While genres serve a legitimate function in identifying and describing music, within electronic music especially there are so many different genres, sub-genres, and sub-sub-genres that it is virtually impossible keep track of them all. As new styles emerge, new genres are declared in a frivolous effort to keep music constrained within a definable structure.
Glaswegian producer Rustie is one producer mucking up the lines, blending a laundry list of genres so diverse that the resulting product defies classification. In fact, he’s been awarded his own genre: aquacrunk. Say wha? Unless you’ve devoted far more time than I have at keeping up with each and every trivial sub-genre development, then this word is probably utterly unhelpful in describing Rustie’s sound.
So … what is his sound? Well, it’s bass music, for starters – but it sure isn’t confined to the standard dubstep wobble. It’s ultra synthy, with hyperactive beats and throbbing basslines exploding into bright blasts of euphoria. It captures an ecstatic, wild energy that could very well be influenced by Glasgow’s raucous club scene. Rustie says, “Glasgow’s the rowdiest crowd you will ever see when you go out. In London, people are really cool and stand about. In Glasgow, people will jump up and down and go mental.”
As far as genres go, Rustie manages to blend quite a few: prog rock, hip hop (of both the dirty south and ’90s Timbaland/Neptunes variety), bass, R&B, funk, jazz fusion … and that’s the short list. Attribute it to his eclectic taste in music: growing up, he started with classic rock staples like Hendrix and the Beatles and prog rock pioneers Yes, turned to grunge with Nirvana, moved on to hip hop with the Beastie Boys, and then, finally, found his way to electronic music.
It’s clear that Rustie is a big fan of video games, since more than a few of his tracks are reminiscent of a game of Mario Party with that familiar cheerful, animated vibe.
In “Hover Traps,” he samples Navi’s “hey!” and other memorable noises from Zelda’s Ocarina of Time, his favorite video game – an unsurprising influence for a kid who grew up in the ’90s.
This week’s DJ Set of the Week illustrates Rustie’s wide range of musical influences. In his Boiler Room set from August 2011, 45 minutes worth of tracks give us a sense of what styles he incorporates when producing his own work. He gives nods to genre-defining OGs including Underground Resistance, Aphex Twin, and even Rick James. He includes plenty of southern hip hop and features some classic UK dubstep and grime. He sprinkles in a bit of ’90s R&B and highlights some of his LuckyMe and Warp peers including Machinedrum and Africa Hitech.
Just as in his own tracks, Rustie deftly blends all of these genres together to create a DJ mix that renders sitting still impossible.
Aside from their A+ music selection, the thing I like about Boiler Room videos is that you can see (and judge) the crowd’s reaction to the DJ’s set. Whether they are awkwardly swaying back and forth or doing some serious hip shaking, the mood of the music is apparent in the audience’s response. In this video, there are no I-don’t-know-what-else-to-do-but-nod lulls; the crowd is at Rustie’s feet, jumping in time with the bass drops and hip hop beats. Even as a white person who occasionally awkwardly dances to hip hop, watching other white people do the same will never not be amusing.
But, I digress; if his Boiler Room audience is any indication, Rustie clearly pulls off weaving together such seemingly different styles of music with aplomb. Maybe that’s why his music resonates so well: like Rustie, we’ve all been exposed to and fallen in love with many different styles in this tangled mess of genres, so we’re all open to hybrid sounds. And who didn’t love SNES and N64 as a kid?
So, what does Rustie have to say about it? In reference to Glass Swords, his full-length released on Warp in October 2011, he says, “It was just expressing joy and emotion about being alive.” And that might just be the best way to describe it, genres be damned.
W/ DJ FRANK WHITE, URBINDEX, BLOND STREAK
MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS
472 MASS. AVE.
8PM/18+/$15 ADV, $20 DOS