During the lockdown, Manchester-based music lover Alain Loliot set up Vinyl Night Radio, a new internet station playing vinyl records exclusively. I caught up with him to find out more.
I first met Alain at our local vinyl night at the Feed General store on Manchester Road, Heaton Chapel, Stockport. This is a monthly event where DJ’s gather to share music from their own collection and everyone has a chance to dance or just listen and enjoy. His enthusiasm for music and vinyl records is apparent from the moment he starts speaking.
I asked him about his musical history.
“I grew up in South Africa in a musical family, my mum was a music teacher and so music has always been part of my life. As a child I learnt to play the piano but later moved on to guitar, self taught, later adding bass and ukulele. I’m learning banjo now. I’m currently in a Rock and Roll band, The Filters – I’ve always been in a band.”
His journey into vinyl began as he inherited some Beatles and other records like The Carpenters from his parents. When he was 18 or 19 he installed a PA system in a cafe back in South Africa. He was paid in vinyl, including Beatles’ Help appropriately, and Nirvana. He’d got into grunge music after being given a mixtape from a friend’s brother. He thinks his musical collection is now at its widest in genre terms (ranging from Nirvana to Justin Timberlake to Roy Orbison through to Glen Campbell! ). He’s moved on but not away from the pop that was his first love.
His day job is as part owner and director of a tech company here in Manchester. He really missed playing his records to an audience in lockdown, even though he got nervous and, as he says, cranky beforehand. Following encouragement from his partner, Jess ( who he calls ‘The Producer’), he decided to start a radio station. Talking to Alain it seems that choosing the name was one of the most difficult things to do. From the first idea Alain had the station up and running in 10 days. Truly inspirational, for sure.
“Firstly it was the name, I settled on Vinyl Night Radio, I registered the web domains and signed up to the radio.co platform. I bought the necessary licenses and insurance, then designed a website. I hadn’t thought of anyone else joining but me. Watching the number of listeners grow has been fantastic. It wasn’t ’til Breige (Cobane) hassled me that I looked into others joining, Breige being the first”
There are now 12 DJs broadcasting. It has moved on from people that Alain knows through DJing. It’s now Including folk who have listened to the station and liked the idea and have asked to join. The station is on every weekday evening between 7 and 10 or thereabouts. Not all the DJs are Manchester based, one is in Newcastle (Matt Oliver). Alain has a clear vision for the station. He is a great believer in the idea of everyone sitting down and listening at the same time, the way we used to with TV or radio.
“I wanted it to be something different, different from how things are these days, something that people had to do purposefully. So the broadcasts are only available at the actual time they go ahead. Old school live! We have consistently grown our audience since the beginning.”
Alain has plans to promote the station during the coming year. He told me this with smiling enthusiasm, he’s certainly not content to leave things as they are. I felt a deep sense of being swept along in a huge wave of positivity.
“I want to hold events to promote Vinyl Night Radio. I’ve been talking to people at local vinyl shops like Tasty Records in Altrincham and to people that DJ at local food markets like the one in Levenshulme, and at local coffee shops about holding events there. People have been so good about putting flyers and posters out for us and this is the next step forward. This is my hobby but I want to reach out to more people, even have a waiting list for DJs. I really want to help people gain new skills and develop their music”
Alain does give people a second chance to hear the weekly radio shows as they are all repeated on a Sunday from 11:00am onwards. It feels that this might be an excellent opportunity to listen to some fantastic but diverse music whilst doing some of those jobs that we avoid like ironing.
His vision includes wanting to promote different types of music. All the DJ’s have a liking for different genres of music. They all play vinyl and this is the only medium broadcast from their own homes. Alain, himself, has found his musical tastes have expanded. He was thrilled to receive a copy of a 45 as a present from the DJs for his 40th birthday.
“I had heard Nolan Porter’s ‘If I Could Only Be Sure‘ on Morgan (Rigby)’s show. I got a copy but it wasn’t the same. The team brought me the original pressing. It now has pride of place in my collection”
Lots of people gained a dog during lockdown but I don’t think many gained a radio station and have reached into as many homes as Alain has. It’s a labour of love and a passion that might even take over from the day job, on occasion. I would encourage you to listen in and enjoy the music. I’m also going to be looking forward to the range of promotional events. I think we could all learn from the way that Alain has followed his dream and put it into action in such a successful way.
Listen and find out more at www.vinylnightradio.co.uk
Interview by Carolyn Batcheler