Toronto online radio station ISO moves into Stackt Market

After 15 months of broadcasting remotely, the local online station finally has a new home


In the spirit of many independent radio stations that have come before them, ISO Radio is now broadcasting live – from a shipping container.

Legendary online radio stations like NTS in London or The Lot in Brooklyn are housed inside of containers, broadcasting hundreds of sets per month from four metal walls.

“So many of my favourite iconic radio stations are in shipping containers, so I’m truly invigorated by the possibilities here,” says Josephine Cruz aka Jayemkayem, co-founder of ISO Radio, over email.

After 15 months of doing things virtually, the new space will allow the station to be a community hub again, a space for DJs, artists and presenters to convene and discover new sounds. The container is located at Stackt Market, with ample outdoor space around it to keep things friendly.

Josephine Cruz

The radio station originally launched in 2019 and quickly became known for platforming a distinct range of DJs, playing genres from hip-hop to Italo disco. They made a concerted effort to spotlight emerging producers and artists and to be space for mentorship, so it was pretty upsetting for the team when they had to shut down operations last March. Before the pandemic they were based inside of a studio space above Summerhill coffee shop Boxcar Social. They’ve been broadcasting virtually from their homes since the onset of the pandemic, but without a dedicated physical space, a lot of the DJs who don’t own or have access to equipment haven’t been able to keep their residencies going.

“It’s been quite the year for ISO – a lot of ups and downs and uncertainty. And while the pandemic is still ongoing and there’s still a long way to go to get a thriving music scene back in our city, having this new space feels like a big win for our community,” Cruz says.

To kick things off at their new home, ISO is hosting a 10-hour broadcast with local queer collective Yohomo on June 19. The all-day event will include sets from Jeremy Glenn, Sofia Fly, Kris Steeves, Valeroo, Black Cat, Mind Bath, Ace Dillinger, Jelz, Sammy Rawal and Yohomo’s resident DJs. There’s also a queer night market starting at 5 pm with different vendors selling their locally made goods.

In an email statement, the Yohomo team says, “We were so happy to work with ISO on this Pride pop-up party because we’re such big fans of what they do in this city’s music and nightlife community, but also because it was an easy excuse to ask some of our favourite queer DJs to play IRL, with BIG SPEAKERS and PROPER EQUIPMENT for the first time in too long….We can’t have a massive Pride party like we’d love to this year, but this lineup, venue and the idea that you can stream the sets live all day from wherever you’re celebrating Pride Month is a moment. It’s a real chosen family affair.”

Yohomo also stresses in a post on their Instagram that this is not a party, in case there was any confusion: “This is not a ticketed dance party situation. Stackt is following all the provincial rules and this is DJs in a studio playing live all day with our pop-up shop outside.”

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