Platforms haven’t always existed for the artist to thrive. Pirate radio has had a profound impact on the way London has discovered and digested its music. Kiss FM was originally a pirate radio station dedicated to promoting black culture and music when mainstream media outlets didn’t cater for their interest.
Kool FM has been credited with being the first pirate radio station to play Hardcore Jungle. It was founded three years prior to the most recognisable name in pirate radio history, Rinse FM.
Founded by Slimzee and Geeneus, Rinse pushed the freshly emerging sounds of garage, grime and dubstep when no one else would take it on. SWAMP81 founder Loefah, in a verbal analysis of dubstep with VICE, provides a symbolic illustration of what it was like tuning in at that time.
“Mala used to come round to mine when Hatcha and Youngsta were on air, park his car in a street in South Norwood and pick up a signal by the Crystal Palace tower. It was such a dodgy reception, and the heating in his car didn’t work either, so it was fucking freezing, but we’d just sit in our car for hours, sparking zoots and listening to Rinse.”
FWD>> hosted a radio show on Rinse FM, hosted by Kode9. The original line up included Hatcha, Youngsta and Slimzee, and over the years more names were added due to the surge of new talent joining the growing community. Producers like Plastician, Skream and Benga would soon dictate the London sound.
Big Apple Records played a pivotal role in the development of the genre. Hatcha and Skream both worked in a store that would be visited by Digital Mystikz (Mala and Coki), Zed Bias, Walsh and Loefah. It began selling hardcore and techno before later turning to the sounds of garage and drum and bass, and finally arriving at the emerging scene of dubstep. The store became the home of alien sound, where up and comers and fans alike could come to indulge in a sound that was yet to hit the mainstream.
As the sound itself evolved, so did the streams in which it was used to be digested. Rinse FM, Kiss FM and other pirate radio stations have since legalised, paving the way for new concepts such as Balamii, Radar and NTS.
These radio stations host an incredible wealth of diversity. Visit NTS’s website and you can choose to indulge yourself in anything from Persian Disco to Dancehall, Jungle and leftfield Techno.
“In terms of experimental electronic scene, there is definitely some activity going on. It seems to lie more in the realms of artists residing in and around London rather than things such as very experimental nights going on”, explains Andrews. “I feel that’s what is really pushing the scene are the radio stations. The diversity you hear on stations such as NTS is incredible – for me that’s where London’s scene is really thriving.”
When it comes to techno, however, Perc isn’t entirely convinced. It appears that the majority of artists follow in the footsteps of their predecessors instead of pushing for something truly cutting edge.
“A lot of the techno coming from London (as well as elsewhere) follows the preset templates what were laid out years ago. Most of what I hear can be directly linked to Mills, Hood, Basic Channel and increasingly Mike Parker. People need to take a chance on something different from the norm. Having Ansome’s South London Analogue Material (SLAM) label in London was great and even though it is now based in Berlin it still pushes a resolutely UK sound and attitude. People need to realise that you can break from established sounds and still make something that can call itself techno and can still move a dance floor.”
“I think it is clubs, venues and shops that have set out the city more that artists and labels. Blackmarket, Lost, Eukatech, Rough Trade, Plastic People, Reckless, Trade, Velvet Rooms, Turnmills, Bagleys, The End. It goes on and on.”