Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo is as energetic as he is enigmatic, with his musical style ever eclectic and evolving in unpredictable ways. The masked founder and frontman of The Bloody Beetroots took some time to discuss his latest release “Zoning”, his approach to songwriting and the future of TBB…
Q. Thank you so much for joining us Bob. Can you start with telling us a bit about yourself and your career to date?
Yo Ragazzi, I’m Bob Cornelius RIfo (Italiana fella American Imported). I created The Bloody Beetroots project in 2006, and since then, I have worked with so many incredible artists during the years including Sir Paul McCarthey. My musical project is free from any kind of formula and my live performances are divided between live and DJ sets.
Q. You’ve recently put out your most recent release ‘Zoning’, is it a track you’ve worked on for a while?
I produced ‘Zoning’ last fall in Los Angeles. It was written 5 minutes before the studio session with ZHU. The production itself didn’t take much time as I tend to get straight to the point.
Q. The track is a collaboration with Zhu, how did the collaboration, and how was the experience compared to working with other electronic music producers?
Steven Zhu is quite the mysterious character with a great sense of music. We challenged ourselves on equal terms during the session and it was an uplifting experience. It’s pretty rare to find artists of that type.
Q. It’s clear that you draw from a wealth of musical inspiration. It’s been noted that you’re inspired by Prince, The Sex Pistols, The Prodigy and Frank Zappa (to name but a few). Out of all of the music you know and love, what is a song that you wish you’d written?
I am very respectful of other people’s music so I wouldn’t want to take a song that I didn’t write myself. Every piece of music must be lived and contextualized, and only then could it be fully understood. However, had I lived in the punk years, I would have liked to have Steve Jones as my best friend.
Q. In some of your tracks (including 2015’s Spider) you play heavily with tempo/rhythm, interchanging time signatures and track speed. How do you map out your songs? Do you write largely on instinct, changing tempo when it “feels” right? Or are you a more formulaic composer who knows where to put what in a track?
I tend to map songs out directly in my mind. I see them as an experience, a journey. The hard part is bringing them into a DAW while trying to keep the intent and writing intact. Spider, You Promised Me and 10000 prophets are 3 rollercoasters that identify my Frank Zapp style of thinking towards how electronic music should be written.
Q. The story of Steve Aoki screaming in your mother’s basement whilst recording Warp is well known amongst TBB fans (The screaming resulted in SBCR’s mother banging on the door during recording, which was kept in the final track). I’m interested to know, what’s the strangest sample you’ve ever used in a track, and what’s the story behind it?
There was a time when I was completely crazy about Matmos so I started sampling dental tools to get glitches and noises to randomly use in my productions. But I believe the time I sampled a Ducati motorbike engine to get some risers was even better and more original.
Q. What’s your DAW [Digital Audio Workstation] of choice at the moment? Do you work largely in the box, or do you prefer to use analogue gear?
I moved from Cubase to Ableton Live 3 years ago and I am completely satisfied with the choice. I tend not to mix my songs but if it happens, I have equipped my 3 studios with UAD apollos and I love how the DSP sounds so I use it to the max. I have a lot of outboards like summing mixers, compressors, preamps but I only use them in non-electronic music contexts. I love analogue as much as the digital hybrid.
Q.You’ve recently gotten your hands on Zone. How have you managed to incorporate it into your workflow and where do you see yourself using it in future projects?
I sincerely believe that it is one of the best VST’s I have ever put my hands on. I’ve been playing with it for a week and love it so much!
Q. Do you have any favourite presets so far, or do you prefer to make your own?
I always prefer to create from scratch but “a vinyl warp” on the pad section is on my list of favorites.
Q. It’s been 14 years since the birth of TBB. I’m interested to know how you’ve achieved such longevity in a tumultuous industry and what advice you have for young people entering the electronic/dance scene today? Is there a magic formula to having staying power?
I believe life is evolution, and therefore my music changes constantly. I’ve never sold myself and have always understood where my place is in music. I’ve always stood strong on the things I want and don’t want to do. My advice is to learn to say NO and not to focus your whole life on music because your music’s inspiration needs to be nurtured with real life.
Q. Finally, In a Reddit AMA from 3 years ago, you were asked you what the future holds for SBRC. You replied: “the future is always great because it is unwritten -SBCR is my laboratory.” 3 years on, I’m curious to know what’s next for Bob and The Bloody Beetroots? Is it still unwritten, or do you have some new material on the horizon?
I will continue to write electronic music. I will continue to evolve with both the live band and the DJ set as I grow in my research to create a new musical language. At the same time, I will keep expressing myself through photography and collateral activities.