With a heavy weight 12" just about to drop on Alignment Records we catch up with Bristol's toughest new skool collective. Enter Ruffhouse.
Consisting of members Pessimist, Vega and Cooper, Ruffhouse are amongst the most talked about new collectives in modern drum & bass. With a timeless sound, bridging classic aesthetic together with cutting edge production values, Ruffhouse are quickly carving out their own groove within bass music. Lets find out more.
As Pessimist, Vega and Cooper you are collectively known as Ruffhouse. How did you guys come together and what's behind the name?
Vega and Cooper already knew each other from years of being mates. When they moved to Bristol they met Pessimist at an Abstractions event around 3 or 4 years ago. We had already been DJing alot together at events and because we had similar tastes in music, the next stage was to get into the studio together which was around January of this year. It was actually Vega's brother who came up with the name Ruffhouse, we thought it was a good name for a production trio so went with it. Lots of people have said its a good name that suits us, not sure if they mean that in a good or bad way to be honest!
Both "Pellet" and "Classified" conjure a certain acknowledgement to classic drum & bass from the late 90's while still standing firmly in 2012 stylistically. There is a little bit of an age gap between the 3 of you, does this mean a wider range of influences? Who would you say has had the most profound influence on your music as a collective?
Well Vega who is the oldest out of us has been into drum and bass since around 1997. He has been heavily influenced by the sound ever since. But before that grew up on a lot of 70's and 80's music from his parents music collection.
"Early drum & bass is a massive aspect of our music."
Cooper's influences are quite varied from the music that was played throughout his youth through his Dad's love of soul and early motown, through to artists like Meshugga and Godspeed You Black Emperor which had a massive impact during his early teens. It wasn't until he was about 17 or 18 that he went to his first proper drum & bass night at The End for a Renegade Hardware event and met Vega, which massively impacted on his musical influences. Currently studying music for film and game at university more recent influences have been more about sound design. However constantly finding good music what ever the tempo has become almost a passion in it's self.
In Pessimist's case he's been writing music since he was 13 whether it be in bands or producing drum & bass. His Mum and Auntie's love for music has definitely been passed on, with his mum being one of the regulars down at Bristol's infamous Dug Out, its definitely influenced his love for the Bristol sound and and applying this sound to drum & bass has always been his vision. Moving forward a few years, Pessimist met Vega and Cooper who gave him an insight into the older days of drum & bass and thats definitely made an impact on the beats he writes today.
So regarding all of this, the early drum & bass is a massive aspect of our music, but we've got to try and keep it up to date, not that we have to, but its a vision we all share. As a collective we really couldn't say who has had the most profound influence as we've all got our own opinion on that, even if you asked us individually i doubt you could get an answer.
As the old saying goes "three's a crowd". The studio must be a busy place when you are all working together? How do you split the workload? Do you each deal with separate parts of the track? Or do you draw straws to see who has to be tea boy for the session? How do things work?
When it comes to writing tracks, we don't really have a set up process regarding roles in the studio. writing tracks with computers can mean the studio can be very "one player" with only one person being able to actually be in control of the mouse at one time, so we try to switch it round as much as possible. We only write tracks when all three of us are in the room together.
"It usually takes a few beers, a hazy room and the smell of kebabs to get us all on a vibe."
It usually takes a few beers, a hazy room and the smell of kebabs to get us all on a vibe, slowly skipping through samples we each say which sounds we like until we've got a good collection of sounds and then start to sketch out a track. We are lucky that we all share the same idea when it come to sounds we like, this makes the process of actually writing a track quite easy and natural. it's never a chore for us to get in the studio together as it's a really enjoyable process, which we feel this really reflects on the sound of our tracks.
Your debut single "Pellet" / "Classified" is out on Alignment Records on 15/10/12. When writing the tracks what was the objective? How did you approach each track?
In a lot of ways we consider less to be more in music, so when we wrote "Classified" (which was the first tune we wrote together) we wanted to write something that was straight up drum & bass with only a few elements being used apart from the actual drums and bass itself. If you listen to the track its all about the drums and the change ups within it. It does it exactly what it says on the tin, straight up drum & bass for the dance floor.
"Pellet"… well that's obvious! We were in the studio on a friday night and we were mashed mate…. that's it really.
You are not the first drum & bass collective to come out of Bristol. Historically it has yielded some of the best collaborations the genre has offered, most notably in the form of Roni Size, Krust, Die and Suv. How does the city shape who and what you are musically?
As we mentioned earlier the Bristol thing has influenced Pessimist a lot, especially the trip-hop stuff like Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead and The Wild Bunch. It's always been the second city for drum & bass if we're concerned, but its always been at the forefront of music in the UK. Speak to any Bristolian or someone who's lived here for a number of years and they all share the same view. Its a wicked place and it oozes creativity be it music, art, grafitti or what ever else. There's a number of people making wicked drum & bass too and we're really excited about Clarity moving here recently as we're constantly playing his music lately. So the drum & bass scene looks good in Bristol right now.
Ruffhouse - "Pellet" / "Classified" is out on Alignment Records 15.10.12. HERE