We ❤️ Brighton Heroes: Audio Active

We’ve all experienced the transformative effect that music can have on our lives. Whether it’s Kurt Cobain inspiring you to pick up a guitar or ‘God Only Knows’ never failing to turn you into a blubbering wreck, it has an indelible power to alter both our future and present. Audio Active know this better than anyone.

Since registering as a charity in 2009, approximately 12,000 young people in Brighton have taken part in free activities that they’ve led. These could be anything from DJ workshops, to live rap jams, to music industry mentoring, to sessions at PLATF9RM official partner charity Clocktower, to targeted workshops aimed at tackling domestic violence.

They’re dedicated to arming Brighton’s youth with musical skills and know-how, whilst giving them a chance to express themselves in a safe, collaborative space. We caught up with Adam Joolia and Tom Hines from Audio Active to chat about their achievements, Rag N'Bone Man's patronage, and the cathartic power of music.

PLATF9RM : Hey! Are there any recurring themes you see in the kids you deal with?

Adam: The common theme is every kid is at risk. Sh*t happens in kids’ lives and it can be a fragile balance. And that’s where you realize the value in what we do; we’re not officially counseling or officially group therapy. We’re giving them safe, positive spaces where they can interact with positive people and create positive things.


Do you find the most troublesome people react to you in a way that they won’t with a more ‘conventional’ service?

Adam: Often, yes. I think that’s because we’re creative-based. We attract people that need to be engaged with in a more creative, less confrontational, way.


Despite the wider social implications in what you do – and the profound effects they can have in people’s lives – it’s clear that Audio Active is a music organisation first and foremost.

Adam: No matter what the project is, we work with them as artists first. We don’t go and meet some homeless kids and tell them that we’re going to help them find a job. We ask them to come and make some music. If we’re lucky, something else might happen along the way.


Surely there must be some times when the lines become blurred for you guys?

Tom: Yep. Especially my position where I’m face-to-face with the kids every day. I get a lot of disclosures and I tend to know what’s going on in their lives, but I never ask. I think that’s something to do with the power of the lyrics - a lot of stuff comes out about their problems so it makes sense they will be more conducive to talking about it. We actually have a session called Room to Rant, which is a therapeutic process for young men where they come to get things off their chest.


Adam: For many people it helps that we’re NOT being counselors, but more like mentors. It’s all about working with people over a long time. In a lot of cases it can take a year or two to build up trust.


I read about a session you run called Break4Change which aims to help child-to-parent domestic violence.

Adam: I think it’s the most powerful piece of work we’ve seen. It was a partnership with some other organisations and the domestic violence charity RISE, who have a hotline for people experiencing violence at home. 10% of RISE’s calls are from parents of teenagers who were being violent and they wanted to do something to help.


That must be such a complex issue.

Adam: Definitely. Half the time it’s people who have witnessed domestic violence, then the perpetrator left and now there’s a power vacuum which they try and fill. Sometimes it’s mental health, sometimes it’s elements of parenting. But it’s very, very, complex.


So what was Audio Active’s role?

Adam: We suggested a session where the person talks about what’s happened, then comes and does something creative with us to try and embed it. You’d be surprised how fun it is. Often, they’ll turn up the first week expecting a b*llocking, then by week two or three realise that’s not what it’s about. We’re just trying to help them use music to work through issues.


How do people find out about you?


Tom: Some come through targeted campaigns; we’re closely linked with the youth workers and organisations in Brighton, so we get referrals. Or it could be me putting up pictures from a workshop at Rap Jam, and a parent getting in touch to say their kid would love to learn to rap. If there’s space and they’re old enough, we always say yes. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a group of kids down the Level and rapping. People wander over and it goes from there.


You’ve quite a few success stories haven't you?

Tom: Some are clear success stories. Rizzle Kicks came through us and Eyez is doing really well. But I’m constantly bumping into artists and DJ who have built careers that started with us. Some of them don’t realise they were on our projects!


What about Rag N’Bone Man coming on as your patron? That must be huge

Tom: That has definitely helped us and we’ve noticed a spike in interest. Saying that, the kids aren’t that bothered. They’d like to meet him but get excited by it? They’re a bit too cool for school for that!


Also, read the previous instalments of our We ❤️ Brighton Heroes series – Time To Talk Befriending and The Magpie Collective

Member of The Week - Tim Powell

Introducing Tim Powell - Senior Designer at Rockstar Energy Drinks and PLATF9RM Hove's favourite Aussie!

So Tim, you're a Graphic Designer, was the dream always to be a designer at a company like Rockstar or did you just really fancy a lifetime of free energy drinks?

