Roscius: World. Minimal. Disco.
France born, London based underground composer, producer and live performer ‘Roscius’ captured our attention earlier this year. A Clodhopper had been asked to host a charity event raising money to get free places on the ‘Girls Rock London’ music camps for 11 to 16-year-old girls in Hackney. We were among an amazing lineup donating their time including Monsterlune, Taylor Trash and Vicky O’Neon and The Electric Skywalkers to name just a few of the generous and talented artists. But it was the one man band Roscius who surreptitiously swept us away with a building soundscape of live samples and improvisation he has coined ‘World Minimal Disco’ and journalist have described as ‘organic techno, ethnic house and intelligent acoustic dance music". In response Roscius explains “when I was 22 I fell in love with techno music, house music and minimal, and disco. But I can’t DJ - I’m not a DJ I’m a musician. The question I was asking was how I could party, have as much fun as DJs with what I knew how to do. So my aim was to be a DJ with real music instruments so I had no choice, I had to find the sound of instruments, an imitation of sounds a DJ uses, filters, reverberations. I realised when I poured water down the sink, in a bucket, in a frying pan or filling a glass, recorded and played it back to me in the speakers, suddenly you could here a filter, like you would with a DJ because the pitch of this particular sound goes up...my whole music is organic.”
Roscius sound is created live so no one performance is ever the same and he builds up his set in front of you using live vocal sampling, bass lines created from Vibraphone sounds, percussion, piano and samples of instruments collected from around the world combined. All this is mixed with creative elements like filters made from the sound of falling water. But Roscius says his sound was started in classical music and it was revolting against his training that game him a passion for world instruments and a truly original use of musical languages “My parents are choir conductors so I fell asleep to choirs singing Mozart in the living room. I was classically trained on the piano until I was fourteen and I had my teenage rebellion stage, I was like ‘fuck you mum I don’t want to do your music and stopped ding music’. But when when I was fifteen I realised I had spent everyday doing music anyways so I had to go back to it. And I discovered percussion because it had the widest range of instruments and I started being fascinated by all the sounds i could get out of it. And since I’ve performed as Roscius, because I have the luck to travel the world, I started collecting Chinese gongs, bells from Asia, skins from West Africa and shakers and Cabassa from South America, tambourines from the Middle East and accordions. Recently I have even started collecting things I don’t know how to play i.e. violins, accordions and I just bought a Trombone...I can’t even play the Trombone" he laughs as he talks about his obsession with instruments he hasn’t mastered just yet.
Roscius career seems to be moving well, his two first releases (WMD1 & WMD2) were premiered on mighty fine outlets XLR8R and CLASH MUSIC and he has sessions on Rinse FM (France) and Session (Lebanon) to name a few. With this sort of momentum already it was interesting to hear the artists future plans “In terms of Roscius I am interested in collaborations with contemporary dancers, visual artist and theatre. I’m preparing a tour in South America at the moment as well. But really the Roscius mantra is 'a place, a moment, a crowd' this will always be different, it can’t be twice the same because we don’t prepare, this is the sort of collaboration I want - improvisation. I’m interested in the random and I think performing arts are the only things I can collaborate with in the future. It’s like an actor using a stunt double, my sets are not like that, my sets are risky it’s all live looping so, like the difference between theatre and movies, it’s real live performance so I need to work with people who understand that”. Roscius got his name from the Roman actor who existed 100 BC and was the first slave made a citizen by the emperor Cicero “I took the name for that reason, because this slave was made a citizen because he was picked up by the elite because he was so present”. This sums up Roscius's work, a slave to no one, present in every nuanced performance and slowly being vindicated by the culturally savvy...long may it continue.