Rustie, reluctant poster boy of the last decade’s wave of paint-splattered, synth-heavy hip-hop, has a new EP out.
Titled Sunburst, it marks the Scot’s first release for Warp Records, and like his close associate Hudson Mohawke’s records for the label, it ventures into midnight-shot prog rock and metal while staying rooted in the snap, bump and eccentricity of Southern hip-hop. We spent five minutes with Rustie talking about the roles that King Crimson, Yes, Golden Axe and more played in Sunburst‘s creation.
Sunburst is obviously your biggest release to date – how long did you spend making it?
“Some of the tracks are a couple years old like ‘Dragonfly’ and ‘Chew’, the other tracks were done last summer.”
Did you have quite a strong idea of what you wanted to do with it from the start, or did it form more gradually?
“I hate planning, I just like things to come together naturally. Warp really just picked the tracks they liked from everything I’ve sent them and it worked out that way. My intention for the EP is how I almost always want my productions to sound – aggressive, energetic and emotive.”
There’s something really stretched and tortured about it, especially on ‘Beast Nite’. What sort of stuff inspired the EP, and what are you writing about on it?
“’Beast Nite’ in particular is kinda inspired by the game Golden Axe. Im not really writing about anything when I make music, I think music communicates its own message to emotions and the soul bypassing the writer to a certain extent especially when there are no lyrics.”
I interviewed Hudson Mohawke a while back, and he talked about being really influenced by Jean-Luc Ponty. There’s definitely elements of grandiose, technicolour rock in Sunburst – where do you think this side of you comes from?
“I love Mahavishnu [Orchestra] and fusion / prog music in general. John McLaughlin, King Crimson’s [Robert] Fripp and Soft Machine’s [Allan] Holdsworth are my favourite guitarists. One of my mum’s favourite bands was Yes and I’m a big fan of them too.”
Likewise, where does the title come from? The cover’s a Zelda tribute, right?
“I named it after my Les Paul Sunburst [guitar] used on the record. Yeah, you’re dead right about Zelda. Ocarina of Time is my favourite game ever ever ever.”
Do you think you’ve changed a lot as a musician since Jagz the Smack, and if so, in which major ways?
“I think I’ve progressed an awful lot since then. I made that music in ’05 / ‘06 and I only started producing in ‘02 / ‘03. I picked up the guitar again recently after like 10 years since I neglected it in favour of turntables. I’m slowing becoming more able at the keys as well. So my work’s developed in a musical way in terms of more developed chords, harmonies and basslines.”
How’s the live show working out? Does it still involve the guitar, like at the Lightbox?
“To be honest I don’t really think I’m good enough to pull off the live guitar thing. I’ve ditched it for now, I just don’t have the time to rehearse properly as producing the music itself takes up so much time. Recording, engineering, sound design, arrangement, mix down, pre-mastering – it’s a lot for one person to do. After all that the last thing I want to do is spend ages trying to work out how to play these lead melodies on the guitar.”
Anything you can tell us about the album?
“Its really just going to be in the same vein as the EP – no collabs or rappers or anything.”
Photo credit: Steve Braiden