Playlist: Melodic Distraction

Toby Taylor, Josh Aitman and Kate Hazeldine from Melodic Distraction (1)

Beloved purveyors of “independent, community driven radio”, Melodic Distraction have news. We caught up with the gang to talk about their exciting new plans, and hear more about what they do… 

The Double Negative: How, when and why did Melodic Distraction come about?

Melodic Distraction: It was one of those things that, over time, happens completely organically. After running parties together for a couple years and starting a local electronic music blog, we figured the natural step was to get a studio space to write in. We were spending the equivalent of studio rental on coffees around town anyway!

From there, we invited a few friends to come down and record DJ sets on the decks we had in the front window. The idea was to record mixes that we could put out as blog content but one day, we thought we’d try and live stream a set from our friend Elliot Hutchinson. It went well and was a real buzz for us.

In January 2017 we decided to put together a wee programme of 10 or 12 shows across the month and it just took off from there really. We’re now clocking in between 150-180 broadcasts a month so the early days feel a world away.

TDN: How does it work, who gets to DJ?

MD: In a nutshell, we’re trying to create a snapshot of Liverpool and the North-West’s music scene. We want to rep the whole city and beyond across the genre spectrum; whether it’s the guitar bands, the hip-hop heads, the bedroom producers or those who have broken through onto the national and international scene.

Liverpool is a boss music city and is full of creativity. We’re not Scousers ourselves but we’ve fallen head over heels for the city and its scene. We just want to be a part of keeping the story moving forwards.

As for who gets a show… anybody can get involved! We’re always welcoming new ideas from anyone who has a passion for music and wants to try something new. Radio is a tricky industry to find your way into on an institutional level, especially as a presenter. We want to give that experience to more people; the benefits of presenting a radio show are innumerable when it comes to confidence, communication skills and sharing your passion with an audience. We’re even happy to teach you how to use all the equipment… those who aren’t natural DJs sometimes present the most interesting shows.

“Generally speaking, you won’t hear the type of A,B,C list stuff you get on daytime Radio 1 on our airwaves”

TDN: For those fresh to Melodic Distraction, what can new listeners expect from your broadcasts? 

MD: Our hosts come from across the musical ecosystem of Liverpool and the North West. Club DJs, grassroots musicians, festivals like Africa Oyé, LIMF and Sound City, record stores, labels and dozens of folks who aren’t even involved in the ‘industry’ all rock up for a monthly broadcast on Melodic Distraction.

Generally speaking, you won’t hear the type of A,B,C list stuff you get on Capital or daytime Radio 1 on our airwaves. But what you will hear is an honest reflection of what each host is digging at that current moment. We’re free from advertising on our airwaves so there’s nobody breathing down our necks to play certain things.

The music is broad, eclectic and often underground (we all love a Kylie banger from time to time though). What can be guaranteed is a friendly voice from one of our hosts to take you along for the ride!

TDN: Over about four years of operating, you’ve hosted around 3,000 shows. Tell us about some of your faves.

MD: It’s hard to pick favourites and there’s moments of total joy scattered throughout those 3,000 plus shows. I think different shows will mean different things to our production staff, hosts, listeners and so on.

James: For purely selfish reasons of personal experience, I’ve picked two from the early(ish) days back in late 2017. The first is when we had Jayda G in the studio, courtesy of a party that our friends over at Buyers Club had just started called huma. It was a real family affair and one moment that really sticks in the mind is a full studio of about 12 folks all dancing around to The Jones Girls’ Nights Over Egypt.

My other one has to be when another local party under the name ‘Wide Open’ came through with a Fender Rhodes [piano], sax and a bunch of electronics and performed one of the most mesmerizing live sessions I’ve ever witnessed, in the studio or otherwise. Shout out to Tom Lye for mixing the levels of the whole shabang on a four channel DJ mixer while pretty much crouched under a desk.

