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Back For The First Time: Caspa & Rusko

CASPA & RUSKO

Some people say we sold out; look at the new blood I’ve brought into the scene and then tell me that. I’m glad we played this role in dubstep. Because if it wasn’t us, it could have been someone who’s really cheesy and shit and in it for the money and exposure. We came through in the way we did because we fucking love this music. Next question please man!

This summer Caspa dropped an exclusive bombshell when we interviewed him about his album 500… After seven years of solo operations Caspa & Rusko were back in the studio together.

The partnership behind one of the most important mix album releases in the genre at the time – Fabriclive 37, a mix that switched many of the next generation bass artists onto dubstep – as far as reunions go, this is a pretty big deal. Now, with confirmation of their first b2b show in North America, we caught up with the pair of them to find out what to expect and when we can expect to hear it…

Get to know. This one goes deep…

So… Why now at this very point in time?

Rusko: The timing’s perfect. Without realising we’d both taken some time off to write a load of music. I came back to the UK to visit family for a while, I linked up with Gary and we realised we were both in the same mindset so I upgraded a holiday into a more permanent trip and make some bangers with my old mate.

Caspa: It could have happened before. On some occasions it probably should have happened before. But now I’m glad it didn’t happen. Had we hooked up earlier we would have had the same amount of fun and made some sick beats. But now is the time. We’ve said this before; the pressure is off, the people who are into dubstep are really into it. The other guys have fucked off. We can have fun, pure and simple. There’s no pressure.

Not even the pressure of nostalgia?

Caspa: Okay there’s a certain amount of expectation because some people love the old stuff and may expect total replicas of that. We love the old stuff, too. And we’ll play some of it when we DJ. But the stuff we’re making now is – in our opinion – so much better! The original idea was just to write one tune and see how it would work. The minute we were both together it was like we’d never left. Next day another tune, next week another one, next week another two. It’s gone better than we could ever imagine.

Rusko: I think a lot of that is down to the fact we’ve had seven years’ experience of making beats. We’ve developed technically and know how to make the sounds we want. Back in the day with the early tunes it was a lot harder work trying to get the ideas from our heads. This lets us enjoy the vibe more and really focus on some sick sounds.

Nice. Caspa, when we last spoke you described Rusko’s studio tactics and ‘vibey and exciting with work with’… Rusko – how would you describe Caspa in the studio?

Rusko: Meticulous. He makes sure we actually get things right! When I’m making tunes on my own there’s a lot more happy accidents but with Gary he makes sure we’re a lot more precise. We complement each other well in that way. Plus he smokes now and he didn’t when we used to make tunes.

I just assumed you did smoke, Caspa?

Caspa: Nah I was a proper fitness freak when I first started because I was playing basketball. I didn’t really touch it until I moved to LA where everyone smokes. Then I moved to Denver and it was game over. I realised I was approaching my music differently and really enjoying the process so didn’t stop.

Rusko: It’s helped our productivity; I don’t have to pop out every hour, we just spark up and carry on and get vibey!

How many tunes have you actually got vibey on so far, then?

Rusko: We’ve got eight solid tunes that are totally finished and ready to go.

How are they going to come out? Eight is the best part of an album…

Caspa: We’ve been thinking about this. The most important thing is that we didn’t want to do the classic cliché of a big album and big tour to sell it. We just want to focus on the music and put out tunes when it feels right. Let’s not plan too much, let’s do what feels right and have fun. We can worry about gigs and sales and everything later.

Rusko: If we’re committed to a big release then our sessions together will be spent on the really fiddly annoying final touches that big releases need to be finalised. We live so far apart that, right at this moment, it doesn’t feel right to be investing our time in that way. We’re having too much fun making the actual music and getting bogged down in details. While the tunes are flowing let’s keep it rolling…

All I’ve heard so far is a track called Blouse & Skirt. Very funky. Is that indicative of everything else we’ll eventually hear?

Rusko: Blouse & Skirt is on its own, really. It’s more of a traditional banger. I’d say the other things we’ve been working have an old school grime and garage sound to them. There’s some jungle-style stuff, there’s some reggae stuff. Everything we love, basically.

My favourite memory is going round to see Chris and he’s in his studio with full jacket, hat, scarf, gloves and everything. I was like ‘why is it so cold in here you fucking muppet?’ He was like ‘look, all my windows have fallen out!’

All around 140-ish? Or have you been freestyle with your tempos?

Caspa: It’s generally all 140-145 which the average tempo we both play. We wanted the new tracks to be at the right speed so we could play them with the old stuff we still love and the new sounds coming through. We’re just playing what we love, which is what we’ve always done really…

Did you guys keep in touch with each other during all these years? Or were you so busy you were in own separate little bubbles?

Rusko: Very much separate. As you say, we were too busy to keep in touch.

Caspa: Not much communication at all, besides seeing each other in our Twitter feeds and hearing each other’s tunes! We’d meet for the odd pint if we were in the same town. We probably should have kept in touch more than we did….

Rusko: Perhaps if we’d kept in touch more than we wouldn’t be doing this now? We wouldn’t be as excited and it wouldn’t feel as fresh. Things exploded so quickly we didn’t have time to maintain a proper friendship.

And things really did explode after the Fabriclive 37 mix. What are your favourite memories of that crazy point in your career?

