Rosie Riot visits Bloc2Bloc Radio HQ
Bloc2Bloc Entertainment Radio (or Bloc2Bloc for short), is the live stream DJ showcase platform and brainchild of Mancunian Drum & Bass fanatic and DJ, Nathan Hanley. Started in 2012 on the outskirts of Manchester, and residing in the living room of his block of flats (hence its title), it has since gone from strength to strength with its Facebook and Instagram accounts amassing some 44,500 followers to date collectively (and counting). The concept is simple; the DJ is filmed via Livestream, front on, with a backdrop of a bold graffitied wall. It is all completely live and unedited. There is a loyal posse of fiercely talented resident DJs on hand, but all DJs are welcome, as are most genres (although most stick to the popular bass and dub formula).
Nathan himself has proved a formidable force in sculpting Manchester’s Drum & Bass and underground music scene. Down to earth, and easy-going, he has become a much-loved figure in the community, with many producers and DJs passing through on my visit. Charismatically enterprising, he often repeats his favourite catchphrase of ‘cheeky’, a word which he has had emblazoned on a striking orange hoody (which he dons upon our meeting). With this merchandise, sponsorship deals on board, and events constantly in preparation, it’s clear that Bloc2Bloc is a well-oiled machine, and is growing rapidly, flagging on the radar of some big players in urban music.
Earlier this month I was honoured to play a little afternoon set at Bloc2Bloc HQ, in all its impressive graffitied adornment. I followed it up with an interview to hear the story behind the station:
When did you start Bloc2Bloc and why?
Roughly 2012. Truthfully, it happened because I was getting sick of the street life. I can still be myself with this but in a positive way. The reason I got into all this is because I needed another way out. I had the police knocking on my door all the time and I was scared all the time because of that. I had kids and I was a single parent, so Bloc2Bloc helped with all that.
Yeah, it looks like quite a slick operation from an outsiders point of view with the station set up.
You’ve got quite a following now.
We have; big up the followers, big up the supporters, every single one you because if it wasn’t for them…
How did the following come about?
Everybody had their eye on Manchester and its scene; it was popping. But nobody had seen it through the lens know what I mean. So I started filming in clubs and smoking areas with raw footage and audio and everybody was loving it, they were saying ‘keep doing it man’. And just speaking to DRS, Chimpo, Dub Phizix and Fox, all of them are my friends, and that inspired me, just being around them and their influence was just a bonus.
Who are your musical influences?
Chimpo, Dub Phizix, Ragoloco, Skittles, Metrodome, Bou, but my main one is Chimpo and Dub Phizix…And Strategy, who is like my brother.
Are they local to here?
Yeah man, they’re all pretty local, not far.
Do you tend to stay in now or do you still go out a lot?
Do you know what? I love staying in. A couple of reasons…When I go to the shops, for instance, it’s hard to explain. There’s certain things that happen in the ends, and I’d rather not get involved, but I will say something if I see something. I’ve been in situations when I’ve had knives drawn on me and that. But don’t get me wrong, the area is a beautiful place…a beautiful place.
My next question is, what are 3 items that you couldn’t live without?
Decks, internet, and my kids.
Good choices! You have some resident DJs as part of Bloc2Bloc – Tell me a bit about them…
Yeah, so as a family there’s Indika, Kaz, El Rose, J3NKO, Melissa, Jazzy Lioness, Bou. The majority of them are all girls apart from me and Bou. As a team, I think we’re the future of Manchester. And I’m happy that the young ones look up to me. As a big brother figure, I can guide them. I ain’t no agent guy though, I won’t pull out no papers for them to sign or nothing. I’m not arsed about money, I’m here if they need someone to talk to. I love my people and I love Manchester. All these people, Chimpo, Strategy…They’ve all come in and blessed the studio. I’m blessed. All in all, I am blessed, very blessed.
@jazzy_lioness and @kazdnb in action
Do you want to expand on Bloc2Bloc?
We already have Bloc2Bloc nights but I want to do festivals. We have the Bloc2Bloc Awards coming up which is based on like the Mobo’s and that. I’m just getting the website up and running for that. There’s nuff talent.. MC’s, producers… There are a couple of D’n’B awards shows but nothing too underground. There’s so much talent out there. I want to do something that caters for the people.
What do you think of Bristol (being the home of Drum & Bass)? Do you ever go there?
Yeah I’ve done some bits with ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ – Jamie, we’ve played at his night. We’re doing something up here with them soon too. Bristol is very inspiring. Carnival…oh gosh I mean when I went to carnival…with the sound systems. I based Manchester carnival on that because of what I saw there on the streets with the sound systems. I took that to Moss Side. And the police gave me the green light, just asked me what time it would finish because it had already been done in Bristol. In terms of a Drum & Bass street party in Manchester, I brought that up here. It was a very very cheeky experiment.
And lastly, where did the name Bloc2Bloc come from?
I’m still from here. I’m still in the area as you can see, we’re in a block. That’s always been my life, always in a block whether it be Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, always in blocks. As a young man with life on the streets, I ended up in those places for different reasons. I have friends and family in those places. But when I said to my friends I wanted to call it Bloc2Bloc they said “nah it’s too hood, don’t do it” but now, I mean it’s just a word. But it’s doing good, and people support it.
You can catch the next Bloc2Bloc event on December 13th at Mint Lounge, Manchester as part of Bass Culture’s 7th Birthday event here
Watch live streams via: https://www.facebook.com/Bloc2BlocRadio/