Interview: DJ /Rupture

Photographer Jason Nocito
November 10, 2009

As is the best policy, we like to let DJ /Rupture speak for himself. Under his regular name, Jace Clayton, Rupture has been a consistently fantastic writer for our magazine and many other publications, skillfully espousing on an endless spectrum of music. As a DJ, he practices similar unified diversity, as is the case for his new mix, a joint project with Matt Shadetek called Solar Life Raft, out today. We asked him about the album and how it reflects the current state of music, be it physical or spiritual. Because the internet fooled us, we also asked him about a person we thought was real but who is probably fake. Check out the smart shit he has to say after the jump.

I was surprised to see you release another official mix album. What do you still have invested in the proper CD release of a mix as opposed to a strictly digital release, free or otherwise?
While there are 16-year-olds out there who have never bought a CD and never will, there are also folks who still prefer physical CDs. So for me its worthwhile to release them. A DJ mix makes even more sense to have on CD than a regular album -- because a mix, at least the way I make them, has a real beginning, middle and end, its about blends and transitions, whereas most normal albums you can listen to the tracks on shuffle and it won't impact the album so much. Also, a physical release means we can have crazy liner notes.

Is there a pleasure in being able to say, at least, that everything is officially licensed? The liner notes are very meticulous and the credits are very prominent.
Yeah! Bootleg mixes are fun but with stuff like Uproot and Solar Life Raft, I'm talking to all the producers, explaining the project and getting permission. Everybody gets credited and paid a percentage of the profits—its a real honest way forward. its not just some DJ self-promoting via a free online mix made with other people's music—DJs do that all the time and it's like whatever, viral culture, but with the official licensing, we're building a little crew & we all get a slice of the pie. I love P2P and bittorrent and audioblogs and dont really care when I see all my stuff online for free, its just a form of distribution. But i also love trying to help talented artists get a bit of money for their skills. Musicians don't want vague "respect" (although it is nice), they want money so they can keep on making music.

About meticulous credits & liner notes—ever since Gold Teeth Thief there have been fans who go out and search for every record I use, its wild. People read the fine print!

What is the essay in the liner notes that rambles a story about oddly named characters, octopus and rich people in the Catskills? Is the character Nokea any relation to Nokea who is signed to Dutty Artz?
Nokea and Baby Kites are part of the Dutty Artz crew, they're from the NYC islands, circa 2034 or so. they make music on cellphones and prefer to be paid in menthol cigarettes, since i guess the dollar has lost its value in the future. For us, it's a win-win situation. the Catskills are still dry so that's where the rich people went. We're about to release a video which will explain everything.

There is no cumbia on this album, a genre you have come to love. Why is it missing?
I'm talking to my favorite Mexican sonideros, working on an all-cumbia official mix! One thing about cumbia though, it requires a different type of DJ style—with dubstep and more clubby material, its easier to do long blends and more magical mixing, with cumbia it's more just one track after another, like mixing funk 45s. So my cumbia mix will probably be my favorite two minutes from my favorite 30 cumbia tracks, just fast tune-after-tune mixing. on SLR there's lots of deep blends with several sound sources going at once, you can't really do that with cumbia.

There is also no real hip hop on this album, which there was on a number of your previous mixes? Is that genre not compelling to you recently?
It's weird, I havent been feeling so much hiphop as of late. i've been getting more in R&B, but less at a level of DJing it, it's more a source of inspiration. Matt Shadetek & I are huge fans of The Dream. I want to put out a DJ Rupture artist album in 2010, and I want to explore some rupture R&B with it.

Solar Life Raft has a number of tracks which are either instrumental and moan, or tracks which are overlaid with a kind of wash. While it may not be overall a sad album, much of it certainly feels blown out, melancholy. Do you agree? Was this purposeful?
When I DJ in a club, its a dance party, more overtly happy and uptempo. I wasn't trying to be melancholy with SLR, but I was thinking about this mix as something related to club music, yet intended for listening at home or while walking or driving around the city, so it didnt have to be banging. We were after the vibe of the title: Solar Life Raft—kinda futuristic, but in a grubby cheap plastic D.I.Y. kinda way, soft apocalypse, a low-income future with water rising but kids like Baby Kites are still making dope music and grilling mutant octopus burgers on the roof.

The back of the record says in underlined text "mixed in Brooklyn" and the front cover image is you and Matt Shadetek, mostly blacked out, with the Statue of Liberty between you. For someone with such a global view of music, that's two very strong statements of allegiance to New York City, where you live now. Is this a record that purposefully reflects your current environment?
Totally. Barcelona (where i lived before NYC) is probably the most beautiful city in the world, but it didn't feed me musically the way New York does. With Solar Life Raft, we were like "let's do this fast, work with our friends, no waiting" and so we just naturally reached out to our favorite bands in the city for remixes and producers we admire for tracks, and it evolved from there. even the dubstep, most of it is from U.S. producers rather than the same handful of London DJs everybody's jocking. At the end of the day, local significance is what gives meaning to music that goes international and cosmopolitan. Every week some European dude will send me a cumbia remix that samples a Mexican or Colombian tune and puts an old dancehall vocal on it, and I'm like "why?"—that's music being made just for the internet.

I love the internet, but everything gets so much more intense and surprising when you work with people who are actually near you, real collaborations rather than download cut and paste or pay-for vocals where you fly to Jamaica and pay Vybz or Busy $2000 for 30 minutes of their time and then pretend like you're friends. I've done those things in the past, and it's just not as rewarding as sitting down in the studio and building music based on common ground with folks you know and have to deal with day in and day out. And being back in NYC is amazing for that: its so compressed here. i can go to the cumbia shop round the corner and talk in Spanish with the folks there about the stuff I'm into and get feedback, but then we can meet up in Bed-Stuy to record with Jahdan Blakkamoore and its dancehall and African stores and we can think about music that works over there. Then we go to Bushwick and its a whole other universe—and there are people who are buzzing around between these worlds and what they're doing is vital in each one.

Interview: DJ /Rupture