108.9: Interview with People Just Do Nothing's Steve Stamp (DJ Steves)
It's been 6 years since BBC Three first introduced us to a clan of hopelessly, and often endearingly, misguided Brentford residents. Following the story of Kurupt FM, a depressingly dysfunctional London-based pirate radio station, the show started out as a series of DIY Youtube webisodes. Following a snowballing popularity, People Just Do Nothing was granted a pilot episode by BBC, and from there, it has grown to become a widely adored mockumentary series that spans over 5 series, and, as of August 2020, a full length film.
Amongst the other beloved characters of MC Grindah, Beats and Chabuddy G, we find the unfortunately not all too bright and yet relentlessly optimistic Steves. Often the oblivious victim of the station's unruly antics, this drug- addled and ultimately clueless DJ offers a stark contrast to the man who portrays him; Steve Stamp. Steve is the man behind the hilarious and frequently genius writing of the show, and, whilst they may differ in their intelligence, both Steve Stamp and DJ Steves share one thing; an avid love of UK Garage and a resultant passion for their time behind the decks.
Steve is now pursuing a career in both writing and DJing. As the production of their film comes to a close, Steve has began to play solo shows, one of which being his show with 24hr Garage Girls at Old Red Bus Station on 1st Feb. Ahead of his Leeds appearance, we had a chat with him about his musical inspirations, the enduring relevance of radio, his process of writing and DJing, and how he effectively juggles the two.
Kurupt FM (Image From NME)
What first got you into music, and how have your tastes evolved since?
I used to DJ with Hugo (DJ Beats) when we were in school. Mainly garage but also rap music, and I became obsessed with certain producers like the Neptunes and Timbaland and would geek out trying to find beats of theirs that no-one else had. I don’t think my taste has evolved massively, I’m still playing those same garage tunes from back in the day and I’m still geeking out about the Neptunes – they just announced they’re making music together again..!
What influence has pirate radio had on you? Are there any particular shows, DJs and MCs that you remember listening to that really inspired you?
Flex FM, Ice FM… There were a few stations that So Solid would go on, and they were the guys back then. I remember when they were clashing Heartless Crew though, that opened my eyes to those guys. Fonti was doing mixes with rap instrumentals into garage and I got obsessed with them too.
Do you think that radio still has the same impact that it used to on upcoming artists?
I think there’s certain genres that radio is still integral to. Grime especially. It’s a place where young MCs and DJs can hone and showcase their craft and start to make a name for themselves. The internet has obviously created other ways of doing this but radio remains a very good way for upcoming artists to get themselves noticed. Bigup stations like Rinse and NTS that are bringing through new talent and giving people opportunities.
Name 5 records that have contributed to your love of music the most over the year.
Slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
Tyler the Creator - Igor
Steve Lacy – Apollo XXI
James Blake – Assume Form
Kano – Hoodies All Summer
You’ve said in previous interviews you didn’t feel a great deal of pressure performing as Steves because you are performing as a character. Do you feel an added sense of pressure performing as a solo artist?
Yeah thanks for reminding me… Haha nah, it’s nice to just go and play music without having to make it into a stage show. Feels a bit more grown up. If you hear me clang though then that’s a homage to Steves and completely deliberate.
Kurupt FM Take On Wireless Festival
Who and what do you draw inspiration from when writing for the different characters?
I’m very tuned into social awkwardness and I’m always on the lookout for amusing human behaviour, whether that’s in the real world, in documentaries, a story in the paper… Also once you have a set of characters it’s quite fun placing them into various scenarios. I could be at the opticians being told I need glasses and I’ll think “what would Grindah do?”
Writing and DJ’ing are two very different worlds. How do you find it balancing the two?
There are similarities. Both involve me hunched over trying to do something and experiencing imposter syndrome. What’s nice about DJing (apart from it getting me out my flat) is that you get an immediate reaction. Writing is quite a slow process, like a puzzle that you’re sitting there fretting over and it can be quite frustrating. DJing is a nice release.
After 5 series, and now an upcoming movie, what would you say are the key differences in the creative process that you have noticed since you first started out filming webisodes?
We’ve all become a lot more disciplined because we all want to be as good as we can be, whether that’s the writing, the acting, or even the live shows. We’re all aware that this is a massive opportunity and we want to learn as much as possible and give our fans something special every time.
We’re looking forward to show in Leeds. What can people expect from a Steve Stamp (DJ Steves) show?
I’m not going to come out and do a load of crazy EZ shit. I’m just going to play some of my favourite UKG tracks and try not to fuck up any of the mixes.
And finally, Brentford are smashing it this season. What do you think their chances are of promotion?
I‘ve bought a season ticket for next year so fingers crossed. Leeds are looking pretty tasty too so maybe see you up there…
Steve Stamp (Image from Vice)