One of the most diverse and open-minded individuals in the game is quickly rising up through the ranks to becoming one of the best. We’re talking of course about John Robbin’s, more widely known as RUN DMT. Run DMT released his debut album Summer of last year, and will be touring all over the U.S. this coming Summer! We had the opprotunity to sit down and have an interview with John about his upcoming projects, an official remix for The Who and the essentials when he’s on the road (plus way more)!
In addition to the interview, we’re stoked to be releasing RUN DMT’s original “Good To Me”. A track that was part of a Hurricane Sandy Relief project is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD through The Dankles soundcloud. If you’re a fan of RUN DMT’s past material, “Good To Me” is essential for your library! Press Play below and read on to learn more about RUN DMT!
DANKLES: Hello John, how’re you these days? How about a quick introduction, just the basics, name, where you’re from and how RUN DMT came to be?
RUN DMT: I’m John Robbins, I represent Run DMT from Austin, Texas, and I’ve been around for about three years now.
DANKLES: It’s no secret, everything’s bigger in Texas, we know the live music scene is huge there, how has getting you start in Austin helped you form your own sound?
RUN DMT: You kind of have to go back to where dubstep first started showing up around 2005-2006 in Austin. A lot of really good nights, a couple of which are very successful now, helped cultivate it the bass culture image in Austin. It really wasn’t there before besides like one drum and bass night. Of course you’d have shows that come into town and a rave thing going on every once in a while. As a culture, it hadn’t really arrived yet until groups like Mad Classy and Bob Grommet and clubs like Barcelona really started pushing the vibe and style of music in Austin. They collectively put Austin on the map. It was a really cool thing to be immersed in while it was coming up.
I’ve been making music for a real long time, just like drum and bass, nothing really too serious. When that started coming up, I started making music under various monikers, and it wasn’t really until about late 2009 when I really started coming out with a sound that is RUN DMT right now. I didn’t have a name for it; the name came way after the music. I was getting stuff signed by smaller record labels like Heavy Artillery. I had no name and that’s when RUN DMT came along.
It was really cool to witness bass music become such a big thing and Austin become such a hub for electronic music. Now it’s just like a major hub for big performances.
DANKLES: You’ve produced pretty much every sub-genre of bass music there is. Is there a certain genre that you enjoy making more the most?
RUN DMT: I kind of just go with what my brain is working with at the moment and it also involves what I’m listening to and feeling at the moment. Like Trap stuff, I grew up listening Three Six Mafia and a little bit later like Screwed Up Quick and Swishahouse and things of that nature. A lot of that Atlanta trap music too. That particular style of music I always really liked. It made my laugh when it [trap music] became it’s own thing with electronic music. I feel like I incorporate elements of what would be considered trap music, in what I’ve always done because that’s something that I’ve fundamentally had a taste for. The 808s and stuff like that.
Like I said, it’s kind of like a work process, depending on what I’m going through with my life. Especially with original music, because that’s like a free flowing thing while remixes are bound to the original concept that someone’s given me.
DANKLES: Who would you say are some of your influences currently? And who has been a constant influence on the music you make?
RUN DMT: I’d say Flying Lotus is fundamentally one of my biggest influences as far as letting go of your boundaries, and you can really do no wrong when making art and music. When it comes to listening to electronic music, I frankly don’t listen to a lot of it.
For instance, in my car you’re going to find Nero, who I’m very inspired by. They compose their tracks; and I’m an opera/symphony guy so I like to think of myself as a composer rather than a producer in some regard. The way I look at music is more based on arrangement, stanzas and musical story telling. I feel like Nero really communicates their story through their music. I can listen to the album, and I’m not down with every single track, but I listen to them all because it’s like watching a movie. You might not love every part of the movie but you love the movie as a whole. It’s very inspiring. I also have to include the Come To Daddy EP by Aphex Twin, and that’s like the where it all started for me. I had no idea this kind of music even existed until I got my hands on that.
DANKLES: So do you have any formal music education or did you grow up playing any instruments?
RUN DMT: Yea, I grew up in bands, all throughout school. I was a drummer in a jazz band and also a punk-rock band. I was a member of the Caldonian Society pipe band, playing bagpipes.
DANKLES: (laughs) …No way, that’s wild.
RUN DMT: Yea, music has always been a very important part of my life, and I’m fortunate to have parents that really supported my abilities and love to do it. There are very few instruments that I can’t string something out on. I hope to get into some projects down the road that are more musical that I can get hands-on with some instruments.
DANKLES: Since you don’t listen to a lot of electronic music, what do you listen to on a normal basis?
