Leon Pattrick is one of two minds behind Noods Radio, which he set up with friend and business partner Jack Machin in 2015, after pitching the idea to an enthusiastic friend in the queue for a toboggan run at Bestival. This was all the confirmation they needed to take their Sunday living room sessions online…
‘It all started with us sitting about on Sundays after going out all weekend and sharing music with one another in the living room,’ says Leon. ‘Usually carrying on with a couple of cans from the night before.
It all started with us sitting about on Sundays after going out all weekend and sharing music with one another in the living room
‘But then we watched Boiler Room’s Ringgo’s Breakfasts, where he’s just in his living room with guests, playing records or music off their computers. We’d been wanting to do something for a while, but after seeing that we realised we could do it – without needing a lot of gear or anything.’
Although Leon has a background education in music, studying first at music college in his hometown of Isle of Wight and then coming to the South West to study Commercial Music at Bath Spa, he says that setting up and running Noods has been more a case of learning on the job.
I’m from the Isle of Wight and back there the scene is very much bands
‘My background is playing in bands. I’m from the Isle of Wight and back there the scene is very much bands. I played in funk bands, then punk bands when I went to uni.
‘Doing those courses kind of set me up, but it was more so just knowing people. A lot of the Noods stuff came about through meeting people from going out in Bristol. The music we play on Noods is a reflection of our experience of being in Bristol – what we’ve been exposed to and we’ve liked. There is a lot of different stuff in Bristol – and we like a lot of different stuff.’
From their weekly pilot shows back in 2015, they’ve grown to a family of over 100 residents with daily programming. We asked Leon how they vet the people they let loose on their airwaves:
‘We always asked for a mix with a bit of chat – because it is radio, it’s not a mix series. Getting to know people’s personality is very important. And then obviously we listen to their music, which is the main thing – people can always get better at the chat side.
‘We also try and make sure it’s something a bit different to everything else that’s on there, because we don’t want to have just one sound. So we’ll try and keep the programming varied – certain days might share certain traits, but it switches up.’
As one of only a handful of successful online radio stations in the city – probably one of the only areas where Bristol lags behind London – we were interested to hear how Leon felt about Bristol’s other underground stations.
‘We haven’t had any contact with the people who run SWU, but we support what they’re doing – it would be wicked to have something more underground on FM. FM is not something we’re looking into at the moment, we’re enjoying the online station right now. It would be nice to get in a cab or something and put it on, but at the moment we don’t have that sort of financial backing behind us.
there’s some competition, but I think that’s good to have, because it gets the best out of both of us and means we push to grow rather than just settling
‘10 Twenty Radio we have a good relationship with – they come to our nights and we go to theirs. We support one another and share some residents, so there’s no animosity. I guess there’s some competition, but I think that’s good to have, because it gets the best out of both of us and means we push to grow rather than just settling. There’s different personalities to each station as well, so I guess we cover different pockets.’
When it comes down to the nitty gritty of what running a radio station entails, Leon explains: ‘It’s a lot of communication. Jack’s travelling at the moment, so it’s just me, and we’ve got over 100 residents – so I get messaged a fair few times each day.
‘I try to not to do too much on the weekends, because Monday to Friday I just stare at a screen and my eyes feel like they’re going square. I usually wake up and before I eat breakfast – which is a bad habit – check my emails, go through a load of those, then go on Facebook to go through messages – which is why it’s bad because you can get caught up in that rather than going and eating!
I try to not to do too much on the weekends, because Monday to Friday I just stare at a screen and my eyes feel like they’re going square
‘Then it’s sorting out images for people’s shows, sorting out the audio, uploading stuff to servers – that’ll be most of the daytime. Then at night, social media stuff and just listening in to the shows and making sure everything sounds good, and calling up if anything’s going wrong.
‘I run down to the studio a lot! Make sure it’s all tidy or go through all the audio and make sure it’s trimmed properly, stuff like that. Check all the connections, test all the equipment…’
As well as becoming one of Bristol’s favourite underground stations, Noods has also become a major part of Bristol’s nightlife scene, with regular nights at their unofficial Surrey Vaults home, and more recently getting involved with residents’ sets at major events like Love Saves the Day.
A lot of it is learning on the job – especially the events side of things
‘A lot of it is learning on the job – especially the events side of things,’ Leon says. ‘Being on the other side of the stage at an event that is electronic based – I’d always done band-based stuff – that was in the deep end. At the start, we were borrowing equipment that we weren’t really sure how to set up.
‘I wouldn’t say I was a DJ before I started, but I play a little bit now – not too much though, I wouldn’t say I’m the most confident DJ. And a lot of our DJs are better than me, so I’d rather just let them get on with it!’
Playing music out can translate onto radio, but at the same time, when you’re playing on radio there’s room to experiment a bit more
He continues: ‘Playing music out can translate onto radio, but at the same time, when you’re playing on radio there’s room to experiment a bit more. Especially for club or dance DJs that listen to lots of other sorts of music – it’s a platform that gives them a chance to share things from their bag that they wouldn’t normally be able to play out.’
Having seen his own notion grow into a reality, Leon would tell other people with an idea to give it a go. He also warns people starting out to be wary of investing lots of money at the beginning, as in a lot of cases there’s simply no need.
When we started, we didn’t even have decks. We were just running it through audio software and dragging and dropping tunes in live and processing live
‘I’d say just do it. Don’t think about it too much, just do it and get a feel for it. See if it’s something you really want to do because if it grows, it’s going to be a lot more work but if people are into it, they’ll help you out. We started streaming through a free website called Chew, but everyone’s using Facebook live now, so you can just do that to get a feel for it. When we started, we didn’t even have decks. We were just running it through audio software and dragging and dropping tunes in live and processing live.’
Finishing up our chat, Leon reflects: ‘When I graduated, I wanted to make something that would keep everyone together – more like an artist collective or community – so I guess in a way, Noods became that, which is nice. It’s a lot of friends under one umbrella.’
Tune in Noods Radio daily, or pop into their next event on 11 August, a free outdoor party at Motion’s Lockyard with Noods residents DJ.2button B2B Strayer, Em Williams, Kayne The Hermit and Sunun.
Photography by Martin Thompson