fragile musical culture.” She says, but the studio’s continued quality of output over the last 30 years speaks volumes about the importance of the area’s musical heritage. “There are probably thousands of bands that have used Polestar Studios over a 30 year period. In the early days the city was vibrant with bands such as The Sunflowers, The Songs, Puppy Fat, Drill, Crane, Nancy Bone, Jumbo, Maximo Park, Rexine, Retriever and more recently French duo Noise & The Naive and Holy Moly & The Crackers.”

Polestar never take their success for granted; the studio’s live room has recently undergone a refurb, and an upgrade to their recording studio live room and the acquisition of a vintage Trident mixing console sees Polestar remaining in demand by bands looking for authentic sounds and Rob Blamire’s keen ear at the mixing desk. 

Polestar Studios are based at The Depot, St Michael’s Road, Byker

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