RUN DMT: A lot of 90’s punk rock and hip-hop. If you got in my car right now, you hear Tical by Method Man, that entire album. Liquid Swords (GZA) or Ready To Die by B.I.G. is like my favorite album of all time, I listen to that probably once ever week. The hip-hop stuff aside, I listen to a lot of folk and indie. I love Bon Iver and Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, because I have my meloncolly side, I guess we all do. Listening to that kind of music, lets you get in touch with that side of it. Electronic music just doesn’t carry that emotion, that like heart-broken emotion. You just don’t hear in electronic music, it’s either just upbeat or really antagonistic. You just don’t hear that heart-felt side of it very often.
DANKLES: Right, I think Nero tries to project something like that through their music. Lots of emotion and symphony orchestration.
RUN DMT: Nero comes about as close as you can get, like with songs like “Promises” and things of that nature. It’s the energy in it that makes it so different. It’s that subdued kind of sound that Nick Drake has. It fits the mood, that gloomy, rainy-day music. There are a couple Brainfeeder electronic artists that are doing the more abstract stuff that has touched me in the same kind of way.
DANKLES: I’ve been wanting to ask, you’ve done a remix for Asking Alexandria, I personally think that heavy bass music and metal has an easy crossover for most that grew up with it. I’ve noticed that many producers that are making bass music started listening to metal first and then crossed over, is that true for you too?
RUN DMT: Absolutely, It wasn’t even until recently that I started looking at basslines in dubstep are structured and how similar they are compared to metal guitarists with like palm muting and playing chords. You listen to a Skrillex song; you can almost hear how a guitar could play pretty much the exact same thing. Early on in school, I listened to like a lot of metal like Korn, and even going into some death metal like Cannibal Corpse and Cradle of Filth. But even that is really getting to close to black metal for me, and that’s a bit much. I definitely see where you’re coming from and I’ve noticed the same crossover from metal to dubstep.
It’s very similar in terms of the energy you feel, like testosterone filled. As much as I hate the term bro-step, it’s very appropriate, but it gets applied to things that aren’t at all bro-step. When I think bro-step, I think it’s Excisions thing, and I think that’s something that he’d be proud to champion. It’s like total guy music, granted there are many females that listen to it too, but to me, the actual male energy is really present. Where as Adventure Club on the other hand has tons of female energy, it’s like CHICKSTEP, and it’s awesome. So I respect them both in their own regard.
DANKLES: It must have been pretty wild to have Bassnectar remixing one of your tunes? How did that collaboration start?
RUN DMT: It started out just me tweeted at him, asking where I could send him music. He gave me an email for his people, and I sent him a bunch of tracks. About two weeks later, I get an email from him that say’s he’s loving “Baraka’s Theme” and “Sugarcube”, but he said that he thought it could be engineered better, he asked if I could send him the stems to re-engineer the (“Sugarcube”) track. He said he was going to do the mix-down and master for free, which was awesome.
He ended up doing it and then asked if he could do his own little VIP of “Sugarcube”. He really liked the track and just wanted to rearrange it. One day I just opened up my email and sure enough there it was, a Bassnectar remix. It was originally just a track that he was playing out live, but after a few months I eventually talked him into giving it away as a promotional release for my album, since the original track is on the album. Lorin’s just a really good dude, he really cares for someone that is super busy. He tries to give people as much time as he possibly can. He’s genuinely a really good dude. I take a lot of inspiration from the positivity of his music and persona.
DANKLES: Now you’re soon to be releasing a Major Lazer remix! It’s an official remix correct? That must be a huge honor to be remixing one of biggest names in the business.
RUN DMT: Absolutely! Hopefully it will be released sometime next month. Mad Decent is really hard focused on the actual Major Lazer album right now. The way the remixes will be released will be as a promotional tool for people to pre-order the album. I think they’re trying to decided whether to include the remixes on the actual album. But any affiliation with Major Lazer, I’m stoked, they’re huge and I’m very happy they allowed me to be apart of it.
DANKLES: When traveling, playing shows, what’re the essentials that you take with you everywhere you go?
RUN DMT: Plenty of changes of shirts and socks, and that general stuff. A lot of times I just get very sweaty and depending on the show or festival things can get pretty messy. I like having clean clothes on all the time and not feeling gross. That aside, I honestly pack real light. I usually bring a book and that’s about it. All that superstitious stuff that I buy into, I have tattooed on my person.
DANKLES: Are you a person that makes music on the road or just in the studio?
RUN DMT: Pretty much just in the studio, I tried to make stuff on the road but frankly my laptop can’t really hang with all the work I do. I use Fruity Loops and it’s a CPU intensive program, so laptops just don’t have the ability to keep with it. Until Fruity Loops comes out with a Mac program I’m kind of stuck on PC until then. However, I do make music on the road when I’m visiting studio’s and friends.
