For the last decade or so, we've witnessed the hype, the rise and the glut of dubstep flooding the electronic music scene. To the average UK purist, the North American sound is now far removed from the sound that spawned it, at least in terms of the festival circuit, where it's become a mating call for shirtless bros who wanna fuck shit up. Luckily, two guiding lights for the genre, Caspa and Rusko, aren't willing to perpetuate the stereotype. Both are considered pioneers in the scene thanks to their shared collaboration on the classic Fabric.37Live album that helped bring original UK dubstep to the forefront back in 2007.
Recently, they've reunited and started doing shows and festivals together (like their recent set a Nocturnal Wonderland over Labor Day Weekend). The dynamic duo teamed up once again, not just to create their own spin on original dubstep, but to touch on various sounds of UK bass music that influenced their careers. Recently, they spoke to the Weekly about their chance to perform together again for the first time in years and the creation of their new release EP1 featuring their latest oddly-titled track "Cheese."
OC Weekly (Nate Jackson): How has your sound evolved together in the realm of dubstep?
Rusko: Dubstep is kind of an amalgamation of all the music that came before it, from garage to drum n bass, to jungle, so rather than take an influence from that, this time we wanted to make an old school jungle track. So we’re trying to touch all the bases of UK bass music. It’s paying homage to the original jungle style, the original hardcore style. There wouldn’t be a dubstep if that didn’t come first. So rather than be influenced by that, we’re just diving in head first into doing our own take on all those different styles.
How did you come up with the name “Cheese” for your latest track?
Rusko: Lots of weed [laughs]. We were smoking on UK Cheese and ended up naming the track “Cheese”. For us, it was about taking it back to how we first started doing it and getting back in the studio, let’s just have fun and mess around and not just try to make a single or a release track for a tour. Let’s just make music and pick from that what we’d like to release. “Cheese” sounds nothing like anything on EP1 and everything on EP1 sounds different from each other. It’s just what kind of vibe we were feeling in the studio and how we’re feeling about the UK library of sounds.
Caspa: Rather than always working on a bunch of tracks that we’re just sending back and forth, we put in a couple of studio days every month and just spend a few days just concentrating, nothing but studio and having an awesome track at the end of it. For the next three or four weeks we go do our own thing, play our own gigs make our own tracks. But when it’s studio time, we book in and literally do nothing else, we close off, turn off the phones...it’s a nice way to work because usually everything’s sent over email. I look forward to those couple of days we put in every month.
What kind of influences, both musical and non-musical, help inform your music these days?
Rusko: Influence is everywhere but never short of it. Being from London there’s so much good music around us. In America you guys don’t have pirate radio stations. In the UK we can set our dial to 15 different stations at any given time and listen to cool underground music…My music tends to be more dark and cinematic music, Caspa is more cheeky and uplifting— so it’s really a nice combo in the studio and every time we get together we always come up with something good. We’ve got piles of tracks sitting in the studio now.
How do you stand out amongst other DJs on the festival circuit?
Rusko: We’re playing music that no one’s playing at these big festivals, we’re playing the original UK dubstep sound, everyone’s playing this EDM, trap, it’s all about the big build ups, our stuff is a little more skanky and vibey, more stripped back UK music. It takes the kids like 30 minutes or so to figure our what’s going on, but once you’ve got them they’re like woah what the fuck is this?! And it’s the UK sound.
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Caspa: You hear the same tunes played several times on a stage in a day with a lot of current DJs playing each other’s tracks. It’s nice that when we go on we know we’re not gonna play a track that’s already been played. It’s strange because it hasn’t been that many years, how the dubstep scene has evolved. Us playing our classic sound sounds so different than everything on the stage. Often we confuse as many people as we entertain, but that’s the point. It’s nice to come on and have a full palette of colors to paint from and have ups and downs, a little reggae vibe section where we play some of the dubby stuff, or grime sections, there’s so many places we can go with it, it ends up sounding like a world apart from anything else on the stage.
Rusko: We’re like the Bob Rock of dubstep.
How is your approach to touring and recording different with this project versus your solo careers?
Caspa: The worst thing we could do at this point since we’re enjoying it so much is to deliver an album on a date to a label and play night after night and be away from home for months, we’d get burnt out really quick. So the fact that we’re loving it so much and more than we have for years, we’re super conscious to keep it light and keep it fun and not burn out on that whole album, tour cycle. So we’re keeping it open ended because we want to keep doing this as long as possible.