The tiny front window on the corner of Jamaica Street and Brick Street could be easily missed by passers-by, but the modest space within the Baltic Triangle is well worth taking note of once you know what’s inside. It’s the home of MELODIC DISTRACTION, a bustling internet radio station, online magazine and events programmer, responsible for bringing together local talent and international artists across all genres.
The passion project between directors Josh Aitman and James Zaremba started through event promotion back in 2015, but with such a wide range of artists and promoters on their doorstep, they decided they wanted to do more – they wanted to archive one of the most exciting music scenes in the UK. And so, the foundations for Melodic Distraction as we know it today started to take shape.
“We found the physical location of the studio in October 2016,” recalls studio manager Tom Lye. “It was rubbish, there was nothing in here, there was a porcelain toilet in the middle of the floor that wasn’t attached to anything.” These days, its shabby beginnings are almost unimaginable: the space is fully kitted out with studio equipment, a huge corner couch and – scanning your eyes across the room – there are frequent nods to people who have been involved in making Melodic what it is; a flyer here, a sticker there and a friendly face popping in on the hour.
Melodic Distraction has become a place for Liverpool’s music community to explore, meet and promote, while becoming an online destination for all to access. But it’s never been just about supporting artists, the team have been working towards getting budding creatives involved and exposing them to an occupation which isn’t always advertised in schools.
Nina Franklin, who was initially employed by MD through the council-funded projects called Ways To Work, tells us, “None of us have gone through formal music training or have degrees in music, but there’s so many different jobs in the industry, there are ways to make it work.” And through community-focused creative workshops and internships, the team are successfully introducing young people to one of the most exciting professions and hobbies out there.
“You’ve got to look at the people who don’t have access to music education,” adds Tom. “If they put out a radio show, or get introduced to a certain type of music, they can then realise how accessible it all can be.”
But, as with most projects of this nature, funding is often the crux. “It’s been 10 years since Liverpool was the Capital of Culture,” Tom points out, “and there have been lots of benefits, the Baltic Triangle wouldn’t be what it is today without a lot of the funding which came through from it, plus we have some great museums and events. But how much more good stuff could there be?”
So far, the team have welcomed underground selectors like Scuba, John Morales, Jayda G, DJ Boring, Tim Sweeney, Crazy P, Ross From Friends and many more as guests alongside heaps of local talent, and they are currently broadcasting six days a week, through afternoon and evening slots. But now, the team have just embarked on probably their biggest mission to date – making the station broadcast 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
To help make this happen they have launched a Kickstarter campaign, which will help fund a brand-new website, a mobile app for Android and iPhone and loads more radio shows, parties and community-focused projects. To accomplish this, they are looking to raise £10,000 to pay for the digital infrastructure required to achieve full-time internet radio capacity.
“We’re always pushing to improve the station,” explains Tom. “This will allow the crew here to keep on top of radio shows while having the ability to increase shows and realistically do so. Radio should be a safe space that is accessible to everyone so that they can experiment and play music that they like, but it can only be that if the support is there for it to happen. Which means additional tech and getting more and more people involved in the music industry in Liverpool.”
WATCH: Melodic Distraction’s Kickstarter video
The undoubtable importance of Melodic Distraction within Liverpool reflects the significance of internet radio as a whole within the music industry, and more specifically for local scenes. “It’s a modern day pirate radio in a way,” says Tom. “And you can tune into a station which is broadcasting out of Moscow, or you can listen to someone who is coming out of LA or Peru. Internet radio stations are important because they’re a little archive of what’s going on at a certain time in a certain place.”
Melodic Distraction sews together musicians, promoters, record collectors, labels, producers, bloggers, festival organisers and more, and their impact will be commented on by almost any of their extended family. “It’s like joining dots between everything that goes on,” continues Tom. “I think, historically, Liverpool has had a strong music scene for sure, it’s been stronger in certain areas which haven’t allowed others to grow. This is hopefully allowing people to focus on what they enjoy doing within music, it can be anything and everything, which is why I like to see the archive of shows that we’ve got.”
When exploring the archive online, it’s clear to see the all-encompassing approach Melodic Distraction takes. From house to bass, reggae to techno, hip hop to disco, there really is something for everyone. “Listen to some of the shows,” encourages Tom, “some of them you might not like, some of them you might like, some of them you won’t have heard and some of them you will. But you never know what you might find that paves the way for a new interest or relationship.”
In a climate where almost everything independent feels threatened, there’s no better time to support something so triumphantly local, and so boldly community-led. “Liverpool has an enormously proud identity,” boasts Nina. “People who are not native Scousers, they move here, fall in love and stay. To date there haven’t really been any major channels which shout to the rest of the country about the city. That’s what we try to do, not just prove it to other people in Liverpool, but we’re shouting to everyone else.”