Yeah, I guess it wasn't Rockstar specifically but companies like Rockstar for sure, like skate, surf, street-wear brands or record labels that sort of thing. As for the free energy drinks, it started off as quite a commodity, but I don't really drink it anymore - it tastes great, but it's just too much for me these days man - or I'm just too old.

What does being the Senior Designer of Rockstar Energy Drinks entail?

It's quite a lot actually, I work directly with the Rockstar creative director, Rockstar distribution companies, their marketing and production teams, brand partners, that sort of thing. I look after the creative design for most of Rockstar's international markets, from packaging to new product design, key visuals and concept design, new product launching and promotional campaigns, advertising and point of sale then quality assuring proofing and production runs. I also work a lot in 3D designing our pack shots for concept development and advertising material.

Matt - So, do you have people that work under your management?

Tim - Yes and no. I don't have any Rockstar staff I manage, like junior designers, but I do have to work with and manage people within our distribution and production teams.


As an illustrator myself, you are quite an inspiration as a graphic designer working for such a prestigious company - how did you get into working for Rockstar?

Thanks man, that's very kind of you to say. I suppose it was always the dream. I never wanted to have that office job, I wanted to be a creative, and have a job with a lot of variety where I get to work with a lot of different mediums - design, layout, photography etc. I loved to draw and play sport as a kid, which got me interested in sport, surf and skateboarding brands. This then lead into being interested in the art itself. So, I studied art history and photography at school, I actually ended up being pretty good at it, so the natural direction for me was to study Graphic Design at university.

As well as design, I minored in drawing, photography, and multimedia subjects like web design and 2 and 3D animation. This – at least so I thought, was going to set me up to kick off my career as a kick ass designer in a sick creative studio, record label, skate brand or magazine – however reality had other ideas.

Matt - Did you move to England straight after finishing university?

Tim - It was about 5 years after finishing university that I came to live over here. I did work experience here for a month when I was 20, but I didn't actually move here until I was 28, which was when I started at Rockstar. But yeah before that it was tough, I was freelancing while working in bars and retail for surfing/skating brands that sort of stuff. What I took for granted while studying was work experience. I did as most students do, I kicked back and enjoyed the uni life - while in hindsight in terms of a career, the best thing to do while studying is to still have fun, because they can be some of your best years! However, getting as much work experience as possible, even getting a job in the industry you're studying I think is very important and take it seriously - experience is everything.

But with regards to how I got into Rockstar, when I moved to England I freelanced for a few months, which was fun, but I was lucky and got work with a marketing company (through some friends) that housed a small Rockstar team who I ended up working next to. From there it all just kind of happened (not quite as easily as that - but that's the gist).

Tim Tam (best said in an Aussie accent!) is what our Kerry has nicknamed you (after the Australian biscuit!) How long ago did you move over to the UK, and are we making you feel at home in your new space within PLATF9RM?

Well I moved here where I was 28, so it will be 10 years in July - so yeah... getting old mate!

Matt - You definitely don't look 38, mind my cliché comment, but your style is very 'Rockstar'!

Tim - Well that's because I dress like a man-child.

Matt - Man-child, I love it - well I still aim to wear shorts every day when I'm old and grey (which you definitely aren't yet, don't worry!). But with regards to PLATF9RM , how are you finding it?

Tim - I love the space, it's open, very nicely designed and full of busy, friendly and inspiring members and staff - like yourself and Kerry (Care Bear), it makes it a very easy place to come to work. I have worked from home for a long time now, so it's nice to have somewhere to come to work and have a laugh.

Whilst it's often been said that Australia is like England but with sun, there are bound to be some cultural differences - what do you miss most about the Motherland?

Wow, I don't know about that!

Matt - I admit, it was a very broad statement…

Tim - What do I miss the most about the motherland - I think you mean God's country! I think it would be the nice golden sandy beaches and the long, hot sunny summers, where I can go the pub and blow the froth off an ice-cold beer and stay out late in just board shorts, trucker singlet and flip flops (thongs), without the need to take a jumper with me.

Matt - So, our stone covered beaches aren't good enough for you ey?

Tim - Well I can't say that you guys don't have nice beaches, but they are mostly down south, I know Cornwall has amazing beaches. Brighton does have a great beach, albeit with pebbles. There is a lot more to England though, in some ways it has a more relaxed lifestyle, a great history, some great cities and festivals and I have made some great friends here.

You've mentioned to me before that you occasionally embrace your aussie stereotype and go surfing - working for a company such as Rockstar has extreme sports ever appealed to you?

