Bloody Beetroots - Purple Haze
Dissembled, deafening and named after a root vegetable; it could only be the Bloody Beetroots. 3D’s Tristan Burke stopped deck destoyers Bob Rifo and Tommy Tea jumping long enough to reveal the men behind the spider-masks.
The all-business DJ is an unfathomable breed. Static; they’re apparently beat-immune, withdrawn, and seldom offering more than a cursory nod of recognition to their audience. Evidently unaware of what a gloriously ridiculous existence they lead; theirs, judging by the characteristically dour expressions they wear, is a life of burden: playing tunes, and getting paid for it.
They’re the cancer; Bloody Beetroots are the cure.
Italian duo Bob Rifo and Tommy Tea are as diametrically opposed to their joyless counterparts as it’s possible to get. Vigorously bouncing up and down clad in Spider-Man masks, they conjure a gleefully perverse comic book panel in which Mary Jane arrives home and finds webslinger Peter Parker bedding a bassline.
YouTube videos of the pair in action are more exciting than most DJs live; ruthlessly deploying their ball-busting electronic arsenal while making even the most exuberant dancefloor appear leaden-footed by comparison, they’re clearly nuts. The crowd love it. “A DJ without a crowd is nothing,” acknowledges Mr Tea. “We believe that being a DJ it’s vital to work with those supporting you in order to make the night and scene you’re trying to create.
Having met in London and started making music together in 1998, it’s only over the last 18 months that Bloody Beetroots have truly exploded, assaulting the Trashbags generation with their patented electro-punk. They’re the sum of a staggering list of influences, ranging from comic books – as evidenced by their Marvel-motivated superhero façade – to John Williams’ film scores.
Though distinctly European, their dazzling enigma has even made Bloody Beetroots irresistible Stateside, their exposure boosted by affiliating with Steve Aoki’s hipster brand Dim Mak. Love him or hate him, Bloody Beetroots, like Busy P and his Ed Banger crew, will confirm they owe Aoki their emphatic introduction to the US party scene. “We wanted to launch our sound in America, and in Steve [Aoki] we found the best representation of a multi-skilled DJ, producer and PR all in one, so he was perfect,” Tea explains.
Indeed, Aoki’s diverse skill-set aligns itself nicely with the way Bob Rifo and Tommy Tea function as a unit; offering the complete audio-visual experience. “The structure of Bloody Beetroots is more comparable to an A&R, promotional, agency,” the pair confirm.
Tommy Tea takes care of the branding side of the equation. It began simply with T-shirts; conceived with designer Giulia, the incendiary ‘Fucked From Above 1985’ pieces – a nod to DFA 1979 – quickly became net-sold must-haves. “That was our first experiment with graphic design related to music,” says Tommy Tea. “The collaboration came from a long time friendship, which is what links us to many artists both in and outside the electro scene.”
And the collaborations have risen exponentially in profile: “Right now we are working with WESC, Sixpack, 55DSL, Diesel, Lobster, Alfa Romeo and more,” Tea continues, “and in January 2009 we will also be ready to represent the Dim Mak Collection in Europe. We don’t have a limit as long as we can add our personalities to each of our collaborations.”
The prolific number of productions bearing the Bloody Beetroots stamp, meanwhile, can be laid at the feet of self-proclaimed ‘entity’, and possessor of an awe-inspiringly grandiose moniker: Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo. Also fronting a self-titled punk band outside his BB concerns, and fond of calling attention to his malevolent pop-culture namesake – “Twin Peaks’ Bob allows me to highlight one of the many faces, the mean one in this case, that an artist can have when composing unsound music” – Rifo projects exactly the kind of mad persona you’d expect from someone responsible for a track called Bluto Fucks Popeye.
Rifo’s musical influences might not transparently equate to his anarchic sound – “the music I’m most attracted to is in the classical form of Debussy, Chopin and Mozart” he says – but his frame of mind is in absolute sync. And while Tea may provide the perfect foil behind the decks, in the studio Rifo breeds his own chaos. “Right now my life is punk, the disrespect of rules… I do not want to be influenced by the view of other artists, nor read their bios. I only try to get closer if I find in their art composition something interesting.”
Amongst that accepted group are Toronto electro-rockers Jesse F Keeler and Alex Puodziukas, better known as MSTRKRFT. Familiar to the punk lifestyles themselves, it’s no surprise that former Death From Above 1979 member JFK in particular fell for the Bloody Beetroots’ thrash-up bootlegs. “He went nuts over it,” says Tommy Tea of JFK’s reaction to their tearing Timbaland’s Miscommunication to shreds, “and introduced us to American labels and contacts; it’s become a very closely bound relationship.” The fruit of which is Bloody Beetroots’ potent remix of MSTRKRFT single Bounce, which has remained at the top of many electro kids’ wish lists since it was first rinsed some months ago. The wait is almost over, Tea assures; the release is but a couple of weeks away.
The Bloody Beetroots fellow countrymen naturally also fall under the comrade umbrella, with the Italian electro scene ever expanding thanks to the likes of Crookers, Congorock and the Rifo-produced Cecile. And while it’s hardly at the level of Ed Banger and the Parisian invasion, the ambition certainly isn’t lacking. “With us it’s more like a network than a family,” says Tea, because we’re all really close but geographically spread, whereas Ed Banger is concentrated in Paris. Our scene has expanded but not like it has in France; we’re trying to push it that way.”
Bob Rifo and Tommy Tea seem destined to spearhead that revolution, and their imminent Australian tour is just the latest step in a bid for world domination. “On stage we spark a riot in each DJ set,” the duo exclaims, “and we are still architecturing new conspiracies. But the real strength of Bloody Beetroots is in the sound, the organisational spirit, and melting down different subjects in order to aim for brand new objectives.”
With their debut EP Rombo in the bag – inspired by “Italian futurism in music” offers Rifo, an album in the pipeline, and plans to further infuse pop-culture with their indomitable punk aesthetic, it seems there’s no limit to their aspirations. Theirs is an amalgamation of words, sounds and images Bloody Beetroots like to term, in typically abstract fashion, letting “your washing machine speak.”
“In 1977 Vivienne Westwood was saying: cash from chaos. Combine it with our evergreen call to arms – too young to die, too fast to live – and you get what is nowadays the circular spinning basket that harbours the new society,” they begin to explain. “Letting your washing machine speak is all about mashing different worlds together: with the punk attitude of Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo and the no-boundaries approach of Tommy Tea, it sums up on stage to the Bloody Beetroots.”
WHO: Bloody Beetroots
WHAT: Play onelove at Tank
WHEN: Saturday 27 September