Rustie interview: ‘You never quite hear the same song twice’

Back with a new LP, the shy guy producer explains the language of birds and the benefits of recording at 30,000 feet

© Rob Greig

‘Green language’ is the mythical language of birds – an ancient notion that has cropped up everywhere from medieval Norse literature to Renaissance magic. It’s also the title of the new LP by Scottish producer Russell Whyte, aka Rustie, which is why we’ve taken the convoluted decision to meet at the ornithological haven that is the London Wetland Centre.

It might seem a strangely wholesome place to meet a young Glaswegian responsible for some of the most sublime, brain-frazzling, hip hop-gone-prog rave music in years. The only people threatening our tranquillity are school children and retired men with expensive cameras indulging in amateur wildlife photography.

In truth, though, such serenity encapsulates Rustie to a tee. Shy and softly spoken, there’s a ridiculous calm to him. It belies the thunderous noise he creates on his computer or as a DJ – Rustie’s preferred way of delivering his music live.

It’s a beautiful thing that such a quiet man can succeed in such a loud industry. He was snapped up by Warp Records – home of electronic mavericks like Aphex Twin and Boards Of Canada – in 2010, and announced himself with the dense and delirious ‘Glass Swords’ LP. His follow-up is fractionally less gonzoid, but still rich in his trademark electro riffery. With vocal guests including Danny Brown and UK grime MC D Double E, the rough is balanced out with some lush tropical atmospheres, and yes, the odd bit of soothing chirruping birdsong in the quieter moments.

Where did you get the title ‘Green Language’?
‘I liked the idea of a natural language that doesn’t require your mind. I think it relates a lot to music – a direct language that doesn’t let you get muddled up.’

Is that a way of saying you hate talking about your music?!
‘Yeah! I’m just not trying to pass on any messages – the music has its own message. Music says something different every time you listen. You never get the same message; you never quite hear the same song twice.’

When did you find time to record the album?
‘Most of it was made on the laptop, on planes and in hotel rooms. When you’re stuck on a plane, you’re not tempted to mess about on the internet. It’s a good time to work.’

Are you tempted 
to play a live show?
‘I get a bit frustrated with the pressures from people wanting a live set. I’ve not found many electronic artists that can do it well, especially when you’re trying to bring in instruments too. It seems a bit gimmicky. 
It adds a spectacle but nothing to the sound.’

DJs often become tools when they get successful. Any comment?
‘I’ve got a lot of self-control, I never want to stage dive, or pour champagne over people. A lot of people I meet say I don’t seem like a DJ. I take that as a compliment.’

‘Green Language’ is out on Monday August 25.

Listen to Rustie on Spotify

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