I was never much of a surfer, though all my mates on the coast are. I will learn to surf though - one day! I grew up in the country and was more of a skateboarder (well I at least tried to be) which worked well with Rockstar and has led to me designing a few skateboards. But yeah, most sports that you see through Rockstar I would love to be able to do. I’ve always been pretty into snowboarding, but only started riding when I moved to the UK. I still try to do it whenever I get the chance.

I've noticed you enjoy the odd IPA at our Free Friday Beers incentive, have you managed to make it along to any of our PLATF9RM socials yet?

I went to the one back in November which was a lot of fun, however I missed the Christmas one as I was back in Australia and I was busy when the January one came around.

Matt - Are you excited for our next social at the end of this month, which is a Singstar Social?

Tim - I hadn’t heard about this one yet but yeah that sounds interesting, I’ll definitely be there! We need to have one here at the Hove Town Hall site.

Matt - Keep your eyes peeled for March my friend, a Hove social is coming our way…

What have you previously done in your career? Any highs or lows worth a mention?

Highs and lows happen all the time at least for me, but I am pretty sure for it's the same for everyone. Career wise, as a low most significantly would be the struggle after finishing Uni and struggling to get that first foot in the door. The major high would be the outcome of this low. Battling through, having not given up, managing my own clients, doing the type of work I wanted to. The positive reactions to my work, and eventually getting my foot in the door. From this getting the experience I wanted, using that experience and moving to the UK and eventually getting a job with the type of company I had been targeting for so long when I was younger.

Where is the most exotic place you have the luxury to travel to over the past 9 years of working for Rockstar?

No-where too fancy to be fair, mainly Germany. I’ve been to Berlin a fair few times for Rockstar and it’s a pretty cool city, a lot going on there.

Matt - Is Rockstar pretty big over in Germany?

Tim - Yeah, it’s pretty big in Germany, it’s one of our biggest markets outside of the US. Yeah, they love it there. But I suppose for exotic, a few years ago I went Avoriaz which is a Ski resort in France. There was a Rockstar sponsored music festival happening that we went along to which was pretty great, and we also got to snowboard for four days which is always fun.

Matt - That definitely sounds like a winner! Well I think we are all done, thanks Tim Tam.

Quite the journey you've had, thanks for some great answers Tim!

If you think you want to be a member at our space, get in touch for a tour and trial.

Guestblog: 6 Dynamite Business Hacks You Need For 2018

Hello, I’m Snorkel. (But most people call me Dom.)

Of late, there has been much (deserved) fanfare for the infamous Simon Sinek quote: “People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it”. This sentiment in business has never felt more alive and relevant.

What’s my Why? I set up Snorkel just over a year ago to fundamentally help, support, guide, energise, impassion and unlock the superpowers of talented business people (just like the lovely PLATF9RM members). It’s my goal to help mission-driven entrepreneurs & founders grow their income, scale their impact and expand their influence. Simple as that.

So how can I help you?

Drawing on my experience of running Snorkel, producing the Virgin StartUp MeetUps, mentoring for Virgin and proudly being a PLATF9RM-er, I have put together six dynamite hacks that will make your business soar in 2018. Good luck! I’m rooting for you.

1 - Out & inbound strategy AKA: Please God, have a sales strategy

It’s far from an exact science but a principle part of building any successful and profitable business is your sales strategy. Much has been spoken of the death of outbound (traditional interruptive sales and marketing) but when working with my clients I’ve learnt that the balance of your outbound vs. inbound (attracting prospects through content and interactions that are relevant and value driven) wins you the most business.

2 - Defining sales collateral AKA: Branding is key! Be consistent, always.

You’d be surprised by how many businesses lack consistency across their messaging. Their ‘shop front’ can appear messy and confusing. Make sure that ALL of your sales collateral is as persuasive and engaging as possible as well as being uniform. Audit your site, credentials decks, email copy, social channels, physical assets etc., making sure that all of your potential prospecting touch points are amplifying your services, products and telling your story in the most persuasive way.


3 - Quantify your fears not goals AKA: Stuff will scare you and that’s okay. Write that sh*t down

Jay Baer, The New York Times best-selling author of [Youtility][1] highlighted that we are constantly encouraged to write down our goals but this can be pretty limiting and two-dimensional. Instead, go ahead and write down your fears. Give them a voice; give them context, a stage to yell from! This way they don’t appear so overwhelming and scary and you can get some much need perspective and resolve on your business challenges. [1]: http://www.youtilitybook.com/

4 - Qualifying new business AKA: Don’t say yes to every new job!

It’s tempting, particularly for early stage businesses to take whatever comes our way. I’ve been there! But it’s super important to know when to say NO. Develop a qualification process so you can hold a potential lead or prospective project up against some carefully thought through criteria. Some examples might be: budget constraints; unrealistic timelines; is it a portfolio piece, moral conflicts or even, simply, are you going to enjoy the job?

