In the United States, Rusko is probably the most famous dubstep producer hailing the land where dubstep was invented. The U.K. producer spent October and November touring colleges, bringing a more drum and bass-inflected sound to audiences that were perhaps already tiring of the onslaught of purely "brostep" sounds of artists like Skrillex.
Since emerging producers took hold of the brash, in-your-face sound Rusko helped popularize, he's been nothing but unpredictable. First opting for a more melodic, soulful twist on bass music, the producer dipped back into pure drum and bass for his latest releases.
Gigging for a young audience throughout much of the country gave him a chance to play much of his "Lift Me Up" EP, which is his purest DnB effort to date. In the middle of the tour, HuffPost Entertainment spent some time with the outspoken producer and DJ, who gave us some insight into the biggest differences between U.S. and U.K. audiences and what he makes of the media's current obsession with drug use in the dance music community. As an added bonus, he also left us with his favorite secret fast-food menu items.
What's the biggest difference between American and European dance music audiences?
One big thing I've noticed, is that if you go to Europe and play all new music, the crowd is over the moon happy. In America, a set of all brand new music? The crowd is all pissed off, because they didn't hear this song or that song. When you play to a North American crowd, you can't play all brand-new material. You have to leave the hits in there, like a greatest hits set. Whereas in Europe, if you do that, it feels like a copout. Like resting on your laurels.
Are you sick of those hits, like "Cockney Thug"?
The songs that I play in my DJ set, I will eventually not liking anymore. The tracks that are on my albums that I don't play out, I enjoy infinitely more. If a track is very popular, even if it's your absolute favorite, you're going to hate it in a couple of years. I just find it very easy to get burned out on a track. Sometimes it bums me out because I'll be like, "This is awesome!" but I'll know that it'll be dead for me in a year.
Do you see this as an educational outing, doing mostly drum and bass?
That was absolutely the idea. I released my first all drum and bass EP, and going out on the road and doing an all drum and bass set. To these college kids, it's totally new.
Do you find, though, that they're into it?
As far as bass music, outside of house, people are bored. Trap is boring. It's at the end of its life cycle -- it's just another moombahton to me. I mean it's good, but it's not going anywhere. You have one drum kit, and one repeated vocal sound, so it's like, "Let's just do that again and again." It's paint by numbers.
It's amazing how Billboard put Baauer in its list of top EDM producers, even though "Harlem Shake" became more popular as a meme than a song.
That's so weird, I just talked about that in my last interview too. A day of Baauer bashing! No, I'm joking. He's a nice guy.
Let's move on to another buzzy media topic: Drugs. Obviously the drugs-EDM connection is big in the media again. Does it see the same?
It's tough. In Europe, ecstasy exploded in the '90s and now in the rave scene, it's old news. People have been doing ecstasy for 20 years, and they're doing other stuff at the raves these days. Especially in the U.K., where it's just not as common. But in the U.S., 95 percent of the people who are doing drugs in the club are doing molly. There's just less variation -- everyone is doing the same thing. Everyone's on MDMA, and maybe a few are doing acid. In the U.K., there's people on K, people doing G. It's like a mixed box of chocolates, which is better, I suppose.
I hear you're obsessed with fast-food.
Me? Yeah, just generally American fast, fried food.
How did that start?
It really kicked off when I moved to California. The first thing that I had to do was try everything. I'd seen all the commercials on the TV. In England, we have KFC, McDonald's and Burger King. In L.A., there's Jack in the Box, Wendy's, Del Taco, Taco Bell -- all these things we've seen in the movies. So, I spent my first month trying all of them, and seeing what I liked.
And what did you find?
Jack in the Box is the best. Their tacos are amazing. Del Taco is good, Taco Bell is horrible. Popeyes, I love.
Are there any special menu items you're into?
The McGangbang! You can actually ask for this at McDonald's, they know about it. It's just a Big Mac, and they replace the bread with a chicken filet from a McChicken. It's not that exciting, really. At Wendy's, you can get the Triple-Double Baconator -- that's actually on their menu!