Rustie: Rise of a Scottish maximalist

Monday 03rd, November 2014 / 07:44
By Kaelan Unrau

rustie1VANCOUVER — Russell Whyte – better known as Rustie – has sure come a long way in the last few years. A Scottish rave aficionado who once wrote a song titled “Inside Pikachu’s C–t,” he now plays to stadium crowds, collaborates with famous rappers and has two full-length LPs out on the illustrious Warp Records.

When 2011’s Glass Swords hit the record stores, listeners and critics alike were wowed by the producer’s ecstatically over-the-top approach to electronic dance music. Lush synths flitted over slinky basslines, with the odd pitched-up rave vocal occasionally burrowing its way through the mix. Alongside the work of fellow Scot Hudson Mohawke, the album even helped to spawn a new entry in the musical lexicon: maximalist.

“Ahh – I’ve got nothing but respect for the guys at Pitchfork,” says Rustie, in reference to the purported originators of the term. “People can label music however they want. Personally, I don’t mind it.”

In comparison, 2014’s Green Language – “a reference to archaic old languages, animal talk etc.” – is a more understated affair. Granted, the trap-flavoured “Raptor” is as sonically dense as anything else in the producer’s canon, while “Attak” – featuring an especially demented Danny Brown – seems tailor-made for the arena. But there are also subtler moments, such as instances of Steve Reich-ish minimalism (“Paradise Stone”), diva balladry (“Dream On”) and introverted hip hop (“He Hate Me”).

But despite his reputation as a studio genius, Rustie also enjoys making magic on the dance floor. “Producing and performing are both completely different – for obvious reasons,” he explains. “Producing is something more personal and I love to do it. But intimate shows can certainly be special.”

Does he prefer any particular kind of audience? “Not really,” he replies. “Though I love my home crowd in Glasgow, as they are notoriously rowdy!” Of more significance are a club’s sonic virtues. “Each show is different, but a good sound system is always important. And the sound in North America is sometimes awful.” Thankfully, Rustie will be playing at Fortune Sound Club – a venue known for the quality of its speakers.

Since the release of Glass Swords, the Glaswegian producer has firmly established himself in the vanguard of electronic dance music. But from where does such a vogue young artist get his musical fix? Rustie’s answer encapsulates the charming eclecticism of his own work. “Musically, I like that guy Tory Lanez,” he says, referring to the Toronto-born hip hop artist. “And the new South Park episodes – heh.”

Rustie performs at Fortune Sound Club November 7.

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