Artist Interview: Allan Smyth, Creao Studio’s Owner
This is another post in the Artist Interview Series but it is a special edition – I have lined up an interview with the studio boss, Allan Smyth. Allan has seen the project from concept to creation and watched it bloom in to the multi-faceted organisation it is now.
Allan is a pivotal figure as a local campaigner for political & civil justice – he is also a chart-topping musician and a label owner. He campaigns for Animal Welfare and environmental causes but he will give an open ear to anyone who rocks up to the studio looking for sound advice.
As a campaigner, where does Creao sit within your vision of community cohesion within the local society or on a greater level?
Creao was set up to be two things in particular, firstly as a business focusing on Music, Arts and Media, and secondly as a meeting space for organisations such as the recently highly successful Nidd Gorge Community Action campaign to halt the relief road and newly launched Harrogate Community Radio which is gathering steam at a tremendous rate.
This year I hope to see us build on the many great projects we have running and get the word out there that there is a truly creative space available for both business and social projects.
Creao Studio is owned by myself, Allan Smyth. I also run an Audio Visual equipment hire and installation business, many of the skills me and other members of the team have were honed out in the business and leisure industry activities such as Video and Sound production, having the Studio space has been a major part of the expansion of my interests, and has resulted in some very productive collaborative projects such as the Guerrilla Dub System Dub Reggae releases and the Drop Leg Steppers Band.
As an example, we recently held an open day for Harrogate Community Radio to encourage new station material. This was well received and a big thanks has to go to Richard Leadbitter at Audio-Technica for their donation of a USB mic and headphone kit to assist people in gaining skills and confidence before making the leap and buying their own equipment.
You’re community-minded; where do you see the individual, and Creao, within local society in 2020? Is society for the individual? Or, is the individual for society?
I see the individual as being less and less of a part of society as we are given less and less information on what is actually happening in the world, with little funding in the Arts and the continuation of austerity, perhaps by a different name, most ordinary people will be two busy trying to make ends meet to allow them the time to get involved in extracurricular activities such as Art, Politics, Campaigning etc.
Also with the constant barrage of celebrity promotion people will tend to follow trends and mimic the ideas of their heroes and the snacking on soundbites for regurgitation will make it difficult to get ideas from ordinary people out into the real world as has been seen with the recent elections where people have found themselves in their comfort echo chamber, unable to see the bigger picture because of the way the social media platforms operate, much research is being done in to how the public can be misinformed and awkward truths obfuscated. It is not looking good for the individual.
I see Creao as a refuge against mass-mindedness. A place where people can just ‘be’ and express themselves how they want.
Could you please tell the reader a bit about your own musical journey?
I started out by giving up Piano lessons when I realised I wanted to be more involved on the production side, listening to music and reading books and magazines on the subject lead me to starting out with a series of 4 track recorders which enabled me to write music and songs albeit the quality being somewhat lacking due to lack of finance and facilities such as Creao being available.
I joined several bands primarily as a guitar based songwriter and as I became less interested in the performance side of things started to focus again on the production side mainly in the Live sector, then the opportunity arose to purchase the building I had rented for many years which meant the starting up of the Creao Studio project.
Where do you see projects like, and including, Creao in the year 2030?
As we move in to a less diverse society I believe projects such as Creao will become more important, as all available properties are under pressure from the housing market there will be fewer spaces available for the creative arts, certainly the next 5 years with a conservative government will see a continuing decrease in arts funding and that in turn will put pressure on this sort of project to be self sustaining, hopefully the mix of business and community projects will allow Creao to continue operating as it does currently, I hope I am not being too optimistic to have this level of confidence in the power of Creativity.
That wraps up the third of the Artist Interview Series. This month we interviewed Allan Smyth – you can find out more about Allan Smyth by booking space at the studio. Thanks for reading.