MIXTAPE: Sam Grant, Blank Studios | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Richard Dawson

Words: Sam Grant, Blank Studios

It’s crazy to think Blank Studios will be a decade old this April. 10 years has flown by in a blur of brilliant music and so many great musicians. That we’re still here and still recording is something we’re super proud of.

What’s more exciting though is that by the time this is in print we will have moved into our brand new purpose built studios on Warwick Street, alongside the new Star & Shadow Cinema. We’ve been working hard over the last two years, designing and building from the ground up a new musical home.

As we close the doors on the old premises though, it seems fitting that NARC. let me reminisce on some of the artists that have crossed our path since 2008. Some are tracks worked at Blank, and some were done elsewhere, but from artists we’ve been lucky enough to work with.

We’re having an open day at the new studios on Saturday 7th April, from 10am-8pm, so feel free to pop along (to 210 Warwick Street, NE2 1BB) and we can show you around.


Richard Dawson – Weaver
Richard is certainly one of the best songwriters to have come from the North East. His playing and lyricism are so well suited to one another, and both absolutely unique. Weaver comes from his last, and arguably most accessible album, Peasant, and I think this track in particular captures his music and the album’s feel really well.

Spokes – When I Was A Daisy When I Was A Tree
Spokes’ album Everyone I Ever Met was the first full commercial release we worked on with Blank, back in 2010/11. It’s a beautiful collection of songs, from a really raw but powerful group of musicians. I struggle to listen to it now, as I can hear our early naivety, but this track seems more forgiving and I can still disappear in it.

Rhodri Davies – fingers pluck played on by
Rhodri’s a mesmerising improvisational harpist. He used to be based up in the North East, much to our once collective benefit, though he’s now back in his native Wales. This track’s a stunning piece of minimal harp, taken from the last album he did at Blank, An Air Swept Clean Of All Distance.

Beth Jeans Houghton – Dodecahedron
We’ve been fortunate enough to work with Beth on both live sessions and demoing material, and her music is huge amounts of fun. We recorded a live session of this track back in 2012, when her first record Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose came out, and it still stands out as a great pop track.

O’Messy Life – Challenger
O’Messy Life were one of the first bands I recorded, and who I went on to record countless times thereafter. They’re wonderful, and their music is too. This track instantly transports me to other places (shouldn’t all music do this?!)

Grandfather Birds – The Woods
I still hope by some strange occurrings Grandfather Birds suddenly realise there’s new ground to be explored, reform and set forth to discover more music… Fingers crossed. (There’s also an honorary mention to their riff-heavy alter-ego Nately’s Whore’s Kid Sister, who very nearly stole their spot on this list).

Zun Zun Egui – Mr Brown
We were so pleased to get the chance to do a live session with Zun Zun Egui after seeing them at one of Leave Me Here’s shows in the old Star & Shadow, back in 2011. We were running the live sessions for Amazing Radio for a good few years at the time, but these guys stand out in my memory, and this track, off their then-current album summed them up perfectly.

Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra – Something Blue
The eponymous opener of Rob’s last album, this encapsulates the band’s sound brilliantly. It’s also so different, and so much more than what our old studio should have been able to offer – so kudos to John (of Blank) for his work on the record! It’s a brilliant album and brilliant track that, like the best, effortlessly transports me to other worlds when I hear it.

Oren Ambarchi – Corkscrew
Ambarchi is one of my favourite artists from the huge list of incredible musicians we’ve mixed during our work over the years with the mighty Tusk Festival. A release from 2013’s Tusk – a collaboration with Neil Campbell and Michael Flower – is not regarded as one of his best! So I’ve picked this track of his, unrelated to Blank, but immensely brilliant!

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