Living in a box may not be everyones taste, but Alex Martin and Danny “LC" Pickering are happy to take up the space. Together they form the backbone to Box Frequency FM, a newly formed internet radio station catering for deep house, techno, electronica, funk and all things soulful. Since its inception in 2012, Box Frequency FM has opened the lid to a host of radio jocks from the UK and beyond building an impressive mix of talent both established and new. There are regular shows from Scorp!o AKA Steve Alex, a long time stalwart on the London club scene, Desyn Masiello, a world renowned global DJ from the electronic music collective Faciendo and Los Grandes who are based in Madrid, Spain.
Alex and Danny are no strangers to the electronic music scene choosing to immerse themselves in clubbing from a young age. They became DJs, started playing at parties and hosted numerous radio shows in the process. Alex spent his formative years living in Brighton where he was a regular visitor to the infamous Brighton Zap Club and Positive Sound System parties during the early 90s. He has also produced and released his own music, most notably alongside Neville Watson as Midnight Steppers. Danny spent many years cutting his teeth as a DJ and producer acquiring a variety of music tastes along the way including house, funk and soul. He has also produced music with fellow cohort Alex Martin as well as a string of remixes and re-edits; as expected both host their own regular shows on the station.
Can you tell us about the concept behind Box Frequency FM?
Well, it’s all about good music really; relatively simple. We have hosted several radio shows before, some positive and some slightly more challenging! At that point we felt that we could go off on our own and cater for a vibe that isn’t really being catered for in a big way. We are huge fans of the deeper end of the electronic music spectrum be it house, funk, soul; call it the slightly more esoteric side of dance music. The station isn’t genre specific though, the DJ’s can play a two hour Trojan set if they like. We want to create a platform for other like-minded DJs that can channel their art and share it with as many people as possible.
Tell us more about the people and shows on the station.
We have a guy called Johnny Eyeball who plays mainly soul music. He has a roster of DJs himself who all do guest slots for the station on a weekly basis. Then we have Steve Alex AKA Scorp!o who has been around for a long time and is one of the original Kiss FM jocks. He was also involved in Garage City and is now a big name on the London after hour’s scene. Next up we have Dynamicon from Spain - who runs the label Los Grandes - doing a regular show. We host our own shows Frequencies and LC Sessions (Liquid Country) There are a whole host of other talented DJs who all bring something unique to the table or box in our case!
Now that the station is fully operational, what else do you have planned for it?
We are now offering streaming through iPads, iPhones, Android and other similar devices. This is a big step for us, as before all people could do when they wanted to listen to the station was sit in front of their computer which was impractical. We have just hired a young, knowledgeable web developer who has proved to be quite successful. The future for us is where we’ve garnered a significant regular listening base to the point where we’ll be able to steam through iTunes, and it’s getting there. We just want to grow, get our presence up and be a successful independent station. We‘re not trying be a huge commercial entity or anything like that. We’re not charging the DJs or trying to sell things to people. It’s a lovely, uninterrupted radio station that gives people an unlimited listening experience. We want each show to have its own unique personality too. Some people have been sending us mixes only without any presenting as such; we’re not looking for just a two hour mix. We want to get to know the person behind the show and are encouraging people to present their shows and not be afraid to let their own personality shine through.
Tell us more about your own backgrounds in dance music
Danny: I started off DJing at the after party scene in Salisbury and got into music that way. I was actually into the hardcore gabba techno scene and a bit of drum and bass of the time. I’ve mellowed out over the years and discovered house music and Detroit flavours. I’ve been at it for the past ten to fifteen years. Production wise I’ve just started up a new outfit called 54th Street Hustler, with which I now have a record deal. Radio wise, I started out playing at a station based in Portsmouth that specialised mainly in trance music, I was the only one playing deep house at the time and have continued with that trend ever since.
Alex: I was into music from a very young age. I grew up playing the piano, guitar and drums. I was in a band during my younger days. I discovered the rave scene when I went to Brighton and did my degree. I frequented the Zap Club which was like a mecca for me for two years and became a part of the after party scene there. I always wanted to make music so I bought a Yamaha QY70 and started making records with it. At a party I met a guy called Neville Watson who was a DJ on the acid house/house scene and we produced a few records together on The Mighty Atoms record label; in a nut shell I caught the bug for studio life. About three years ago I started to up my DJ game again. Danny introduced me to radio and I was hooked back in. I think in a club you’re restricted to what you can play as the objective is to keep people dancing. With radio you can loosen up and play what you want to a degree – I’m a musical purist I guess.
Where else can we see Box Frequency? Are there any parties planned or events?
We have got an event in the pipeline and are looking at venues around London at the moment; negotiations are going on as we speak. Sometime over the summer they’ll be a Box Frequency party. It will be small and intimate to start with and expect to see all the Box Frequency DJs in attendance. We need to build our profile up so hopefully these club nights will be a regular occurrence. It will also be a great opportunity for all the DJ’s to get to know each other and bring their friends along. We will have people coming from Scotland, Spain, Liverpool and London so it will be quite something!
Many people now upload their podcasts and mixes to Soundcloud or Mixcloud. Do you feel that the influence of radio still works in this day and age?
We feel there is a definite need for radio despite the advent of modern technology. Many people still want that human element and interaction rather than simply going to a website and clicking a play button; you don’t have that interaction with the person playing the tunes. This is one of the reasons why we encourage interaction during our shows. We can get immediate feedback from the listeners to see how the show is going and hopefully that they’re enjoying the music we’re playing. We also feel that live radio makes the listener feel a part of something, that they might hear their name mentioned over the airwaves or they can meet like-minded people in the chat room. There can be too much talking on the radio of course which could have adverse effects by discouraging the listener, not to mention ruining a great record. There is a fine line to tread in regard to presenting and as DJs we have to except that we have limited stage time; the music must be allowed to talk too!
Can you both tell us about a funny thing that happened to you whilst on the radio or playing at a party?
Alex: I was playing at a friend’s party once and it was getting completely out of hand, a bit crazy. I was invited to play in the back room and by that time was the only person fit to man the decks. I remember seeing this Trojan records double pack twelve inch on the floor with four tunes on. I then proceed to play a two hour set using just these records. At the end of my “set” loads of people came up to me and said it was the best dub set they’d ever heard!
Danny: I couldn’t possibly comment…well actually I can remember when I was eighteen years old playing at an afterhours party until midday. The police raided the party and they swarmed all around me; I never did finish my set!
Alex: Can I just add that we’re a really friendly station that encourages a wide variety of music with some amazing talents that are really passionate about music they play; it comes from the heart.
Many thanks to Alex Martin and Danny LC Pickering for the interview.
Interview by Pete Rann