TaliaKnight’s Beats Sleep Repeat invites you to chill out, nerd up

South Minneapolis neighborhood radio station KRSM is a true musical gem, just like one of its hosts, the multi-faceted TaliaKnight.

Words by Sanaphay Rattanavong

When Minneapolis-based TaliaKnight (Natalia) signs on to Zoom, she’s half framed by sun-drenched house plants that, if you squinted, could be mistaken for bioluminescence. One of those scarce perfect spring afternoons, the vibe chill, not unlike her weekly radio show, Beats, Sleep, Repeat (Thursdays, 5–7 PM, on KSRM Radio, 98.9 FM).

Like many creatives, Natalia doesn’t do just one thing: She’s also a beat-maker, a DJ and graphic designer. Reflecting her larger journey, she went to art school in Santiago, Chile, transferring then to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and shares the sentiment of many transplants to the land of 10,000 lakes: “It’s a very shocking weather change; I’m still not used to it.”

For Natalia, the borders between the artforms she practices are either porous or one lending itself to the other somehow. Even before she had ever touched a mixer, she says her producer friends exhorted her to give it a shot, saying she had a musical mind.

“Every time I would hear a song,” she explains, “I would want to sample it. It was just kind of a natural thing for me to do.”

She recently did a DJ set at Indigenous Roots, a cultural arts center known for its good vibes, unpacking reggaeton, cumbia, salsa, and the like. “I love music, it’s a huge part of who I am,” she says. “And I love sharing music, any music that I come across. So having those platforms [radio show, DJ-ing], it just brings me a lot of joy.”

In late 2018, Natalia got to amplify her musical interests with Beats, Sleep, Repeat. “The station is small,” she says of KRSM, “it’s community-based, which I love. We advocate for different groups that are generally underrepresented; it’s a very supportive community.”

Even before the global pandemic and racial reckoning, the world was already crazy at heart and weird on top (to riff off Barry Gifford via David Lynch), which influenced Natalia’s vision for the show. “The show is from 5 to 7, so maybe people would be tuning in on their way home from work or something,” Natalia explains her vision for the show. “I thought, Okay, what do I want to hear if I’m stuck in traffic—depends on my mood, but for the most part I want to relax after a long day.” 

Another place she shares music is at MSP Airport. As someone who often travels between the U.S. and Chile, Natalia knows how stressful air travel often is. But going to the airport to DJ is another thing. “I like the setting because you don’t feel the pressure of it,” she says. “Being at an event or a party you kind of feel a little bit of the pressure of, are you making people dance? Are they having fun? But at the airport people are just passing by, and they’ll stop by and be like, ‘Great music,’ or something.” She also bemusedly notes that some people have come up to her to ask where the restroom is, or for directions to a certain gate—because the person live-mixing music is most likely to be your wayfinding guide, right?

The radio show has been a safe and supportive space for Natalia to do another thing she loves—geek out about songs. “From the beginning I’ve said that this show is for music nerds,” she says. “Because that’s what I am. Those are the listeners I get.

“Initially, I named it Beats Sleep Repeat because I did want to focus on beats, production, beat-making, and it’s still sort of the foundation. But I play a little bit of everything, really—house music, Afro beats, neo-soul, R&B… and I still try to get guests that are somewhat related to producers and DJs.”So it goes for TaliaKnight, sharing music, mixing it live on the radio, talking music with music nerds for music nerds and those who just want something interesting yet chill to vibe on during these interesting times.

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