Artist Interviews

Causin’ A Rawkus…

Untidy has just dropped the eagerly awaited Untidy Tools Volume 2, a triple tracker of tough house joy. One of the artists on the EP is Rawkus, a name we first heard on Sam Townend’s Bassix album with a remix of UK Gold’s ‘Cuz The House Gets Warm’ giving the Tidy classic his own twist. We caught up with the man behind the guise, Kris O’Rourke to talk about all things Rawkus and more.

You have been a hard house producer for quite some time, how did Rawkus come about as it’s very different from the music you usually create?

I’ve been listening to a lot of house music lately and also going through some old records, (I go through periods where I feel nostalgic haha).  I’ve been making some funkier hard house but decided to try making house as it would allow me a little more flexibility with creativity.  There used to be lots of tracks in the 130-135bpm range that I used to play back in the day from artists like The Rhythm Masters, Armand Van Helden, Todd Terry, Loop Da Loop and The Sharp Boys.  I decided to draw on these influences from around ’96-’98 and hopefully try to make something fresh with a nod to those who inspired me.

We first got a glimpse of Rawkus with your UK Gold remix on Bassix, which was a good sign of things to come. Was that your first production in this style?

I’d been playing around with a few things, but nothing really made it too far.  I started the UK Gold Remix for a bit of fun as I had an idea and thought it may be something that could kickstart me into the style I wanted.  I’ve always found remixes easier to do, they can be a great source of inspiration if you ever feel stuck as there’s already material to build from.  Once the remix was completed, I sent it in to Sam, who at the time was putting together the track listing for Bassix.  He got back to me and mentioned they wanted it for an exclusive for the album!  I was really chuffed.  I decided that I would use the alias Rawkus for that remix as it could be too confusing having a track coming out under my own name on Vicious Circles 20th Birthday album around the same time.  I thought it would also be a great introduction for the new alias.    

‘4U’ is your latest release as part of Untidy Tools Volume 2. How do you go about putting this track together?

I was working on a groove in a loop, after a few changes I added in the classic Todd Terry “Jumpin” beat loop and things started to flow better.  I layered some percussion loops and stabs, I had this “Manhattan Home Boys” vocal that I wanted to use in it which was a start.  I then played around with some bass grooves until I got the right ones and then worked on some beat edits.  I had the old organ stab that I wanted to use as well and luckily that fitted in perfectly.  I ended up with a couple of different grooves which I decided to use, so there’s that little change on the run up to the break.  The bassline changes after the break took a few times to get right.  I wanted to have it sound a bit like a big old school speed garage bassline but didn’t want it to sound too repetitive.  I had to work on a few key changes there until I got what I thought sounded right.  I generally sequence the track as I’m working on it after putting together the initial loop.  Add in a few effects & ear candy, some drops, stretched vocals. (for old times’ sake haha), and voila… done!   

What made you want to use the snippet from Buffalo Stance in it?

The track came on in a playlist recently when I was driving and I’d also come across the old Joe Fandango “Gigolo” record in my collection.  Originally, I had planned on using the rising synth riff part for a drop but I couldn’t get the result I wanted.  I chopped some bits out of the track.  Going back to some Rhythm Masters influence, I thought it could be cool to have some rugged scratch and vocal samples in with the groove, so I chopped those.  Then I realised that Neneh mentioned Manhattan in her rap which matched up with the other Manhattan Home Boys vocal I was using so I thought I’d go with it.  I wanted an old school break down so I looped a bit of the breakbeat with her ad lib and layered another old school break over it.   

Here’s a big question… which style of music do you prefer to make, hard house or the tougher house?

I think it’s nice to be able to have a variety to work on.  Things can become a bit stale if you’re doing the same thing over and over.  It’s easy to lose inspiration working on music and it can be hard when you just get stuck in a loop for a bit.  I’m really enjoying working on the tougher house now, I’m learning new things as I’m going.  I feel like I can be a bit more creative through the Tougher House sound as there’s quite a lot of genres you can mash in there.  I will still be working on some Hard House too. 

S0 are you sat on a pile of Rawkus material waiting to be released?

I’m currently sat on a bunch of unfinished loops haha.  Some I will be revisiting soon as they had potential, but I tend to open a fresh project a lot of the time if I haven’t got too far with a previous one.  I have got a few ideas in my head that I want to try and get working on soon.  I intend on working hard to build this alias & hopefully provide some more tracks for Untidy. 

Untidy has really taken off since it’s rejuvenation, how does it feel to be part of its growing success?

First of all, hats off to Sam, the amount of work he’s put into the relaunch/rebrand of Untidy is phenomenal.  He’s started the momentum with the Untidy Radio Show and his own material helping shape the direction.  It’s great seeing the interest & support in Untidy growing even outside of the Hard House community, and how well the relaunch has been received.  I’m excited and grateful to be a part of it.  There’s been this buzz and support from everyone who’s been involved in Untidy on the relaunch and it’s been great.  BIG love to everyone who’s supported me along the way so far.

What do you like the most about Untidy Trax?

I’ve been a fan of Untidy since I first bought Untidy Dubs Volume 1 when it came out.  I’ve always loved the bassline driven grooves.  This time round the variety is what has stood out to me.  Everyone who has put something out on the relaunch has knocked it out of the park, there’s been some strong releases.  It’s also great to see some new faces alongside some of us not so new faces connecting with and pushing this sound forward.

What can we expect from you in the future?

More of the same really, pumping tough house, tough beats, big basses and probably some weird samples thrown in to catch you out haha.  I’ll be working on some more hard house and will also be working on some more stuff with my musical partner in crime Ian Jay (Sub-Ctrl/Hi Freak1c).  We’ll also be putting some focus back on our label Digital Cohesion soon after having a little break from it due to both being busy.  Other than that, I’ll see what other opportunities present themselves.  Stay safe & take care!

Download & stream this release here: https://untidy.fanlink.to/UntidyToolsEP2

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