British expat Rusko brings dubstep to the West Coast, and the world.
By Joshua P. Ferguson
Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 08.05.10
“Everyone wants to live here. It’s paradise,” says the silver-tongued Ari Gold of sunny Los Angeles on a recent episode of Entourage. It seems the DJ world agrees. A throng of artists has recently relocated there, including dubstep’s biggest star, Rusko. A year ago, 25-year-old Christopher Mercer—as he’s less commonly known—was feeling cramped in London and joined the DJ migration west. He settled on L.A.’s hip Silver Lake neighborhood, which he describes as a West Coast version of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg.
When I reach Mercer to chat about his Lollapalooza performance, his appearance as part of the HARD Summer Tour and his new LP, O.M.G., he’s being ferried home from San Diego, where he was taking in the sights—loads of geeks and Batman—of Comic-Con. Typical of young Brits, Mercer doesn’t drive, which can prove problematic given the Golden State’s landscape. But for the U.K. native, the Cali highways are simply too much. “I don’t cruise up the coast on a Harley,” he laughs. “I ride to the store on my little scooter because I’m too scared.”
The scooter suits his lifestyle perfectly. While discussing his new home, he runs down a list of noteworthy neighbors. Dave “Switch” Taylor and Wes “Diplo” Pentz, the minds behind Major Lazer and close confidantes of M.I.A., and breaks originator Adam Freeland all live within walking distance. As talented as his musical entourage is, it’s only half the reason for the move. His real motivation is to secure dubstep’s place in the American musical lexicon.
A British electronic-music genre characterized by roaring bass lines, half-time breaks and generally savage intensity, dubstep isn’t the phenomenon here that it is in the U.K. “There, they play my tracks on the regular radio in the daytime next to Rihanna and Britney Spears,” Mercer explains. A fixture on the U.K. scene, he’s spent the last six years championing the genre through his DJ, production and frequent radio work, often with regular collaborator Caspa. Looking to the U.S., Mercer saw potential for growth and decided he’s in the best position to exploit it. “There was no one over here that was like: Right, America, this is dubstep, this is what it’s about, and I’m the man to give it to ya.”
To help keep you in a dubstep mood, here's Rusko's epic "Da Cali Anthem" | Rusko "Da Cali Anthem" (mp3)