Interview: Ruckus Roboticus Closes Out stylus at the Pulitzer Saturday

Jan 21, 2011 at 9:00 am
click to enlarge Ruckus Roboticus playes with matches AND scratches - Image via
Ruckus Roboticus playes with matches AND scratches

Dan Haug (a.k.a Ruckus Roboticus) suspended a performing hiatus to make his first ever stop in St. Louis, playing the final night of the Stylus exhibit at the Pulitzer. He took a break from working on his new record (and preparing for the drive from Ohio to St. Louis in seven inches of snow) to talk to A to Z about his beatmaking methods, his penchant for music that appeals to all ages and who he'd love to have help lay down some tracks on his upcoming album.

Chrissy Wilmes: Your blog announced that you're on hiatus while producing a new record. When can we expect its release? Dan Haug: Well, that's the thing ... I don't really know for sure. It's taking me a lot longer than I expected. My method is very tedious, and I tend to get lost experimenting and trying different options. But I'm guessing it will be finished by the end of 2011.

*The official video for "Here You Go" puts a playful spin on Roboticus' methods

How will the new album differ from Playing With Scratches? Are you still working with found sounds? Is there a similar thematic element to this record? I've learned a lot about music production since working on Playing With Scratches. So the sound [and] production will be a little more mature and modern. I am still working mostly with found sounds, however I plan on adding some original sounds to the mix -- perhaps a guest vocalist or two -- and some musicians playing along to my beats. The new record will be a concept record, but the story will be more subtle than Playing With Scratches. I'm still working out the details, but I can say it will be inspired by disco.

You recently worked on a really interesting comic book related project called The War For Infinity with Adam Warrock. What inspired that adaptation? Well, that was mainly Adam Warrock's vision. He approached me about doing a comic book-rap album, and that perked my interest, because I really like telling stories with music. He came up with the songs [and] concepts to retell the story of The Infinity Gauntlet, and I created the music / beats to match.

You've done a lot of work for children's television, and the first half of your performance at the Pulitzer is billed as "family-friendly tunes that will get the kids clapping." What inspired you to explore kid-friendly music? Hmmm ... I don't know exactly. I suppose I'm just a kid at heart. In addition, during my early years of DJing and record collecting, many of the records I found at thrift stores and garage sales were discarded children's records, and samples from those records inspired my own songs.

What "found sound" or sample that you've used is your favorite? Man, there are too many to mention! In fact, that might be the one thing that makes my production process so time-consuming -- I have to review hours of samples, decide on which ones to use and figure out which ones complement each other. It's an absurd way of working, but it also can achieve some interesting results!

I like collecting records to use in my work - and one thing I've learned over the years is that if you name a topic or subject, chances are, there is a record out there that discusses that topic. For example: Training to become a ventriloquist. There is a record about that! Another example: Planning the perfect dinner party. There is a record about that! And on, and on...

You've collaborated with and remixed so many artists - is there any one artist you'd especially like to work with in the future? Again, there are too many to mention! I am totally obsessed with music, so my list of artists that I'd like to work with is overflowing. But I'm actually going to start approaching some singers about being on my new album, so we'll see if any are actually willing to work with me. Some of the singers on my wish list are: Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, Nicole Willis, Alice Russell, Jamie Lidell.

You've suspended your hiatus to appear at the Pulitzer. What made this event exceptional? Well, I've never performed in St. Louis, so that is very enticing to me. And the name "Pulitzer" sounds very important, and intimidating, doesn't it? I couldn't say no them! But in all seriousness, performing at the Pulitzer Foundation is a unique opportunity, because the show is taking place at a museum, during the afternoon and is open to all ages - which is the opposite of most of my performances (it's usually late night, at a bar or nightclub). So I'm really looking forward to performing in that kind of atmosphere. It should be a lot of fun!