Kurupt FM On Their First Dates, Jobs and Drug Experiences
"Like with anything, you lose the passion, and my passion for delivering free papers didn't last that long."
L-R: Hugo Chegwin (Beats), Steve Stamp (Steves), Allan Seapa Mustafa (Grindah) and Daniel Woolford (Decoy). Photo: Jack Barnes
"Share Location" is an interview series in which we speak to British musicians, actors and public figures about their younger years and formative experiences.
Since 2014, People Just Do Nothing has shown the chaotic and delusional exploits of a bunch of wannabe MCs and DJs as they operate a pirate radio station, Kurupt FM, from a flat in Brentford.
Starting out as YouTube clips recorded by mates, over four series it has gone on to win a BAFTA and a Royal Television Society Award, becoming arguably the most popular and successful mockumentary since The Office.
Ahead of the fifth and final series, and given that the show is loosely based on some of the cast’s experiences growing up on a Brentford estate, I spoke to three of the Kurupt FM crew – Steve Stamp (Steves), Allan Seapa Mustafa (MC Grindah) and Hugo Chegwin (DJ Beats) – about their real-life formative years.
VICE: What's the worst job you've ever had?
Hugo Chegwin: Working in a will writing company as an accountant because I lied in the interview. They asked if I was good at maths, and as a joke I said, "Have you seen Rain Man?" and I got the job. I was fired two weeks later.
Steve Stamp: My first ever job was a paper round. I got paid £6 a week and had to deliver free papers to about half of Brentford. It was proper labour. At first I took it really seriously because I wanted do it well, and thought it was a massive responsibility that I'd been given, but then I started to see other people's dumped papers and thought, 'Maybe I can get away with chucking a few.' Like with anything, you lose the passion, and my passion for delivering free papers didn't last that long.
Allan Seapa Mustafa: My mum got me a job at her friend's husband's carpet shop. My job was cleaning the office on Saturdays. I was very lazy. I always hated work. I got fired because every time he went out the office I just read a newspaper while spinning on a swivel chair, vacuuming at the same time.
What was the first place you were served underage, and what are your memories of it?
Chegwin: A club in central London. I remember I wore a beige roll-neck to look older so I could get in and I was sweating all night. I also remember throwing up.
Perfect. What's the first thing you stole, if you've ever stolen anything?
Mustafa: Oh yeah, I used to steal a lot. I had a job at Chessington World of Adventures and I used to steal from there. I used to be on the games and there was no till, so you didn't get searched, and there were no cameras. The customers should put the pound into the drop box, but instead I’d put my hand out and take the pound. I'd stash them in my sock or get soft drinks in a plastic cup with lids and put all the change inside, so you wouldn't hear it rattling around. I earned a lot back then, and then spent it all on hash. We were all little shits back then.
Chegwin: Mine was sweets from the corner shop next to my primary school. I got away with it for quite a while and then I got taken into the headmistress's office and I said it was someone else. I snitched.
What was your favourite place to take someone on a date as a youngster?
Stamp: Nando's. I took my first proper girlfriend there and I tried to look like a big man and got the hot. My eyes just ended up streaming and I was blowing my nose at the table. It was a mess.
Chegwin: To be honest, I would just try and get them to my house. I know that sounds quite forward, but I had a technique where my mum couldn't smell the weed. I had a fan by the door and then I’d put gaffa tape around the whole doorframe and then have another fan by the window – you could hang out the window and smoke. I had a sofa in there and a shitty keyboard and speakers that I used to call a studio to impress people. I got my first girlfriend when I was 19, so that shows how well it worked.
Tell me about the first time you took drugs.
Chegwin: Well, weed doesn't count, does it. I've done pills and MDMA, but not often. The first time I took MDMA I was at a festival with my friends and one of them had a bottle of water, and I genuinely just wanted some water. She was gurning out of her mind and was like, "Take it," and I backed it. Then she ran up to me two minutes later and was like, "There's loads of MDMA in that water, don't drink it," and I’d already drunk it all. I stripped down to my boxer shorts and threw up, but then I had a sick night, man. I was dancing to Flying Lotus and gurning out, I loved it.
Stamp: I was in the park playing football. My older brother's mates started smoking weed before any of my mates did, and that's how I got introduced. So I remember smoking weed and then playing football, thinking that I was in the matrix but probably not playing that well.
What's the most disturbing thing you've ever seen take place in a bar or club?
Mustafa: I used to go jungle raving and to squat parties all over London every weekend, and they were always disturbing. It's quite a mad place to get out of your mind in – always full of loads of wrong 'uns. I saw someone get the absolute shit kicked out of them at one. There were people smoking crack; the whole place smelled like burning plastic because that's what crack smells like. Fucking hell, I hope my mum doesn't read this.
