Take a pre-launch look at Radio Cult, the app poised to change how fans listen to the radio

With additional reporting from Tim Sanders (@TimboSlicee_)

Radio Cult has spent the last six months trialling and testing a new breed of grime radio – a platform where every notable grime-heavy station is available to stream from anywhere in the world. With the app launching on Tuesday, Once Upon A Grime are offering a preview and some insight into the real need for a platform like Radio Cult, ahead of the app dropping for download on 1 October.

For some context, grime is finally going international in a big way. It’s easy to talk about grime as an export product of London. It was certainly conceived in London and in time distributed around the UK – the result of which is regional variation and focal points in cities and town nationwide. In recent times, during grime’s “second wave”, it has become more common to talk about grime as a world-wide genre. More and more artists from around the globe are experimenting with the sound, creating emerging hubs of activity spread across countries and continents.

As it stands, grime radio is widely accessible in the UK. This is the earliest form of grime, where it began. Access is far more limited elsewhere, though, with stories of clandestine music sharing at parties between DJs in Brazil, and most access to grime in East Asia limited to YouTube. Once Upon A Grime has shed some light on grime’s prevalence internationally, with soundscapes spanning continental iterations based on the original London format. The culture of grime close to home has always leaned more on the covert side, preferring to tease music out through dubplates and build pressure by withholding releases for sometimes years. Now, grime needs to be accessible, but also retain that exclusive feeling – the impossible conundrum.

Radio Cult has gradually developed from a side-project into a major focus for grime producer and Reload Cult creator Risko. “I originally had the idea for the app around September last year,” he tells us. “I started development on it in January, thinking it was a good idea but nothing earth shattering. However, the feedback from everyone was much more positive than I was originally anticipating, which led to me dedicating almost all of my free time this year to developing it. While the app has only been in development for eight months or so, some of the functionality is built on top of Reload Cult, which was an eighteen month undertaking."

Importantly, Radio Cult allows access to music from around the world effortlessly, building a roster of smaller stations that range across a wide and ever-evolving spectrum of sound. Looking to the future, appealing to music fans looking for something new to explore will be a key part of Radio Cult’s goals. “We are definitely looking for the platform to grow internationally. There is great music and great radio all around the world and all of it deserves a great platform,” Risko explains.

More than that, the drive behind the app’s aim is drawn straight from his own experiences. “Myself being from New Zealand and heavily interacting with the grime scene via radio, I know how important it is to open up people to stations the world over.” Staying true to this, the stations carried on the app are specifically curated to offer something different and often challenging to listeners: “Generally we are interested in stations that play underground or niche music, that are very community focused and really care about their craft.” So far, 1Xtra, Rinse, Reprezent, Mode FM, dublab, Déjà Vu FM and Pyro Radio are among those listed, with broadcasters being added all the time.

So, where does the path lead from here on? The next steps are all about improving access to the music delivered by Radio Cult while building an underground international community. “Post-release, we really want to focus on polishing the app and making it better for both stations and normal listeners,” says its creator. “There are many more features we want to bring post release, the most requested one being the ability to download and play past sets. Beyond functionality though, we really want to grow the bond with ourselves, stations and listeners. We hope that there will be a compounding effect when we work with stations and they work with us, which will only serve to make the underground radio scene better.”

Follow Reload CultRadio Cult and Risko on Twitter for information leading up to the app launch on 1 October.