There are a handfull of underground artists today that are taking full advantage of the ever growing, most powerful source on the globe, something that we all admit we can not live without, the Internet. Artists are gaining momentum like never before and are holding outstanding, world breaking numbers that the music industry as ever seen. Ghostwriter, storyteller, and passionate artist Rules has skyrocketed through the interweb, gaining many listeners and fans simply with relatable emotions, portrayed only by music. Right here in our home town, Washington, DC, this UK garage, R&B inspired bass producer, Rules, is an artist that only cares about connecting with an audience emotionally and getting the right feeling at the right time. It’s about those dark nights, where you don’t want to go home, but you want to enjoy music with another soul, connect, and then part ways. Blisspop was lucky enough to connect with Rules and learn more about this organic, talented artist.
Why a secret identity?
Rules: There are a couple of reasons. Some of my favorite artists didn’t put their identities out there when they first started to release their music and I’ve always thought that was pretty neat. I didn’t really understand why until I actually decided to put out my tracks. It’s obviously a popular thing to do among this new age of internet producers and I know it gets annoying and cliché to see all these people trying to be mysterious and intriguing. But legendary guys like Zomby and Burial just wanted to put out their tracks and not have to deal with all the press and stuff, so they definitely influenced my decision to do that. But for me, it also had a bit to do with fear of rejection. I didn’t think people would like what I put out, even though my friends kept telling me otherwise. So, I came up with Rules and sent the tracks to a bunch of blogs anonymously. I wasn’t really expecting all of the positive feedback, so that’s pretty great. But really, if you search deep enough you can easily find out who I am haha it’s not that big of a deal for me anymore.
Where does your name derive from?
‘Teach U A Lesson’ by Robin Thicke, when he says “You broke the rules.” That line really got me for some reason, but aside from that just for lack of a better name.
How long have you been producing?
About 6 years. I started out on FL Studio when I was 13, but it wasn’t anything serious. A lot of my close friends started like me and are now producers/musicians, so it was sort of just something we did to pass time and show each other the tracks we made for fun. Eventually, as I got older and had a better understanding of the program, I started to take it as a serious hobby. I started the first Rules EP in summer 2012. I showed a couple of people what I had and they really liked it and told me to put it up on Soundcloud. So I did and now I’m here.
What is the message you send out to your audience with your music?
Not sure really. I try to make my music more about the vibes than the technicalities of production. There are a lot of producers out there who can’t release a song unless they get it perfectly mastered and leveled. But I’d rather just spend like 3-4 days on the feelings a track might induce rather than 3-4 days making my kick sound more or less crisp.
I sort of made the tracks for the first EP without a set goal in mind. It was kind of a subconscious thing where I just wanted to try something different with vocal chops. It wasn’t until months later after releasing the EP that I realized how much feeling I had actually put into the tracks. I was listening to ‘W/o U’ in my car after a long day at work and all these flashbacks of the time period of when I made the track came to my head and I was just like “wow i kind of hate this song”. But not because I thought it sounded bad but because it had betrayed me in such a way, bringing up all these unexpected emotions on this 5 minute car ride home. So, I’m not really trying to send out any message. I just want people to listen to my tracks and try to figure out what it’s about or what it represents depending on what they’re feeling while listening to them.
You incorporate dark UK garage inspired sounds within your music in addition to R&B influenced vocals. What are some of the inspirations for you including sounds and artists? EDM influences? R&B influences?
Yeah, I’m obsessed with old UK garage tracks. And that’s really strange for me being from the US because people don’t really expect that type of sound from someone outside of the UK. When I first listened to Burial’s self titled album, I wasn’t really digging his sound because it was a bit new to me and all. But when I listened to Untrue for the first time like a year or two ago I was blown away by how deep the atmosphere was and how well it complimented the vocals. Then I started to listen to all these garage mixes on youtube that made me fall in love with different producers like El B and Zed Bias. So, from then, my beats transformed from sample-heavy Hip-Hop/R&B into what they are now. I also listened to a lot of R&B, hip-hop, and pop growing up, mainly from artists like Marques Houston, Ginuwine, and of course JT, so that’s probably why the chopped vocals play such a big part in my music.
Tell us about your new EP.
I started working on it right after I put out the first one. I had a couple of tracks laid out that I thought would be good for an EP, so I chose 3, worked on them, and the rest I might put out as demos or something. The title of the EP is Rules x2. It should be out sometime in April.
Do you think having a secret identity affects the message or promotion of your music?
No, not at all. Of course, there are going to be people that are like “Ok, no one knows who you are, cool. But you’re just another kid trying to make it outside of SoundCloud with these R&B acapellas that you’ll soon run out of. And oh, someone already blogged about you before I did so I’ll just pass, even though I really like these tunes.” But usually as long as you’re doing something people like, they spread you around to their friends on Facebook or on Twitter. So, word of mouth, I think, has been a great help for me. I love my fans for that. They’re just people browsing the internet linking me with other people that are browsing the internet. So, shout out to my fans, giving them the music they like, which just happens to be the music I like. That is my main focus right now. But, I have also met some really great people who run blogs/sites and do press that are willing to help out for the pure sake of good music. That’s all you really need in my opinion.
Have you ever played out before?
No. I’m not sure I want to either. Playing live is such a horrific thought for me. Call me a wuss or whatever but I don’t think I’d be able to satisfy the crowd trying to have a good time on the dance floor. There’s a lot of pressure as a DJ… Plus, I don’t know the first thing about mixing live. So, even if I wanted to do a show at some point, I’d have to take some time to figure out equipment and stuff, and I don’t have the time/money for that.
Also, I feel like my music is more for the people who go to an empty club after midnight on a Tuesday because they can’t sleep and hope to meet someone that’s the same as them, and when they finally do, they hit it off but never see each other again after that night. Not necessarily for 11pm on a Friday at U Street Music Hall when everyone is getting crunk to some random DJ. Got mad love for U-Hall though, it’s such a great venue.
I wouldn’t hide my identity if I did play live.
Watch out for more Rules in April with a follow up EP titled Rules x2. In the meantime, check out Rules’ MTHRFNKR Mix here as well as many other original tracks full of sexy, deep, bass vibes…