Tim Arnold, left, with Iggy Pop. Below: Early days: ‘The Soho Hobo’ Tim Arnold at a gig in 12 Bar Club. Picture: De Vere Photography
Published: 17 June, 2016
by ALINA POLIANSKAYA
FROM when he was a small child, music was Tim Arnold’s “oldest friend”. Growing up all over Europe, he remembers rifling through his mother’s record collection and recalls the moment he discovered multi-tracking – layering music – on an old cassette player aged 12.
“It was like magic to me,” he says. “I was living in the Andalusian mountains in Spain at the time and the nearest record shop was about two hours away – so that discovery was a dream come true.”
Before settling in Soho, Tim Arnold’s childhood was spent living in various countries including Spain and France, with his mother, the actress Polly Perkins.
Travel “is the best thing a parent can give their children,” he says.
“My mother, is the greatest adventurer I have ever known. She has led a fearless life and followed her dreams wherever it took her.
“Watching her singing at her gigs night after night taught me how to be a trouper.”
Tim, also known as the Soho Hobo, has released 14 albums – one with his former band Jocasta and 13 on his own – and has collaborated with some great names.
One of his most recent projects, working on music for Iggy Pop’s film Blood Orange, “is something I still pinch myself about...” Tim says.
A strong believer in “the power of the letter”, writing to those he admires has led to collaborations with Tom Newman, the late Richard Briers and more, he says.
Aside from music, Tim says he also believes in magic after meeting a Pagan “witch” at the age of nine.
“She was the first person I had ever met who knew that magic was real,” he says.
He signed up to The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and learnt from books sent overseas.
With nature “at the core of Druidry” Tim says Spain was in the perfect place to study it, and completed the Bard phase by the age of 16.
“I used to make celtic tree runes out of acorn shells,” he recalls.
But wherever he was, Tim always wanted to belong.
“Whether it was Thailand, America or Soho, my search has always been to belong. I felt that many of the prominent members of Soho’s community adopted me in a way.”
Of all the memories from his years in Soho, he recalls one that stood out: “I was standing outside Molly Moggs on the corner of Charing Cross Road and Old Compton Street and a man strutted up to me and said ‘d’ya know where Soho is mate?’ in a broad Mancunian accent.
“I said ‘You’re in it mate, just keep going’ and I pointed towards Tisbury Court. I don’t know if he had been there before, but if he hadn’t, it’s fair to say I was the first person to give Liam Gallagher directions into Soho.”
Now Tim is the man behind the Save Soho campaign, which has support from the likes of Stephen Fry, Paul O’Grady, Eddie Izzard and Benedict Cumberbatch, the latter a friend of Tim for many years and who once performed on stage with him for his 11th album, Sonnet 155.
Speaking passionately about the campaign, Tim says: “We want to save the creative community who make things with their hands – musicians, artists, writers, performers and artisans.”
The campaign is keen to save the Curzon cinema in Soho from being lost to a Crossrail 2 entrance hall and to keep Berwick Street Market open.
“Pricing out our youth culture from Soho and only catering for the ‘high-end’ customers is tantamount to turning a public library into a private members’ club. Soho is by the people and should alway be for all the people.”
• To support the campaign visit: savesoho.com