Roska and the New Minimalism
Kicks & Snares, London, UK
Max Pearl of TRASH MINAGERIE catches up with UK Funky pioneer Roska to get the run-down on a new album, a North America tour, & a few other things we've all been wondering about.
So when you hear the word “minimal,” your mind probably jumps straight to thoughts of carefully refined clickity-clacks, tasteful sub-bass, and white people with glasses who want you to know that this isn’t just party music, but thoughtful and sophisticated sound art. (no offense) Enter Roska: the man who came out of nowhere snares and bongos blazing to pioneer a whole new brand of minimalism that’s taken the emphasis off of boops and bleeps in favor of raw, organic percussion and almost mathematically calculated syncopated rhythms.
Wotchu call it UK funky?
We caught up with the man himself this past week to get the run-down on his first North American tour this April and his new full-length album, put out by Rinse.FM’s record label. For those who don’t know, RINSE.FM is the UK pirate radio institution that’s been providing the world with the newest innovations in beat-craft since about 2004 (oh yeah, they also those crazy raves everyone’s been talking about), and this upcoming release is bound to be absolutely bananas, at least judging by the snippets that have been floating around the internet for a few weeks now. Roska’s signature minimalism even comes across in his interview!
Trash Menagerie: So I assume you’re pumped for your first United States tour. What are your stops along the way and who’s hosting you?
Roska: It’s turned in to a US & North America Tour now. I am hitting up along my journey: LA, ATL, Philly, SF, NYC, Boston, Portland, Toronto & Montreal. I don’t have a host. I think I can hold up the crowd with the selection pretty well. LOL.
(I feel obligated to rep’ Boston of course, where good friends G-Notorious, Vice-T, Steppo, and C-Dubz will be bringing in Roska to spin a Thursday night party at the most intimate nightclub in Cambridge, The Enormous Room, which was recently graced with permanent sound reinforcement for nights such as these. $10. 21+. April 15th.)
TM: I’ve noticed that so much of your music has a raw, upfront percussive presence, and more and more we’re beginning to hear these crazy snares and bongoes trickle down into musical scenes that, before now, never asked for more than your average “kick-clap-kick-clap.” Look at that Major Lazer single, “Pon de Floor,” that shit has snares and bongos and shakers all over the place, and is obviously taking some cues from the new funky house movements. What do you think of that? Do you think that party much is accumulating more and more drums? Is this a trend you’re seeing?
R: Drums and percussive tracks work well in clubs and that’s what those sort of tracks are intended for. Pretty much most of my tracks are made for my love of percussion and hard hitting beats!
TM: People talk about this percussive insanity as related to the influence of Carribean and African party music, like Soca or South African house. Do you see that yourself?
R: Yes I do- most tracks that have this flavor have definitely been influenced by Afro-Caribbean music.
TM: I see that the artwork for some of the tunes you’ve released as your alter-ego, Uncle Bakongo, has featured stylized renditions of African masks. Where does Africa and the African influence figure in through all of this?
R: The BAKONGO alias is strictly my love for minimal conga and bongo based tracks. I use the tribes from Africa to label each track.
TM: What are you really into right now? What’s on your playlist?
R: I just bought a Dâm-Funk CD, which I heard a track from recently, which prompted me to go out and get it. (support your favorite artists!) Also I went and bought back my copy of Dr. Dre 2001 – a classic album (Still waiting for Detox). Also I copped the Gorrilaz new album which is the main CD in the car at the moment.
TM: I’ve read some commentary about how UK Funky is a welcome change in the UK’s electronica scene, which, with such an emphasis on dubstep, drum n’ bass, and electro, is dominated by a real testosteroned-out vibe. Do you see more ladies coming out? Do you see less fights at a funky rave than in a Dubstep scene? Or is that commentary total bullshit?
R: People talk. To be honest, whenever there’s hype on a certain genre of music you will see all types of behavior. Funky is an in-between for all of those genres you mentioned, so we will see and be able to catch the ears of a wider audience.
TM: Who’s coming out to these parties? University kids? Rich clubs kids? Is it a relatively diverse dance scene?
R: All of those you mentioned come to those parties, but it depends on what area you play.
TM: What other kinds of party music do you fuck with when you’re at a gig? Do you every play grime or dancehall reggae or anything like that?
R: I usually drop some Dubstep alongside the funky if it fits in, but i like my sets to travel smooth like a nice car ride with a lot of energy.
TM: Lastly, I hear you’ve been releasing tunes on your own record label, Kicks and Snares. From what I understand, Kicks and Snares has only featured your own music. Is that ever gonna change?
R: May 17th – DJ Naughty – Firepower EP coming out on my label.
Thanks Roska! Come check him out if he’s stopping in your area, and cop the album when it comes out this Monday, April 5th.
Read this article on Trash Minagerie:
Roska on: FACEBOOK | MYSPACE | TWITTER | YOUTUBE
Uncle Bakongo on: MYSPACE | TWITTER
Roska Kicks & Snares: WEB SITE