Interview: RL Grime
I got a chance to chat with RL Grime, the alter-ego of electro producer Clockwork, after his show with Lunice at Vancouver music hot-spot Fortune Sound Club on September 13th. If you’ve been curious to learn more about this once-mysterious producer then you’re in for a treat. Scroll down to the bottom for a few of my favourite RL Grime tracks and enjoy the read.
How was your day?
Long. Lots of travel; I came from Seattle where I played with Lunice last night and I took a bus up, which was kind of a weird trip. We got to immigration and I was the only one who needed a work permit so I took about 45 minutes longer than everyone else. Needless to say, they were all pissed at me after. Apart from that it’s been great. I fuck with Vancouver, man, I come here a lot.
Yeah, you’ve done a few shows as Clockwork here before.
This was my first appearance as RL Grime though, it was dope.
I think the question a lot of people are wondering is why did you decide to do the RL Grime side-project anyway?
Well let’s see, I moved to New York a while ago and I met a bunch of people and I got into a lot of new music. Lots of UK-inspired stuff. And I’ve always listened to rap, always been into it, so I guess that winter break of 2010 I sat down and made that first RL Grime EP. It was just kind of a fun thing for my friends and I didn’t really think much of it or think it would go anywhere, and I kind of put it off for five months or so.
And then trap started blowing up.
Right, right, and I figured that I was kind of onto something so I just kept making shit.
Do you think you’ll ever update your SoundCloud again? It’s been a few months now…
Haha, the RL Grime one? Doubt it, haha. I have three or four new tracks that I’m going to be putting out soon. I actually just finished one at the hotel earlier today and played it out tonight; I have to make some tweaks, but it’s almost there. I want to give something out for free because it’s been a fucking minute since I’ve put something out, um and I think everyone’s getting kind of sick of Mercy-
Oooh my, don’t get me started on Mercy. The amount of times I’ve heard Mercy mixed into every other Kanye song when I’m in a club, it’s ridiculous.
Haha, exactly it’s time for me to step in and make something else.
How did you feel when people found out you were Clockwork? Did you make the announcement, or..?
No, I didn’t. We tried to keep it secret and I played some shows in New York where I’d wrap a shirt around my face. Then I guess it was 3 or 4 months ago Dim Mak put out a newsletter that outed me as RL Grime so I just said ‘Fuck it’ and told everyone else. I mean, we didn’t really have a publicity plan because the whole trap thing kinda blew up simultaneously so we’re just kinda playing it by ear.
Have you found that your exposure as Clockwork has increased a lot as a result of RL Grime?
I think it’s more vice versa, I get tweets almost every day from people saying ‘Oh shit, I didn’t know that these are the same person.’ I definitely have a bigger fanbase with clockwork, but it’s a more buzzing sound with RL Grime. So it’s kind of a weird place to be, but it’s cool because in Clockwork sets I’ll play RL Grime stuff, and not vice versa, but I can still implement it in so that’s been cool to be able to do it.
How do you find the difference in the crowd playing a show as RL Grime vs. Clockwork? Do you notice the difference?
Oh, totally. Clockwork it’s more kids that have been in the game going to raves for a while and being deep in that scene. But in another way it’s not all that different since I try to play similar styles. I like that whole big-room aspect of music in general so that’s what I try to do. Big trap music, even though I fucking hate using that term.
Now something I’ve been curious about is that obviously Clockwork is pretty well known and RL Grime is getting there, how do you manage bookings? Do you go back down a price tier or two just to play as RL Grime?
I mean, sorta. I kinda let my management and my agent deal with that so I’ve stepped out of that whole process, but I think the gap is closing. It’s getting pretty even now given what’s been happening and the buzz around RL Grime. I’m going to continue making shit for both projects so it’ll be interesting to see how it all turns out.
Where did “RL Grime” come from?
It’s from R.L Stine, Goosebumps.
I thought so. How happy were you when R. L Stine tweeted at you?
Haha, I was actually in the car in San Francisco with Shlomo and I got the tweet and turned to him and showed him and we went literally five minutes without saying anything. It was fucking wild. And I’ve actually been tweeting with him a few more times and he was telling me about his son who produces music and to check him out. I’m like “f’sho” and got his contact info actually, haha. I’m trying to get a drop from him, I think once I get a drop from him I can just quit making music fully… Like that’s what I’ve been working for my whole life, haha.
I noticed that you use Serato without CDJs or even headphone and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen someone at your level DJing like that. It was pretty impressive to watch, you must really know your set. I’ve tried DJing on internal before and it’s a nightmare for me.
Well it’s funny how I started on internal because I grew up DJing house parties and shit, and I’d bring my coffin with my 1200’s and a mixer and I’d bring it to a house party. As time progressed I started preparing for worst case scenarios where everything doesn’t work, so I taught myself how to play internal and I’ve been doing that for about a year now. I recently got a controller too so now I’m mapping everything that’s going on in Serato to the controller. I’ve been doing that for two weeks now and I really like it. And oh man, you have no idea how many times things have gone wrong in the past. Here’s a funny anecdote for you: I was playing in Philadelphia and I forgot slip mats for my control vinyl so I actually went in the bathroom, got a bunch of Kleenex, and put it down and used that for the night as slip mats. In retrospect it’s so ridiculous because I can just avoid all of that. I’ve never played somewhere and had everything be perfect so I’m trying to minimize the number of things that can go wrong. I mean, I played in San Francisco last weekend and someone spilled a drink on my keyboard… whole screen went green, but luckily I had a flash drive of my whole set just in case so I borrowed Shlomo’s computer and just did that. Man, and that was only within the past week… one of the many times I’ve had to improvised.
I guess we’ll wrap this up now since you’ve gotta head back to the hotel. What can we expect to see from RL Grime in the next few months?
Me and Salva have a bunch of stuff in the works, he lives in LA so I’ll drive over there and we’ll work together. I’m super excited about that. I also have 3 or 4 of my own tracks that I’m getting ready to put out, so I know it’s been a minute since I put something out, but it’s coming soon.
RL Grime on: