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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

With an engaging personality and the music to match, Rusko has warped the perceptions and attitudes toward dubstep across the world. Fresh off the success of his debut LP O.M.G.! on the Mad Decent label, he spoke with SF Station in a phone interview. He performs at Mezzanine on September 28th.

SF Station (SFS): Why do you think dubstep used to have a bad reputation here in America?

Rusko (R): A lot of dubstep is quite bro-y, and dude-y. I try to make my music a little more fun and less aggressive and I like to have an audience thats 50/50 and not all dudes. It really is all across the board. A lot my music goes from painting pictures of the sounds with kids with long blonde dreadlocks, and other times you get kids in tight pants doing drugs or something.

SFS: But in Europe its perceived quite differently, no?

R: The U.K. radio always supports dance music whereas American radio is the same hip-hop and R&B stuff. Its pretty set. The UK is a little more accepting. Dance music in America is still perceived as kind of bad, and people dont like to talk about raves. It doesnt have a negative connotation in Europe.

In the past couple of years its changing though. It generally goes back to hip-hop and nowadays a lot of the rappers have club beats; its not just hip-hop beats anymore, and generally its still getting into the American peoples consciousness.

SFS: You recently produced for M.I.A , and the media has been blowing her up as somewhat psycho. What was your your experience like with her?

R: I can see how she gets taken that way. Most of the tracks we did, the final version was the 11 or 12th time, and then the next day, it wasnt right. Then she changes it back, and the next day changes it again. She has a million ideas at once, but shes the most creative person Ive ever met. Shes always thinking, and she was really pleasurable to work with.

It was cool to produce it as well, and in the middle she would be like, "Check out these bongos I got in India." Shes got a lot of cool shit, and is more collaborative than the music I regularly do. With M.I.A tracks, we took everything apart and had a million versions. Shes quite a fiery person.

SFS: This year, you released O.M.G.! on Mad Decent. What made you stick with that label?

R: Ive been touring with Diplo and those guys, and Switch is my music big brother. Hes been in the industry 10 years longer than me, and hes on his own level. Him and Diplo have been big supporters since day one, and touring with your friends when youre 3 or 4 weeks away from home is nice.

SFS: If you could have your music set to any one movie, what would it be?

R: Thats a good question; probably the original Godzilla, where theres a big ass fucking dinosaur crashing the city.

SFS: I can see that.

R: Right? The OG one. The old-school version, with clay models and kind of raw and not as polished. Dubstep is kind of raw like that. In that movie, there are homemade models that look shitty on purpose. I like that. Im all about shitty on purpose.

SFS: Wheres the strangest place youve played?

IR: In Germany, definitely. It was in a World War II bunker that they turned into a club. Before [the gig] I went to meet the guys who make Native Instruments and they took me out to Italian food, which made me really sick. I was playing in July, and it was so dripping hot, and I was just throwing up. That was one of the most terrible gigs ever, but the most memorable.

SFS: Did you DJ and throw up simultaneously?

R: Well I did the whole set, but by the end I was slipping around the DJ booth in three inches of my own vomit.

SFS: Thats pretty impressive. Thats like a kiddie pool.

R: It was a small club in an underground bunker in Germany with a tiny DJ booth. It was just so gross and bizarre.

SFS: Anything you want to do in San Francisco this time around?

R: Not quite; its been awhile. Im just going to do my usual thing of getting lost in the city!

Rusko performs September 28th at Mezzanine. Tickets are $18 in advance and doors open at 9pm.