Kurupt FM: "Japan is pretty similar to Brentford, it looks like the motorway bit"
Upon the release of their debut feature film People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan, we talk to Kurupt FM members MC Grindah, DJ Beats, DJ Steves and Chabuddy G about drug smuggling, Japanese toilets, and more
When we last saw Kurupt FM in the People Just Do Nothing finale, the group’s future was on the ropes. The biggest pirate radio station in Brentford looked finished, with ringleader MC Grindah displaced to Essex, DJ Beats raising a newborn and his gorgeous son Craig, Chabuddy G in a rut living out the back of a van, and DJ Steves probably lost to a k-hole. But in their first feature film People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan (tagline: The West Are Irrelevant), the boys hit the bigtime taking UK garage to the East. Tokyo has dealt with Godzilla before, but can it handle G.O.D Limited?
Upon the film’s release, we met Kurupt FM members MC Grindah, DJ Beats, DJ Steves and manager Chabuddy G to talk about VIP clubbing, drug smuggling, Japanese toilets, their forthcoming debut album ‘The Greatest Hits (Part 1)’, and more. Read on below.
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Grindah, what was a bigger culture shock: going to Japan or going to Essex?
Grindah: Funnily enough, Essex. Because Japan City is a place of class and design, and Essex is.. the opposite of that. Essex is like brers in the tight white jeans with their hair slicked back, listening to house music.
Beats: Japan is sort of dyeing your hair ginger, wearing a leather captain's hat and a sailor outfit, but really enjoying yourself.
Steves, how did you cope with 'Japan’s massive drug problem'?
DJ Steves: Ah mate, you can't get weed anywhere, you can't get anything really. So I was sort of on a detox out there really.
Chabuddy G: Cold turkey, isn't it?
DJ Steves: Yeah, for literally like, half a day. It was quite intense. But obviously—we find a way, do you know what I mean?
Chabuddy G: No matter where we put Stevie on planet Earth, he will find the drugs.
DJ Steves: I will literally smoke anything until it affects me.
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How would you cope with playing a marathon 24-hour set out in Japan?
DJ Steves: The key to a 24-hour set, unless you're DJ EZ, is just to make sure you're stimulated with—
Chabuddy G: You need like a drip, don't you? We could put a little drip in you and keep you going for days.
DJ Steves: Yeah that's what celebrities have now innit, they have those weird sort of vitamin drips. I'd need stronger than that.
Chabuddy G: We could put something else in it. What do you want? You don't do crack do you, Stevie?
DJ Steves: I mean, New Year's once, but no.
Chabuddy G: You're more happy pills vibes, isn't it?
DJ Steves: Maybe stick a load of them in, maybe mushroom drops in there as well.
Chabuddy G: Oh a cocktail?
DJ Steves: A little vibe.
What are your tips for dealing with a long haul flight?
DJ Steves: If you're going to plug anything then double bag it. That would be something that I definitely learned. I had a quite traumatic experience on the flight where my luggage burst inside my, er, arsehole, and so now I think it's good to just try make sure it's protected enough. Also, just like, watch films 'n' that.
Chabuddy G: I would say, if you're on a plane and you haven't experienced the Mile High Club, go for it mate! And all I wanna say, is you don't always need someone else to join the Mile High Club. You can go solo if you want. I'm a proud member of that club now.
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Did you hook any pirate radio masts onto the skyscrapers out there?
Grindah: [shakes head] Too tall.
DJ Steves: There's not really the pirate radio thing out there. We were doing more the sort of pop side of things. Just 'cause, that's how they knew our tune, which was from a gameshow. So we were trying to do a bit more of dance routines and performing on stage. It was a bit weird to be honest. I don't know if we fitted in their scene as well as Grindah said we would. But, it was an experience, and that's what it's about. I didn't enjoy it, but I did when I got back and sort of thought about it.
Grindah: We were way too busy, I'd already made a decision that I'm stopping radio and I'm moving into the vocal field. Artistry. But don't get me wrong though, I was looking up thinking, would I be able to get up there?
Beats: You'd need like—
Grindah: Rubber cups.
Beats: The Tom Cruise-style, Mission Impossible sucker cups. But Steve wasn't really up for it. And it was hard to find scaffolding out there.
What did you guys think of the clubs out there?
Grindah: Yeah, sick actually!