DANKLES: Snowball Music Festival is coming up right around the corner, I know you’ve played in the Denver area numerous times, but is this the first winter time, snow everywhere, music festival you’ve played?
RUN DMT: Yea, I played Snowglobe last year in Lake Tahoe, which should have had snow, but it was a pretty dry winter. Yea, this will be the first time coming to Colorado and I get to see it for what it is with all the snow on the ground. I’m very excited about it!
DANKLES: On a lighter note, we know that Run DMT likes to chief up every once in a while. What’s your favorite way to get high on life?
RUN DMT: Well, it depends on my mood. I’ve got a nice big fat bong with all the bells and whistles on it, but I’m also a fan of vaporizing because it saves my throat. I love blunts! That’s what I rock on the road for the most part. As far as dabs are concerned, I’m kind of weary about it. I don’t really fuck with the dabs as much, I don’t want to fuck with butane.
DANKLES: Everyone has their favorite TV shows, since you travel a lot im guessing you’ve got an arsenal of movies and tv shows to pass the time, what’re you into?
RUN DMT: Oh yea, I’m always watching something, but Workaholics and lighter shows like that always work. I’m actually a really big fan of the HBO show ‘Girls’. I know it’s kind of weird, but it’s a good show. The writing is really interesting and it’s a good look into real women and how they really are. A lot of girl I know fall right into that nutshell. Also, I was really into American Horror Story when that was going on. The Office and Parks and Recs. Hulu’s been my lifesaver on the road for keeping up with new shows. I don’t own a cable box so it’s typically all downloading and Hulu.
DANKLES: You just released that you’re playing Warped Tour this year? That’s pretty wild, are you on that tour the whole way through or only playing a few dates?
RUN DMT: Yup, Warped tour, 46 dates in 60 Days. It’s going to be crazy man.
DANKLES: That’s a ton of dates! Any other good producers doing the tour with you too?
RUN DMT: So far, from what I know, Big Chocolate and Crizzly, we’re all going to be on a bus together. It’s a pretty good lineup. I want to say there are a couple other electronic acts, but I want to say they’re in the pop-electronica realm rather than straight up DJ dance music. They’re like mainstream electronica, but definitely not punk-rock or anything.
DANKLES: Any bands you’re looking forward to see?
RUN DMT: Oh hell yea, Goldfinger and Reel big Fish! That’s like my era of music right there. I grew up listening to Reel Big Fish, NOFX and Bad Religion. I’m anxious for the next line-up announcement because I’m sure they’ll add another couple big headliners. I’m crossing my fingers for someone like Bad Religion!
DANKLES: You released your Union Of Opposites LP in July last year. And now you just finished up giving it away for free on SoundCloud [Linked at the bottom]. There are very few producers/DJs that will give away that much material even when it’s for sale on Itunes, Beatport, etc. Any particular reason that you decided to give the album away for free?
RUN DMT: Yea, it came out last July on Beatport for sale. I just put it up for free in Decemeber (2012), all 12 tracks, including the sampler pack with the Bassnectar remix on SoundCloud for anyone to download.
I feel like on Beatport, you only have so many weeks before your track or album goes from hot to absolutely nobody giving a shit about buying it. People can go on Mediafire or torrent sites and find it. Especially an entire album, that’s real easy to conceal and put in a zip. So the way I look at it, I put the tracks up for free but still stick the Beatport links in there, just because someone might actually buy it just to support the music. But there isn’t much money to make off this music, that’s not the way to do it. I’d rather people have these tracks that I worked real hard on, then withhold them and have someone pay like $2.00 for a track.
DANKLES: What’re your plans for the rest of 2013, more tour dates, more new music? Anything you can leak to us?
RUN DMT: Yea lots of new music coming out! Just did a remix for Dmitri Vegas and Lil’ Jon and that will be released on DIM MAK in a month or so. I actually did an official remix for The Who, it’s up in the air on what they want to do with it as of yet, it’s a big corporate thing. It’s not a typical RUN DMT remix, I just took the original track and beefed it up a bit. It’s The Who, they’re legendary, so I just restructured it, but I feel it was very imperative to keep the integrity of the original track, it’s not just some remix.
In addition, I’m on for Wakarusa, EDC Chicago, and I’ve got a fair amount of festivals dates coming up. It’s going to be a big year!
DANKLES: Alright, that’s about all we’ve got for you, thanks for taking the time to speak with us! Any last minute shout outs?
RUN DMT: There are so many people I want to give shout outs for. I’ll just keep it simple I’ll shout out to my family, my friends, my manager Colin, Latane my agent and Taylor our merchandise girl. RUN DMT is a collective of all of us, I’m just playing the music, but it wouldn’t exist without all the people working so hard to make it happen!