Christopher Mercer (Rusko) and Gary McCann (Caspa)

The news is out, the lineups have dropped: Caspa and Rusko have reunited, sporadically dropping new tunes like stealth bombers, and choosing to make only a few select appearances.

The duo is perhaps not responsible, but absolutely pivotal in the saga of UK bass and what became known to the world as dubstep. They were members of a small, tightly intertwined group of DJs and producers around London including Skream, Hatcha, and Benga among others, who were beginning to merge elements of grime, UK garage, two step and jungle into something new.

In 2007 they dropped Fabriclive 37, which became a benchmark in the genre, and essential listening for any fan of the low-end sound, new or old. Now after almost a decade, most of which spent on opposite continents pursuing individual ambitions, the two are back in the studio and sharing stages together.

In one of their initial interviews after they reunited, with Billboard, Caspa (Gary McCann) stated they were following a game plan of taking their time, and releasing one new track at each choice show, and now seven months later, they have adhered to their formula.

“Literally we just want to put [out] music when we want to put it out, we want to do a show if it’s the right show and we’re excited about it,” McCann explains over a recent phone interview. “I think we’re just taking it back to why we’re doing it and that’s the whole point – we just want to have fun and do it like we used to do it and there’s no real rocket science behind it, it’s just about having fun and doing what we want, really.”

They now have somewhere around 15 new tracks, eight to ten of which have already been integrated into their live sets. Some of their recent performances included Fabric on April 1 and a massive arena show at Rampage in Belgium in March.

“[Rampage] was 45 minutes of like wham bam thank you ma’am,” Caspa explains. “It was just trying to capture all the vibe that we’re into really, from the spectrum of the UK sound that we’re pushing.” His counterpart Rusko (Christopher Mercer) hurriedly chimes in, “I feel with our history of tracks that we’ve done together and that we’ve done separately since then, even just to get all of our well known tracks that we’ve built up over the last ten years each, we need longer than 45 minutes.”

Often on reunion tours, artists rely heavily on the back catalogue. This is not necessarily the case with Caspa and Rusko. “Some of our old classic tracks are like wine and they get better with age,” Mercer says. “Whereas some of them are a bit like milk and they’ve kind of gone a bit stinky and they’re a bit mouldy, but most of them are like wine and they’ve matured well with age – but there’s a couple of tunes that are stinkers.” Both erupt in laughter at the witty analogy.

The pair agree that they’re really looking forward to their North American festival dates for a variety of reasons; longer set times for one, and another that may surprise and amuse Canadian readers.

“From my perspective,” McCann says, “it used to get on my nerves all the time, because every time I played a show in Canada, the question was ‘have you played Shambhala?’ I was like no. ‘Oh man!! Ohhh you’ve got to play Shambhala!’ I was like, ‘what the fuck is this Shambhala that people are on about?’ So it will be nice to tick the box and when they ask me next time I can shout back in their face and say, ‘yes I fucking played it!’”

Mercer echoes the same sentiments with a huge laugh and adds, “we’ve played so many shows and it’s pretty much one of the only un-ticked boxes we’ve got left, so it will be really nice to do it together.” McCann quickly counters, “we always hear wicked stories about it and that sound system. I know PK sound’s involved as well. Really looking forward to it to be honest.”

During their time apart on their own separate journeys, Caspa and Rusko both kept busy experimenting with sounds. Now that they’re together again, their studio work is representative of their early influences that led to what they became known for originally. What happened with dubstep in North America has no bearing on what they’re doing now, and festival audiences will be able to experience classic dubstep anthems alongside new dubplates they’ll have in tow.

“Hopefully it will make people think, ‘damn a lot’s happened and a lot’s come from that foundation of those tracks,’ so hopefully it will show that a lot has happened since then and a lot has happened because of that original sound, and it’ll be nice to remind people sort of where it all came from,” muses Mercer.

“It’s a long time coming,” McCann adds, “and I think for everyone it just will show people that the UK sound is the strongest sound and it’s just reminding people that that’s the case.”

During our conversation, both comment on their mutual excitement being back on the stage together – Rusko’s sweaty arms and all.

“You’ve got a lot more tolerant of that actually,” Mercer recalls with another bout of laughter. “I remember when we first started – cause I sweat like crazy while I’m up there – and I put my sweaty arm on you and you’d be like ‘OOOH NO! DISGUSTING!’ Now you don’t complain too much, I like that.”

“It’s just nice to have someone up there to share the experience and the excitement with and who better to do it with than the who you make the tunes with,” McCann counters.

Mercer also says that while many modern DJs seem to have full fledged synchronized choreography up on the stage, “kind of doing their Elvis routines,” that when showing friends and family clips from their performance at Rampage, the consensus was always that they could tell the duo were genuinely having fun. The same goes for their semi-regular studio sessions.

“As far as how we connect together, we just kind of vibe and play each other’s stuff and just talk and we start throwing ideas at each other,” explains McCann. “That process is exactly the same as it used to be.”

The pair collectively acknowledge that their traditional approach to the craft of dub sounds will be juxtaposed by the “traditional trap and traditional EDM” played by some of the talent they will be sharing stages with in North America. However, they both simply reiterate their excitement to bring their sounds to audiences who have followed them from the beginning as well as the new fans.

“[We will] just keep being consistent and keep the music coming out to the people rather than one big album that’s like 12 or 15 tracks on it and then nothing again for another two years and another big album,” Mercer explains. “I think it’s better and more exciting these days to have three or four tracks every few months.”

Talking to these two, their collective excitement is palpable. If you’re unable to attend this year’s sold out Shambhala, do your best to catch one of their North America dates, and keep your ears open for the new anthems they have in the works.

Shambhala Music Festival takes place August 5-8 2016. Catch Caspa and Rusko reuniting on the Village Stage.

By: Paul Rodgers

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