Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Behind The Lens: Raw Sound T.V

Along Great Hampton Street in Birmingham and nestled discreetly in between an assortment of off-licenses and mobile phone stores resides Glass Onion Studios, home to Birmingham’s hottest online music television series, Raw Sound TV.  As I walked up the staircase at 55 Great Hampton Street, the sound of tattoo guns buzzing, and sub-bass rumbling greeted me as I squinted from an approaching neon light sign, marking the entrance to yet another creative space. This building had an atmosphere unlike any other on this seemingly unremarkable stretch of Birmingham Street, and I was about to discover that I had a multitude of reasons to be interested in what awaited me on the top floor.  

was greeted by cameraman Lee who told me to make myself at home, so I made my way into the humble 10ft by 10ft control room and sunk comfortably into the soft cushioned futon. The room was complete with vintage guitar pedals, amps and an Aston Villa sticker on the window, Lee then swiftly introduced me to the head of the operation, Mark. 

“I had always been interested in doing something like this when I did music television was a big part of life, we would often go to the pub to watch our favourite bands perform live on TV, we loved it” he explained in his calm cadence and strong Brummie accent. “I had the recording resources and two cameras, and I wanted to provide a platform for bands that we didn’t necessarily have.” 

Music television shows in Britain with the likes of Granada TV’s ‘So It Goes’ and BBC’s ‘Top of the Pops’ were once the only access to the public that bands had aside from live gigs. Now with social media and YouTube especially, that access is now available to anyone with the will and a decent wi-fi connection.  

“Raw Sound is less about me and it is more about the bands that come through the door, we didn’t have access to much when I was coming up, so I just wanted to make it our mission to provide that platform to people here in Birmingham.” 

Driving Musical Culture Forward

Mark, who established Glass Onion Studios (the studio in which Raw Sound TV operates) in 2003 has dedicated his career to serving the community with over 20 years of operations. In 2017, he created Raw Sound TV and has forged a brand name to be recognised nationwide.  

“My main business is recording bands, but given that I had the resources anyway, it felt like a natural progression to start making videos. I never wanted to charge the bands that come through, we have a team of volunteers and we try to raise the funds from elsewhere. It’s about providing that platform that we wished we had.”  

Given the recent bankruptcy of Birmingham City Council and the overall nationwide disregard for arts and culture, platforms like Raw Sound are non-profit and rely on donations to function. And as Mark puts it himself, “It’s all about the love.” 

The team at Raw Sound that day consisted of Mark, cameramen Lee and Chris, sound engineers Liam and Joe and presenter Jen, who are all on their own journeys. Cameraman Chris works in a bank and has a 5-year-old child and presenter Jen had just got her house re-wired. These are very much everyday people, which makes their endeavours even more admirable.  

A well-oiled Machine

The level this team operates at is far from ordinary, the work rate and their attention to detail is without a doubt highly professional. Ducking and weaving to get the best possible shots, the repeated snap of the clapperboard and sweat oozing out of the foreheads of the team, Raw Sound made visiting pop-punk band ‘Homecoming’ feel like movie stars. When asked about the team’s workflow, Mark expressed the pride they have. “We all know our role here, but we all help each other. In the early days, I’d keep an eye on people, but now I can leave them to it and it all flows. That’s credit to the team, they know what they’re doingI’m quite proud of it!” 

Speaking on their experience at Raw Sound, Homecoming commented, “We loved it! It was relaxed and fun. They’re very slick, very professional and our directions were precise. We had a very good briefing before we got here too, it has been very easy for us here!”  

I believe this sums up the work that Raw Sound do, they do all the heavy lifting so bands can be as relaxed as possible and perform at their best. With a 9-day turnover, the post-production is where a substantial amount of the work is completed. Mark commented, “It can get pretty hectic, but that added pressure helps keep Raw Sound having a spontaneous live feel.”  

I can say that my experience being a fly on the wall at Glass Onion has been an inspiring one for me, and I highly recommend any band to get in touch and experience it for themselves! The studio also fully functions for recording, so get in touch and get those tracks down. You can donate if you wish via Raw Sound TV’s social media accounts, and you can catch Homecoming on the 7th of June at The Sunflower Lounge for their EP release party. This is for a really good cause as platforms like Raw Sound T.V are essential if new music is going to thrive and reach the ears of more listeners.