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A musician’s experience of London: Atlantis rising


I arrived in London straight out of school, sunny and sweaty, weighed down by a suitcase full of books, a guitar case, and clothes I’d owned for years.


I wanted to be genuine, to enter the heady utopian mist with my objectives still intact: to find other creative minds, musicians or poets, people searching for the sublime. I brought a blind desire to find that whispered thing the city offers a musician, a community of likeminded voices. I could sense that beneath the commercial tapestry of immortalised streets there would be found authenticity, a vibrant hub of creativity; albeit with a hunger to be noticed, yes, but out of that a requirement to be unique.

I had wrangled a room at Stamford Street, the much sought-after KCL accommodation, and I was on the top floor with a view of the Gherkin and the then half-completed Shard. The first thing that struck me was the turquoise light, which spewed in through the window, thick enough to be made of footlong bricks; a distinctly London light, a new light, and in that dusky moment came a new dawn: “I am at the centre of the artistic focal point of the world,” I said to myself, “let’s make something of this.”

Within hours of this realisation came the much anticipated meeting with my new flatmates, where came the three: Lucy, Calvin, and Sean. Conversation immediately darted towards gigs, venues, an event the day following, unmissable. Three new faces, and with them endless possibilities.

We walked straight onto Waterloo Bridge. The turquoise light had now turned a shade of orange which struck hallucinatory patterns off the sea of windows. Soon after we had the first jam of what must be hundreds now, and a new addition to my Spotify playlist: ‘Atlantis’ by Donovan. The discovery of the song was poignantly timed, because among its lines is an important message: “let us rejoice and let us sing, and dance, and ring in the new.”

Two years later and from the nucleus of my three new friends has expanded a community of musicians, poets, and general creative thinkers. Like a developing brain, a plethora of connections have been made, which not only extend all over the city, but across oceans as-well. Once sat in a poetry class learning about the American Poets in Europe during the early part of the twentieth century, I was awakened to the importance of the creative collective, and through King’s distinct links with the city I have been given the opportunity to rise above my origins in the Midlands and be connected with a wider creative consciousness.

King’s unique location is clearly responsible: being on the bank of the Thames means you’re connected to the spine of hundreds of years of artistic development, a learning environment feeding on the electrical ethos of innovation which drives the metropolis, and one that attracts likeminded people with the same level of ambition which I hope I have expressed in this article. KCL acknowledges this position with poetic authority.

The Strand campus sits majestically on the marrow, and the fuel of creative minds long gone or current flows past. Unlike the typical stuffy university campus which cordons its students off from the living, KCL is entangled with its city through threads of curiosity and progressive interaction. You are immediately a resident; skip the waiting line usually enforced in education. My creative direction is now led by a genuine appetite for experience, not quashed by the claustrophobia of the campus bubble, and that whisper is getting louder now. Come live!


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