We spoke to boss James Browning about the station’s recent growth.
Broadcasting from it’s modest studio on Rye Lane, Balamii Radio is probably the most well known export of the Balamii brand, which started just over three years ago as an events series. Today it reveals it’s plans for a new studio opening this summer in New York, allowing the station to stream from London throughout the day (9am – 9pm GMT), then switch to it’s downtown Manhattan studio and continue throughout the night (from 4pm EST). Two cities, one continuous stream.
This comes with news last week that Balamii will be starting an agency; an idea which originally came about boss James Browning explained, whilst chatting one day to Charlie Bones. At the time Charlie was running his Do!! You!!! record store next door and Browning would “always go round chat, have beers and that. One day we were just chilling and the idea came up. It made a lot of sense so thought we’d give it a go” he started. Whilst there isn’t “a particular ‘need’ as such” Browning told, it is a way to do more for the artists who come through and play each day.”It’s a really nice addition to what we already have and it’s always great to try and get everyone more paid gigs.”
Balamii is one of a number of online radio stations to have emerged over the last few years and is partly responsible for widening the bandwidth given to music from more independent and underground origins. “Radio DJs alongside artists are the gate-holders and taste-makers” Browning remarked, as we discussed the role of the radio DJs in the current makeup of musical consumption. “They’ll always exist because it’s something that’ll never be mechanical. Algorithms on Spotify / Youtube / iTunes etc do not do a great job of suggesting new music. DJs will always occupy this space – I hope I haven’t just jinxed this!”
Radio DJs alongside artists are the gate-holders and taste-makers
In that light we wanted to know whether Browning saw this as a point of difference for the agency – “We’ll be seen differently from other agencies as we’re primarily an online radio staton. However, I don’t really see how representing ‘radio DJs’ makes us at all different from any other agencies? Most artists on other agencies rosters also do radio shows as well. So it’s all the same really.”
But what will set them apart is the small community the station represents and stands for. The station has become a key member of the growing musical community in the South London district. With it’s hosts including the likes of BBZ collective, Andy Blake of World Unknown, Rhythm Sister and many more, Balamii represents many faces with South London at its core.
Now opening a new studio across the pond, the station looks to up its game. “It’s amazing really I can’t believe it’s happening.” Browning reflected. “Crazy to think how far its come along in the last couple of years.” But for the time being at least the expansion will go as far as the broadcasting, leaving the agency to focus on it’s musical gatekeepers on home soil.