Grindah: VIP. Which means Very Important People - a lot of people don't know that. What was the champagne called again?
Beats: Dom Perrington. Banging!
Grindah: Tasted like piss, but it was delicious.
Beats: Good bottle though, good grip.
Grindah: Really good bottle. I actually just clutched it all night; even when it was empty.
DJ Steves: They sort of looked the same in a way, but with more Japanese music. What's interesting about the music out there is they'll have the sort of Drake-type music, or the grime music, but with Japanese lyrics and Japanese people on it. It's just a mad thing to see and hear.
It makes you think: people are literally all across the world, we are all joined as one. When I got back, I did this ayahuasca night with Beats and I just realised how connected we all are. I think Japan helped me realise that even more. And ayahuasca. But mainly Japan.`
Chabuddy G: Probably ayahuasca had quite a bit to do with that as well. I didn't really go clubbing much - I remember going into one bar, and there was just loads of chicks there. I don't know why.
DJ Steves: Yeah, you—you went there every night.
Chabuddy G: Do you remember? I went there this one night and there was this chick who was dressed as a cat, and she was telling me she loved me and all that, and then I woke up the next morning and there was four grand missing from my bank account.
DJ Steves: Yeah they'll do that.
Chabuddy G: Great night, though.
Grindah: Yeah, chicks as well, chicks staring at us. Didn't speak to any. But to be honest, that is the most attractive thing to women: if you distance yourself, screwface, and don't say anything to them all night. It means they will automatically fancy you. So that was great! Good to know you're loved and wanted.
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The success of ‘Heart Monitor Riddim’ took you to Japan - are you going to be writing any more tunes?
Beats: Surprisingly, we've got an album coming out. Which was originally titled 'Grindah's Greatest Hits', but the label were like, can we make it 'Kurupt FM's Greatest Hits'.
Grindah: Which always happens, because I wanted People Just Do Nothing to be called MC Grindah featuring DJ Beats, featuring DJ Steves, featuring Chabuddy G, featuring Decoy, and in brackets, (Fantasy), in smaller writing.
Beats: And then double brackets ((Kurupt FM)).
Grindah: Album coming soon, we got the likes of Mist, JayKae, Fred Again..., P Money, the cream of the crop of the UK industry. All the people that were begging to always work with us, and we said no, because Kurupt FM is a Brentford thing. But now we're branching out of that, we've opened up the gates.
Beats: We've opened the car park gates and said, come in, free parking 'til 10:PM.
Do you think this album is going to get you big in Japan again?
Grindah: We're done with Japan. Do you know what I mean? Japan, completed it, next.
Beats: It's America now. 'Cause Grindah was originally based out in Miami.
Grindah: Before I met these lot, when I was 11.
Beats: Obviously this is for the UK market, but then after that, we're gonna go on a more sort of worldwide, America market.
Grindah: He's talking about when I used to play karate for the Bloods and Crips for the national championships out there. It shows you how hard I must have been back then. But that is when you've got a lot less to lose, when you're 11. 'Cause if you go down then, you're only doing about two [stretch]. 18+ you're looking at 20.
How did Japan compare to Brentford?
Chabuddy G: Well, you can get sushi in Brentford; you can get a nice Katsu curry.
DJ Steves: I know my way around Brentford a lot easier, I'll say that.
Grindah: It’s pretty similar actually, because it looks like the motorway bit of Brentford.
Beats: Yeah, it's like the Gillette Building, Mercedes garage—
Grindah: It's like that everywhere, though.
Chabuddy G: We got lost a lot of times. There's a lot of little alleyways that people piss down called piss alleys. We kept on getting lost down there, and then a robot would pop out.
DJ Steves: One day, yeah, we was out and there was a load of people dressed as Mario Kart people all just going through the streets in the middle of the actual road. And I'm like: normally in Brentford, if I saw that, I'd know that I was on some sort of acid trip. In Japan I knew I wasn't. I just knew that these are real people, and it's a different way of life out there. Very, very different. But again, beautiful.
Grindah: Also McDonalds are like shopping centres there, over three levels.
Beats: Massive. And they have McRib.
Grindah: Ain't seen that since 2003. Just like garage, the best heydays.
Beats: And two bbq sauce options, sweet bbq, and regular bbq.
Grindah: Which I don't like, but it's still nice to have the option. I like no sauce, bone dry. I like a sore throat after my burger, tears streaming down my eyes.