Josh: One of my favourites has to be Crazy P doing their debut show on their airwaves. It was in partnership with Gottwood Festival, who we’ve grown quite close with over the years. It was pretty affirming to have a UK dance music icon in the studio in Danielle Moore, doing a set for a beloved festival like Gottwood on our airways. From that moment on, Danielle has become part of the family, now dropping by regularly for shows and always being on the end of the phone for a chat. It’s nice when a single show turns into something much more. I’d like to think this has happened with most of our hosts as Melodic Distraction is just one big family. No two ways about it.

Another favourite of mine has to be our 2,000th show. We’d been trying to get Greg Wilson on the airwaves for a while at this point, with him being a local legend and all. We finally managed it for our 2000th ever broadcast in April last year. Our good friend and long-time host, Chris Barker, sat down with him and they just had the most interesting discussion about Greg’s life in music. Greg’s actually coming back for a Kickstarter show in December and has donated some absolutely heated records to The ‘Lucky Dig’ Pledge on our Kickstarter. Every entry secures you a rare or rated record from a record collection of one of our DJs or collaborators. Massive shouts to Greg and all the others for their wicked contributions.

Neil Keating_MD_illo

TDN: Redevelopment has meant you’ve been forced to move from the Baltic Triangle with little notice. Can you tell us a little about that? 

MD: It’s been a pretty tough experience to be honest. We’ve always been conscious that Jamaica Street  wouldn’t be our home forever. You only need to look around the Baltic now, compared to 5 years ago, to understand why. What we weren’t expecting was to be forced out during the middle of the pandemic but thanks to the generosity and good vibrations running through the city we’re still here.

After we announced that we were having to leave Jamaica Street, we were completely floored by the amount of support that came our way. We had offers of temporary and permanent sanctuary from across the city; music venues, theatres, empty warehouses, bars and so much more were offered by generous folks around Liverpool.

It’s testament to the city’s collective opinion on the gentrification of our creative spaces that so many came forward and offered support in this time. We just want to say a huge thank you to anybody who offered a space, words of support and creative ideas at the time. We were a little lost for a hot second but the support we felt really helped us stay on track and figure out what we needed to do to keep going.

TDN: How is it going in your temporary home at Phase One?

MD: We’re loving our temporary home down on Seel Street. It’s super cosy and we’ve tried to bring as much of the old studio with us to ease the pain of having to leave our OG location. Big love to the crew at Phase One for offering us their front window for this 3 month period and a huge shout out to Dr. Martens for helping us out in this difficult patch. Unfortunately it is only a temporary solution. And that’s why we’re running a crowdfunding campaign.

“It’s been heart-warming to see folks back us in whatever way they can”

TDN: You’ve got a big target, but things are moving along well, support wise. Tell us about the plans should you reach your goal.

MD: So far everything seems to be going in the right direction. The outpour of support has been huge and it’s been heart-warming to see folks back us in whatever way they can. We’re looking to raise £35,000 through this Kickstarter to build our new home out of two shipping containers. We are already a third of the way into our target which is great, and we are so thankful for all of the support so far. One to house our radio station and another to house a coffee shop and bar. The courtyard space these two containers are to be placed in is out the back of a creative hub called The Tapestry.

Our plan is for the entire space to become a hotbed of activity; whether it’s folks coming to hear and see Melodic Distraction Radio up close, hanging out in the yard, or attending community focused events that we hope to host over the coming years. We want this to be a place where the community can come and enjoy the sounds of radio, mingle and hang out. To witness radio happening in real life while enjoying a coffee and good company.

As an ad-free, independent station, we’re always in need of additional revenue streams to keep the station running. This space will provide us with a new strand of income, a place where all the profits generated from the sale of beans, beers and baked treats go right back into making Melodic Distraction Radio the best it can be.

TDN: Would you tell us a bit about the playlist you’ve put together for us?

MD: These tunes represent a cross section of our music making hosts. They don’t all make music, far from it… but when members of our community make stuff this good, we’ve just gotta shout about it!

Support the Melodic Distraction Radio Kickstarter now

Want to find out more about how to get involved? Email

Image courtesy Melodic Distraction Radio. Illustration by Neil Keating

Posted on 04/12/2020 by thedoublenegative