Rusko Talks About Bringing UK Dubstep to Cali and Shares His New EP for Free
|Christopher Mercer aka Rusko|
Born Christopher Mercer, the English 27 year-old dubstep king better known as Rusko announced that his new EP titled Kapow will be released on his website via Rusko Recordings this Sunday November 4th for free with an iTunes release on November 6th. Currently on a three-month tour to promote the EP, the outing was slightly derailed due to canceled shows in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Not to be held back however, Mercer will be here in OC November 9th at the Observatory in Santa Ana. We caught up with Chris and got some good laughs. In his charming British accent, he gave us insight on his background, what he loves about living in the states and why he's giving away his EP for free.
OC Weekly (Alejandra Loera): A lot of people think EDM and specifically dubstep doesn't require much musical skill or knowledge. Tell us about your background coming from a degree in Music Performance from Leeds College of Music. What influenced you to become a producer and DJ?
Rusko: "I've been making music all of my life playing the piano, saxophone and guitar in various bands. I played in reggae bands too, but loved making electronic dub stuff at home on my computer. After a while and me being a control freak, I realized I couldn't play the instruments as well as I wanted. I was better off being a solo producer. I loved to write out the music first and that became what I did. The first tracks that got played and picked up were dubbed reggae tracks like "SNES Dub9." I then turned to my friend Caspa who at the time was Sub Soldiers from London. He used to play some of my old reggae tracks and it became popular on pirate radio. I moved to London with Caspa and we set up our label. I was never really a DJ and only started to DJ once people started asking me to come out and play my tracks. I had to learn to perform, but it was never the original plan. Now I can't live without it."
How do you think you have changed and things have progressed in the past six years?
"I used to work part time as a sound engineer and it taught me a lot about making tracks for the clubs. I was like oh my god I don't know how to DJ, but I didn't want to spend all my time making music in my room either. It started off really slow as I sold 1,000 vinyls and a bunch of DJs on pirate radio started playing them. Then I started DJing pirate radio myself. Before iTunes we used to make 1,000 vinyls and posted them at a record store on your own. Now if you make a track everyone plays it and it self promotes. Back then it was a more organic and fun way to do things. The music was so unknown and underground at the time that no real major label would pick it up. It was all self promoted and picked up by other artists as well as fans. It's a lot lot easier now. People like Zedd for example who just sent four of his tunes to Skrillex. Then Skrillex played them everywhere and brought him out as a DJ support on his tour. Now a kid from nowhere is on the top charts on Beatport. That would have never happened before."
What do you think this new use of technology has done to the dubstep scene?
"In dubstep right now everything sounds the same. I get a song from a kid in LA that sounds exactly like another song from a kid in Texas which is kind of crazy. Right now u can go online and download all the dubstep synth presets and all the major tracks. My inbox is full with a lot of songs that sound exactly the same. They all use the same drum sounds and bass sounds. It is easy to be an electronic artist right now but you have to do something really different to stand out. I personally have evolved my sound somewhat. In the last couple of years, dubstep has become a lot harder and more aggressive with more distorted sounds. This is not what I'm about. I purposely try to make something more melodic and uptempo than the majority of angry distorted music right now. I want to make something that's happy and melodic. Some people associate dubstep with the craziest hardest shows. But I think if you want something crazy then go to a heavy metal show. Dubstep doesn't have to be like that."