WE OUT HERE: In Conversation With... MELODIC DISTRACTION
Words by Angelika May
Photography by Anya Rose
Imagine a bucolic reservoir, murky green water teeming with festival-goers hoping to rejuvenate their sorry selves in pond-weed-infested waters. Amidst the brilliance of a scorching Friday afternoon, Anya and I plunge into the festival reservoir to follow suit. Whilst psyching ourselves up to jump into the freezing water we got chatting to Tash Evans, a DJ and radio producer/host hailing from Liverpool who was attending the festival as a producer for Melodic Distraction.
Tash also runs Queensway, whose initiative is dedicated to fostering diversity on the dance floor through teaching and promoting underrepresented groups in the electronic music industry. We caught up with Tash the following day, to discuss her involvement in Melodic Distraction (an internet radio station & online magazine amplifying the sounds of Liverpool and beyond), amongst other projects. This year, Melodic Distraction took their radio station/shipping container over to We Out Here to give listeners a festival broadcast in collaboration with Nam Sound System.
Tell us about your involvement with We Out Here and Melodic Distraction.
Tash - Melodic Distraction, is an independent radio station that broadcasts from a recycled shipping container in Liverpool. This is the third festival we have partnered with this summer, starting with the Gottwood Festival, Africa Oyé and now We Out Here. In Liverpool, we have two hundred shows a month, you can listen to these live or via their archival website system which is powered by Mixcloud. When Melodic Distraction is at a festival, we have two separate channels, Channel One is live from Liverpool and Channel Two is live from We Out Here. It’s a really nice way for people to feel connected to a festival if they’re unable to make it or to tune in to support a friend who might have a set here. Our aim is to create a community feel behind our broadcasts.
What’s your broadcasting process?
T - Our shipping container acts as a broadcasting centre, which we transport from festival to festival, every set is beamed out live for people to tune into real time. We have a set programme and each artist delivers an hour to two-hour set between 9am and 11pm. Each set is also streamed live via GoPro linked to Mixcloud, recorded, mastered and then uploaded to our own Mixcloud site.
How did you get involved with Melodic Distraction?
T - I run a community interest company called Queensway, which platforms underrepresented artists across Merseyside and beyond. We work predominantly with female, non-binary and LGBTQIA+ DJs by offering them paid opportunities within the electronic music industry as well as creating a safe and supportive community. Queensway has a show on Melodic Distraction, after being involved with them for six months, I was buzzing to secure a job as a radio producer.
What aspects of radio, as a medium, appeal to you?
T - The radio is a fantastic way to expose people to alternative music and discover new artists, by taking away the control you have on other platforms like, let’s say Spotify, it becomes a bit of a game of Russian roulette. You’re either drawn to it, or you’re not.
It’s really gorgeous to be able to engage with listeners live via the Mixcloud stream, or on the Melodic Distraction chat room, accessible via our website.
The radio is very homely.
Anya - The radio is also a very generous platform, you’re sharing things you really care about and music that means something to you to spark conversations with listeners.
T - It’s also really accessible.
What have been the impacts of working with marginalised groups?
T - Seeing people get the opportunities that they deserve has been very rewarding. For whatever reason, these people are facing barriers within the industry and it’s nice to be that bridge between music industry professionals and artists. It takes away a little bit of pressure from those who might feel overwhelmed with the way we are encouraged to self-promote through social media, which can be very toxic and detrimental to our mental health. I like to be able to give people opportunities without them having to rely solely on these platforms.
What’s your scouting process?
T - People usually contact us through our Instagram. After the initial contact, I’ll usually ask them to do an hour-long mix, then I’ll do a write-up about the artist and promote their own socials. I upload their mix onto our Soundcloud, which acts as a library of resources for event promoters and venues to find underrepresented artists.
Anya - You recently received funding from The National Lottery, can you tell us a little bit about your aims with the financing?
We are super happy to say we have received The National Lottery community fund, we're currently project planning a ten-week DJ workshop programme, which teaches under-represented people how to DJ by an experienced workshop leader. The aim is to create more of a supportive and inspiring community around DJing and the events industry.
You also DJ as Luna Thee Frenchie, how did you get into it?
So I moved back home a few years ago and was living with my twin brother who DJs, he had a nice lil all in one Pioneer XDJ-RR set up in our parent's house and I thought it would be silly not to learn how to use the decks whilst they were there. I really did just teach myself how to DJ and as a result, my mixing style can be pretty abrupt and aggressive. I kind of love that this has developed really quite uniquely shaped solely by myself. It’s been fantastic to reflect on this lately.
What genres are you loving mixing right now?
Right now I love dark acid, progressive, and trancey percussive techno. Maara, Mabel, Roza Terenzi, and D. Tiffany are all doing absolute bits… The gals do be slaying it at the moment.
Speaking of the gals slaying, who is a female DJ that you feel inspired by?
DJ Gigola, who is based in Berlin. She released an EP back in February called Fluid Meditations, which consists of 8 tracks inspired by dance and meditation. It’s a combination of spoken word mixed with electronic soundscapes and more club-orientated bass-heavy tracks. It’s incredibly immersive and transformational.
Follow Melodic Distraction: