Internet radio is a force unto itself, giving unsigned and upcoming bands the chance to showcase themselves to new audiences in a way that FM radio rarely allows. Last week I sat down with DJ Ola who broadcasts her show Ola’s Kool Kitchen on internet radio stations globally, to discuss the ‘bloodless revolution’ that is independent radio.
Walker: What are the origins of Ola’s Kool Kitchen?
Ola: I was doing press for a band I really dig called The Playing Fields. This was 6 years ago just after the death of John Peel. I contacted all the major stations, I even got D J’s like Lauren Laverne from major FM station XFM saying they liked the music, however the station had a strict play-list only for airplay rule, so they couldn’t play it.
“Everywhere I approached in mainstream media the door was slammed shut in my face.”
I got really angry about it. One of the places that was open and gave the band airplay was internet radio stations. I started talking to the manager of one of the stations, Christopher Laird at Radio Nowhere that gave the band airplay. He asked me to do a show, I did, it was supposed to be a one off but he liked it and asked me to be regular and I said hell yeah. I then channelled my anger and frustration at how myopic and mediocre mainstream media was into my own show.
“There is great music being made all the time it just doesn’t get heard.”
I now had the means to do something about it. Every time one of us does this kind of show, we kick or chip away at this lowest common denominator rubbish being force fed down our throats.
Walker: How would you describe the show?
Ola: It is an eclectic mix of sounds. I don’t like to be limited by genre, time period or location. Different genres will hold hands skipping merrily into the sunset in my program. To me good music has no boundaries. It is definitely soaked in guitar based indie with a wide span of sounds. I’m also intrigued with ferreting out hidden gems from the past and the future.
Walker: You also write about music as Ola’s Kool Kitchen, so would you say that Ola’s Kool Kitchen is multifaceted (in more ways than one)?
Ola: Well if I were to describe the Kool Kitchen, I’m a self-made journalist, radio broadcaster and writer. I love doing the radio show but I am always most at home in the world of written word. It is my favourite mode of communication.
Walker: So i suppose you’re in a good place to get the inside scoop on the latest great music?
Ola: For me it is a matter of research.
“I am on a mission to find interesting music, songs laced with sonic twists yet also rooted in some sort of pop sensibilities.”
My show incorporates weird but always accessible as well. All my shows have new music as well; the process has asked of me to keep myself open to both the past as well as an avid stake in the future. Music, like history, repeats itself and it is good to know where sounds have come from because they will point to where they are going.
Walker: Is there anything that you’ve come across recently that particularly tickles your fancy?
Ola: Well of the brand new stuff I’d say Courtney Barnett, Wytches, and Widowspeak are a few that have made a definite impression. Oh, and I really like Real Estate!
Walker: What do you think of the kind of music broadcast on commercial radio stations?
Ola: Mainstream radio sucks. It is filled with an amazing myopic mediocrity. Loaded with hyper happy radio hosts, insipid chatter and regurgitated sounds that are pale imitations of music with soul, originality or integrity.
Walker: How do shows like yours differ from those found on commercial radio stations?
Ola: Since radio began its programming has always been in the hands of a small elite. For the first time ever through the net, media including radio has been opened up to allow people a chance to make the shows they want to see and hear.
“DIY internet radio is like a bloodless revolution and it’s the future.”
It is an exciting time and the people involved are like pioneers. I can download the music I need and I can play what I like without having to worry about censorship. There is a real freedom in this medium. It is a chance to push the musical boundaries of what is acceptable for airplay and to give more depth and scope to a wider audience and avid music lovers at the same time.
FM will become obsolete with its limitations. Internet radio has podcasts so you never miss your favourite shows, also with rapid developments in technology you will be able to hear internet radio anywhere. With an IPhone application now broadcasting in a car is easy.
Walker: What does independent radio do for musicians and music lovers?
Ola: It gives smaller bands of merit a chance to overcome large corporate forces backed with money and media bought approval to find their audience: hungry music lovers and regular people looking for something decent to listen to.
“It’s not just for music lovers; what it offers is a REAL and direct connection between audience and musicians that is not paid for.”
Walker: What do you see for the future of independent radio?
Ola: Well that actually depends a lot on what happens in the regulation of the internet. We are in special place at the beginning here of the World Wide Web and the sharing of ideas of information. Ironically it is almost Communist/Socialist in its execution.
Right now there are many independent radio shows and stations and the audience is growing as people are realizing its existence and impact. I believe independent radio will always exist and it is currently in a Renaissance period.
Walker: What are your hopes for your show?
Ola: Well I’d like to see myself on FM and BBC6.
“My show is as good as anything on BBC6 in terms of both production and music at almost NO cost to the public in license fees!”
Or maybe a show somewhere on FM in Thailand or Malaysia and I’d love to kick start a South-East Asian ATP for sure. One can always dream, and maybe, just maybe it can be real!
Walker: When and where can people listen to your show?
Ola: Well I have 5 broadcasts on 3 stations:
Radio23 Wednesday 9pm GMT
Rock XS Radio on Thursday 11pm GMT and Monday 11pm GMT
Magic Monster Radio, Saturday 7pm GMT and Sunday 8pm GMT