For those of you who have been in the city for a while, it’s not uncommon to hear complaints that Leicester is “one step behind” other cities. So it is refreshing to see new music school Echo Factory taking a step forward, fostering fresh talent and building a wide platform for musicians to find their feet.

This year the company opened brand new headquarters on Humberstone Gate, transforming a run-down, vacant building into their new home. Piers Nicholls, Director of Studies at Echo Factory, explains: “Working with an old building that has been empty for a while has been a great adventure, with some highs and lows. Making the spaces work for our ethos of collaboration and creative experimentation has been a guiding principle, as has removing the stubborn and persistent pigeon.”

Pigeons aside – their recent launch drew in most of the city’s music scene to scope out the new space, with big organisations such as PRS coming along to speak to potential students.

Echo Factory offers two degrees in Contemporary Music Performance and Music Business, allowing for an element of networking between the two courses that could result in promising collaborations, setting students up for careers in music. “Students seem to be initially impressed and excited by the building’s possibilities and we’re looking forward to hosting a range of collaborations within the vibrant Cultural Quarter.”

The new building also means extensive facilities for students, allowing them to make their own music or learn how to produce others. “All our studios and kit are brand new. All in all we have half a dozen or so spaces to perform and practice, as well as a public venue with stage lighting, video capability and full PA,” Piers explains.

With music an increasingly competitive market, Echo Factory are wise to create a hub for new artists in a city bang in the middle of the country. The location allows students to travel for new opportunities, or travel in for the school. “Our students come from a variety of places and we see ourselves developing national and international dimensions as we progress.”

As a relatively new business, Echo Factory is only just beginning to take in new student cohorts. With over 25 voice coaches, musicians and technicians working as tutors, as well as promoters and managers, the school has moved away from a “one size fits all” model, describing itself as taking ‘music education out of the lecture theatre and into the real world.’

With three open days in January on the 7th, 25th and 28th – the school is gearing up to start making their vision a reality. “I cannot wait to engage Leicester’s Cultural Quarter with innovative, talented students,” CEO Ajay Naik, says.

Echo Factory is creating a space that facilitates creativity and innovation in Leicester’s music scene, with students encouraged to experiment in a safe environment, learning from different tutors and building their own style. And with this in mind, perhaps the school will learn from them too.

Echo Factory can be found on Humberstone Gate, and you can register for their open days and courses at echofactory.co.uk. 

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Natalie Beech is a playwright, freelance journalist and Deputy Editor of Great Central.

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