DID YOU READ

Premiere: Rusko’s “Everyday”

Premiere: Rusko’s “Everyday” (photo)

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The British DJ Rusko–an international emissary of ultra-kinetic, pop-aspiring dubstep who now calls Los Angeles home–has the best giggle. A high-pitched, nervy shake, Rusko’s laugh is that of someone who seems to do it often and enjoy it always. Indeed, sitting in the back of his tour bus outside of Philadelphia’s Electric Factory, Rusko laughs a lot about his good fortune in the electronic music world, his massive stage show and the task of trying to burn pre-show downtime in a city he barely knows.

But the video for Rusko’s latest single–the cheery, bass-built monster “Everyday”–isn’t quite as sunny. Filmed on location in California’s comparably apocalyptic Salton Sea, “Everyday” captures visages and environments badly damaged by the spot’s former popularity. That’s the mood only until the stage lights come in, spelling out Rusko’s name with 900 or so bright and synchronized bulbs. As the perfect hook cycles through for one more chance, you can almost hear Rusko’s jubilant giggle overhead. After all, even if it’s tough out there, this is survival music.

“Everyday” is out now on Mad Decent.

How has tour been so far?

We’ve been really, really lucky. We’ve only had one show so far that hasn’t sold out, and that was like 100 tickets from selling out. This time, we brought the whole production. We have the big, nine-foot letters, which are on hydraulics. It’s crazy, really: We had two weeks in a warehouse with a stage in it. We basically built a fake club with the stage set up in LA and rehearsed. It was really weird, because it’s unusual for a DJ to rehearse for two weeks before going out on tour. Normally, it’s just turn up, play some tunes, have some drinks, party and go to bed. That’s the kind of standard DJ tour. For us, for each show, it’s been a bit different. We’ve got a big crew with us on the tour bus who have been rockin’ it just like a rock band would, really.

Why did you need to rehearse? What’s so complicated technically with this tour?

We have giant Rusko letters–an R, U, S K and an O–which are nine feet high and made out of about 150 light bulbs each. They’re on hydraulics, so they’re all moving up and down throughout the show. We also have a floating DJ booth, so you can see the whole of my body moving and dancing and everything. All of the lights and the letters and the whole set moves with the tracks, and we have specific kinds of sequences worked out with tracks in the set. It’s really like a big rock production. The set has tracks I have to play at certain times, and we have the stage choreographed to move with it.

We’ve been really lucky, because we’ve had to play larger venues and theaters and rooms with larger stages because it takes up a lot of room. We have a whole extra truck. We have a tour bus with a crew of seven and a whole extra truck for the set, just because we couldn’t find a trailer big enough to bring it. It’s pretty intense. It started off as an idea that snowballed and got bigger and bigger. Hopefully, we’re going to continue to use it from here on out.

Are those big lights the same ones that form sort of the coda in the “Everyday” video?

Correct! That was a smooth segue. They are the exact same letters. “Everyday” was filmed like two weeks before we came out on tour. That was the next-to-last version of the letters before we got the final tweaks. They’re static. They’re not moving like they are in the video, but they are the same lights. Every single light bulb–and that’s nearly 900 light bulbs–has to be unscrewed and put into a cardboard box and screwed in, every day. You can imagine how long that takes. That’s why I sit outside in the tour bus for hours before the show, because it takes quite a long time to get 900 light bulbs out of 900 boxes.

This video is odd: At times, it feels like it’s a Yelawolf or David Banner production, and at times it feels like some lost sequence of The Stand. Other times it’s just an empty Rusko dance party in the desert. How did it happen?

I really wanted to work with Jason Miller again, because we worked together on the “Hold On” video. We had him follow me around for a whole week around the UK and piece it all together into a three-minute video. I just love the way he put it together and the effects and everything he used.

