Community by Bonnie Ophelia

MMH Radio: Pioneering the 'New Copenhagen'

Hidden in the back of a club space in Copenhagen’s old and famous meat packing district, you’ll find MMH Radio. Run by a small team and only being born 3 years ago by a then 20 year Malika Mahmood, MMH Radio is at the forefront for pushing towards more versatility and inclusivity in the Danish capitals music scene. Inspired by her internship with NTS radio London, Malika saw what was missing in her home city and set out to create a space which allowed DJ’s from different genres and likeminded people to produce music and meet up.

“Because we are a small country, you don’t see that many different people if you go outside Copenhagen. It’s really important to me that everyone is welcome here.”

Starting up with around 10 shows a month, the radio station has grown to 35 regular resident shows and around 2 shows a day, with hopes to have 24 hour online streaming. I sat down and spoke to Malika, Bayden, Sabrina and Mark, some of the core team to discuss the highs and lows of building a community radio and the developing music scene in 'New Copenhagen'.

Malika, Founder of MMH
Malika, Founder of MMH

Introduce yourselves and your roles within MMH radio

Malika: My name is Malika Mahmoud, and I’m from Copenhagen and I’m the founder of the radio station and I’m mainly in charge of the partnerships.

Mark: Hi I’m Mark, I've dropped my show for a couple months but it’s called Do No Good, and I’m also art and creative director alongside Malika. I’m from East London.

Sabrina: I’m Sabrina, I don’t have a show as I’m not a dj or producer but I help around with the radio doing social media, helping with events and also sort of community manager I guess. The radio is so small everyone has a few different roles and we all help each other a lot. I’ve been here in Copenhagen for ten years I’m from Romania.

Bayden: Hey, I’m Chad, also known as Bayden which is my DJ name and I’m from Birmingham. My main role is the website for the most part but we’re quite interchangeable, but that’s my primary role if there was one.

Mark, DJ & Co-Creative Director
Mark, DJ & Co-Creative Director

How would you describe MMH radio?

Malika: I would describe it as a community for music in all the different genres. It’s a place where every genre is welcome, every person is welcome, no matter how you look, or what your background is. It’s just about the music and the music you can’t find on public radio. I started DJ’ing when I was 14 and for me coming back from London after volunteering there I didn’t know why have a community radio like theres. There’s so many cool DJ’s here but no place to expose it.

The competition I could see when I started it, like if you play there you can’t play here and I wanted to eliminate that and make a place where because can meet new DJ partners, or people to produce music with. Also just a place for DJ’s to meet up. The radio has taken a another direction which I didn’t think of at the start which I didn’t think of before, which is being a place where a lot of foreigners based in Copenhagen and also a lot of Danish people, which for me is very important because in Denmark, because we are a small country, you don’t see that many different people if you go outside Copenhagen. It’s really important to me that everyone is welcome here.

Chad, DJ Bayden & Website Manager
Chad, DJ Bayden & Website Manager

How progressive is the music scene in Copenhagen?

Malika: I think it’s quite progressive. For a while I think outside Denmark you heard a lot about the techno scene in Copenhagen which is super good and we have some sick techno shows like fastforward, Neri J (Pressure Cooker), and Tight Cherry (Love for The Dancefloor), but I also think like right now we are at a certain place in Copenhagen where it is very progressive and one of the reasons I think is the political landscape. Every other country right now is getting very right wing which has meant a lot of new things are popping up and welcoming new genres, people are working against the system which is super cool. I see a lot of people right now wanting to learn how to DJ and I actually taught at a DJ school for a community called Future Female Sounds.

Sabrina, Social Media & Community Manager
Sabrina, Social Media & Community Manager
Bakken: Home to MMH Radio
Bakken: Home to MMH Radio

When did MMH get started, and how did you go about starting up?

