The Greatest Interview You’ve Never Heard: Rusko Talks Drum and Bass, New Studio, and His Naked, Underground Society?
The Greatest Interview/Photography You’ve Never Heard or Seen: A new Sensible Reason series featuring artist interviews and photo sets that have been once lost or forgotten, and never published…until now!
Way back when, a whole six months ago now, I was given the amazing opportunity to sit down and chat with legendary dubstep pioneer, Chris Mercer, more commonly known as Rusko. At the time, English producer and DJ was stopped in Boston on his North American Lift Me Up tour with Roni Size, Tonn Piper, and MC Dynamite. Rusko, with such infectious enthusiasm and passion, lets us in to his life on tour, discusses new music and music production habits, and reveals his innermost thoughts.
Sensible Reason: How has Lift Me Up tour been going so far, and what makes this tour special or different than tours in the past?
Rusko: Oh wow! This tour has been going…. I can’t believe we are, like, two and a half weeks into it already, I feel like we just started.
SR: It’s definitely a long tour! [a marathon, 33-stop tour!]
Rusko: That’s a good thing though! I’m not like, “Oh my god. Are we only two weeks in?”. I’m actually like, “Yessssss!”. I’m almost a bit sad that we’re already two and a half weeks in, like, “aww, it’s gone already; ugh I could do it all over again!”. But no, it’s awesome. It’s actually the first time I’ve had a full bus. Normally it’s just me, one tech guy, maybe a tour manager, and that’s it. But this time we have full support. I have my own seat, and we have a bus full of Englishmen, which is rather good. There’s fresh tea on the brew every morning! That’s pretty rad. But yeah, this is the first tour we’ve been coming out pretty much playing the drum and bass. Roni Size has been playing the drum and bass; I’ve been playing a lot of the new stuff drum and bass. It’s really been the first tour where we’ve had “a rolling party.” It’s a rolling party. A party on wheels. Literally, we show up and the party is still going from last night. We just transition to the next city; that’s it. Another day, another city, that’s it. I love it.
SR: Speaking of drum and bass, do you see your sound shifting back towards drum and bass right now?
Rusko: Yeah, I would say so! A lot of the new stuff I’ve been making and trying out in the new sets has been some drum and bass stuff. I’ve made a couple of new bits and pieces, but right now I’m kind of free. I did the one release with OWSLA, and I’ve been talking to Hospital Records about doing a release later in the year. So, I’m not really signed to any label or tied down to anything. So, right now it’s kind of fun. I’ve been working a bunch of reggae tracks, so I might do a little reggae thing at the end of the year… I’m thinking about doing some Christmas reggae, that might be quite fun. Maybe I’ll do a Christmas reggae album. I definitely will. [laughs]
SR: (Fan question) What goes into your creative process from start to finish?
Rusko: Oh my gosh, that’s a tough question. It hasn’t changed very much since my start. The only things that have changed are that I have a studio, which is maybe two miles from my house. My studio was always in my bedroom when I was first starting off, and then had a spare room which was like my studio. Last year, I actually moved my studio to a separate place. So now I actually have to leave my house, drive somewhere different, and it’s the best thing ever. So that’s a good thing that I actually have a separate place. The dog isn’t barking in my ear; I don’t have the TV on in the background. There’re fewer distractions! That is absolutely primo! I love it now! I don’t know how I ever made beats in my house with all those distractions. So, that’s really good. Taking breaks is another cool thing. Since I’ve moved to this new studio, I can’t smoke in there, so I have to go outside for cigarettes and stuff. So, I got out and have my little cigarette break, and it works a trick! I would always do 3-4 hour sessions working on the same thing. Now I take a break like every half hour; it’s wicked, and all of these little ideas pop up! So yeah, having a separate place where I can totally switch off is awesome. Taking breaks has been the coolest thing, taking breaks and eating properly, but that’s just part of getting older though! Usually I would get really sleepy like, “Ugh I’m tired; now I’ve got to go home”. But, then a restaurant opened right by my studio, so I just go there and get three meals a day from this beautiful restaurant, and I’ve even got a tab behind the bar. I noticed I would work like 2-3 hours longer in my day just because I was actually eating decent food, and having three meals a day with vegetables. I’ve actually been eating properly rather than just eating crap which I normally do. Since the restaurant opened, I’m eating healthy. Normally I’m just like, “Eat loads of candy!“, but eating healthy has given me an extra 2 hours a day.”
SR: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Rusko: [silence and smug look]
SR: …or one of them? [laughs]
Rusko: Yeah, that would be a better question. [laughs] Umm… What’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done? I mean, I’ve done some pretty crazy things. [Thinks really hard]. Wow, that’s a really tough question! What’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done? I never normally get stumped! That’s so hard…I once shit my pants on a plane.
Nina (Tour Manager): That’s just gross!
Rusko: That is just gross. That’s not crazy is it? I’m trying to think about crazy things that have happened…I may have to come back to that…
SR: Save it for the end?
Rusko: Yeah, I can’t believe you stumped me! That’s good! No one ever stumps me. I always talk too much. Wow! Nina, have you ever seen me stumped at a question?
