‘We will invade your ears no matter where you are’: Kurupt FM on swapping music for podcasting

As the crew behind Brentford’s premier pirate radio station release a second series of their audio show, Rich Pelley joins them at their HQ for an afternoon rant

Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry), Steves (Steve Stamp), MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa) and DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin)
Getting the band back together ... Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry), Steves (Steve Stamp), MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa) and DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin). Photograph: David Titlow/The Guardian
Getting the band back together ... Chabuddy G (Asim Chaudhry), Steves (Steve Stamp), MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa) and DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin). Photograph: David Titlow/The Guardian

Last modified on Fri 13 Nov 2020 07.01 EST

‘Pop this on, mate,” insists Kurupt FM’s MC Grindah (AKA Allan Mustafa), handing me a Morrisons bag for life. I am met outside Brentford train station – before the second lockdown – by the self-appointed “best MC in the galaxy” and his fellow Nike-emblazoned Kurupt FM alumnus DJ Beats (Hugo Chegwin). Kurupt were followed for a BBC documentary (well, a mockumentary – the Bafta-winning People Just Do Nothing), so the location of their HQ remains a secret, lest I “bleat out its location while being tortured like Jack Bauer in 24”.

Doesn’t it look a bit weird, I ask, that I am walking around with a bag on my head? “Yeah, you’re right,” reasons Grindah. “It’s actually more suspicious if people see us walking around with you looking like you’ve been kidnapped. OK, well just close your eyes.” How will I see? “Squint so you can’t make out anything properly.”

Brentford, in south-west London, is famous for many things: Brentford FC, the Fountain leisure centre, that neon Lucozade sign eastbound on the M4, and est London’s biggest, best, most famous chaotic pirate radio station: Kurupt 108.9 FM.

Broadcasting from a housing estate somewhere near McDonald’s, Grindah, Beats and DJ Steves (Steve Stamp) have been pumping early 00s UK garage and drum’n’bass into Brentford, Feltham, north-east Hounslow and the edges of White City since 2005. In 2018, Grindah moved to Essex for family reasons and Kurupt shut up shop.

Gladly, 2019 saw them return with the Kurupt FM Podkast. “Getting back in the studio was like stepping into a pair of comfy shoes, but like sick ones that never get old – like TNs or 110s,” says Beats. Here, the boys take on the pressing issues of the day, such as technology, relationships and the supernatural, while keeping the MCing to a minimum. Now, they are back with six more episodes.

Does Grindah miss the old days of Kurupt FM, I ask, as I am de-bagged and ushered into the studio? “I’ve told Steves to leave everything just in case I want to come back and do a set,” he says. “If not, then eventually it’ll become a museum.

Lockdown has left Beats “fuming about the lack of nightlife. The government have shown once again that they don’t give a shit about music and culture. Which isn’t surprising when you look at the state of them.”

Grindah pipes up: “They’re actually the kind of people that probably listen to podcasts. Quite butters and think they’re too good for music.”

“In a way, the Kurupt FM Podkast is a fuck-you to the system,” says Steves, with a yawn.

“Exactly,” says Grindah. “You can’t stop us. We will hunt you down and invade your ears no matter where you are.”

Noel Gallagher and Ian Brown have come out as anti-maskers, while Van Morrison has written three anti-lockdown songs. Are these elderly statesmen of rock spreading a dangerous message?

“They’ve been spreading a dangerous message for years, mate, with their shit music,” warns Beats.

Grindah adds: “To be fair, those rich musicians aren’t getting the bus or anything like that, so they’re probably all right. You don’t have to wear a mask if you’re just sitting in a mansion. Steves went to an anti-mask rally up in central ’cause he thought it didn’t exist and the government were just using it to control us.”

“Yeah, but when I was there I got Covid so now I believe in it,” Steves replies. He has long been a fan of conspiracy theories; he made a documentary, Steves on Aliens. Are the coronavirus conspiracies to be believed? Is Covid-19 the work of the illuminati? Will the vaccine be full of microchipped, thought-controlling nanobots?

“That’s a lot of questions,” says Steves, adjusting his hat.

“Bill Gates shouldn’t have done computers if he wanted to get into vaccinations,” says Beats. “That’s a weird career path, to be honest. No wonder people are suspicious.”

“I’ve been doing a lot of research,” says Steves. “I reckon I’m at the point now where I’ve educated myself beyond the level of doctors and scientists. Yes, they’ve studied for longer, but I’m using sources that they’ve never even heard of. Random Australian geezers with YouTube channels, American stay-at-home mums who proper know their shit. You’ve gotta have a wide range of sources. Don’t just believe what the so-called ‘experts’ have to say …”

“Can’t trust the experts these days,” agrees Beats.

“What I really like about the YouTube videos is how long they go on for,” adds Grindah. “Some of them are like three hours, so you know they’ve really done their research.”

One member of the crew is conspicuous in his absence – Kurupt FM’s manager and local “ultrapaneer” Chabuddy G. But, after some time, a familiar bearded face walks through the door, sporting a leopardskin jacket, indescribable trousers and dark sunglasses. Where has he been?

“Down the market stall, innit? Getting a lot of complaints about our animal-skin face masks. People think they’re a bit weird. Saying they smell weird. Rotten.”

How did he cope during the first lockdown? “You know me, mate. I roll with the times,” he says, smiling. “I could sell face masks to an anti-masker. Actually, I couldn’t. They get really weird and aggressive about it. I’ve been making my own vaccine. It’s still in trials, but I can confirm that it contains peanut dust, Polish vodka and garam masala ghee.”

How have his many business ventures adapted to the “new normal”?

“The world is changing.” Chabuddy perches on the mixing desk. “I noticed a lot of people were buying pets for company, so I decided to start my own exotic pets business. People have said I’m a bit like that Exotic Joe geezer, except he’s the Tiger King and I deal mostly in smaller things that are easier to smuggle across borders in bags, like monkeys and that. Also, doing a special on roadkill clothing; at this very moment, I’m rocking some fox-skin trousers – might as well go to use.”

Is there any news of their arch-enemies at Kold FM, I ask?

“Haha, let’s just say noone’s heard from them for a while,” smiles Grindah.

“Did you …?” asks Steves.

“Well, let’s just say that I’ve dealt with it.”

“You … killed them?”

“What?” says Grindah. “No, I haven’t killed them – but they haven’t got a podcast, put it that way.”

“Nah, they’re still transmitting,” says Beats.

“Well, I haven’t heard from them for a while ’cause I live in Essex now so … they’re lucky.”

‘Exactly,” adds Beats. “We’ve moved on. Can’t see them doing a podcast any time soon.”With my lungs feeling as though I have inhaled a cheese grater, I make a beeline for the exit. What will they be covering in the new podcast series, anyway?“You’ll have to wait and find out!” says Grindah. “All right, fine: politics, travel, history, future, nature, film and TV.”

“We’ve pretty much covered everything there is to say about everything at this point,” adds Beats. “It’s like learning literally everything there is to learn, but all on a podcast, so you don’t have to make any effort.”

“Exactly. We should really be charging people for this.”

“I think you do have to pay for Audible.”

“Oh right. Well, we should have charged them then!” Grindah is furious. “Why didn’t anyone say?”

“We did get paid a bit,” admits Chabuddy, sheepishly, “but obviously I had to buy that gold mic you wanted …”

“So we’re getting nothing?” says Grindah.

“You just got me thinking; next series we should definitely raise the prices,” says Chabuddy. “Call it a university course and charge £9K.”

Series two of the Kurupt FM Podkast is available on Audible

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