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.

[VIDEO] “Why Do You Listen To Dubstep?” Street Interview with Local Fan Alias Fernandez

 

Why is dubstep so appealing to L.A. fans? The genre’s popularity has skyrocketed over the years and has made its way into the mainstream music scene. With growing technology, the art form has been made easily accessible to a widespread audience and has allowed that audience to create beats of their own.

But what makes the wobbly bass and electronic music so appealing? We went to Dim Mak Studios and interviewed Alias Fernandez on what he thinks about Dubstep in this modern age. We also spoke to him about his first dubstep experience, who can make dubstep, and how he not only utilizes his computer to create beats but how he uses live instruments as well.

Check out his interview below:

Opinionated about Dubstep like Alias? Email us.

L.A. DUBSTEP: How the U.K. Import Landed on the West Coast and What Residents are Doing With It

 

How did Angelenos come here—to host an electronic-music revolution in our own backyard?

In the same way that no one is really from LA but they are still all part of it and it’s a part of them, dubstep is a musical export that has been adopted and adapted by the city. By the time that L.A. native and the (sometimes contentious) face of American dubstep Skrillex received the nod from the musical gods at the GRAMMY awards, dubstep had long been a living, breathing, beating entity in Los Angeles for almost a decade.

It wasn’t long ago that producers in the south of London were mashing up garage, 2-step dance music and Jamaican dub sounds to create the genre that was characterised by overwhelmingly rhythmic bass wobbles set within a range of 140 to 160 beats per minute. In 2005, the UK-born bass genre started filtering stateside and by 2006 two of L.A.’s biggest clubs—SMOG and Low End Theory—had already started to mold the unique shape and sound of Los Angeles dubstep.

Today, on any given night in the county—from Low End Theory’s Wednesday nights at the Airliner and Smog Sundays at Dim Mak Studios in Hollywood—there is some sort of dubstepping going on.

The world of dubstep in Los Angeles today, which incorporates art installations and wisps of weed smoke into its aesthetic, is the younger more successful sister of drum ‘n bass which remains in LA’s underground electronic dance music scene.

Dubstep’s infectious momentum has swept the city, replacing the upbeat, synth-heavy music that formerly dominated the dancefloor. Young people of all ages from Long Beach to Pasadena are now hosting, going to, producing, listening to—doing dubstep.

The UK’s dark and grimy basses have found new life in the bounce of West Coast hip hop, the splice and dice of remixed hometown jazz and the mid-range guitar-like synths of L.A.’s cock rock past. There are people who love dubstep—photographers and graffiti artists and t shirt makers, producers, DJs, MCs—who can be found at every show and have watched the music through its meteoric rise to ubiquity. For most electronic music fans, it’s been a long time coming and though the sounds have changed since it crossed the pond a few years ago (and many proclaim that dubstep is in fact already dead), it seems like Los Angeles is only just beginning to show its dubpresence.

[VIDEO] On Process and Computers: In The Studio With Dubstep Artist COMA

Most people who have an idea of what goes into making Dubstep or electronic music know there’s some equipment involved: a computer, a keyboard, good speakers — and in the most extreme minimalist situations, a laptop, a set of hands, and a brain. With this set-up, much of the creation process is internalized. But that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Dubstep artist COMA, an electronic music producer for over 10 years, has his process down. We talked software, decision-making, and time it takes to make a single track. Got a lot of meaty info from this guy, more to come. Here’s a quick snippet from the session.

 

[VIDEO] March 22, 2012: RIZO Presents Pussy Power with Reid Speed and Shortee

Our dubstepping cameras went out to Los Globos in Echo Park for Pussy Power. Were you there? We captured some dubstep music from some amazing women and watched the crowd dance and get pumped up. Check it out: