To the untrained American ear, 27-year-old Christopher Mercer’s quick and thick Yorkshire dialect might be a bit perplexing. Fortunately for the British DJ/producer better known as Rusko, his brand of bright dubstep speaks for him. Rusko launches a special monthlong residency at Rain on Aug. 4 during the Palms’ annual Midsummer Lingerie Masquerade. With two new albums in tow, Rusko is ready to drink, “skank” and find someone to teach him how to gamble.
You attended Leeds, the largest music college in the U.K. How did that education translate into making bass-driven beats?
I actually played an instrument. I actually know chords, scales and arrangements. Dubstep just so happens to be the thing that I’m doing at the moment; it’s not what I’ll do forever. I’m pretty musical. I understand music theory, notes and how things work. So that really helps me to write the tune. But I’m not a DJ who turned into a producer. I DJ because it was the best way to get my music out, and I’ve been making music forever.
What was it like working with Cypress Hill and Damian Marley on the recent Cypress x Rusko EP?
It was cool. I’ve known Sen [Dog] and B [-Real from Cypress Hill] for a couple years now. We were sending tracks to each other for a while. It was B that got Damian in on that because they know each other. Actually, I never got to meet Damian. A lot of that process was done over e-mail because the Cypress guys, Damian and me are all pretty hard to schedule in the same room together. But it was fun.
So, how wild and crazy do things get, being a part of Diplo’s Mad Decent camp?
Next question. [Laughs]
For those kids that think Skrillex invented dubstep, who are your influences or favorite producers they should educated themselves with?
Squarepusher. Everyone has to own a Squarepusher album. Massive.
How would you say your LP, released this year and simply titled Songs, differs from the dubstep Americans have become accustomed to as of late?
I have a single studio in the [Los Angeles] hills [where I live now]. It’s tiny and [located] in a vocal booth. I locked myself in there for six weeks and made these new songs. It wasn’t this massive thought-out process, just this amalgam of ideas. It just made sense to call it Songs because every single song has a chorus—it’s not like your typical dubstep song. I didn’t write it with the intention that they all have choruses. It just kind of happened like that.
In the video you plan to release later this year for ska/reggae-inspired track “Skanker,” what’s with all the fans wearing a mask of your face? Does that creep you out at all?
No, it’s cool. My management and label came up with the idea. It’s just a cool way to get the kids from the show [we filmed at] to engage and do something. Even if you couldn’t go to the show, you can put in your own submissions. If you look at the submissions they’ve got like 16,000 [views] each and there’s like a hundred of them! There’s even one of this pregnant woman dancing around—it’s funny. It’s a way of putting the “Skanker” dance in the video if you do it at the club. No one wants to see me dance, so we got all the kids to dance.
You say no one wants to see you dance, but you’ve been known to shake it in the booth when you DJ. What would you call your signature move?
Does “drunk” count? [Laughs] A signature move of being drunk? No, not really. They don’t really have names. I don’t really think “the shakes” has been invented yet.
What’s it like to be a dubstep producer playing Las Vegas, where the majority of other headliners in the city are all about commercial house?
I’m just going to do what I do. I know you’ve got to play a bit Vegas, it’s a bit of—I don’t want to say—an odd crowd; it’s based on buying drinks and that. But I have a really good relationship with the Palms and I’ve played there two, three times before. I’m going to have some fun as well—Saturday night in Vegas every week is not a bad place.
Anything us Las Vegans can do to make your time here more enjoyable?
Buy me a drink in Vegas. Or, somebody buy me a drink and somebody teach me how to play poker, please. Get someone to write in to me if they want to teach me poker—that’ll be wicked!