Author: Karsten Kohout
The advent of streaming and massive digital libraries has made people take a second glance at the DJ and ask, “so what are you actually doing?”
While this may be a fair question for your local mobile DJ, it only takes a few second to see what a riddim DJ is doing.
“Chopping”, as it has been dubbed, is what distinguishes a riddim set from general dubstep set. Chopping is when the DJ has two tracks aligned on the downbeat of the first bar in a set of four, eight, or sixteen bars and rhythmically flips back and forth between two or more tracks. Is it the most complex thing in the world? No, you’re probably not getting into your dream music school with a chopping demo. But, more importantly, is it fun? Absolutely it is.
I can’t go any further in this article without sharing the chopping video (profanity warning):
Whenever I’m asked about DJ’ing I often joke that I like to stay behind the decks because I’m not worth much on the dance floor, but with riddim there’s not much difference between the two locations. When you find a good groove with chopping, it can be nothing short of addicting.
I would imagine this week’s guest, 23-year-old Vancouver resident, Curtis Lessard, otherwise known as Rattrix, would agree.
When Curtis is playing a set, the whole riddim community stops to listen. His sets are packed to the brim with unique edits, doubles, and triples that bring the energy to another level all together.
While I’ve already said chopping isn’t the most musically intricate concept, some parts of this set will leave your head spinning while you try to figure out what just happened.
Speaking of doubles, it’s also worth mentioning he was way ahead of the non-4/4 riddim trend:
— ARIZONA TEA STAN (@Rattrix) May 13, 2020
Many current artists often talk about how it’s not enough to simply be good at just producing or just DJ’ing, and Curtis stands as example of what it looks like to check every box.
It does not take much scrolling on Twitter to find that, while Curtis is known for his sets, he’s a talented producer as well.
My accidental sound of the day! pic.twitter.com/1xfmtTTKdH
— ARIZONA TEA STAN (@Rattrix) May 26, 2020
While that may just be a snippet, his complete productions are starting to get more notoriety, including a release on Funtcase’s DPMO vol. 3 compilation.
If all of this was not enough already, Curtis also has an eye for aesthetic design. His brand of vaporwave styling has not been seen in bass music until now.
By all means not tryna self promo but for a complete ragtag DYI thing (not the festivals overlay), I'm happy with my current setup. Has a direct audio going into Winamps visualiser which I screen/mask with gifs/videos (mid window). Really utilizing as much as OBS as I can. pic.twitter.com/DC84UYU3XQ
— ARIZONA TEA STAN (@Rattrix) May 21, 2020
Curtis is a prime example of a modern musician who goes way beyond simply writing good music. With a major label release under his belt and a reputation for delivering some of the best sets in modern riddim, it will be exciting to see where the Rattrix profile goes from here.
Recently, I sent Curtis a few questions:
Karsten Kohout: What originally got you into Producing/DJ’ing and what was the inspiration for the name “Rattrix”?
Rattrix: I was first introduced to bass music from the Uncharted 3 multiplayer trailer that came out in 2011. They used “Kill Everybody” by Skrillex in it and I soon found myself diving headfirst into the world of bass music and eventually deeper into dubstep and its underground scene. It was there I started making really crappy mixes in Audacity before eventually getting FL Studio and started experimenting with making music. I always have fun explaining the origin of Rattrix because there’s nothing special behind it! I was literally sitting in the backseat at a stop light in like 2010 and thought “If I ever become a DJ I’ll name myself ‘Rattrix’.“ Knowing Grade 8 me I probably merged Deadmau5 and Skrillex together, but after seeing that name was unique on Google searches and social media I decided to stick with it.
KK: More companies are starting to challenge Pioneer when it comes to functionality in their DJ products. Do you think Pioneer will ever be uprooted as the industry standard? Why or why not?
Rattrix: I saw Fayte got a Denon controller similar to the Pioneer DDJ-1000 controller and it looked pretty snazzy, not gonna lie! While I do think there is a threat to them on an at home/non-club level, given the monopoly they have in venues and festivals all over the world alongside the convenience for DJs of using a standard of equipment where ever they go, it would difficult to uproot them.
KK: With how versatile controllers are in 2020, are CDJ’s simply about aesthetic now?
Rattrix: Absolutely. There’s a stigma about using anything other than CDJs, that it seems to take away the credibility and DJs ability for many people. It’s easy for people to brush off someone not using CDJs as “unprofessional”. The large, bulky, and busy looking appearance of the CDJs as opposed to a smaller controller give the audience the appearance that the DJ is doing ‘more’, despite most controllers having the same functions. If you’re talking getting your best bang for your buck, then a good controller is the way to go (just add two CDJs if you want a true 4 deck setup).
KK: How was it opening for Codd Dubz & Algo?
Last minute announcement but catch me on direct support for @Codd_Dubz and @Algodubs this Friday at the Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver! Please come early to catch my brother @hollowcoredubz playing his first ever set!
— ARIZONA TEA STAN (@Rattrix) March 4, 2020
Rattrix: I really look up to and have a lot respect for both of these guys! They’ve been staples in the underground scene since I started diving into tearout and riddim in late 2013. That show was interesting…but still a great time. The crowd was packed with friends, my good buddy Hollowcore got to play his first club set, and it was great to meet Algo and see Codd again after we were on Filthfest 2018 together. Looking forward to seeing them again post-quarantine!
