It’s the genre on everyone’s lips and one which seems to be attracting some major recording talent (check out Burial who tops our album of the year chart). But dubstep is still new to a lot of people. That’s all about to change as Fabric releases the new mix from Caspa & Rusko, a pair or fast-rising stars in the dubstep scene. The boys are already doing well – Caspa runs the successful labels Dub Police and Sub Soldiers, while Rusko has been busy remixing the likes of Claude Von Stroke – but with Fabric behind them, they’re set to reach a brand-new high. As Rusko says: “Without Fabric we wouldn’t be doing this. It’s great to get this recognition for the scene. I think this CD is a historic moment.” So on a day when apparently every magazine in the country wanted a piece of them, EQ manages to grab a quick chat with dubstep’s finest…
The album’s not normally something I’d pick up, but once I’d given it a listen, I did really enjoy it. Do you think that’s going to be the same for a lot of people?
Rusko: Yeah. I’d say for more than half the people who get this, it’ll be the first time they’ve listened to dubstep. They’ll have heard the term, but for a lot of them, it’ll be the first time they’ve actually listened to it. Fabric have gone out on a limb really and taken a bit of a gamble. It’s a completely different audience to who we’d usually reach with a mix CD.
Caspa: Fabric have got 8,000 members who are going to get this CD on the day of release, and that’s without distribution around the world, so we’ve got a massive market who will buy it because they believe in Fabric. That means we’ll be reaching people who dubstep doesn’t normally reach. I think this will take dubstep to a whole new level.
So to a lot of people, you’re now going to be the ambassadors of dubstep. Is it daunting having that weight on your shoulders?
Caspa: It probably is a lot to take on your shoulders, but we’re very passionate about what we do and we believe in what we do. First and foremost, we love the music, so if we’re doing what we love doing and if you like it, brilliant.
Rusko: I think that’s why Fabric chose us. They saw the energy and enthusiasm we have for the music, and that’s the same as the enthusiasm they have. They’ve always been groundbreaking, so they just gave us a chance. We didn’t want to do a Now That’s What I Call Dubstep type album. There are a lot of Rusko tunes on there, and a lot of Caspa tunes on there, so it’s a truthful representation of what you’d get if you came to see us in a club. It’s not about showing off dubstep in all its different forms and all its different producers. It’s just a live, hour-long mix.
Did you tone down your sound for the Fabric audience?
Caspa: No, not at all. There’s a forum called dubstepforum.com, and some people on there have been saying: “Oh it’s just a CD of Caspa and Rusko tunes. It’s not a true representation of the sound.” It’s not meant to be. Fabriclive is a CD series that’s given to artists to let them show listeners what they’re about. That’s what we’ve done. We pulled out tunes from our bags that you’d hear us play at any rave either separately or together. We’ve still got 12 or 13 different artists on the CD, and it’s completely what we’d play in a club.
Rusko: In the two weeks leading up to recording the CD, the two of us intentionally played out a lot together. We literally came back from doing a big back-to-back set at a party in Sheffield and went straight into Fabric the next day and did it. It was the same dubplates straight out the bag. The rave dirt was still on the records. Because we play out so often together, we know who’s good at mixing which tune. So it was like: “I cocked this up last week, you’d better do it.” That made it easy to go in there and just do it, and that gave the mix a rawness, which is good.
It should surprise a lot of people, because one of the things that really strikes you is that it is accessible. A lot of people might be scared off by new emerging genres because they can’t be bothered trying to get into them, but this CD does appeal.
Caspa: The first few tracks sort of ease you into it, then you get a real taste of what it’s all about. Then towards the end it calms down again. It’s important to do that – you can’t just throw dancefloor tunes on a CD.
Rusko: We didn’t consciously do that and try to ease people in. That’s just how we do our set.
One thing that might scare of people is the urban tag that dubstep’s been landed with. But there’s quite a techy edge to what you do, isn’t there?
Caspa: We’ve got a lot of influences from techno and electro and drum and bass, and dubstep has influences from so many sounds.
Rusko: Every dubstep producer has their own roots, and because they bring those, dubstep’s become a big melting pot. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s true. Provided you’re around 140bpm and you’ve got a bit of bass in there, that’s all you need. You can then do pretty much what you want. That’s why I enjoy making dubstep so much – you’ve got so much flexibility. There are no boundaries.
Caspa: You’re not held down to one particular sound. And that’s why I think it appeals to so many people. It’s got so many influences, it’s got something for everyone. Everybody can relate to something, even if it’s just a bassline that reminds them of acid house.
It’s a bit like how breaks used to be. In the early days of breaks there was that ‘anything goes’ attitude which has sort of slipped away a bit. Dubstep seems to be more about that.
Rusko: I think a lot of genres are becoming too formulated and too strict, and that’s pushed people towards dubstep.
It must be an exciting scene given that it’s still emerging.
Rusko: It’s good that dubstep kicked off at the same sort of time as podcasts, blogs and MySpace. With the help of forums and internet radio and all that, dubstep’s managed to move right out of London. If it had come around two or three years previous to all the personal internet stuff, I don’t think we’d be playing all round the world. I went to Finland a few weeks ago. It was freezing cold, proper Arctic style, but the people there knew tracks I’d made in my bedroom a few weeks earlier before the bassline had even dropped. They’re listening to the freshest radio shows, and they’re musical knowledge is amazing.
Caspa: You don’t know where you’re playing from one week to the next. One week you’re in Israel, then you’re in Australia, Denmark, America, Poland. I’ve seen the world for free this year by playing music that I love. What else do you want?