Nina: He’s usually very chatty…
Rusko: [interrupts] …I am like motor mouth!
Nina: You can’t shut him up.
Rusko: I have never been stumped. You just stumped me. Congrats!
Nina: That was good. That was a first, I’ve never seen that, ever.
Rusko: Wow. Fuck.
SR: A moment in history.
Rusko: Yeah, you just did! Jesus! [laughs]
SR: Another “out there” question…So, you are the ruler of your own planet, tell me about your society.
Rusko: Oh my gosh, umm…naked, straight up. I spend a lot of time naked, and I believe people should be more naked. I think people should be free. People get annoyed with ladies breastfeeding and stuff like that; it’s crazy! It’s the natural body; it should be free. That would be number one – Everybody would be naked. There would be no drug laws; everything would be regulated. So you could go to a nice clinic and do whatever you needed to do, you know? Yeah, there would be no drug laws; everyone would be naked…all of the time. Maybe people would live underground, and “over-ground” would just be nice. All the buildings and the places where people live, work, and stuff like that would be under the ground, and over the ground would just be the nature. So, all of the ugly would be buried, you know? So, you do your days’ work under, and then go up for a break in the beautiful nature. That would be kind of a cool way to live, wouldn’t it? Like, all of the ugly stuff is under the ground; all of the work and that kind of shit is underground, and then everything else is up above. And, if you wanted to live up there, you’d have to live in a tree house or something. You can’t be building three story houses. Yeah, that would work. It might be a bit cold naked underground though. We would have to work on some naked, underground heating. [laughs]
SR: Are you excited to be a part of the Winter Galactic tour on New Year’s Eve?
Rusko: Yeah, that’s crazy! I had a bunch of offers for New Year’s Eve, a lot of different bills to be part of, but I chose that one because it seemed like the most exciting show. New Year’s Eve is always a crazy time for us, it’s the busiest time of the year, but that was the one event I just loved. I loved the lineup and was like, “Wow, that looks like fun”. It’s rare that I can do that. Normally, I don’t get too much information; it’s just like here or here. But it’s going to be rad. That’s going to be two years I’ve been in New York for New Year’s. I was there last year with Afrojack and Diplo – that was really fun. So it’s going to be two years in New York for New Year’s, which is going to be really cool. I’m going to India right before that, too, to play with Nero. They’re good friends of mine, and I’ve never been there, so it’s going to be a fun Christmas. New Year’s in New York, Christmas in India…it’s beautiful right? Living the dream!
SR: Anything you want to tell your fans?
Rusko: I’m going to release some new tracks on my website before the year is out. I’m not signed to any label or tied down. I release all of my tracks for free. Some of the tracks I am trying out on the tour, and some of the demos I’m working on finishing up, so before Christmas, there’s going to be some more free music on the website. So, stay tuned for that! And, if I’m in your city before the tour ends, come say hello! I’m normally hanging around, and I’m a friendly guy, so come say hi! [laughs] But yeah, I look forward to playing people some new tracks, and they’re going be out before the year is out!
SR: So, have you thought back to one of your craziest experiences, or are you officially stumped?
Rusko: What’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done – now I’ve got time to think about it. Different people have different perceptions of crazy, you know? Have you asked anybody else, the ‘what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done’ question?
SR: No, this is the first time actually. [laughs]
Rusko: I was hoping you could tell me what someone else said, and I could get a little hint from there… Nina, what’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done?
Nina: I think there’s just too many to count.
Rusko: There’s way too many!
Nina: You’ve done quite a few crazy things…. Honestly, you’ve even stumped me, and I’m never stumped! I can usually answer any of these questions, but I have no idea. Think about the last tour?
Rusko: Boob milk. Boob milk slut fest.
Nina: That is a ridiculous story, but it’s very crazy.
Rusko: I mean, I did get squirted in the face with boob milk….
SR: How did that happen?
Rusko: I got pinned down and squirted in the face with real lady boob milk, and that ended in a slapping fight. We had to be pulled apart; it ended in a gnarly fight. That’s not the craziest thing though, it’s crazy, but that’s not the best one! These things pop in to my head, and I’m like, “it’s not good enough,” and I know there’s better. I know there’s more crazy. It’s so hard; I think I’m stumped.
Nina: I would say the pillow fight with a bunch of women and then the breast milk squirt is pretty up there.
Rusko: No, I don’t think that’s it. It’s always crazy things that other people do that I’m involved in. Like, that wasn’t the craziest thing I did, I was just a part of someone else doing something crazy. That would be a good question for her.
Nina: I think your set, in general, is rather crazy. There’s always a lot of dancing.
Rusko: That’s true. When I fell off the stage, that was pretty crazy…
Nina: Playing with your shoes on is pretty crazy. I’ve only seen you do that once…
Hopefully, Sensible Reason will get the opportunity to catch up with dubstep-mastermind, Rusko, again and see if he’s remembered the craziest thing he’s ever done! Big thanks to Justin at Rephlektor Ink for making this interview possible, and an even bigger thanks to my audio recorder for finally retiring after a 6-month game of hide-and-seek!