Caspa: My maddest memory of that time was EXIT Festival. It was Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys then us headlining on the main stage. It was mental, we had no idea how big that would be. 20,000 people, maybe more. It was just nuts. But go back further and I loved all the early Dub Police parties. Fabric, and before that, Herbal.

Rusko: I want to go back even further… Old memories like Gary’s dad coming in to the studio and telling us to turn it down because he’s got to be up for work in the morning. That was a really mad time in my life personally; moving down to London and starting this whole mad adventure.

Caspa: Oh if we’re going back that far then my favourite memory is going round to see Chris and he’s in his studio with full jacket, hat, scarf, gloves and everything. I was like ‘why is it so cold in here you fucking muppet?’ He was like ‘look, all my windows have fallen out!’

Rusko: Ha! I’d forgotten about that! Memories! The first Dub Police night in Fabric was really special too.

Caspa: And mixing the CD live… That’s obviously up there in the memory stakes!

I forgot it was mixed live! Need to return to that and listen out for trainwreck mixes…

Rusko: There’s a few mate! Don’t listen too closely.

Caspa: I remember being like ‘we need to re-record some bits’ but Fabric were like ‘nope, it’s done, it’s recorded and it’s going out like this’. They were right; it wasn’t too polished and too EQ’d. It was raw, rugged and a bit crackly from the dubplates. We had no idea what would happen next… We thought ‘ah maybe we’ll get a few more gigs from this’ and that was it. Next minute we’re fucking everywhere. It’s still spins me out when I think about how mad that point in our lives was.

But the mix didn’t please everyone, right? Deeper/older heads in the scene weren’t massive fans were they?

Rusko: Yeah you’re right. But it’s like this: dubstep was there for the taking. Any of those original guys could have done the same as us and represented the genre on that level. At that point it was a great little scene bubbling around the UK and London. I think some people wanted it to stay that way. But the main stage, worldwide dubstep thing was always going to happen. The genre and the sounds and creativity were too exciting for it not to blow up on that level.

Caspa: Someone was going to do it and people are always going to moan because it wasn’t done the way they wanted. You can’t please everyone can you? We saw an opportunity and ran with it in a way that we wanted, making music that we loved. What happened then was that people who were in control weren’t any more and that scared them and made them moan.

I’m really proud of what I’ve done with Dub Police. Look at all the fresh, exciting artists I’ve brought through with that label… Some people say we sold out; look at the new blood I’ve brought into the scene and then tell me that. I’m glad we played this role in dubstep. Because if it wasn’t us, it could have been someone who’s really cheesy and shit and in it for the money and exposure. We came through in the way we did because we fucking love this music. Next question please man!

Your first show together in years, October 15 at Exchange LA. Tell me about it…

Rusko: Our first back to back show in America full stop! We’ve shared the stage a few times but not been billed as Caspa & Rusko. We’re really looking forward to it.

We had no idea what would happen next… We thought ‘ah maybe we’ll get a few more gigs from this’ and that was it. Next minute we’re fucking everywhere. It’s still spins me out when I think about how mad that point in our lives was.

This has to come to UK and Europe, surely?

Caspa: Eventually yeah! But rather than book in loads of shows we wanted to focus on the music and studio sessions. The gigs will come a little later…

Rusko: Totally. Tours take time away from the creativity. That gig is to raise awareness of us being back together and the warn people that we’ve got some wicked new records to put out over the next year…

Next year?! This is a LONG game, then…

Caspa: The problem is, if we put out so many tunes at the same time then some of the tracks will get overlooked and people will expect that same delivery rate on the next one. Everything has to be perfect and timed just right; every record has to go out at the right time, every show has to be right. I’m not into just dropping shit and playing shows for the sake of it. We want to do something special and enjoy it for as long as possible.

Rusko: We’ve both done a lot stressful studio sessions and long tours that have felt much more like work than they should do. This is different.

Caspa: Plus we’ve put too much work into this. I don’t want to jump on the same old treadmill; album, tour, single one, another tour, single two, another tour, a video… Bang bang bang. It’s what every artist does and we don’t want to do it like that. If it goes well, then brilliant. If we fail then fine… But we failed our way!

Respect your honesty there man… In our little world the reunion of Caspa & Rusko is big news but you’re under no illusions are you?

Caspa: Can’t be. Nothing is a dead cert in this game. Ever. We’ve both made a living off something we love for 10 years… I’ve never taken anything for granted and nothing is promised. If we concentrate on what people think and whether people will enjoy it or not then we lose focus. There’s a whole new generation of ravers out there. Of course I’d love for them to hear us and go back over our old stuff. I don’t know if they will, but the best chance we have of making an impression on anyone – old fans or brand new fans – is by making the best music possible and doing it from our hearts.

Rusko: Couldn’t put it better myself. It’s all about the music and the vibes… The rest is out of our hands.

(Image credit: Sarah Ginn)

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Caspa
Caspa
Dub Police founder and one leading scene ambassador, Caspa remains one of the most in demand DJs and respected producers in dubstep. Two albums, several official mixes and many singles deep into his game, his discography is peppered with big ... Read More
Rusko
Rusko
Cockney thug-turned-LA superstar, Rusko is one of the first generation of uncompromising dubstep players who really capitalised the power of the swaggering halfstep and chest-rattling drop. Centre stage beckoned after his and Caspa’s Fabriclive ... Read More