Stamp: I worked in a pub in Chiswick, and I remember vividly there being this massive fight one time. This guy offered out the entire pub and went mental. He had this tear up and knocked this guy out, and then turned around to the whole pub and was like, "Who wants some?" It was the weirdest fucking atmosphere. That was pretty dark. I mean, I don't want to have a fight at the best of times, but I definitely don't want to have a fight in the middle of a pub in front of a crowd.
Do you remember your first physical fight?
Chegwin: Primary school would have been my first, but they don't count because you can't really do any damage. In Brighton, when Steve was at uni, some guy just came up to me and for no reason knocked the hat off my head and beat me up. I ran away and hid in a park.
What was your first ever run-in with the police?
Chegwin: Smoking weed in a park in Brentford and three police cars pulled up and made us get face down on the floor. My mate had the weed in his hand and threw it behind him, and they found it and arrested him. It was a big drama at the time. Then, for about a week, I decided I wasn't blazing anymore.
Mustafa: Mine was for graffiti, at about 14. We were waiting for draw and my friend ended up graffing on this post box in the daytime while someone was posting a letter on the other side of it. Then we got in the dealer's car and the CCTV had clocked his number plate, and the police called him. He had a lot more to lose than us obviously, so called my mate who did it and said, "Look, the police are onto me, I’m going to have to give your name in because otherwise they'll come round my house." Then my mate called me and asked if he should say I was with him or not. I was like, "No, no, no, don't," but my mum overheard it and was like, "What was that all about?" I was like, "My mate was in a car crash." She said: "You're lying, I heard everything." She marched me to the police station, made them nick me and then sat in the interview room and cried the whole time. The policeman was like, "Look what you're doing to your mum." It was fucking horrible. It was so degrading.
What's the worst night out you've ever had in the UK?
Chegwin: There was one show we did in Swansea that was definitely up there. We were playing a DJ set and our equipment kept on turning off and malfunctioning. The set went really badly, and then afterwards it was just awkward and dead. On the way home it was just carnage – fights everywhere in the streets, like one of those Broken Britain documentaries. I just remember thinking: 'This has been the shittest night out, what are we doing here?'
What are your favourite and least favourite places that you’ve visited in Britain?
Chegwin: I'm only saying this because we had the worst show ever there, but Swansea. Favourite place, I have to say Brentford, man. Even though it's a shit-hole, I love it.
Mustafa: I love Birmingham and Manchester: great places, loads of culture, the music and rave scene, plus the people are amazing.
Stamp: I've got a soft spot for Brighton. I went to uni there and have a lot of fond memories. Worst place? I don't want to shit on Wales again, but... actually, Blackpool. Blackpool has that amazing nostalgic charm to it, but there's a dark underbelly that is really fucking depressing. There's shops that look like they've been looted, but that's just what the shops are like.
When was the first time you got in somewhere for free, or were given something for free, based on your newfound fame?
Mustafa: The first ever gig we did. There were seven of us and it was in some west London warehouse. We came dressed in character and we got paid £100 to split between us. Plus, we got a bottle of vodka, and I just remember thinking, 'Fucking hell. It's glass and I'm allowed to hold it in the club.' I was just holding this vodka all night, thinking, 'Finally... I'm finally allowed.'
What was the biggest mistake of your teenage years?
Mustafa: Smoking way too much weed. I always overthink everything, and I think it's contributed to a bit of anxiety. I wish I could still smoke it, because I loved it. You should never abuse things, and I abused it to the point where I can’t smoke it anymore. Also, I didn't really achieve anything until I was, like, 26. I met Hugo and Steve and all that at about 25, and then shit changed. Before that, I was just lazy with no ambition. I guess you can't just blame weed, but I was smoking way too much. Luckily I had a panic attack, otherwise I might have never stopped. I didn't know what anxiety and panic attacks were – it wasn't something young boys talked about – but I remember sitting there and my left arm started tingling and, shit, I thought I was having a heart attack. I did more research and realised it was anxiety and learned how to control it.
Finally, who is the worst living Brit?
Stamp: Oh man. Whoever I say I'm going to regret, because I’ll think of someone worse later. I don't want to be obvious and say Theresa May. I'll say the people who led us into Brexit – the puppeteers of the Leave campaign. Let's just say the Leave campaigners. All of them.
Chegwin: I'm not that political or switched on, but I have to say that EDL guy, Tommy Robinson. He's horrible. Anyone that wears too much Lyle and Scott.
The final series of People Just Do Nothing starts on Monday the 12th of November on BBC2.
Buy tickets for The Last Kurupt FM Tour Ever (Probably) here.