The Bloody Beetroots
Valentino Khan, Ozker
815 V St. NW
Washington, DC, 20001
The Bloody Beetroots
Bloody Beetroots is Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, the Italian producer/DJ born the same year as punk rock, a fact made clear by the“1977” tattooed across his chest.
In fact, that tattoo is the most identifying public feature of Rifo, whose preference for wearing masks (like other cultural provocateurs from techno militants Underground Resistance to “V is for Vendetta”) defers the spotlight to the various music projects and manifestoes that emanate from his Bloody Beetroots production epicenter. There’s Bloody Beetroots Deathcrew 77, or BLOODY BEETROOTS LIVE, his “electro-punk” band, whose live shows are as much political empowerment rallies as concerts. Then there’s 2011’s Church of Noise, Rifo’s “cultural-musical movement” side project with Dennis Lyxzén of Swedish hardcore punk-pioneers Refused and The (International) Noise Conspiracy, with its siren-call of strings, bass and lyrical manifesto: “…It only takes a sound to change the beaten path/It only takes love and courage to take it all back”…
This past year, however, has seen the global ascendance of Bloody Beetroots DJ set on the global festival circuit, with Rifo becoming a contrarian crowd-pleaser mixing up electro, techno and house music with rockabilly, punk and classical. In his DJ guise, Rifo toured his native Italy with Tommy Tea, played Australia’s Stereosonic Festival and headlined NYE ‘11 at LA’s Together as One, as well as WMC’s Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Solidays Festival in Paris, MELT! Festival Berlin, Extrema in Eindhoven, as well as Tomorrowland, HARD Fest LA, and Electric Zoo in NYC. “The DJ sets became a DJ show,” Rifo says. “For the first time I focused on being more of an entertainer, trying to create a bond between me and the public building emotions with different musical styles without losing the fun of dance.”
That “building emotions with different styles without losing the fun of dance” has been central to the Bloody Beetroots narrative, and Rifo’s penchant for redlining frequencies, eloquent politics and composerly arrangements make BBR a consistent anomaly amidst the cocooned trends and coddled pedigrees of dance music. After fits and starts in Italian garage-punk bands, Rifo launched Bloody Beetroots in 2007. He soon won the support of electro house heavyweights Etienne de Crecy and Alex Gopher in Europe, and Dim Mak’s Steve Aoki stateside, with each production and remix more elaborate and ambitious than the last.
Bloody Beetroots discography culminated with 2009’s full-length Romborama, which evidenced Rifo’s uncanny knack for synergizing sonics and sensibilities from The Damned and Debussy to create a platform for larger socio-political historiography and cultural histrionics. There was the homage to Italian Futurism of “Rombo,” the cinematic soundtrack to Nazi resistance of “Domino,” even the sci-fi fantasy anarchism of writer Michael Moorcock in “Cornelius” and the Trekkie techie nerd joy of smearing sounds that is simply, cerebellum-meltingly “Warp 1.9.”
But after the pendulum swing from 2011’s anarchism-fueled Church of Noise project through the pop life of 2012’s triumphant DJ shows, Bloody Beetroots’ current trajectory is to embrace contemporary music to the point of throttling it.
“My challenge this time is to give values and colors to contemporary music,” Rifo says. “The music ‘business’ now more than ever has lowered the quality of listening erasing the true meaning of music. ‘EDM’? Let’s call it ‘electronic contemporary music.’ EDM is about dance, Bloody Beetroots is about electronic contemporary music.”
To that end, summer 2012 saw the release of “Rocksteady,” a redlining, rod-throwing rush of BPMs with a video to match. But it’s the new single and video, “Chronicles of a Fallen Love,” with vocals from Greta Svabo Bech, the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter also featured on deadmau5′s “Raise Your Weapon,” that is possibly Rifo’s most subersive and succinct commentary yet:
“I remember the way you used to dance/Then I remember that you will never dance again,” Bech sings. It’s as much an elegy as anthem. And that’s precisely the point.
“It reflects the decadence of our time,” Rifo says. “But Greta expresses this with an elegance with the word ‘love.’ It’s a study and interpretation of the contemporary world.” With, of course, a typically vertigo-inducing drop.
“I’m in a process for the conquest of my musical freedom,” Rifo says explaining “Chronicles of a Fallen Love”expanded sonic palette. “Prog-rock, house, progressive, post-punk and classical are part of my color palette, and you hear that,” Rifo explains. “My intent is to collect cultural elements to fill what I see as a hole in the current generation’s sensibilities. Music is becoming plastic because we have lost the value of waiting. Nowadays, everything is offered immediately; we can’t fully enjoy music it because society wants us to be more economical with our time, to spend, to consume and collect the useless. But history teaches us that the waiting and expectation are two allies to forge emotions and frustrations – for both the listener and for the composer.”
The end result, he promises, is not only songs as beautiful, brutal, and poignant as “Chronicles,” but a BBR sound as grounded in the creative richness of music history as it is committed to no less than moving humanity forward, one momentous track at a time.
“We have no real revolutions, no real speakers and the masses are brainwashed by a lazy and fat system. To be contemporary, music needs to study and understand the past to create a better future. We need commitment, perseverance and strength. Dance music or whatever the fuck you want to call it is the new means of mass communication,” Rifo says. “I don’t have a marketing strategy, I have an evolutionary strategy. I put music out to analyze my own communication to improve it to get to the point. It’s how we evolve.” The listener and the composer.
While the District of Columbia has seen a fluctuation of creative types recently, few artists have influenced the scene as prolifically as OZKER. Organic and locally grown, OZKER has established himself in the past few years as one of DC's hardest working DJ, producer, graphic designer and mural artist, all the while spreading that undeniable aura of being a loveable, huggable type of guy. His devotion to the infectious groove and its counterpart, the bottomless beat, is matched only by his devotion to that trademark follicle foliage that you're bound to see bobbing up and down behind turntables throughout the city!
While the District of Columbia has seen a fluctuation of creative types recently, few artists have influenced the scene as OZKER. Organic and locally grown, OZKER has established himself in the past few years as one of DC’s hardest working DJs, producers, and graphic designers, all the while spreading that undeniable aura of being a loveable, huggable type of guy. His devotion to the infectious groove and its counterpart, the bottomless beat, is matched only by his devotion to that trademark follicle foliage that you’re bound to see bobbing up and down behind turntables throughout the city!
OZKER has opened for such noted talent as James Murphy, Gorgon City, Nickodemus, Will Eastman, Nadastrom & Sabo, Dillon Francis, The Bloody Beetroots, Gigamesh, Classixx, Tensnake, Oliver, Chris Malinchak, Anna Lunoe, Holy Ghost!, Tiger & Woods, Bit Funk, Curses!, Midnight Magic, The 2 Bears, Bixel Boys, Option4, Ben Browning (of Cut Copy), Robert Delong & Ariana Grande, amongst many others. He holds several monthly residencies in the city, including nights at Marvin, Eighteenth St. Lounge, Dodge City and The Velvet Lounge.