Artbeat: Laurie Schmidt, head of HR at the Roundhouse venue
December 8, 2015
London’s creative scene is made up of a range of people, and it’s important to get to know those who are behind the scenes but play such an important role in giving us the experiences we’ll remember forever. This week, I met with Laurie Schmidt, Head of Human Resources (HR) at the Roundhouse, one of London’s premier entertainment venues, but also a charitable arm in helping young people fulfil their potential across arts, music, and performance. Laurie is a bona fide Londoner, exported from Canada 17 years ago, her love for London, music, and the arts made her a delight to talk to.
Describe London in three words.
Can I have six words? My motto for London is ‘all the fun all the time’. London still excites me after all these years, the simple things such as riding my bike to work, through to meeting new people and experiencing what London has to offer. It’s hard to be bored. And if you’re bored, you’re not trying hard enough.
What/ who inspired you to do what you do?
In terms of HR, it was a combination of fate and being good at it – I love doing work with people to ensure they feel valued and fulfil their potential. In terms of landing here at the Roundhouse, I’d just been made redundant from BBC and decided to take some extended time off and have all the fun all the time. I had knee surgery while I was off, which meant being immobile for 6 weeks – and I in my email I saw this job! It’s a dream job – I’ve seen some of my favourite bands play there!
What was the song of your youth?
Slightly embarrassingly in my younger years, I was obsessed with U2, especially their song ‘Bad’. Grunge music too like Pearl Jam and Nirvana, anything! I still remember my first ever U2 gig. I went to see them three times in the same summer (which included skipping school!)
What do you love about what you do?
The best part is telling people they’ve got the job! And I can’t forget the staff tickets!
Firing people, and generally feeling like bad cop.
What makes London’s arts and culture scene unique to you?
Within a five minute walk from my house (in Dalston), there are 6 or 7 different places to see gigs, performance and theatre. And that’s outside of Zone 1. There is just a good mix of stuuf, both local and international.
Who should we be keeping an eye out for (on the arts and culture scene)?
My forte is mainly music. Some of the new stuff I’m listening to is US Girls, Diet Cig, Tigercats, and there is a record label in East London called Fortuna Pop who have some great acts.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Moving to London at the age of 21 knowing only one person. I finished uni, was working two jobs, saving money and for what? So I thought fuck it! Coming here has made the person I am and who I was meant to be. Without a doubt, the best decision I ever made.
Share something about you that would surprise us!
When I had heart surgery about 12 years ago, they couldn’t put me on bypass during the process so they had to cool my body and brain down whilst they operated. So technically, I was dead during that time!
*At this point, I was surprised and the evidence was my raised eyebrows.
What’s your favourite spot in London?
Anywhere where I can cycle over a bridge on the Thames. I’m reminded we live in such an awesome city. And also my close friends’ living rooms, my friendships here are very important to me.
Who do you love to follow on Twitter/Instagram?
I follow a lot of comedians on Twitter such as Sarah Silverman, Paula Pell and Sharon Horgan. They are funny, non-apologetic, feminist comedians but are still edgy and controversial. Instagram – Lance Bangs (who happens to be Mr Corin Tucker) does a lot of work with bands and comics that I love so I like to see what he’s up to.
What’s the last country you visited?
Spain – I went there for Primavera Festival in Barcelona and go there every year without fail. It’s mostly indie, guitary kind of stuff and my spiritual home.
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
My dream person would be Tilda Swinton. She is everything to me, the coolest person on earth. She can play anything and is THE epitome of cool.
What are you doing after this interview?
I am going to meet one of my oldest friends in London, we are going to eat food, drink booze and gossip in Angel somewhere.