DFW Music News

Q&A: Rusko Explains Dubstep And Tells Us Why Bass Is The Best, Why American Music Is Boring and Why His Shows Keep Improving

UK-bred, LA-based producer Rusko has had a busy year, what with being signed to Mad Decent, partaking in Diplo and Switch's Major Lazer tour, and releasing his debut album O.M.G.!

As such, the dubstep pioneer is taking the US electronic music scene by storm, showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. And he'll be coming through Dallas for the third time this year this weekend, performing on Saturday night at the Lizard Lounge. And if his performance when he stopped through town for a gig at Trees in late April is any indication, then you can expect a crazy dance party once Rusko hits the stage tomorrow night.

In anticipation of that performance, we caught up with Rusko and chatted about Mad Decent, his favorite remixes, his best tour stories, and most importantly, BASS! Read the full Q&A after the jump.

So that everybody's on the same page--as far as our readers are concerned--what exactly is dubstep music?
Dubstep is any tune made at 140bpm where the bassline is the most important and prominent part of the track. It's kind of like a big melting pot of the last 20 years of dance music. Basically? SPACE, PACE, AND BASSSSSS!!!

What inspired you to start making dubstep music?
BASSSSSSS. I just love it, it's the most important part of a dubstep track. I was just a kid from Leeds who was obsessed with making music. I had no concept of the business and how my music would affect other people. My early stuff was very dub-inspired. I listened to tons of Iration Steppas, so they played a big part in my early music. Then I met Caspa and he released my first few tunes, I moved to London and the rest is history. I never had a clear vision of how I wanted my career to go, just that I couldn't imagine my life without making music, and I honestly think that's why it's had such longevity. I never set out to change dubstep; I just made the music that I liked and it happened to fit into that category. I am really thankful that dubstep gave me that platform, though, and I think my sound definitely took dubstep into a different direction. I'm all about the rave. I make bass-driven party music. I have fun, and I think that translates. I've always listened to jump-up drum-and-bass, and I think I set out to create jump-up dubstep--basslines you can sing along too! Crazy thing: "Woo Boost" is No. 5 in U.S. iTunes ringtones! It's next to, like, "Spanish Fly" and all these iconic melodies. Blows my mind really.

How does the American dubstep scene differ from the U.K. scene?   
I think American music in general has been so cookie-cutter for so many years. All the bands and rappers on the radio sound exactly alike. The same songs are on rotation and the labels feel comfortable and safe signing the same thing over and over. The same handful of producers are doing everybody's albums and I think the public is finally getting wise to it. Dance music in America has been like the black sheep; I never knew "rave" or "raver" to be a negative term until I came to America. But, recently, I've seen such a change. With the industry changing, I think It's a perfect time to introduce something new and excite people about music again! I don't know exactly why dubstep has become so appealing to the pop world; I think it's a combination of the speed (which works for singers and rappers) and the sounds, which we have brought over from electronic music. It's familiar enough so the audience can relate, but dubstep just brings in a whole new swagger!

Who was the most interesting artist you've worked with so far? And if you could work with anybody, dead or alive, who would it be?
I've been lucky enough to work with some really awesome people in the past year but I would definitely say MIA has been the most interesting artist so far. If anything, Maya was really adamant about her album not being a dubstep album. I came into the project as a musician and producer. Of course, it's going to sound like dubstep--I mean, that's my sound. She wanted my style of music, but there was never a time where we tried to make it sound more like dubstep. She is a super creative person and I think we just fused our styles and are thankful that it worked. If I could work with anybody it would be... ahhh... that's a hard one! I'm stuck between two--but I would have to go with Roger Troutman! My whole album is super inspired by his music and the talk box. I just find that style of music so much fun! I'd love to have him bust out some talk box vocals!

Is there one particular remix that you've done that you're the most proud of?
My favorite remix has to be Prodigy's "Take Me To The Hospital." I had so much fun making that remix. I had a different version that I had originally submitted, but the label thought that it was way too crazy--they didn't really get the sound. It was sort of the first of its kind. So when they came back for a second version, I made this really slow, completely opposite version and, right before I sent that in, they came back saying they changed their mind and loved the first version! Anyway, I went back in, did a few minor tweaks and delivered the version that is out there now. Plus, there is this amazing Youtube video from Dour Festival in Belgium that has that track playing in the background so it brings back fun memories!

How did you get signed to Mad Decent?  How has it been so far?
I met Switch first. He moved out to LA and linked up with Diplo, who owns the label. Switch has, like, the party house, so I'd be over there hanging out and making music then he introduced me to Diplo and it went on from there. It's been a really wicked ride. Besides the MIA album, we've done some other production work together and I just finished a huge U.S. tour with Major Lazer.

You've been to Dallas quite a few times already, how do you plan to out-do your last performances? Can fans expect to see something new from you?
This tour, I'm adding a few bells and whistles just to pump up the performance. But really, I have a pretty simple formula for a successful show--play the bangers, mate! The fans can always expect new tunes. When I'm home and not in the studio with other artists, I'm at home making loads of Rusko club smashers.

Do you have a favorite tour moment?
We had an off day in Philly on the Major Lazer tour. We were a whole bus load of geezers, plus Mimi who danced with them, and we had been living in such a small space for so long that Switch and I decided to check ourselves into the nicest hotel in town. We both got these lush rooms and then sat down to a full 10-course meal with wine pairings! It was the craziest thing going from living on a hot smelly bus and eating fried chicken every day, straight to feather pillows and foie gras! That was like a real rock star move.

What can we expect to see from you in the next year?
What can't you expect to see from me next year? That's a better question! I am planning on debuting a new live show, working on a ton of beats for big time artists and eventually I'm going to sit down and crack on with my second album! I'm designing some awesome new merch and turning everything up a notch!

Is there anything you'd like to say to your Dallas fans before you play on Saturday?
Bring your party shoes cuz I'm gonna stomp all over you Dallas! POW!

Rusko performs Saturday night at the Lizard Lounge.

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Catherine Downes
Contact: Catherine Downes

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