This Saturday Sandwell District are bringing an old compatriot to London for his first ever live performance in the capital – well, his first under his Rrose moniker anyway. Sandwell were, in part, responsible for launching Rrose’s work into the techno community back in 2011, as through a friendship with Juan Mendez, Rrose’s first release under his Marcel Duchamp indebted moniker was hooked up. Nowadays you can mainly find his releases on his own Eaux imprint, a label which was part born out of necessity seeing as Sandwell District have ceased trading as a label (for the time being anyway) and part as relief from the constrictions of working to third party’s specifications.
Given their close working relationship, there are obvious parallels in Rrose’s output with that of Sandwell District, most notably in the highly aestheticized presentation of his work. Interestingly and quite curiously, Rrose borrows from Duchamp for much of his imagery (as well as his live persona). Click onto his RA profile and his bio is reduced to a series of dates. Head to his websites and you’re greeted with a series of images. Dig a bit deeper and it still doesn’t quite make sense. That’s why we’ve taken some time to speak directly with the California born techno artist to find out some of the answers to the questions his mysterious presentation provokes as he prepares to celebrate the launch of fabric 69: Sandwell District this Saturday.
Hey Rrose, it’s quite a rare thing for you to give an interview in fact I can’t find any others – so I’m going to go straight in with the basics. Where are you from exactly?
My pre-Rrose self was born and raised in California.
Then how and why were you drawn to making music, you only began releasing as Rrose in 2011 – were you also active before that under another name?
I have always been an avid listener, but I didn't set out to become a musician. It just sort of happened that one day I looked back on my life and realized that I had become one. Over the years, I have worked on many musical projects, both under my given name and other pseudonyms. I choose not to link the Rrose project to the others in public online forums, but I welcome people to enquire directly, on a one-on-one basis (my contact info is listed on my website).
Rrose – Cavity (Eaux)
Where are you based now? Is there a creative community there you’re involved in?
I live in Washington DC at the moment. Rrose mostly keeps to herself here.
So when we’ve started researching your background for this interview we went straight to your website, on first glance it has the appearance of a collage of imagery , but then when you look deeper it’s all linked to a bigger concept that draws from your name ‘Rrose’ and Marcel Duchamp's character - Rrose Selavey. Can you tell us more about how you arrived at this concept and why you felt you wanted to appropriate that identity to visually represent yourself?
I stole the name because I like the way it looks, the way it feels, and the endless pool of imagery and ideas it suggests. It's absurd to connect techno to Duchamp. Which is also part of the point, I guess.
You also perform live dressed as Rrose what does that lend to the experience when you perform?
It forces me, and the audience, not to take my identity and gender for granted. And it makes me feel like I'm in some kind of weird parallel dimension while I'm performing.
You first got everyone’s attention releasing on Sandwell District, how did you first connect with the collective?
I am an old friend of Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant. I sent him the material for the first Rrose project (Motormouth Variations) looking for advice, since I had become disconnected from the techno scene for several years. I didn't expect Sandwell District to release it. Needless to say, I was honored when they asked.
To talk about your label Eaux – it’s obviously at the moment solely there for the release of your own production – with few of your tracks being released elsewhere. Why do you think the self-release path is good for you?
It's just so much simpler when I'm making all of the decisions.
It’s also interesting you have a Bandcamp, which means that people can stream the tracks in full as well as buy digital – we’d be curious to know how you’ve found using that model?
For me, the most important thing in the distribution of my music is that it has maximum accessibility. I want anyone to be able to hear it, regardless of whether they are willing or able to pay for it. Bandcamp provides that access, and it also allows people to pay the artist directly for their work. I think it's a great model.
Rrose - Secretion (Eaux)
What plans do you have release wise later on in the year, any projects you can divulge?
Next month I will release Waterfall Variations on Eaux. It features a remix by Lucy, an early extended mix of Waterfall, and one new track. There are some other releases in the works, but I would rather not say more at the moment.
You’ll be playing live this Saturday – can you give us a run through as to what your live set up involves, how does that compare to your studio arrangement?
The live setup is based around a computer and external controllers, almost identical to my studio setup. It's more about the sound coming out of the speakers than the gear on the table.
Rrose will be live in Room Two this Saturday, for more info and tickets go here.