Catching Up With – DJ Tia Cousins

Tia Cousins is a DJ and NTS Radio Host who has quickly rose through the ranks of London’s underground dance scene with her diverse and extensive musical knowledge. We caught up and learnt more about this exciting selector.

Hey Tia, what’s new?

Covid-19, what’s that about ey? With the current circumstances I’ve had a lot of things that have been cancelled, but I’m hoping they’ll get rescheduled in the future. I think it’s super important for people to support artists at the moment as everyone’s feeling a bit down and unmotivated. I’m trying to stay positive and focusing on finding new music. 

We’ve been catching your NTS show since the first episode. You’ve introduced us to a lot of strange and otherworldly music. Tell us a bit about your journey to radio host?

I actually only started doing radio under a year ago, I’ve always enjoyed finding weird tunes and making playlists, so I thought radio would be good to get into. I started off on an internet station called Vandelay (shout out to the boys). My show was called ‘Boujee Beats’ and I used to record my shows on my controller in my bedroom – haha. I applied for a show on Balamii Radio when they were taking submissions and had a solo show on there for a while. I did a guest show for NTS in August last year, then ended up getting offered my own monthly show.

In your mixes, you are able to jump seamlessly from genres – post-punk, dub, new wave, krautrock… How do you connect the dots?

I always try and make sure a mix / show flows well, so I find it good to have an idea in my head of how I want it to start and end. I love tunes that have some sort of ambience. When doing radio shows, a bit of reverb is always good to fade out a track and bring in the next one.

What is your approach to putting together a recorded mix?

A lot of tears and tantrums!  I try not to plan them too much, so I put a load of tunes I think I want to play and just do my thang. I get really stressed out when I record mixes, I’ve always got to be in the mood to record a mix. I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s best to just sack it off and do it another day if I’m struggling to focus. 

Who influences you as a DJ?

I really like Vladamir Ivkovic and Andrew Weatherall (RIP). I love the way they combine punk music with ‘chuggers’, I think this reflects a lot of the kind of stuff I’m into.

What’s been your favourite space to perform in recently?

I played at Brilliant Corners last month for International Extraterrestrial Music. It was the first time Id been there, but I had wanted to go for so long, so I was stoked to be able to play. The sound system and food was so good. I also really enjoyed playing at Four Quarters in Peckham, me and my friend Oscar held a joint birthday party there and DJ’d together all night as our duo project ‘Evening Mass’. We played in the basement, by the end of it we were playing Black Sabbath and everyone started a mosh pit.

We noticed you performed for the ‘Tate Lates’ series last year. How was that?

It was really nice to play a gig that wasn’t a club night, I had so many weird tunes that I’ve always wanted to play out that wouldn’t work on a dance floor. To play them out at Tate Lates was pretty mad as It’s been something I’ve gone to for many years.

Are there any particular artists or scenes past or present that interest you musically right now?

I’ve been really into Yugoslavian new wave and post-punk since I saw Vladamir Ivkovic do a Yugo-Wave set at The Gun. His set led me down a dark Discogs hole. I’ve also been loving the Stroom label recently, they release so many oddities.

What does a typical weekend look like? Shout out any hotspots around London?

A depleting bank account and a heavy hangover. Me and the homies usually hit up The Shacklewell Arms or Helgi’s in London Fields. Massive shout out to Helgi’s, they have loads of sick psych-rock nights. Every time I go I leave feeling so inspired, the DJ’s that play there all have such a mad taste in music. 

BONUS – Tia has collated all of her favourite new releases available on Bandcamp.


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Photo credits: NTS Radio / Balamii