Malika: I started the idea of the radio when I was living in London. I was living with a friend who studied graphic design so she did the logo, and I had the idea. One thing I was positively surprised about was how easy it was to get DJ’s to play here. I’d just call up the DJ’s I know and say I wanna start this radio station up, I didn’t say I didn’t know how to do it but I wasn’t a person who people knew of because I didn’t DJ that much at that time. But for me it was a sign that we needed a place like MMH radio so much because people were and are so willing to be like ok that sounds cool I’m down. We started up with 7 shows, and I had a guy from London redoing the website. Then we started doing about 10 shows per month and I was producing them myself and I think that went on for 1 year of me just producing and getting a few more shows, then I started getting people involved to help do producing, and do graphics, I don’t know much about Instagram. Slowly more and more people came along and joined the team. After one or two years we started getting more of a team and 6 months ago we fully established the core team.

What have you guys found as the biggest challenge?

Malika: For me, I think the biggest challenge, besides money obviously, has been getting the Danish people listening to radio the way that we want to present radio, like on the internet and a mix of music and speaking about the music. I think Danish people understand podcasts and they understand radio they can listen to in the car, but it’s very hard for us to get them used to going in and using mixcloud, or using the website, or tuning in live.

Mark: The whole idea of us is we’re non-commercial, and we give a platform to the younger generation who want to establish themselves as DJ’s and producers, letting them do their thing. I think most of these guys haven’t done radio the way we’re doing it so it is quite an exciting platform for them to have to express themselves. It’s all about branching out and into what we’re calling ‘New Copenhagen’, which I’ve been trying to push. There’s a first and second generations of people who are in their early twenties and thirties and are trying to push a culture, and this idea of the city becoming a real musical hub.

Malika: We want to showcase DJ’s and producers who are based here, giving them and their music a platform to show whats going on in Copenhagen.

Sabrina: In comparison to like Paris or London, the demographics are so different. When you go to London there’s so many different cultures and ethnicity’s which are mixing together and contributing together to create a culture. Here that is very new. Denmark has only really had immigrants for the last 30 years or so, so the kids growing up now is the first and second generation of kids coming together and being part of this culture.

Mark: If we can be there to help them have a voice, then we will. A perfect example of what we’re trying to do was last Friday night we played at a bar which is generally quite high end and quite white middle class groups of people. We turned up, and there were so many of our friends, and friends of friends who aren’t necessarily of that ilk, and they wouldn’t go there normally. They brought a completely different dynamic to that place, and when I was speaking to people after and over the weekend people were saying like ‘that was incredible!’.

Malika: That’s what people pick up from the radio. We bring in so many different people, and a new energy which a lot of places aren’t used to, which I think it’s why a lot of people have interest in the radio, like partners and stuff, and why a posh place like that would invite us, because they know it’s gonna be a new crowd and the vibe is there and I think that in Copenhagen everything is so divided. That place is where those people go, and that place is where those people go.

Can you see change happening in Copenhagen quickly? How is it becoming a more open, intersectional and diverse place?

Malika: Maybe not as quickly as other places, but it is happening for sure.

Sabrina: I do feel in Copenhagen that when it comes to DJ’s and supporting each other people are very individualistic.

Mark: Groups of DJ’s and collectives are just more comfortable on their own but the whole idea of our radio station is to get everyone together and create a bigger musical community to stop these cliques which happen a lot in Copenhagen.

Sabrina: They’re very based on genre and we wanna get rid of that. It shouldn’t always be based on genre where you have this group who listen to this genre, produce this genre, they play it out, and they have nothing to do with artists or musicians who do another sort of music.

Malika: That was one thing that was really hard in the start, how to get people from every environment involved in the radio so it wouldn’t become a place where we only play techno music. In the start it was super hard because people would come in and play who were very nerdy about rare groove or like music from around the world and then after their show there would be a dancehall show and they would have a very hard time accepting that. I would have to spend a lot of time explaining to the DJ’s like this is a community radio and we play every genre, if you can’t agree with that maybe this isn’t the radio station for you.

How do you see the radio growing, and where do you see it going in the future?

Bayden: When there’s creatives and people who are into different subcultures coming to Copenhagen they need to know our name straight away. That we’re the guys if you want to hit up a party or need recommendations, if you want to come and do a show.

Malika: It’s very important for me that when I go other places I go and find the community radio station and I want people to do the same with MMH radio. So when they come to Copenhagen or Denmark, they’ll see it’s happening and they can see what DJ’s are playing and they’ll get an insight to the city.

