When I enter SBCR’s hotel room to interview him before his recent L.A., show, I’m instantly struck by the warmth he radiates. Whether that interpersonal relaxation is the result of his decade-long career taking the edge off press interactions or just his baseline state is unclear, but either way, it’s charming and it’s clear he’s happy to be here. Here, in his overly-decorated Los Angeles hotel room that smells, as everyone agrees, like gardenias.
SBCR, of course, is Sir Bob Cornelius Rufio. He is a small Italian man from a small Italian town, and he is also electro-punk act Bloody Beetroots. SBCR is his newer, more experimental project; the one he delves into as he plans his next big moves for Bloody Beetroots. The former is synthier, more cinematic and arguably more approachable, while the latter is, and aways has been, gritty, chaotic and confrontational. SBCR is strictly dance … Bloody Beetroots is about as punk rock as EDM gets. His two musical arms operate like Siamese twins: difficult to separate, but more interesting together.
I’m supposed to talk about the second EP and his current tour, but the conversation drifts in to delightfully peri-press release topics. We go from typical Q&A into all-out philosophical life-purpose territory, offering a glimpse into a side of him fans rarely get to see during his raucous live shows. He even outlines his plan to reclaim the integrity of EDM, ending on a note of militant dedication to bringing the soul back to the genre.
What would you say is the biggest difference between SBCR and Bloody Beetroots?
Well! SBCR is my little project; my laboratory. It’s mostly to make experiments, and for research. I have freedom with SBCR, I can do whatever the fuck I want to do, so I’m just making a lot of experiments.
Tell me about your newest EP.
I’ve been working with lots of new people from Gothenburg and South Africa, and now I have a new song I did with Gallows. Gallows are a crust punk band that I fucking love, and the song we wrote together is probably the hardest song I ever composed. In terms of sound design, it’s just more complicated than I’ve ever really gotten.
Is that a new direction you’re going in, like more technically layered pieces?
There’s no directions for SBCR. I wake up in the morning and I compose random shit, and if I like it, and Dim Mak likes it, then I make it. That’s the beauty of it!
You’re known for pushing the boundaries in your sound and constantly changing the tones in your music. How do you keep pushing yourself in terms of creating something refreshing?
It’s just my lifestyle. My life is made up of these different colors. There’s a particular palette with which I see the world, so I need to express myself with the only language that I feel I can really describe that with, which is music. Think about your day. You wake up in the morning and you feel good, or you feel bad, and probably at lunch you feel totally different, and when you go to sleep, you’re different again. So, you have all these different colors to express yourself with. Those changes and how I see them are how I keep making making something new.
What is it about chaos and confusion and anarchy that you find so attractive?
No fucks given! It’s freedom. Why put yourself in a corner when you can express yourself 100 percent? And if you live in the chaos and confusion and it’s your thing, it’s just easy. I know sometimes it’s hard for other people to understand, but that’s where I thrive. All this craziness happening is so beautiful to me.
You and Tommy (Bloody Beetroots) really love those black symbiote masks. Who’s a better comic book villain, Venom or Carnage?
I don’t really have a preference actually! It is a Venom mask, but it’s not because of the comic book character. I do plan on changing the mask though, but it’s gonna take a year.
You are an outspoken fan of punk rock. What’s your favorite punk record of all-time?
I could never chose a band, but in terms of personality, I fucking love Henry Rollins. And I know he hates dance music. But he’s my boy. I just want to shake his hand. I have a strong need to meet him.
IHEARTCOMIX helped you put out one of your first-ever music projects, which was a remix ofToxic Avenger’s “Escape.” What do you remember from those days?
That’s true! But I remember nothing. Good times. You know what’s crazy about that remix? If you play it on a mono speaker, it sounds really bad because I made a mistake penning the mix. It’s probably one of the best remixes of that song … but also the worst remix I have ever done.
Does the fact that you’re constantly changing your musical style and persona, reflect at all on your opinion of music culture right now?
Yes. It does. I’d love to have music back.
Where has it gone for you?
I don’t fucking know. In the last three years, there’s just been so much music released, but I need it back. I need to hear something consistent. We’re losing the real meaning of music, especially in electronic music. There’s so much shit around. I have a strong hope that something good will come back.
Do you have any idea of what that would sound like? What’s a consistent, satisfying sound to you? Is music shifting away from the EDM we’re listening to today?
Not exactly, but I think to answer that question, we have to look back at music history because it’s all we have to guide us towards a better sound. We need to examine where music came from and how it evolved to get out of this rut. When we do that, we look for something with substance and context and that’s what’s missing right now.
Right now, we’re not citing anything from history, we’re just making it up as we go. That means some producer, any producer can put out anything and call it “music,” but I don’t like it at all. There’s no respect to where the sound came from … people just upload stuff to Soundcloud and wait for a check to roll in. This is why I myself have a strong need to go back to the history of music and try to re-read, in a way, my own history so I can figure out my next release can have integrity. It’s so important, it’s a priority.
When you look back through that history, who stands out as someone who “got it” for you?
Paul McCartney is one of those guys, and I’ve actually gotten to work with him. Penny Rimbaud. I have so much to say about him. This guy lives in the middle of nowhere in England, and he’s probably the last anarchist/ pacifist of his community. He has so much to say to this new generation of kids, and I want to find a way to bring him to them to deliver his words in a contemporary era. Because when he dies, I want people to know who he was. So, I want to try to create an interface, whether it’s through SBCR or Bloody Beetroots, to communicate with these new kids. And he’s really into it. I stayed with him and traded my stay for work and food, and he’s on board. So I can’t wait to share that with you.
So with that new plan, do you feel like you’re finally making something with a message, that’ll change the course of music and how people see EDM?
Yes. That’s exactly it. I want to send a very solid message of integrity. It’ll still be fun and you’ll still love it, but it’s going to mean something beyond that.
Lastly, what’s something no one knows about you?
I cook a fucking great tuna pasta.