This Friday, The Wurst gang is back at Le Bain with the emblematic Beg to Differ and Dave Robertson, aka D’Ruse. Dave has been part of Soho808, one of the most exciting project emerging from the New York slow disco scene. Sadly the hot duo came to an end. Dave now goes solo as D’Ruse, with a record about to drop on Toronto’s acclaimed label No19. We met Dave Robertson for a Standard Q&A - slowly but surely.
Dave Robertson aka D’Ruse
The Standard: We have been big fans of your productions and amazing re-edits and we’ll miss Soho808. Are you and your ex-partner Nathaniel definitely done with it?
Dave Robertson: I’d never say never, but yes that project is over, we are focusing on exploring our own creative spaces right now. Having said that I have collaborated with Nathaniel on two tracks for my upcoming release on No.19. Friday night is my first gig as D’Ruse, I’m very much looking forward to playing at Le Bain, one of my favorite venues in New York!
Who is your favorite ex-part-of-a-duo turned solo artist?
I’d have to say George Michael. Actually maybe I prefer Wham! in that context. I’d rather say Panda Bear, who is part of Animal Collective, although technically they’re not a duo, they’re a three-o. I’ve always loved Panda Bear’s solo work, more so than Animal Collective. His album Person Pitch is one of my all time favorites.
You do not disappoint with your first record as D’Ruse. We are in familiar territory: hypnotic and sexy, deep and catchy. You seem comfortable in the studio. Who are your references in terms of production?
I have been working in and out of a recording studio for around 10 years, as part of my day job as an audio engineer and I’ve always been interested in infusing traditional electronic music production techniques with real instruments. There’s something about the organic aspect of that blend that stands out to me. Artists like Panda Bear, James Blake, Junior Boys and Pillowtalk do this really well. But when you’re writing house music it is definitely a good idea to think to yourself ‘how would this sound next to a Kerri Chandler record or a Mark E tune’ and even if you only hit 50% of those lofty goals, the production will have benefited.
What is your motto in the studio?
‘Put down that Ukelele, you’ll regret that tomorrow’.
You have been a key part of the slow disco movement, which we love at Le Bain, but also part of a wider scene headed by Soul Clap and Wolf+Lamb, which resuscitates the American underground house music. Do you agree with that?
I think Wolf+Lamb and Soul Clap and that whole family that includes people like Slow Hands and No Regular Play have done an amazing job at spotlighting what is cool and interesting about electronic music, both old and new. The general shift away from the popularity of that minimal sound - which I could never get into - and back to good ol’ house music, has certainly been championed by these guys, but also by other amazing labels such as Wurst and Let’s Play House, and I think it’s this collective movement that has breathed new life in.
What do you think makes D’Ruse unique in that scene?
I’d say I’ve been lucky enough to record some of those guys in the studio, like Greg Paulus from No Regular Play. And having Slow Hands remix one of my songs was pretty special. It’s perhaps early days for me to say what might be unique and special about what I do, but I’m sticking with an organic approach in a traditionally electronic world and I’m happy with what I’m doing so far.
The movie Blowup by Antonioni ‘It feels like a place you want to be’
Asked about the music revolution that he would like to see happening in 2012, Jacques Renault answered “Looking forward to what happens when the slow trend fades.” Would you bet yourself on the slow trend to fade in 2012?
I personally love the slow trend, it’s been something that I’ve been slipping into for years now in a natural way. Some of the records I bought ten years ago I’d find very difficult to play now purely because of the tempo, but I’m fine with that, my taste just changed. I’m going to predict this whole disco thing will fade. The current trend of disco edits and reworks I find great but only to a point. I think a lot of people find it easy to hack up an old disco tune and put a beat under it, the more rewarding challenge for me has always been writing good original music.
What do you think will be next?
I am secretly hoping for a return to good old-fashioned deep house.
If you had the power to travel in time, where would you go as a music lover?
It might sound cheesy, but I would love to travel back in time and watch one of the great classical composers at work. I’d love to have been in a room, or better still inside the head of a Mozart or Chopin as they composed. Without the technology we have today, those guys had to imagine in their heads how a 70 piece orchestra would sound, with all the interplay of melody and harmony between instruments. And in a concert hall when the music was played for the first time to an audience, that was when the composer heard it for the first time too. That is mind blowing to me!
Do you go out a lot?
I don’t go out as much as I used to! But we are certainly spoiled by choice here in New York, and I try to take advantage of that as much as I can as it’s definitely a source of inspiration for me. There is a balance I try and strike between going out and experiencing similar music to what I write - mostly in clubs - and other forms of music, like gypsy jazz in an old Brooklyn bar, or Bon Iver in a park. I think in this way I’m constantly reassessing what i do, and it keeps me going.
If you have the power to teleport yourself in one movie and interact with its characters, what would you pick?
I just watched The Blowup for the first time the other day, so that’s fresh in my mind. It’s such a cool snapshot of London in the 1960’s, and the soundtrack was done by Herbie Hancock. The overall tone of the film is really nice, it feels like a place you want to be!
What is the all time sexiest thing?
I’d have to say my girlfriend, closely followed by chocolate in any form.
D’Ruse’s songs preview.