It’s difficult to discuss London’s sprawling musical landscape without mentioning Rinse FM.
Founded in 1994, the station’s story is a masterclass in legitimacy gained without compromise. Its evolution from east London pirate platform to a globally-recognised – and legal – hub for underground-forged sounds (Rinse was granted its official FM licence some 16 years on from its launch, in June 2010) is just one part of that tale.
There are well-thumbed chapters for Rinse’s nurturing of emergent-turned-vital UK genres, DJs and artists, from grime, dubstep and funky through to names such as Katy B, Elijah & Skilliam and longtime show host Plastician. Plus dedicated footnotes on the fearlessness of its team, headed up by co-founder Geeneus.
There’s been some change at the station so far this year. Largely the acquiring of London pirate radio station Kool FM and Bristol’s SWU.FM, the departure of long-term resident Slimzee and – in its biggest programme refresh to date – the addition of 140 new residents for the spring and summer season.
What better time, then, to catch up with some new residents and discuss their favourite shows from the station’s legendary vaults, among other heartfelt Rinse reflections.
Kowton was a big inspiration to me when I made the switch from bass music to a more atmospheric techno-leaning sound in 2016-17. I used to play this show over and over again after I first heard it. The mixing is seamless. I love how melodic it becomes from the halfway point, and the sound of the podcast is so undeniably his even though he is playing a lot of other people’s music. This really inspired me to not only strive to hone in on my own sound as a producer, but as a DJ, too.
It’s difficult to pick a favourite [Rinse show] because I’ve been listening to the station since 2010, and so many shows have influenced me as an artist over the years – including the Hessle Audio show, Swamp 81, Keysound, Bake and tons more. The station as a whole has contributed a great deal to my sound, there’s so much music I would never have discovered without it.
One of my favourite Rinse FM shows from the more recent vaults is object blue’s show. I can always tell that she selected her tunes with a pure excitement for the mind-bending producers in synergy with her own production. The show was always in the pursuit to discover new audio territories, and I found some really incredible underground artists music from her guest mix series as well.
This almost feels like asking a parent to pick a favourite child because there is an absolute plethora of shows, styles and presenters that make the Rinse FM broadcasts so special. A show that definitely sticks out to me was Emerald and IZCO’s back-to-back on 9 January 2020 – back when Corona was only a tequila-flavoured beer enjoyed with a slice of lime. I can’t remember exactly where I was when I was listening to the show, but I just remember how it made me feel. I’m obsessed with back-to-backs – it’s one of my favourite ways to perform as a DJ because the connection you feel with people through music is intensified so much more. I personally also love to hear multiple genres in a mix – for me it demonstrates range in taste, dexterity on the decks and generally highlights DJs who aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
This particular show has so many sick garage, funky house, grime and 2-step tunes, my face was more screwed up than the economy after Liz Truss dipped from office last year. I was shouting “JHEEZ” every three minutes. I also remember this deep wish I had to be in the studio with them and join the rotation for a back-to-back-to-back.
As a self-described radio fanatic who started out spinning grime, Rinse FM really helped me understand how to bring together communities in music. If London was the tinder, Rinse FM was the match that sparked sonic experimentation and, subsequently, a cultural evolution.
Radio sustains a unique ability to nurture local, national and global communities, connecting people from inner cities to remote villages through the output it generates. Rinse FM is the perfect example of this. Understanding the significance of spaces like Rinse FM even provided the fuel for me to co-found my own community radio station, Oroko Radio based in Accra. I cannot stress enough how essential Rinse FM is as a cultural space as well as the weight of its contributions to UK music history. The UK would not be where we are today musically without it.
For as long as I can remember, it has always been on my goal list to be a resident on Rinse FM. All of my favourite DJs and producers have done some of the most iconic mixes on there. In 2012-2015, I was the biggest NGUZUNGUZU fan and would literally rinse all their mixes to death, including this one released in 2015. I had just got deported that year and this mix got me through a lot of dark times and smoothed me from inside. I’m proud to say I’m now one of the DJs on the same station that I was so inspired by back then.
If there’s a show I need to mention, it’s one of the final Plastician shows on Rinse. It’s such a good dubstep retrospective and has a bunch of VIP versions. For this dubstep special, he was joined by Pinch, Joker, Kromestar, Crazy D and Pokes. I remember hearing it in the studio for the first time and me and some friends just couldn’t stop listening. Such great vibes.
Just a few months later, on the UK leg of my tour in 2017, I was lucky to be invited by DJ Haus to play a 45-minute DJ set on Rinse. Boy, was I hyped – especially after we chugged two pints across the street from the studio, that was at Brick Lane at the time. Anyway, long live Rinse FM!