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40 Years of Folk & World Music with East Grinstead’s ARC Music

East Grinstead’s ARC Music have something to celebrate and it’s not just 40 years in the World Music business – they have recently reached the number three spot for World Music record label of 2016.

From humble beginnings in the 1970s, when owner Horst Tubessing worked as a music promoter in Hamburg, selling records from the back of his Citroen 2cv, ARC Music has grown to become one of the UK and world’s leading world music record labels.

ARC started producing and distributing world music 11 years before the term ‘world music’ was in popular use. Starting out as ‘Eulenspiegel’, the name changed to ARC Music in 1983. Primarily a family business, Horst moved to the UK in the 80’s for better access to artists.

London rents were expensive whereas East Grinstead provided an affordable solution with good connections to anyone flying in or coming down from London. A key player in ARC Music is Austrian musicologist Diz Heller who has been with the company for more than 20 years.

Heller has travelled to many countries worldwide and music festivals to discover more than 100 artists who otherwise would not have been exposed to global distribution.

With an extensive music catalogue spanning more than 120 countries from traditional folk music to Egyptian and Lebanese dance, the preservation of traditional forms of music recorded on traditional instruments has, since the start been a focus of the label.

Director, Julia Beyer says: “The key purposes of the label are to preserve the musical traditions of cultures around the world and to give world music artists a chance to be heard globally.”

Former Artists and repertoire (A&R) Director Julia, took over the running of the company in 2014, bringing artist-based albums to a new level, as well as securing high impact media events including artist tours as well as national BBC radio airplay, performances at WOMAD and WOMEX with albums regularly charting in the World Music Charts.

Music and how it is listened to has changed significantly over recent years, causing challenges for music distributors such as ARC but Publicist, Angie Lemon, explained how they have weathered the storm.

“As a small company, we have had to find the next creative way to survive, moving into distribution through streaming and in the 70’s, good links were made with major distributors and artists, which means ARC is known to the film studios and ad agencies. Providing music for the gaming industry is a burgeoning area” Angie says.

Music provided by ARC has featured in films including ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’, ‘James Bond: Casino Royale’, ‘Skyfall’ and TV series, ‘Homeland’, ‘Law and Order’ and ‘Spooks’.

One of ARC’s major artists is Egyptian drummer extraordinaire, Hossam Ramzy who celebrates a distinguished solo career as the leading exponent of Egyptian music of modern times.

Hossam signed to the label in the mid-1980s and went on to produce more than 30 albums, both as a solo artist and collaborator. He continues to work with some of the biggest stars and most talented musicians from A.R Rahman, Led Zeppelin to Shakira.

Another success is Mr Dhanonday Shrivastav OBE, also known as Baluji Shrivastav, UK-Indian composer and musician, founder of the Inner Vision Orchestra, who was awarded for services to music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2016.

Clannad, winners of the Radio 2 Folk Awards, ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ are another one of ARC’s artists. Helped by a recent revival with folk-influenced bands such as Mumford and Sons, ARC has recently released ‘The Ultimate Guide to English Folk’ which is a double disc album compiled by one of the UK’s best known modern day men of folk, Bellowhead’s front man, Jon Boden.

To celebrate 40 years in the business, ARC has produced a 2-disc CD entitled, ‘Celebrating World Music’ – 40 years 40 Tracks’ which features an epic selection of World Artists.

Something of a ‘global’ jewel in East Grinstead’s crown!

By Rachel Whitlam

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