KK: As a fellow black shirt enthusiast how did you build up the confidence to change it up?
Out here not wearing a black shirt for once!!! pic.twitter.com/Qy0QGi4joc
— ARIZONA TEA STAN (@Rattrix) May 18, 2020
Rattrix: This was a hard day. It took a lot of strength to not pick from the dozens of black shirts…but I did it. I’m proud of myself.
KK: Amateur producers often believe that having the newest plugin or the best monitors will automatically improve your musical ability. Recently, you posted a clip using Vocodex, a stock FL Studio plugin, to create a top layer for a DnB track. Where do you think the line is between true creativity and having the right tools for the job?
Made a neat drum n bass loop last night which uses the intro vocal in a vocodex with a saw, layered over a reese bass for a cool vocally effect. Breaking through this writers block feels so good! pic.twitter.com/TMs2Uzrhk9
— ARIZONA TEA STAN (@Rattrix) May 27, 2020
Rattrix: There shouldn’t be a line in my opinion. Creativity has no boundaries, especially with music. While good equipment or plugins will help in achieving a “cleaner” sound, always remember Skrillex made the entire Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites album on a single KRK monitor!
KK: Speaking of plugins, Serum displaced Massive as the go-to soft-synth for bass music. Do you see Serum getting replaced anytime soon?
Rattrix: Phase Plant has been the new go-to for many people and is an incredibly versatile synth for almost anything; not to mention the ability to utilize all the great KHS plugins in it as well. I’ve been enjoying it, but with Steve Duda’s consistently good updates to Serum (the newest allows you to macro/lfo the curves of lfos/envelopes which is crazy!!!) I don’t think Serum is going anywhere anytime soon.
KK: Do you consider yourself a riddim producer or a producer who makes riddim?
Rattrix: A producer who occasionally makes riddim. Lately I’ve been getting a lot heavier and aggressive with my sound as it evolves, but I still love making tunes with that old school riddim sound.
KK: What’s the origin of the squatting tracksuit Arizona can?
Rattrix: I squatted like that once in a photo and soon people started tagging me in photos of them squatting the same way and I became associated with it I guess?? Since it was essentially a Slav squat, the Adidas (tracksuit) connection quickly followed. As for Arizona tea, I’ve always loved it, and my posting of it grew as I got into vaporwave and Yung Lean. One day my friend surprised me with that logo, and I’ve been using it ever since.
KK: Summarize the perfect riddim set.
4 Passout edits
3 Blockz VIPs
And the opener playing ripped plates from his USB
KK: Can we expect some non 4/4 riddim chopping in the future?
Rattrix: Nah, although I’m sure someone has tried to do it at this point lol.
KK: Did you ever find a spoon?
Rattrix: No…I really wish someone will give me one at one of my shows one day so I can finally eat my cereal. I think it’s going stale.
KK: Is Discord the new home of the bass music community?
Rattrix: For sure! Back in the day Skype and Google Hangouts used to be hugely popular and the home for many of us, but Discord offers so many more ways to communicate, hangout, and help each other. Particularly using the screenshare feature has been very useful in learning and sharing new methods and plugins. The new generation of dubstep producers have all been using Discord and it’s for sure part of the reason why there’s so many talented fresh faces coming out with such insane tunes.
KK: Your name on Twitter for a while was “VOYD STAN ACCOUNT”. At Bass Canyon this past year I got to see a VOYD set and since then, I’ve also been completely on board for supporting everything SVDDEN DEATH does under that name. Can you describe what makes the “VOYD” profile so impactful?
Rattrix: I think it’s the entire experience and the dedication going into it all. It’s like when you see an Excision set with the full audio/visual setup, you aren’t just seeing a dubstep set, you’re witnessing something so beyond that. I remember talking with Danny before that set and saw the mask and just went “Holy s*** are you kidding me?!”. I knew then that set was going to be something else and boy was it ever. Talking with him and his team again after the set, I could see how much effort was put into the project and that they really want to keep just pushing it as far they can. I have insane respect for him and the work him and his team puts in.
KK: Once shows are back, can we expect you to make a trip down to Seattle?
Rattrix: I’ve been waiting to get my vengeance on Seattle for a couple years now! I played Filthfest in 2018 but due to technical difficulties I was unable to play a full set and ended up b2bing with Innit and Akronym instead. The crowd was insane though, and I love the city and all the people I’ve met there. When the time comes hit up your promoters and let’s make it happen!
KK: Anything to expect from Rattrix in the near future?
Rattrix: Yes! I’ve been busy grinding away on new music and hope to have an EP ready in the next couple of months. The announcement for a collab with Creation called ‘Pain’ just dropped, it will be out on June 17th on Emengy, so keep your eyes and ears open for that!
KK: Thanks so much for your time!
Rattrix: Thank you! Stay hydrated, cut your lows from one of your tracks while doubling, watch Letterkenny, and always squat with flat feet.
Stream Rattrix’s Music Here:
Follow Rattrix Here:
KARSTEN KOHOUT | Keeping you up to date on bass | KXSU Business Director