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What was your favourite thing about Japan?
Grindah: Just the fact that everyone loved me, really. Loved the music 'n' that. It's incredible to know that something you've always wished for could come true, which is people bowing at me as I enter a room.
Beats: My favourite thing was probably just seeing how much Grindah enjoyed it, because, you know when you go on holiday you want it to be hot? But it wasn't hot. So that was a massive letdown.
Grindah: Jetlag really affected him as well actually, he got very moody, didn't ya?
Beats: We got there, I was like, what, why is the time—why am I so knackered? So we just started functioning on UK time, even though it was Japanese.
DJ Steves: For me, what I quite like is just intense, fast-paced music, lights — Japan is like being in a rave all the time. Literally, you go into a pharmacy and they'll have intense, almost like gabber music just playing in the pharmacy. Like: [makes 'untz untz untz' sound] and all the lights - it's nuts. For me, I felt weirdly a little bit at home there.
Chabuddy G: You did! You fit in. Because there's a lot of weirdos there, but you're a weirdo as well. There's a beautifully strange culture, and you're quite a beautifully strange fella yourself, aren't you?
DJ Steves: Yeah.
Chabuddy G: My favourite thing was the Japanese toilet. They gave me a full service down there, full MOT.
DJ Steves: He'd be on there for two hours a day.
Chabuddy G: I'd get a dead leg on there mate, 'cause the water would come up, and it would lick you clean out. Give you a full 360 clean. It would dry you, give you a little slap on the bum as you get up — it doesn't do that, but that would be quite nice.
DJ Steves: They should invent that. A little hand.
Chabuddy, how did you find navigating a foreign music industry and being a manager out there?
Chabuddy G: It was good. The thing with me mate: I'm a hustler. I can literally sell ice to an Eskimo, and curry to a racist. Put me anywhere mate, I'll hustle. So, I was in Japan, they had a bit of a new manager who I didn't really like the cut of his jib mate if I'm being completely honest with you, but I adapted.
DJ Steves: You clashed heads.
Chabuddy G: Yeah, you know what I mean? Alpha versus alpha, leader versus leader. The thing with me is, they're professional, they have a team, I'm a one-man band mate. I'm the PR guy, I'm the lawyer, I'm the accountant, I'm the masseuse, I'm the therapist.
DJ Steves: Chabsy's the manager equivalent of that geezer with a massive drum on his back and bells on his arms and a little guitar. He's got it all, attached to him, and he's just walking around the streets making mad noise. That is Chabsy.
Chabuddy G: I'm like a Swiss army knife that doesn't work.
DJ Steves: But it's got loads of things that it can do sort of well.
What did you learn out in Japan, about each other and yourselves?
Grindah: We learned a lot. I learned to appreciate my friends, but also, to appreciate the value of my own opinion more. And Beats realised how valuable my opinion is.
Beats: Yeah, it's weird, because we did have a little bit of an, er—
Grindah: Miscommunication, let's call it.
Beats: And that's never happened before really
Grindah: We'll put it down to the jetlag.
Beats: It was my fault. But kind of not.
Grindah: He didn't even know where he was a lot of the time.
Beats: I was on UK time, so it was about 3:PM. Sleeping through sunlight of course isn't good for your body clock.
Grindah: Or your mental health, which went to shit down there.
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Do you think the time you spent separated from each other with Grindah's move impacted that? How did you find being in Brentford and Essex?
Grindah: That's the thing, it's been a bit of a while. It was one of those things when you're a bit older and you don't see each other, and then you go on holiday together, and you've got to realise how each other operates again. Beats had to remember how to operate with me.
Beats: It's weird because, when phones came out we had Nokias and that, but then these new phones with cameras on we only recently started to, well, he would FaceTime me, all the time.
Grindah: Even when I was doing boxercise, 'cause I love my boxing. I do hour sessions every night and was making him watch me.
Do you think Roche and Miche missed each other?
Grindah: Yeah, I think they did, I think Roche really missed Miche.
Beats: Uhh. It's quite hard to read Roche, so... I think so?
Grindah: They get on along don't they? Roche loves all that girly stuff with Miche and all that.
Beats: It's weird, because she doesn't like that all but—
Grindah: Miche says she loves it?
Beats: Yeah, it's just a side I don't get to see.
People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan is out in cinema now
Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Editor, follow him on Twitter