“Does that not get annoying?” I ask through the punctuating sounds of Stevie’s thunderous drumming. “It’s my job” replies Orb studio engineer Josh, smiling knowingly as the recording studio door softly drops into place hushing the noise to a dull background thump.

Josh has worked at Orb Community Arts for four months and he’s already helped more than fifteen members of different artistic abilities to make music. He graduated at Leeds University in World Popular Music before starting out as a volunteer at Orb. Like most people who arrive at Orb, he came out of curiosity and found much more: in this case a job promoting positive mental health through music as a mentor for Orb members.

Josh with a hat on, his head leaning on his arms on top of a step ladder

Josh: our sound engineer at Orb Community Arts

“I’ve always wanted to work in music” says Josh, reflecting on his position at Orb. I had to push him for a job title, but that isn’t the way Orb works: it’s more about creating a creative environment to support vulnerable people than formal job descriptions and bureaucracy. That said, Extreme Metal Mike helpfully chimed in with his suggestion: “… studio lackey more like.”

Josh has other creative musical projects bubbling away to keep his skills sharp, like writing music for a stop animation film entitled ‘The Inventor Of Happiness‘. He also plans to study for a master’s degree in music composition at Leeds College of Music.

Orb services are free to use for anyone in the North Yorkshire area referred through the community mental health team, as well as other vulnerable adults through our links with organisations like CRI, Harrogate Homeless Project and Stonham Housing Association.

I asked Josh to talk me through some of the features of Orb’s recording studio:

  • Control room with 15 track mixing and Cubase software
  • Yamaha O1V96 digital mixer
  • Sound-proofed rehearsal room with drums, amplifiers and other instruments
  • Sound-proofed vocal/DJ booth
  • Ability to record from any music room at Orb

But just because the gear is serious, doesn’t mean the people here have to be. Orb service users range from aspiring professionals to those with just a passion for music:

“Some people come here with an idea and a plan of what they want. Others, like one guy who came in and just wanted to make as much noise as possible, kind of like musical therapy.”

Josh then neatly summed up how using Orb services makes our users feel:

“… You can tell … when they have achieved something. It makes them feel good.”

So if you have a creative interest in making music, you’re looking for an outlet or just want to learn some new skills in Orb’s recording studio, art space or computer suite, take a word of advice from Josh:

“Go for it, come on in… There are no prejudices here, it’s just a bit of fun.”

Do you want to use Orb’s recording studio for free?

Based in Knaresborough and serving the borough of Harrogate and beyond, we’ve got a wealth of equipment, knowledge and support for vulnerable people here at Orb. You can contact us through our website or leave a comment below to find out how to apply for access to our services.

We’re always on the look out for new partnerships with like-minded organisations too. If you want to help us build stronger communities then contact us or leave a comment below about using Orb’s unique music and art services.

This blog article was written by Chris Kenworthy: copywriter and photographer