Q&A with The RIZO’s Alex and Mannal: Dubstep, Knowing Your Roots and How to Promote Your Friends

Mannal, left, and Alex of The RIZO. Photography: Jason Fenmore

The RIZO is a dubstep crew from Los Angeles responsible for parties like Pussy Power and many other shows throughout the year. “RIZO” stands for Respect, Inspire, Zen and Optimism and the crew is looking for more than just throwing themed parties – a lot of the times they jam for charities like The Downtown Women’s Shelter and take food donations as entrance fees because dubfolk also happen to be quite giving.

The RIZO’s main ladies Alex and Mannal sat down with We Speak Dub to talk about their crew and their thoughts on the LA dub scene.

How many artists do you have under the RIZO?

Alex: We have Ashtrobot, Polymer Drone, Apok-C and Beatrix just got added as a vocalist for us. Oh and TRVST! A couple of months ago, we added the Captain Panic guys as well to the roster. Those are just people that we know from the scene, seeing them put a lot of work into what they do and they’re also on the same vibe as us so it’s like a little family unit.

How do you manage them?

A:  For the artists on our roster it’s kind of like having a management team without having to pay for management. We will promote all of their releases, any of their mixes, plus we set up mixes with them. We also help them with bookings. I mean most of them already have agents or managers and we’re kind of like on the side doing all that for them as well. And it’s kind of like a give and take—they play our shows and they’re part of our roster so you know that every time there’s going to be a RIZO show you’re guaranteed that you’re going to see those guys.

Mannal: Yeah it’s really just what you would do for your friends anyway but we work really, really hard on getting their names out and getting their music out. Like we do a podcast every month and every month it’s a different artist so they all get a spotlight and something to put out.

How did you get into promoting in the dubstep scene?

M: We’ve always loved the party scene—the drum and bass scene in general—and this has always been a dream of [Alex’s], you know?

A: Yeah I always dreamed of all that. Me and my roommates Ezaro—one of the guys from RIZO—we started going to a lot of underground parties like dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass. We started throwing events in 2009. One day we were just like, “Let’s do this. Let’s look for a venue and book people and see how it goes.” And at first there was a lot of trial and error obviously, but after I think our third event, everything became like a cookie cutter situation.

What is it about dubstep?

A: Dubstep is crazy because dubstep is so many things. You can like it for so many different reasons. I like drum n bass, and I like reggae and I like dancehall and to me that’s what dubstep was the break off of. So when I heard the original dubstep sound you know, like Borgor, that kind of sound, or Skrillex even, it just reminded me of drum ‘n’ bass on a more low-end type of scale and I liked that. It was like a fast reggae but a slow drum ‘n’ bass. Some people like it because they love house music and they got into it that way. Some people like electro and they got into it that way.

Have you seen any changes in the L.A. dubstep scene?

A:  It’s definitely changed, not necessarily for the bad. It’s evolved, I think, which is good. I mean you lose a lot when you have to go mainstream and I think that’s what happened to our scene. It’s become very mainstream and popular but at the same time that’s never bad because that also means everyone’s just going to make money [laughs]. Everyone that’s been working hard is finally going to get their dues but you kind of lose a lot of the underground vibe when you do go mainstream. There’s so many new people involved in it that don’t know where it came from and that’s kind of a downside.

M: As long as people can appreciate what it is and where it came from. I think that’s the problem, people jump on the popularity train as opposed to the appreciation and roots of where the music is coming from like this is cool, this is kind of manufactured everyone’s listening to it, everyone’s doing it, but what is it? If these kids took the time to learn about the music and how it’s evolved over the past few years then they can appreciate it more.