5 - Healthy mind, healthy business AKA: Uhm, healthy mind, healthy business

I’m a huge evangelist for the healthy mind, healthy business approach. Easier said than done right? I hear you. It’s not easy to be present amongst the ongoing chaos and noise of running a business and general day to day living. But there are some quick wins that can help keep you focused and match fit. First: breathing. So many of us shallow breathe, often not getting sufficient oxygen to our grey matter, which we need to be our best selves. Take time out to incorporate a few simple exercises, which can help you feel more centered and able to get perspective on your business. Journaling is another great therapeutic intervention. Use at the end of each day, answering a few simple questions such as ‘three amazing things that happened today’ or ‘how could I have made today better?’ Again, a very liberating and calming way of processing the noise.

6 - Tools of titans AKA Get organized!

Below I’ve listed a few of my favourite tools that help me and my clients be more effective and efficient in our work. Remember, it’s not just about having them; it’s about how you bake them into your day to day.

Make sure you have a CRM that works hard for you and your business. There are some great free and low cost options out there. I use Hubspot but Pipedrive, Capsule and Insightly are also strong.

Any effective inbound campaign needs an effective social scheduler. Buffer is great but Hootsuite is also very good and offers chunkier analytics.

Trello is a super smart collaboration tool that gives you a visual overview of what is being worked on, who is working on it, and how far you’ve gotten.

If you are looking for cool free stock imagery then you could do a lot worse than make a B-line for Unsplash. Wicked super high res pics to make your business collateral purr!

I mentioned earlier the importance of being present in business, well here’s the app to help you. Headspace, one of the world’s best guided-meditation apps, is just like a Snorkel. It helps you breath in business!

Check out Snorkel here. And read other brilliant guestblogs here.

A Guide To Brighton’s Smoochiest Spots For Valentine’s Day

Whether you love Valentine’s Day or dread its annual barrage of enforced romanticism, it’s a perfect opportunity to get out somewhere with your dearest one. That could mean a sunrise beach walk or candlelit dinner, and Brighton has an array of smoochy spots for lovebirds young and old. Here’s some of our faves.


Chard at Cafe Rust

Cafe Rust is now established as one of the jewels of London Road, and it’s been helped no-end by Chard’s residency. Originally a pop-up, they’re now open every weekday evening serving their unfussy contemporary cuisine in candlelit surroundings. Their menu changes monthly and February’s is enough to stir the most granite-like of hearts; highlights include buttermilk cod, spiced spelt and toasted aioli, or flank beef with Brighton Blue butter and stuffed shallots.


The Bandstand

You don’t need to spend big to make a lasting impression. The bandstand is an icon of the seafront despite dating back to 1884 and the perfect spot, weather permitting, to have a glass of Shloer while the sun goes down.


The Urchin

The Urchin has been open for nearly three years and garnered a rich reputation for its (virtually) seafood-only menu. It manages to imbue a casual setting with a romantic ambience, and, from its oysters, to Peruvian and Singapore-style crab, the onus is very much on messy food the demands to be shared. Crab forks at the ready and be prepared to get very buttery. Hop fans will be able to wash it all down with the exhaustive menu of craft beer.


Out the back of Marwoods

Need a coffee to pick you up the morning after? The little room out back of Marwoods – it’s outdoors and has a fire but you’ll need jackets – is a perfect little spot for some hipstery romance. The staff are famously friendly and you could always make the coffees Irish if you need a little more juice in the tank. (And don’t have to be anywhere.)


Devil’s Dyke

If you can out of work early, a sundown walk on Devil’s Dyke will fulfill the necessary ‘just you and me in the big bad world’ quota. It gets pretty windy up there but don’t let that drive you into the disappointingly rubbish pub. Save yourself the time and get back to…


Plotting Parlour

An oasis of soft lighting and softer furnishings, The Plotting Parlour is the perfect spot for smoochy lovers to get warm with a few cocktails. The drinks are made by expert mixologists and it’ has a ‘table only’ policy. This means it’s all table-based, therefore whether you’re heading for pre-dinner drinks or a nightcap, you need to book in advance. Don’t sleep.


Lovebox x Planted @ Pop-Up Brighton

Find love under the arches. If plant-based food and romantic films are enough to get your love buds tingling, check out this collaboration at Pop-Up Brighton. Planted have been running pop-ups around the city and are renowned for wowing with their amazing and cruelty-free menus. It’s a two-course affair and after the wining and the dining has finished, you’ll be entertained with a series of short films designed to get you in the mood for some amour.


Ten Green Bottles

Wine. Cheese. Charcuterie. Seems so simple when you write it down.