In 2007, dubstep was a far cry from the genre we know today. Influenced by jungle, reggae and garage, it was a U.K.-dominated scene driven by underground clout and a close-knit sense of community.
Perhaps best encapsulating the feel of the era was Caspa and Rusko’s FabricLive37 mix. As the first all-dubstep edition of the venerated FabricLive Mix Series, it marked a seminal step for the emerging genre. Three years later, of course, America would go on to adopt the scene with open arms, radically transforming the sound and audience in the process.
In the time since FabricLive37, Caspa and Rusko have embarked on successful solo careers in the bass music world. Eight years later, however, they’ve found their way back into the studio, only to rediscover the magic of their previous collaboration.
An initial meeting between the two sparked a sudden well of inspiration, and soon the artists found themselves meeting in the studio every week. Now they’ve amassed a wealth of new material — “almost a full album’s worth of tracks,” as Rusko put it — and are planning to unveil the new music in Los Angeles on Oct. 15 at their debut show at Exchange LA.
When Billboard reached Caspa and Rusko to discuss the new material, they were in Caspa’s studio in Fulham.
How did you guys get back together?
Caspa: We’ve never got together before since the last seven years and done anything. It’s just been so crazy individually. We both took some time off randomly at the same time. He moved back to the U.K. and basically we got in the studio to see what the vibe was like after seven years, and it was like we never left, really. We just got a bunch of tunes… and ever since, that’s all we’ve been doing: making tunes and just kind of going back to the basics and doing the music and letting that do the talking. We don’t want to do any massive big tours right now. We’re just really excited about the music.
In 2007, you guys released the famous FabricLive37 mix — what was your relationship like before the mix? Have you stayed in touch since?
Rusko: For at least two years or so before the Fabric mix, the two of us we’re DJing a lot together and making a lot of tracks together. And certainly so for the year after the Fabric mix, we did a lot more shows and tracks together then we did individually. Since 2009, I moved to the US and Gary worked on Caspa stuff on his own and I worked on Rusko stuff on my own. That was six years we had of doing solo shows and making tracks independently. The idea was this year, I came back to the UK from the US in the spring and decided it would be a good idea to make a track together and get in the studio and see if we could make that old magic flowing. One track turned into two tracks which turned into three or four tracks which turned into “why don’t we do a show.” Everything slowly snowballed and got bigger and bigger and now we’ve kind of almost got a full record together.
How important have these recurring studio sessions been?
Rusko: Really, that’s been kind of the foundation of everything… our sort of semi-weekly meetups in the studio and sort of freestyling and making tunes. Every week we get together and a new track seems to come out. So while the music is still flowing, while the creative energy is still working between us, we’re just keeping on making music. We want to show it to people, play it for people. It’s about creating awareness. “Hey, we’re back, and check out the music.”
It’s been a long time since you last worked together, and you guys have both dabbled in different types of music. What kind of stuff are you making?
Caspa: To be honest, the state of mind we’re in, it’s very, very U.K. We just take in everything we were influenced by before we started making this thing called “dubstep” — like the original sounds. We went back to those influences. One track doesn’t sound the same next to the other one. But there all kind of dubstep tempo. They’re like 140, 145, 150… there’s one that’s 160bpm. Generally they’re all in the dubstep speed but they just take in all our U.K. influences. Stuff like grime, reggae, dub, jungle…
Rusko: Which is a lot closer to our older material. We’re really looking directly at grime and jungle of the early ‘90s and sort of going straight to the influences that were most prominent in our early work and using them with all our modern tools and modern knowledge that we’ve gained in the process to create something from the same influences that gave birth to the original sound that we had.
Is the work influenced at all by what the US scene has become?
Caspa: We’re not really thinking about that. We’re really just thinking, how can we have fun again? And that’s just being in the studio and making music. We’re not really trying to say “oh we’re not doing that, we’re doing this.” We’re just doing us and that’s we’ve done seven years ago, and we just haven’t had the chance to do it for seven years. So we’re just doing it again and it’s just been timing.
Rusko: The last time we were in the studio, the sound of dubstep was not what it is now. In that break, we didn’t have a chance to get together and do any of that. Being back together now sort of has the same vibe and the same memories of the last time we worked together when the sound was a lot more like that than the original popular sound.
Is there a plan to release this music?
Caspa: The thing is, we’re trying not to run ahead of ourselves too much. We’re like, let’s not book a tour in, let’s not do the single, single, album, tour the album. Let’s do one show, and put one tune out. So that’s the plan: put the tune out on the 16th of October with the show in LA and then after that, we have so much music. We’re just going to go, “should we put another tune out, another two out, another four out, should we put an EP out?” I don’t know. The main focus is just keeping it rolling. We just want to be consistent. We’re not trying to be current, we’re just trying to be consistent.
Why Los Angeles for the first show?
Caspa: Rusko used to live there. He lived there for years. It’s a fun place to my heart, cause one of my first American bookings was in downtown LA. I’ve got a real attachment to the city just from having some really big shows.
Rusko: We’ve played a lot in Europe together already.
Caspa: Except we’ve never played together in America properly. We’ve done a little show in San Francisco but to get together and do a proper show, this is kind of our first one in the states. LA, it’s dear to both of our hearts. For me, it’s where dubstep really translated across America. We’ve both had great careers there, so it’s like why not? For us, it just makes complete sense.
Rusko: The crowd is great there. We’ve both individually, up until this point, have regularly had full houses and really great crowds. Hollywood has a reputation for… people don’t dance as much and everyone is trying to look cool, but I’ve never had that at my gigs and I know Caspa is the same. We’ve both, the last few years, had a really good history of successful and really kickin’, loud, noisy, hectic LA shows. So it just makes it extra exciting to bring it together and double that. Double the energy on the stage. I can only imagine what that’s going to do to the audience.
Caspa & Rusko have created this video montage ahead of the show.