This song’s super positive–“The sun is shining everyday”–and the idea was that we show something that was almost sort of negative and almost sad, to contrast the overt happiness of the tune. The Salton Sea was the idea that came up between myself and my manager. It’s about an hour from where we live in Los Angeles. It’s right out on the San Andrea Fault in California. My wife’s mom has actually been there a few times. The story behind the place is that it used to be a really nice kind of retirement area. And then, through it being in the desert and pollution and everything, it totally dried up. Now it’s a wasteland. All the people you see in the video are people who actually live there. They live in that polluted wasteland, where nothing grows. It’s kind of a sad story, actually: Through the fact that the sun is shining everyday, it’s caused a real problem. Basically the idea was to contrast the happiness of the song with a sad video.

Essentially, you’re saying that the good begets the bad.

Exactly. You have to have one to have the other. After the last video we did together, which was super jumping around on the stage and crazy and the crowd is cheering, we wanted to do something that was the complete opposite in tone. The people were so cool and willing to work with us. The looks on people’s faces are killer. I could have just three minutes of the old guy. I wish there were more shots of the old guy in there. His face tells a million stories, man. For me, the looks and the expressions and the vibe of the people’s faces is a stark contrast to the stuff we did before. It’s not what people expect for the next video from me. I love the music I make and that the stuff I do is fun and positive. That’s my whole thing, and all my previous videos have reflected that. In a way, I wanted to confound people’s expectations of a sun-is-shining-everyday video. I think they’re expecting a montage of me being an idiot in clubs. But we do still have the flashing lights, of course. It is a dance music video.

How has living in California influenced the music you’ve made?

I’m not sure if I would have made the track, if it would have come out of me, if I hadn’t moved to California. If I still lived in London, the track wouldn’t have been inside of me. I wouldn’t have made the song if I wasn’t influenced by my surroundings, which I am quite a lot, actually. A lot of the music I’ve been making on the tour has been hectic and crazy, which tour has been. A lot of the stuff I make at home in California is similar to “Everyday.” I have been noticing how influenced by my surroundings my music is. The song and video were born out of me living in the U.S. now and not having to see rain every day when I wake up anymore.

What inspired your move to California?

My wife, who I married in the UK and who used to live in London, is Californian. Obviously, I used to go out there, and we have family out there. Also, I wanted to be involved in more pop projects, and I started touring, as opposed to doing shows on weekends. Mostly, DJs play Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and come home for the week. When I started to do tours with a month touring and a month off, I realized that I didn’t have to spent the month off paying crazy prices and looking at the rain. I could spend it in the sunshine. That was an incentive, too.

You mentioned that you wanted this video to stretch expectations of what you were about as an artist. Obviously, this has been a year in which people’s ideas of what dubstep might be have changed, especially with James Blake. How do you see the state of dubstep?

It’s strange that it is such a buzzword. In the general media, it’s not really represented in any way at all, compared to how it is in the UK and Europe. It’s not really fully in the mass media, like on the radio and in TV shows in the States, yet. But it is such a buzzword. The shows are flipping 4,000 kids. It’s nuts. It’s a huge thing, but the mainstream video is not acknowledging it yet over here. I think it still has a way to go before that happens.

But the American media, especially the radio, is 90% commercial. It’s commercial-funded, so they have to sell airtime. They have to play Katy Perry. While the mainstream media is still so commercial, I think dubstep will remain somewhat underground. That will be good. It might not be good for everyone, but I kind of like where it is right now. Maybe I’m just comfortable right now, and I wouldn’t like it go any further, personally. I’m on the bubble–not quite in the mass media, but still a big buzzword. I’m just enjoying where I’m at right now.

A couple of years ago in the UK, it was at a similar place. It wasn’t all over the radio over there like it is now, and it was an exciting time. I think maybe I’m just enjoying being able to have that exciting time again in another country. I think it will inevitably get more on the radio, but I hope it stays like this for a little while longer. It’s exciting.

Find Rusko online with Twitter, Facebook or the old-fashioned Internet. Find him on tour in the following cities:

05.05 Tampa, FL (Amphlitheatre)
05.06 New Orleans, LA (CAC)
05.07 Houston, TX (Warehouse)
05.08 Austin, TX (Stubb’s)
05.09 Dallas, TX (Granada Theatre)
05.11 El Paso, TX (Club 101)
05.13 Las Vegas, NV (Rain)
05.14 Los Angeles, CA (Wiltern)

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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