London’s iconic KOKO, a favourite of Prince, Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Madonna and Dua Lipa, will relaunch in spring 2022 after £70m of investment, as a state-of-the-art live music venue spanning 50,000 square feet, with ambitions to deliver an unrivalled experience for live music fans and with high spec streaming capabilities integrated throughout. After three years of construction and restoration, overcoming challenges of a biblical nature - a blazing fire, colossal water damage and a global pandemic - Founder and CEO Olly Bengough has persevered with his ground-breaking vision to redefine live music and entertainment, with a mission to support and empower the next generation of musicians. The new venture is being launched in partnership with SISTER, the multi-award winning global content company behind productions such as Chernobyl and forthcoming titles such as This is Going to Hurt, with recent investments including Olivia Colman and Ed Sinclair’s production company South of the River Pictures and podcast studio Campside Media.
KOKO has always been at the forefront of broadcasting and the arts; originally a 19th century theatre when Charlie Chaplin first graced the stage (1909), later evolving into a broadcasting centre when it became the home of iconic productions such as Peter Sellers The Goon Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which were transmitted live from the building during 30 years of BBC ownership (1945 -1975). Rolling Stones famously recorded ‘Live At Camden Theatre’ from the building in 1964, for BBC’s ‘Rhythm and Blues’ show.
KOKO has been transformed into a maze of beautifully designed, immersive spaces allowing artists visiting KOKO a dynamic new platform to take their creative freedom to the next level. With new high-spec broadcasting, recording and live streaming capabilities built into the very fabric of the Grade II listed theatre and its new four storey extension, musicians now have access to a truly one-of-a-kind physical space and media facility. Enabling them, not only to perform live but to co-produce, stream and distribute their music to a global audience with the newly formed KOKO Studio.
KOKO’s soon to be launched radio station will help to break new and emerging artists, whilst
KOKO’s new Foundation which launches next year as a registered charity, has a mission to empower future generations of artists and protect the environment. The Foundation will begin with a focus on projects within its community of Camden.
Blending together three historic buildings - the original Grade II listed Victorian theatre (1900) plus two adjacent buildings (a former piano factory (1800), and the old Hope & Anchor public house (1860) (a favourite of Charles Dickens) - and building four stories upwards, the new KOKO is architecturally unique.
KOKO will return to the public offering a multi-tiered experience including a new shop featuring artist collaborations and a late night pizzeria and tap bar hosting intimate live performances. At the centre of the restoration will be the unveiling of the spectacular and immersive new ”Fly Tower venue” and gallery (the large volume of space above the stage) which was a surprise discovery during the three year development process. Having worked closely with English Heritage to unlock this new space, artists will have the opportunity to perform in the round on a 360 stage or in a more intimate setting, giving music fans a truly unique experience of what the theatre would have been like in early 1900s.
An exciting new membership offering for music lovers over several floors will also give access to a stunning new roof terrace and conservatory, dome cocktail bar, penthouse and recording studio, piano room, library, a hidden speakeasy, stage kitchen and vinyl rooms.
KOKO is being launched in partnership with SISTER, an independent content company which shares KOKO’s vision to create a dynamic new global platform that will help empower the next generation of musicians and artists. Co-founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone, SISTER is forging partnerships with pioneering independent companies and growing a global ecosystem of creatives ranging from visual production to podcasts to publishing. Leveraging SISTER’s network of creatives and production expertise, SISTER’s partnership with KOKO will present opportunities for the newly formed KOKO Studio as it looks to help artists and brands develop exciting new content and formats.
More information on KOKO including launch season line ups will follow soon.
CEO and Founder Olly Bengough said:
“After three long and epic years of construction and restoration, I’m excited to announce that we will be returning KOKO to the musicians, artists and fans next spring with a beautifully restored theatre and live music offering that will hopefully be a truly unique and unparalleled experience for everyone coming through the doors.
We are as committed as ever to protect our 120 year cultural legacy and to support the next generation of musicians and London’s dynamic and ever growing music scene. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to KOKO in Spring 2022”