NTS Radio‘s Sean McAuliffe on their new LA studio
The news that the hugely popular London-born radio station NTS was opening up a permanent studio in Los Angeles was another milestone in their unmissable rise to international prominence.
The sheer diversity of their programme has already won them audiences all over the world – with permanent studios now situated in Berlin, Manchester, Shanghai, and of course their home in Dalston, London.
With an impressive programme of talent already lined up, their debut LA party next week (29 November) and a fortnight of transatlantic broadcasting already under their belt, we caught up with COO Sean McAuliffe about branching out while keeping the vision.
What was the drive behind opening up an LA studio?
We’d been thinking about opening up a permanent studio in the States since early 2015.
Rather than waiting for US artists to come to London for live NTS shows, we figured let’s go to them. There’s dope scenes happening allover the US, but for us LA was the right place to go first. The diversity of music scenes, time difference to the UK and good weather sold it for us. The perfect space also came up, so it was a no brainier. About 15% of our audience is from the US. We do intend to broadcast regularly from other cities in the US soon… it’s just a matter of time.
As music fans, do you think the NTS vision fits in with the musical fabric of LA?
What we represent musically fits in with any city in the world. The kind of music we represent exists anywhere. In LA, there’s a ton of different scenes there that we’re really excited about showcasing. These are scenes that don’t exist in London or Berlin. More punk scenes, psych scenes and rock scenes that only exist there. There’s also the West Coast beat scene which has obviously been going for years with Stones Throw and DamFunk which is very LA. So we’ve programmed our two days a week there to showcase each one of those different scenes as best we can.
Once you’d set your sights on LA, how naturally did the wish-list of DJs come about?
Pretty organically and surprisingly fast. We knew a lot of the people either personally or we’d been following them for a long time so it wasn’t that difficult. Since announcing LA we’ve had a flood of additional amazing artists approach us about doing shows. What’s been really inspiring is artists and listeners in the US saying they needed something like NTS out there. There’s great radio in America – particularly college radio, America has undoubtedly got the best radio in the world. But, it’s still very different to the DIY approach of NTS where you don’t have to be a traditional radio host to do a show. We’re freeform, there’s no playlists, no on air advertising, we just care about the music quality; it’s a very different approach to traditional radio – so I guess that’s why artists in the US were excited about us opening there.
How hard was it to actually find a space?
Finding the space was what actually motivated us to fully engage in doing the move. Warp Records approached us when they were looking to find a space. We jointly went in to Mount Analog Records, one of LA’s finest independent record stores. Warp and NTS took over half of their space. Being in the same space as Warp and Mount Analog feels good.
The reputation of a store like that must be quite a good omen!
That’s what we thought. Record collecting is at the core of so many NTS shows so to be located in a record shop as musically diverse as and as good as Mount Analog just made sense to us.
Are there any particular DJs or hosts you’re personally excited about?
Alessandro Cortini from Nine Inch Nails, that’s really exciting. We’re really excited about every show! There’s a few artists on LA that have had regular shows from London in the past like Henry Rollins and Bonobo. There are around 65 new NTS shows from LA, including WeDidIt, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Silent Servant, Peaking Lights, Palmbomen II and many more.
Do you have NTS shows from the archive that you keep coming back to?
There are over 20,000 episodes in the archive and we upload weekly NTS picks on the website highlighting some of our favourites. Shows deep in the archive that I still listen to regularly include the the Mos Def, Lord Tusk and Funkineven special, Radio Straka series, L.A. Club Resource takeover from 2014, Black Classical 12 Hour Spiritual Jazz mix. But I have to be honest, most of the listening we do at NTS is live.
Was there ever an LA vs New York debate?
100%. I think the debate was won over by the weather!
NTS Los Angeles broadcasts two days a week, Thursday & Friday, from 9AM-12AM PST / 5PM-8PM GMT
Listen to NTS now via nts.live