St Leonards-on-Sea, United Kingdom – Toby, born and bred in London, has always lived in the city. But when he met his partner, Beth, and they fell pregnant with their child, the couple decided to leave for the more rural reaches of the south coast of England. Settling in the quiet seaside town of St Leonards-on-Sea, they’ve experienced a renewed sense of creative freedom to explore new ways of expression and collaboration. The relaxed, seaside lifestyle might be appealing to some, but Toby isn’t slowing down – he’s intent on inspiring more local people with his work, at the same time as building the profile of the town through his combined passions for film, music, and street art.
You’re from London originally. What made you want to leave the city?
I’ve been in London my whole life. I was ready to live somewhere else for a couple of years. My wife Beth and I both wanted to get out of London. We went on a tour around the south coast and stumbled across this place, and we both really liked it. Brighton was expensive, Margate was a bit rough, but St Leonards-on-Sea was a bit smaller and just right. It reminded us of London in a weird kind of way. It was only meant to be for three years.
How did moving here affect your life?
In London I was working fulltime. Here there’s more time for the things you want to do. You could easily have a pretty relaxed lifestyle here because it’s cheap, but maybe that’s not such a good thing [laughs]. Having kids changes your life anyway. And being able to bring up Nancy by the sea has been amazing.
How do you feel about working less?
When you haven’t got the pressure to earn money you take your foot off the gas a bit and relax. And if you’re out of the whole London networking thing, people forget about you. Down here you just end up meeting locals and everybody’s in the same boat. It’s a really nice lifestyle, but I think you can only do it for so long if you’ve got ambitions to do other stuff.
What do you do at the moment?
Graphic design and music. I also do carpentry, but it’s quite demanding physically, so I’m not sure I can do that for much longer. I want to learn new things as well. I’m doing a film editing course at the moment – I want to get into that. It will tie in with the music and graphics.
Can you explain your music project and how that came about?
I used to do a lot of music in the 90s. I released about five or six singles, and I actually did all right – I sold quite a lot. I went around Europe on a little tour. It was a good few years. At some point I just got bored of music, and I sold all my equipment, got a computer, and got back into graphics. When we moved here, for some reason I really wanted to make music again. It can be bleak in the winter, and there isn’t a lot going on. I spent about 500 pounds on some equipment and started renting a studio space. I wanted to have somewhere to go where I could work in the evenings. That’s how it began.