How the pandemic stripped away the heart of Wakefield’s music community: “To know that Help Musicians are there for you through the thick of it alleviates a lot of the stress”
Matt Knee
Multi-instrumentalist and producer
27th July 2021
How the pandemic stripped away the heart of Wakefield’s music community: “To know that Help Musicians are there for you through the thick of it alleviates a lot of the stress”

Multi-instrumentalist and producer, Matt Knee, has spent the last four years working as the in-house producer at Laurel House Studios in Wakefield. Having worked hard to build the business up from scratch, the studio had reached a point where it was turning a profit and they were able to look at the possibility of expansion. The space had become an important fixture of the local music scene, serving hundreds of musicians of all ages, from young teenagers trying out in their first bands, right up to veterans playing in tribute acts. 

In March 2020, COVID-19 had a devastating impact on his business. As the landlord continued to need rent, the operational costs amounting to several thousands, whilst Laurel House remained closed under government enforcement; the studio was caught in a dire situation and the future of Matt’s job was in jeopardy. During the first few months of the pandemic, the studio team fought hard to make ends meet, even selling off instruments to cover their costs whilst they had no source of income. However, sadly by May, the money had run dry and Laurel House Studios was forced to close down.

For Matt, losing his job had huge practical implications like being unable to afford his rent and bills, but the emotional and mental strain hit hardest. Having nurtured and grown the business from its beginning, to suddenly lose it all was heartbreaking and left a massive hole in his life.

“Losing my job, the financial uncertainty as well as losing the community of creative people I worked with, day in day out, has been challenging, both in terms of everyday life and the costs of it, and the mental toll it has taken" Matt said, reflecting on the experience.

Thanks to the generosity and support from our donors, we were able to support Matt with our Help Musicians Coronavirus Hardship Fund, providing an initial payment of £500 when lockdown first hit, followed by monthly instalments up until March 2021 to help keep him afloat. The financial aid was crucial under Matt’s circumstances, but support from Help Musicians also brought him unexpected emotional support as his situation had caused him to feel expendable. Knowing that there was a charity who recognised and understood his situation was invaluable, and he remains “eternally grateful”, expressing that, “it felt like someone had your back and the music community was trying to help each other.” 

“To know that Help Musicians are there for you through the thick of it alleviates a lot of the stress that the hardship we faced brought on and I am eternally grateful to have received their support.”

While continuing to mix for bands from home during lockdown and focusing on creating music as an outlet for his anxiety and stress, we’re pleased to hear that Matt is now exploring the opportunity of becoming a full time in-studio producer once again. Whether Laurel House Studios reopens again in the future remains unknown - an assured loss for Wakefield’s “huge creative community”.

In 2021, our centenary year, musicians continue to need support to survive, create and thrive. Your donation will go directly to the frontline of securing a future for musicians.

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