Meet the Trader: The Sound Lounge ‘where the magic really is’

Kieron and Hannah together at The Sound Lounge. Pic: Hannah White

The Sound Lounge is an independent grassroots event space that provides a free platform for emerging artists to perform and showcase their music. 

Run by singer and songwriter Hannah White and husband Kieron Marshall, the venue is a plant-based, carbon-neutral café by day, and a buzzing live music venue by night.  

The Sound Lounge. Pic: Alice Chapman

The Sound Lounge is run on a basis of inclusivity for all, providing a space for every walk of life to enjoy themselves.  “Our main premise is inclusivity. It’s a space for everyone. Regardless of your age, economic background, ethnicity or ability. I think that should be the premise for art in general,” White told Eastlondonlines.

“I remember reading a Banksy quote that said that street art is the only true form of art, because it is for everyone. It’s not in a gallery, it’s not for a certain audience. It’s not trying to sell anything, it’s just for everyone to see.”

The Sound Lounge. Pic: Alice Chapman

The couple originally opened a venue in Tooting in 2016 but relocated to their current venue on Sutton High Street in 2020 during the pandemic. They have come a long way within this time, and are currently working on transitioning their business into a charity.  

The Sound Lounge currently offers its space free of charge for emerging artists to have a platform to perform their music, as well as free hot drinks “for those who are socially isolated”, according to White.  

A charity status will help the venue to receive access to grants and the necessary funding to continue being able to provide this kind of support to up-and-coming artists in the London music scene.  

The Sound Lounge recently vividly demonstrated their high level of local support when they raised £35,000 overnight by Crowdfunding to save them from closure when their bills threatened to overwhelm them.

The level of support The Sound Lounge has provided to local people has grown stronger over the years as their existence became more widely known. Although White and Marshall have always had the intention to help people, it wasn’t easy at first as few people knew their supportive platform existed.  

Merch at The Sound Lounge. Pic: Alice Chapman

“We have got a lot bigger and more popular over time, so in terms of the power and impact that performing here has, things have got a lot easier in comparison to when we first started,” said White.  

“Kieron and I come from quite difficult backgrounds ourselves, and we always knew that it was really important to reach out to people from backgrounds like our own. These people really want to ask for help, but they don’t know how.

“But nowadays if we put something out, because we’ve done that legwork, and we’re engaged with marginalised communities, people know they can come to us.  

“We can say we’re going to run this project, or we need performers for a certain event, and the right people will now turn up,” White told ELL.  

‘Where magic really is’

As The Sound Lounge is becoming even more well-known and ever-increasing in popularity, its platform and ability to support people is only getting stronger.  “We’ve seen people who are pretty much sleeping on the streets and with serious mental health issues. They have come in before when we’ve had BBC film directors here, and they have all been at their absolute high hearts because of it. It just makes you think, where else would that happen? I feel art has that magical ability to kind of dissolve the boundaries that are happening in our country and really give people a sense of belonging,”  White said.  

The Sound Lounge. Pic: Alice Chapman

No two days are the same when working at The Sound Lounge, “which is where the magic really is” Sue Sexton, one of the bartenders told ELL.  

“There’s just so much interaction, you get to know the regulars, and it feels as though we’ve made a real community here, everyone I’m surrounded by feels like good friends. 

“Hannah and Kieron are so great to work for, they’re so positive and enthusiastic all the time, they have so many visions, and they see things in quite a different way to a lot of people,” Sexton added.  

Upcoming music events at The Sound Lounge Include The Blackheart Orchestra on March 23, an open mic on March 27, which opens the floor for emerging artists to sign up on the night, and a show from co-founder Kieron Marshall “Blues Matters” on March 29.  

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