Interview: DJ Ruckus
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:45:44
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Now, the dance floor has never been hit by anything quite like "We Rage".
The new single by DJ Ruckus and Maestro Harrell features none other than the legendary Jermaine Dupri, and it bulldozes a new middle ground between electronic dance music, hip-hop, and trap. Simply put, it's downright revolutionary for the electronic scene right now. Based on a pulsating groove and hyper-charged beat, it's meant to make asses move, and it'll undoubtedly do that every time it's played. It's also a major moment for Ruckus, heralding his arrival as a formidable force. He's been one of the world's most-renowned DJs for some time now due to constant touring and innovative, inimitable shows. However, this is another side of him and a new chapter...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, DJ Ruckus talks "We Rage", working with Rev Run, and so much more.
How are you feeling about "We Rage"?
It's an exciting record for me. It was a lot of work getting it done. It was tough to get everyone on the same page to do something, but we got it all together. Jermaine Dupri is on it. He's a legendary producer of all genres. Then, my buddy Maestro Harrell is on it. He's an amazing actor and producer. He's actually in my neighborhood. He used to be signed as an R&B singer, and then he got into EDM music. He really loves what I've been doing with my crew, and he follows me around like a little brother. It's this mix of the EDM and hip-hop genres together. We're doing some great things together.
How did "We Rage" come together?
Well, Maestro and I have done some things together. About three or four years ago, he did a remix of my record "Soul Soldier". Then, we ended up moving into the houses next door to each other without even knowing. I was moving into this house, and he was like, "Hey, what are you doing here?" I said, "What are you doing here?" He told me, "I live right there!" We both had studios in our houses, and we started collaborating on a bunch of things. This one in particular, "We Rage", was a great one and a great time. We shot around ideas, drums, and synth lines. It came about naturally. We called Jermaine Dupri and said, "We've got something we need you to get involved with!" We're trying to mix it up between electronic music and hip-hop. We ended up with this great song.
What's the song about for you?
We started out with "We Rage" as a title. It's a party theme. Nightclubs are the platform to perform the music we produce. "We Rage" is an example of how we get down and have a good time. It's about passing on the energy we have to the crowd when we're DJ-ing. It's an example of that. For lack of a better word, you fuck shit up! [Laughs] We came to party. People are having a good time when they come to our shows. Jermaine is a DJ as much as I am. We spin a lot of the same records across the planet. When we perform, the energy is crazy. We get the party cracking.
Does this pave the way for more music?
I hope it does open up a doorway to continue doing more, or it draws attention to the original music I do put out. I'm an open format DJ. Some people call it "mash up". It's a mix of music that's tough to break into the EDM world because electronic music is cut into only electronic music. I'm not that—nor are Jermaine or Maestro. It's hard to find the proper genre and way to express yourself and hit each person. Just as much as people love us for playing lots of different music at one time, sometimes you're making somebody upset who doesn't necessarily like the next genre you're mixing to. Production-wise, it's a challenge to express that. "We Rage" is definitely a gateway to open up a lot more production. We're glorifying that sound. People love all kinds of music. I love soul classics, hip-hop, rock 'n' roll, dubstep, trap, and even country on the right day. I like to mix all these things into our set. Hopefully, we can open up that lane and produce in all different genres.
What artists shaped you?
That's a great question. First and foremost, Stevie Wonder will always be my favorite. I come from the soul classics world. I was 15 when I started DJ-ing. In the vinyl days, money wasn't as abundant to buy every record imaginable that I wanted to have. I was so young that I probably didn't even know what I needed to do. You rely on certain classics and things you accumulate from people's record collections and you create your own. It went from Stevie Wonder to classic hip-hop. I used to breakdance. There was a lot of rock 'n' roll. I played bass in a band when I was a kid, and I loved Pearl Jam, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Stone Temple Pilots. There were all of these things. Felix da Housecat is one of the guys who taught me about house music. I was about seventeen or eighteen, and he was a big influence. DJ Chuckie was a big influence. Then, Atlanta hip-hop like T.I. was huge. Everything else filtered in. I would say trap music, hip-hop, rock, and electronic music are my strongest influences together.
When you play live, how much of the set is prepared versus improvising and feeding off the crowd?
Good question, again...It's very different a lot of times. It's all about homework. You do your homework about what area you're in. Sometimes, you know a place better because you're more used to it and you've been there a lot. Nowadays, we're putting on real shows. There are points I have to hit. Swedish House Mafia have pyrotechnics involved and things they need to do for the show to flow. I do a lot of shows with Rev. Run from Run-D.M.C. I've always rehearsed my sets working with him because we're not always together. It's not just my mind either. I have to make sure I'm on point.
DJ Ruckus also gives a shout out to his team—management: DGI Management, PR: AKR PR, and PSbM accounting!
Did you dig "We Rage"?