«It’s taken as a given that pop music movements have captured the zeitgeist i.e. the spirit of the times, such as punk rebelling and against the, at the time, failing establishment. So music has movements which relate to a moment in time, what’s relevant at one moment in time can be irrelevant the next»
Mixside: Despite previous releases as Rusty James, your career as Russ Yallop started with a release in such an important label as Crosstown Rebels. Can you tell us about the story behind it?
Russ Yallop: Haha I always get asked this. I’d known the Crosstown crew a while as I’d been hanging out with Jamie [Jones] and Clive [Henry] since the early Ibiza days, but it was actually my friend Melissa Maouris who passed I Can’t Wait to Damian [Lazarus]. He liked it and asked for more stuff, I gave him Rock Me, and things kicked off from there.
MS: What is the reason behind that change in your moniker? What’s the difference between Rusty James and Russ Yallop?
R.Y.: Rusty James existed due to unsureness about using my real name, since if things didn’t go well I could start afresh. Plus Yallop isn’t quite the name I’d choose if I had the choice! Though thanks to Mr. Lazarus’s advice I came to the conclusion that using the name Yallop would be a sure-fire way of not being confused with anyone else, so I ditched Rusty James in favour of Russ Yallop.
How was your life before the success of “I Can’t Wait”/”Rock You” EP? How did it change? My life is pretty much the same now as it was before, during the week I get up in the morning, walk to the room next door (my studio), sit there until it’s time to walk back next door to go to bed. At weekends I’m still in nightclubs, just now it’s my name on the poster not someone elses!
MS: What kind of advice would you give to those hundreds of young producers making music from their home studios?
R.Y.: There’s such a lot of advice to give so it’s hard to know where to start. In terms of technical advice I’d emphasize it’s not about kit or software, buying another synth or upgrading your DAW won’t make your music any better, if anything it’ll just give you something else to learn. Keep your set up simple and organised. Appreciate that engineering your own music to a high standard is not something you are going to be able to do in short amount of time and if you are serious your life is going to have to change to incorporate the time you will need to put in. Most of all take pride in your work. There’s no rush to tarnish your name by putting out music when you’re not ready, fruit that isn’t ripe will be left on the shelf anyway. When you are ready respect your audience by only putting out quality material. After all who’s next release would excite you more, the artist who’s only done five tracks but all are killers, or an artist who also has five killers but also ten fillers?
MS: How does it feel being part of a family like the Crosstown Rebels?
R.Y.: Ha ha family, I like that. It’s great as a lot of us are friends and some have known each other a long time before our careers started. I’m definitely one of the new borns. Not saying who grandad is 😉
MS: Do you feel like belonging to a new generation of House music producers within the UK together with Robert James, Lee Foss, etc? How is your relationship with them? How did you meet them?
R.Y.: It’s so great that the UK is back on the map and churning out incredible music. Our butt was whipped by our German friends for so long. As for Rob, Lee and the other producers in the scene we get on great. As said we’re mates who party together when we can and obviously respect each other’s work at the same time. We’ve all met at one stage or another at a club or an after party, so odds on one of us was probably without the power of speech at the time, but u kind of see eye to eye straight away as you’ve all been thru the same process and lead similar lives.
MS: What do you think about other UK sounds as dubstep, drum’n’bass and, in general, “bass music”?
R.Y.: I actually love them, but that doesn’t mean I listen to them. Ironically doing the job I do hijacks your music taste and music listening time. The only real time I have to actually just listen to music is usually on my iPod and I’m usually listening to podcasts or new music. I’m kinda an obsessive person so it doesn’t really bother me living on a strict diet of house and house only!
MS: Electronic dance music is constantly changing from one sound to the next but it is also kind of circular movement with trends repeating. While some artists stick to their original sound (with little variations), others just evolve and make music according to the current trends. In which group would you include yourself? Why?
R.Y.: Great question and this is a contentious issue for some reason and some people really don’t understand it. Ok, being human beings, (when someone starts an answer like that you know a long one is on it’s way!) music is about so much more to us than the sounds it’s comprised of. It’s taken as a given that pop music movements have captured the zeitgeist i.e. the spirit of the times, such as punk rebelling and against the, at the time, failing establishment. So music has movements which relate to a moment in time, what’s relevant at one moment in time can be irrelevant the next. I see a similar thing in dance music. I think the minimal movement really captured the attitude of clubbing at that period in time, a shift from the commercialism of the late 90s shifting back to a love of dark rooms playing understated music. So music and moment are inextricably linked.
It’s also important to realise dance music is in a constant state of evolution and this evolution is driven by the listener’s appetite for originality. This gives those who make it the impetus to constantly explore new sounds and avenues so over time the sound we hear gradually changes, with sounds that are tired and overused being replaced by ones that sound fresh. After a time a whole genre of music will start to sound tired since there are only so many sounds and avenues you can explore, as some sounds just won’t fit in, say a banjo in a deep house track. When all the useable sounds and avenues have been explored and repeated and repeated tracks start sounding like other ones and all of a sudden the genre doesn’t excite you like it used to. This is usually when the media start declaring the genre as ‘dead’ and people start looking elsewhere for their dance music fix. But it’s also important to bear in mind what sounds tired to some people won’t to everyone, this is why some people move on and others don’t. Of course neither is wrong or right, it just depends on your personality.
Me personally I’m a mover not a sticker. I look at dance music like a wave I’m surfing, constantly adapting my sound, ready to go with something new if I think it works. I find the idea of being restricted to the sounds and vibes of one genre for eternity horrifying, I think I’d lose interest altogether if I was forced to. I find the notion that you should show some sort of loyalty to a particular set of sounds or vibes bizarre as it’s when ‘a new sound’ is in it’s infancy is when’s most exciting as there’s so much room for innovation. All the genres use the same fundamentals anyway, and even the producer’s who class themselves as ‘stickers’ will gradually change what they play since the audience’s taste evolves too. Don’t fight it, it’s a positive thing, it’s why dance will never die.
MS: You have two new releases scheduled in 2011. The first one will be released in Rebellion and the second in Hot Creations. What can you advance us about those works?
R.Y: The Crossroads is the Rebellion release and it’s a soulful disco number which I sang myself using a full orchestra and a canister of helium. I’ve a few things lined up for Hot Creations, one is a track called System Crank which was done with some friends called the Wildkats which I’ve been playing a lot recently.
MS: Where your interest in electronic music comes from?
R.Y.: Just from a love of music and partying. Dance music lets u do both at the same time it’s pretty neat.
MS: Talk us about your Dj experience. Which were the most quality parties you have played so far? Where would you love to play?
R.Y.: I’ve actually been DJing a long time as I used to play hip hop and R&B at student nights for some extra cash to fund my pursuit of producing house music, so I feel very at home behind the decks and haven’t felt nerves or pressure for years. One of the my favourite parties I’ve played for is Kubicle, an east London Sunday house music institution where all my friends hang out. I’d love to play for Circo Loco at DC10, my favourite club. Scratch club, put place instead 🙂
MS: In your opinion, what turns a normal night into an unforgettable party?
R.Y.: A knowledgeable crowd. When you play a track which is brand spanking new that could have only been heard in clubs yet still everyone knows it is when you know you have a knowledgeable crowd.
MS: To finish, can you name some of your favourite artists within the scene right now?
R.Y.: My standard answer, Jamie Jones, Lee Foss, Robert James. There are loads of others I’m digging but these three are kinda out in front so I just say these three to avoid saying a long list!