RSS B0YS is a mysterious duo that appeared out of “nowhere”, unleashing their buoyant, ritualistic take on techno. The identity of the project remains cloaked, though the fact that they come from Poland and are affiliated with one of the most important imprints of the country, Mik Musik, is no secret. They have a fondness for cryptic song titles, whilst the music itself follows in a rhythmic, technoid trajectory to trance-enducing shamanistic effect.
Here, they inaugurate our Artist of the Week section, where each week, we will introduce a different SHAPE artist. RSS B0YS were nominated for SHAPE by the UNSOUND Festival.
What is the genesis of RSS B0YS?
Boy1: The general idea was to test how music can affect people anonymously. It was a fight against the ego, the hype. Our first album was entitled W D0NT BLV N HYP (We don’t believe in hype). Many other aspects got attached to this later: finding out the real reflection of what it means to be hidden in music. It was just a test. And then it appeared that next steps should follow, that if you say something unusual, you need to be consequent enough to take it further.
In what way?
B1: For the first two years, it was a studio project only. Then we realised that it would be nice to play live shows and it was necessary to rethink the idea. It is obvious that to play shows anonymously is really complicated, especially at the first moment when we had no idea how to not exaggerate and stay ourselves. From the moment RSS B0YS started to play live, the real work started. The new album definitely is the result of this live work. We are at a moment when we can refuse these initial ideas, let’s say the Afro-techno concept, we can do whatever we like and remain ourselves. We are more free to do anything. The live shows are almost 100 percent improvised.
Was it a conscious choice to choose Afro-inspired techno because of the rhythm, a sort of primordial tribalist concept?
B1: At the beginning, and this is still really important, there was an idea to make unknown electronic music somehow stemming from Africa. For me Africa, is at the heart of everything. The humankind comes from there as well as all musical ideas. But then when you start to dig all those aspects you will arrive at a whole universe of elements connected with this thing. Other keywords could be post-colonialism or Afro-futurism, right now it’s absolutely not related to anything folksy.
I think this post-colonialist question in this respect is interesting. There was this musician from Serbia purporting to be from Nigeria.
Boy2: It is a kind of mystification for us as well, but we actually don’t pretend to be African. It is a beautiful tale, but obviously we don’t even try to make it look like truth. It is a big inspiration, a simple decision to go beyond the Western musical tradition, whether it’s African or Caribbean.
The most important element of RSS B0YS in terms of audience reception is the dance element?
B1: Yes, this is purely African. In Africa, you don’t have an aspect of music without movement. The ritual, the catharsis, the dance, can be connected to each other. You can express every feeling with music and dance. Maybe in European languages we don’t have a proper name for this thing.
B2: It’s an invitation to the ritual, and we do the ritual, please follow us, it’s symbolic. It’s not regular techno.
B1: Probably it’s not techno at all. Of course, it has a 4×4 rhythm. There is also this provocative element to all of this, this move is not only for the body, but also for the mind. When you do something this strange, you know you will affect and move people, they start to notice.
B2: Maybe it’s a projection of techno we would like it to be. We play music that doesn’t exist, the music that we would love to hear at parties. We are providing it for ourselves also, expanding the area of dance music, pushing boundaries because usually it does get pretty boring on the dancefloor.
It is functionalist music in a way.
B2: Yes, but you can really expand it and the audience accepts it. You can do a lot of things that artists do not dare to.
B1: Maybe we are simply brave also.
B2: Brave, stupid and funny.
B1: When we enter the stage, we hear people laughing because we look unusual and funny. But after five minutes, they are not laughing anymore.
B2: This way we get their attention.
I guess these days that is difficult.
B2: It is really hard. It is a cheap trick to wear a mask and look different, but in the end, when it serves a purpose, it’s fine. We don’t put too much stress on this fact. It’s only an interface. As a musician you can make a lot of mistakes or go beyond your usual capabilities just to test things out. We are loosing ourselves and waking up after an hour sweating. The audience is cheering. It’s an emotional experience. It’s not just about going on stage and operating the machines but it is also this trance, tribal state somehow, and wearing those masks, it becomes a ritual. And the audience very often goes there with us.
Anonymity gives liberation.
B2: For us and also for the audience, because sometimes as a listener myself I can feel constrained by the artists’ presence on stage. My judgement is skewed because of that.
The thing with RSS B0YS is also intuition, because the live performances are thoroughly improvised, we go beyond our daily control system of ourselves as musicians. Doing things that are beyond our imagination. There is this collision on stage during the performance between us, a mutually driven madness, which is really nice. Going through the stream of output based on my whole previous background without controlling it. It’s not that common in electronic dance music to go really freeway. When I was a teenager, I was dreaming about such a thing. I was looking at musicians doing fully improvised sets. I couldn’t believe it is possible. But now I know that you need to build up some knowledge over the years to be able to do that. You cannot do it when you are fifteen. In a way playing with RSS B0YS is fulfilling my teenage dreams.