Troxy, Stepney – Interview: Tom Sutton-Roberts

We talk to East Londoner Tom Sutton-Roberts, managing director of Stepney's iconic Troxy event venue, artist manager and all round music aficionado

Once the largest cinema in England and glamorous music venue, the iconic Troxy in Stepney, East London has been entertaining audiences for 91 years. Surviving the bombings of World War Two, Troxy went on to become a Royal Opera House centre, then bingo hall and splendid music venue once again. Brought back to its former 1930s Art Deco glory with the help of Tom Sutton-Roberts, who joined the Troxy team in 2015 to help oversee its restoration and reopening. Here he tells us about the challenges faced, his favourite East London boozer and how he’d love to have Dua Lipa play at Troxy…

What inspired you to take on Troxy?

The moment I stepped into the building for my first interview I knew I had found a place I wanted to call home. It’s such an incredibly beautiful space, with a very interesting history. It was kind of on the periphery of London music venues at the time, and I felt it could be so much more part of the scene.

Do you have any personal links to East London?

I’ve called East London my home for almost 15 years – living in Shoreditch for all that time.

What were the biggest challenges you faced when refurbishing and reopening Troxy?

An incredibly tough time for all public spaces, the pandemic was a punch in the guts. We were closed for 18 months and lost a lot of good people as a result. Reopening the venue was a real challenge, as we really didn’t know whether we’d be allowed to stay open or have to close again – so recruitment didn’t really happen in earnest until 2022. Alongside OGs Simon, Head of Live, Kieran our Finance Manager and David, Bar and Facilities Manager, we put in a monumental shift towards the end of 2021 to get us match fit again. We wouldn’t want to do it again though.

Troxy East London
Photography by Dominic Martin
www.dommartin.co.uk | Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/domdommartin

Could you let us know any significant achievements at Troxy that you’re particularly proud of?

The original stage. From day one, it was an ambition to open the original proscenium arch and reuse the wonderful height of the fly tower. We were constantly building and breaking a stage towards the front of the ground floor. Now we have a full stage with wings and a production kit that’s next level. We’ve recently invested in a brand-new Martin Lighting rig to complement our monstrous JBL speakers. All these upgrades have made us grow up into a proper venue very quickly, and I’m immensely proud of it.

In your opinion, what are the key trends or changes shaping the events industry?

Venues fall in and out of favour, as do genres of music. We’re lucky to be a favoured venue right now, and much of that is due to the incredible team we have working here. We also regularly host K-Pop which is having a real moment.

What leadership of entrepreneurial lessons have you learned?

No two people are the same, and everyone hates change! Working with a wonderful bunch of talented humans is both rewarding and educational. It’s great to see people develop, learn and be the best version of themselves. I just feel like I’m conducting an orchestra, but the real talent is the players.

How does Troxy approach customer feedback and incorporate it into improving?

All feedback is read, reviewed and taken on board, and we aim to be a venue that strives for the very best in customer experience. I also want us to be forgettable, in the best possible way. If you can travel to the venue, get your ticket scanned, buy a pint, use the facilities, and watch your favourite band without us getting in the way of any of it, we’ve passed the ‘forgettable’ test.

Troxy was the first live events venue in London to accept Bitcoin – how is that going?

We always like to be one-step ahead of tech – which is juxtaposing being a 90+ year old space, but with the most modern tech installed and used throughout it. We’re probably still early on the Bitcoin train, but it’s just another way for people to pay for an ice cold pint.

You’re partnered with DICE where people can buy tickets through the app at reasonable prices. Has this managed to cut out the touts?

Not only that, but it just makes buying tickets pleasurable. We aim to make it as easy as possible to get hold of the tickets our customers want, and DICE does just that.

What future plans do you have for Troxy?

We’re constantly adapting and changing, and we have BIG things planned.

You’re passionate about music – did you always want a career in the music industry?

I did a music course at university and realised quite quickly that I preferred to work behind the scenes creating memorable experiences for people, than being the person on stage. I’ve done it all! I’ve been a tour manager, sound engineer, festival curator, bar manager, event manager, venue manager, general manager and now I’m managing director at Troxy, and I’m also an artist manager.

Do you play a musical instrument?

I can play piano, which means I like all things ‘key’ based including synths, DJ decks, and samplers.

Who are your favourite bands?

I’m a sucker for women led pop. Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo and Ariana Grande can all be found in my ears – and they’ve influenced who I’ve chosen to work with professionally too. I also love dance music, alternative and indie. The band I’ve seen most often live is Blur.

Who would you most like to play at Troxy – dead or alive?

Dua Lipa – I met her after the Fred Again.., Four Tet and Skrillex night back in January 2023 and she promised me she’d come and do a warmup show here. Unfortunately, I think I’ve been ghosted.

Where do you go to eat and drink in East London?

My favourite boozer is The Kings Arms just off Bethnal Green Road, but when it comes to food, there’s too much going on to keep up. Although I do love Gloria on Great Eastern Street, Laxeiro on Columbia Road and Tayyabs in Whitechapel is a team Troxy favourite.

Find out what’s on at

490 Commercial Road,
London E1 0HX



Tag us with your copy of Beast magazine @beastmag_london on Instagram

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: