Since its humble beginnings in 2013, the Disciple imprint has quickly earned a spot as one of the industry’s most promising record labels. The brainchild of Rob Talbott from Dodge & Fuski and Ross “Rossy” Burr of Astronaut, the imprint has gathered an impressive roster of heavy-hitters like Barely Alive, Dubloadz, and Virtual Riot, with the entire Disciple fam catching the attention of the masses and continuing to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with. With each and every release pushing the boundaries of bass music culture, Disciple has become a name synonymous with inspiring artists across the genre as a whole.
Days away from the Disciple takeover at the Belasco Theater this Saturday night in Los Angeles, we thought we’d catch up with the fam for a rare glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most exciting crews in the bass scene at the moment. If you haven’t already, make sure you cop your tickets to the show here, as the night is sure to be filled with some of the heaviest bass we’ve seen in a minute.
This is going to be the craziest show I’ve ever played! - Barely Alive
Tell us how Disciple Recordings was born.
Rossy: Well, the label started three years ago in May. When I was younger, I ran a label in the UK and that’s really where I gained most of my experience. When that ended I decided to put my energy into making my own music, so Dan and I started the electro project, Astronaut. We focused on that and about two years in, I met Rob from Dodge & Fuski online and we quickly became really close. Through constant rejection and bad experiences with other record labels, we thought “We can do this better ourselves,” so that’s exactly what we did.
We pulled in favors from friends like Xilent and Flinch for those early releases and from there we started going on YouTube and SoundCloud, finding acts like Barely Alive, Virtual Riot and Dubloadz. No one had management so we began the management process and two years later we moved to America. Now, here we are and that’s the story in short.
Why bass music?
Barely Alive: I honestly don’t think the path I took could have led to any other destination. For as long as I can remember, I played the drums and that taught me a lot as far as rhythm and tempo go. My dad also worked as a music critic, so he had a massive music collection and he was always showing me something new. The first drum & bass I ever heard was on David Bowie’s albums and that kind of opened up the path to electronic music for me. When I was a teenager, I got my first computer and started messing around with Garage Band and that’s really where I started making music.
Virtual Riot: I started playing piano when I was six, and my parents listened to progressive rock and metal so a lot of my influences come from there. With the influence of my older brother, I got into genres like screamo, and when I was eleven he got me a MIDI keyboard and Cubase LE for Christmas. I messed around with it for years just trying to figure out how the hell it worked, and it just started from there even though I didn’t know what I was doing.
When I got older, I discovered artists like the Prodigy and BT, artists who showed me there was more to electronic music than monotony. For a while, I really gravitated to trance because it has similar emotional qualities that screamo has until I discovered Excision and Datsik and I was hooked.
Dubloadz: I play guitar, so I played in a metal band and I was a huge drum & bass head from high school to college because it was aggressive like metal. For me, it was essentially electronic metal music but it wasn’t really about what genre I was listening to at the time, as I didn’t really know what I was listening to. When I got to my sophomore year in college, my roommate’s friend was super into electronic music and artists like Deadmau5. I was still writing metal at the time as a side project and my roommate’s friend and I would spend hours listening to internet radio without a clue as to what we were listening to before we found dubstep.
Once I heard dubstep, I remember sitting there and realizing that this was everything I could have ever imagined music could sound like. Drum & bass was heavy and brutal, but dubstep was actually the breakdown, that was the slow down. A few months later, my friend started DJing college parties and I thought it was the coolest thing ever so I started watching videos of people like Caspa and Rusko playing to tons of people and it inspired me to start DJing college parties. It was a huge controversy at the time because half of the people I went to school with thought I was a loser and the other half thought it was awesome. The end result was that we threw these massive parties so the good always outweighed the bad.
One thing we really cared about from the beginning was creating a family unit. Many labels talk about it, but not many labels actually do it.
In an industry with tons of emerging talent, how do you maintain a unique sound?
Barely Alive: You basically have to sit down and just do your thing. For us, it’s been about trying to make as much music as we possibly can and do it in a way where it flows naturally. Only then can you be completely confident that everything you make will come off with that unique sound that’s all yours.
Virtual Riot: You can practice by trying to replicate a track you think is cool but along the way you start adding things here and there and before you know it, it becomes your own. Even if you come up with a unique sound by accident, now you know how you go there. Everyone has something that sets them apart when it comes to sound design whether it be fillers, samples, etc.
Rossy: Crafting a unique sound is important, but the only reason these guys got to where they are is because of the amount of hours and hard work that they’ve put into this. It comes down to practice; you really get to your own sound by accident.
Dubloadz: Every once in a while people will comment on my songs and tell me to make more my old stuff, so just for kicks I’ll go into Ableton and try to make some savage wonk, but it never actually happens because those songs came out that way by accident. You don’t decide what it’s going to sound like, it just happens. There are a ton of producers out there that will try to emulate other sounds, but that wasn’t really my approach. All my sounds were made by trial and error as well as pulling inspiration from whatever I was listening to at the time.
We see that fans are constantly asking if Matt is still a part of Barely Alive, so let’s set the record straight.
Barely Alive: Matt is still 100% involved with Barely Alive and we still write all of the music together. He lives in Massachusetts and I (Willie) live in Los Angeles, but we still write our music 50/50 by sending projects to each other online. So anything you hear is still written by the both of us, I just do all of the shows myself. Matt has some health problems that keep him from touring, but in the next year or so fans will start to see much more of him.
There are a ton of producers out there that will try to emulate other sounds, but that wasn’t really my approach. All my sounds were made by trial and error as well as pulling inspiration from whatever I was listening to at the time.
We can’t wait for the full-on Disciple takeover this weekend! Anything we should be looking out for
Barely Alive: Yes! We’ve got about six remixes that aren’t released yet. One of them being a collab with Virtual Riot which we’re really excited about, so keep your eyes peeled!
Virtual Riot: I’ve got a lot of future bass and melodic stuff coming up which I’m super excited about. I miss putting out stuff like that alongside the heavy dubstep. The melodic dubstep turned into future bass, so it’s even more polarized now but I hope people are stoked on it! As for the show, I haven’t played very many shows in the US and haven’t played any in L.A., so I’m mostly excited that I get to play here!
Barely Alive: I’m most excited to hear all three of us play every single Chode Gang track ever made into each of our sets. (Laughs) This is going to be the craziest show I’ve ever played! I know so many people from all over the country coming out to see us and a lot of my friends live in L.A., so it’s going to be an amazing family reunion!
Dubloadz: Look out for Big Shawn as he promises he’s going to crowd surf! Man, that guy is nuts.
Rossy: We’ve also had a ton of new visuals made specifically for this show and a lot of merch that we are going to give away throughout the night. I’m excited that we get to all play on the same lineup! One thing we really cared about from the beginning was creating a family unit. Many labels talk about it, but not many labels actually do it. We all live together in Hollywood and as far as I know no other label really has that. I think that’s one thing that’s really important and what we can credit much of our success to. Unity is everything.