Words by Gina Michael, Photos by Control Alt Delight, Philip Mendoza 2012
These days, everyone from your best friend to your neighbor’s gardener’s barber is making music. In the overly-saturated electronic music world, there are a few heavyweights who stand alone—virtuoso music-makers who seem to have the Midas touch that turns anything and everything they work on to gut-wrenching gold.
The Bloody Beetroots a.k.a. Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, undoubtedly has claimed a rightful place among the titans of electro music (even he would hate to be classified into just one genre)…
So there I sat, at the restaurant bar of the Standard Hotel in downtown LA, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the masked legend. To my surprise, and delight, Sir Bob was unmasked and without any airs. On stage he is larger than life, but in person, he exceeded his persona—simply because he is an incredibly down-to- earth person.
It felt as if I were catching up with an old friend—an old friend who happened to be interrupted multiple times during our conversation to exchange words with other industry wave makers, too many to mention, who accurately referred to Rifo as the most viral artist in electronic music. And so he is, and will continue to be, infecting us all with his conception of what it means to be an artist.
GM: Coming from performing all over Europe from France to Germany to Belgium, and then Puerto Rico last night, to being here in LA and tomorrow you’re off to Canada– your tour schedule is absolutely insane! It’s exhausting just thinking about it. What do you do to maintain while traveling and still manage to put on a high-energy, kick-ass show every time?
SBCR: You just don’t drink too much or do drugs and it’s not so bad. I’ve been doing this for a long time now, so the jet lag isn’t really jet lag, it’s just lag. But every night is a different experience. Each crowd has a different energy so my job is to connect with the crowd and their energy. If it’s there, I play to that. If it’s not, then it’s my job to give them the energy to want to stay and dance the whole set. I mean, in Europe there were some shows where it was raining, like really raining. And you know, they don’t want to be out but they are out there through it all but I just try to create a space so they will want to be there and have a great time anyway. Because of that, man we got some incredible shots of people going nuts in the rain and that makes it worth it for me, like I did my job.
GM: Can you tell us a little about your creative process? Do you get into the studio and stay there until you’ve made something, or do you only head to a studio after inspiration has struck?
SBCR: I try not to get stuck in the studio all the time, but yeah sometimes I do have to just go and work. But with a song, it’s all about the title. Once the title is there, there is a story waiting to be told. I don’t really know why it’s like it but that’s how it happens for me. The title comes to me and after that, it’s done. I know the beat, the chords, everything, it’s been composed.
GM: So if it starts with the title, is that how you make all of your music?
SBCR: Yes, every time. I mean I remember with Cornelius that was exactly what it was. The title came to me and I wanted to tell the story of Cornelius. He was a character that needed his story to be told.
GM: Well, it’s obviously working–your latest single “Rocksteady” is incredible. From the rock-infused electro beats to that insane video Wyatt Neumann dreamed up, “Rocksteady” seems to strike that perfect balance between garage punk rock and roll and the electro dance we’ve all grown to love. What is your personal definition of Rocksteady?
SBCR: With Rocksteady, once I had that title I knew it had to stay true to its rock ‘n’ roll roots. I wanted it to be reminiscent of the 60s and 70s and have the essence of that time but at the same time, I wanted to redefine what rock is.
GM: With the fairly recent explosion of EDM into mainstream media, it seems there is a massive influx of new music producers and DJs trying to get their material out and gain a strong following. Any advice you would give to someone out there trying to make a name for him or herself?
SBCR: Yeah, it’s true, electronic music is exploding, particularly in America – maybe too much. You know, there’s a lot of material out there now. Some people think that “electro,” if that’s what you want to call it, is cheesy. I know who I am and what I want to bring to the music world, so more than anything I want to make sure the music has content and has substance. For me, that is my main goal and that’s what I focus on regardless of what I’m working on. Of course I have to make a living and be able to stand on my own two feet, but I’m not making music so it can become something or get airplay on the radio. At the end of the day, it has to be about the music and making a connection. If you are doing it for any other reason it won’t work. Music is meant to be felt, nothing else.
GM: Is there anyone that you look up to or aspire to be like?
SBCR: It’s kind of stange, me personally I never really had any idols growing up. I think that’s why I can work with all different types of people. Some of them, are huge in their scenes, superstars, but I don’t think of it. I guess in my mind, I don’t like to weigh people. People are just people which I guess is why I can get along with anyone.
GM: Do you still keep in touch with Dennis? (Lyxzen of Refused and International Noise Conspiracy)
SBCR: Ah, I like to but now, he’s ridiculously busy, touring all over the world, way busier than me!
GM: You definitely aren’t afraid to branch out, encompassing everything from photography and fashion to politics and cinematography into your musical arsenal. What should we be on the lookout for next? A new album? Or maybe something completely different—a novel perhaps?
SBCR: I don’t think I’m so good with words and writing and talking, that’s why I do music and photography to be honest. But I do want to make a movie. That is my next goal. Not like some long full-length feature or anything like that. Just a short, f***ed up story that can maybe explain a little bit about me and how this all came to be.
And with that Sir Bob went off to HARD Summer in LA to put on one of the most insane sets I’ve ever seen—crazy enough to pull us from backstage and into the crowd so we could really get rowdy and experience what the Bloody Beetroots DJ Set is all about. With his latest single “Rocksteady,” a stacked tour schedule spanning from Europe across North America and down under to Australia, and a possible movie in the near future, it seems The Bloody Beetroots’ reign is far from over, but in actuality, is just getting started.