Bayden: From everyones perspective we’ve spoken about how to expand in terms of partnerships and collaborations, but the cultural relevance of a community radio goes beyond just the people who are super into music. Theres so much cross over in the community we need to be relevant on a cultural level. Of course, the music comes first and foremost, but the cultural reach is huge as well.

Sabrina: Its also important for being an inspiration for other places around Scandanavia. This guy wrote me from Bergen, a small town in Norway, and said I’ve heard about your radio and I’m trying to start up my own radio, so I gave him note by note what he needs to do.

Malika: My friend Dominique went to Accra and we broadcasted MMH radio from there in Ghana. I think they’ve started to do a community radio station there now too.

Bayden: There was another guy as well from somewhere small in the Netherlands and he came through the studio and asked a lot of questions like how do you progress and do you get many listeners and is it worth doing this kinda thing and it’s like definitely, because if you’re reaching out to us then thats proof it’s working.

"I think that’s also why I don’t see any other community radios as competitors, their more like colleagues and we’re all working together"

How important is travel to what you do?

Malika: I think it’s so important.

Bayden: Especially because four of us in the core are non-Danish we all have an affinity and an attraction to experiencing other cultures and seeing what is different and the same and also seeing what you can discover. I think it’s essential also for the reach to other community radios around the world. We went to NY last year us three and Dominique, we had the reason to go somewhere new so we had all those enjoyments, but then we also had something share and invest.

Malika: Also even for me living in London gave me the inspiration to build something in Copenhagen that wasn’t here before. I fully support. Dominique really gets that too, travelling around and seeing whats happening and thinking how can we implement that in Copenhagen and in Denmark so yeah travel is so important. We should do an inspiration trip every month!

Bayden: Especially the reach, we first were thinking about our Western reach but then what Dom did in Accra was just crazy.

Malika: I play music so I link up with other DJ’s and people will say like hey I saw you play in New York and that’s amazing. For us to be able to link up our DJ’s with a radio station in New York, or radio station in London, that’s a huge asset and positive thing for every DJ or producer because they get to expose their music. I think that’s also why I don’t see any other community radios as competitors, their more like colleagues and we’re all working together

Sabrina: If they couldn’t exist we couldn’t exist.

Bayden: Travel is also intrinsically linked to these kind of platforms because we have guests who also play on other radio stations around the world. When I was in Barcelona like two months ago I reached out to Dub Lab, and told them what we’re doing they were like woah perfect we’re always down to support people who are doing the same thing so come and play a set! I was just flying the MMH flag.

Malika: Radio8000 did 2 days of every global community radio to broadcast for 2 hours which was so sick.

Mark: It was actually global and it was incredible. They had like over 20 radio stations from all over the world. They're the ones who came for us too which was a great debut.

Bayden: Its inspiring if people are listening on their station for that broadcast, its literally connecting the dots musically around the world. If MMH are playing right now, this is the sound they represent and and now I want to go check it out.

Sabrina: And its also for the DJ’s that come here because of our location it’s also quite interesting, its historically part of Copenhagen so come over here and see the famous meat packing district. You hear about it a lot because of all the restaurants and clubs around but it’s nice for them to come and get into this back door.

Finally, when you guys go travelling what are your must see’s and do’s in a new place?

Unanimous: FOOD

Bayden: Definitely food, and to find where the real people are.

Mark: Avoiding the tourist traps.

Malika: Every place you go to its nice to know a local so they can show you around the bits.

Bayden: It’s like when I reached out to Dub Lab in Barcelona he provided me this huge document with places to go and things to see which was like a welcoming pack cos it’s like if you’re interested in us then you’ll be interested in all these spots too.

Sabrina: Me and my boyfriend have lists for all different things. He used to live in London so we started out with me making a list for him for when he was coming here and him making one for me when I was going there. From then on people are always texting me like can you send me your lists!

Malika: For me that’s also something that happened after the radio, I would never go to a city now without writing a person whose been there or even better someone who lives there. One thing I hate about travelling is doing touristy things, I don’t feel like i'm really travelling then.

Click here to read MMH Radio's guide to Copenhagen!

COMING SOON: Stay locked for MMH Radios guide to Copenhagen's best kebabs!


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