The Bloody Beetroots
Imagine the love child of the Misfits and Daft Punk; the act of conception would be grisly, but what a mighty offspring their union would generate. A formidable figure a la Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, the polymath and producer behind the Bloody Beetroots.
While Bloody Beetroots burst on to the scene in 2007, Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo did not spring forth from the godhead fully formed. Born in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, in 1977, our hero started young, studying classical guitar and learning to sight read via the traditional solfege method (you know like "Do Re Mi" in The Sound of Music). But his imagination was fired by other sources: The raw energy of punk and rockabilly music; the vibrant images and outrageous storylines of comics by Max Bunker, Benito Jacovitti, and especially Tanino Liberatore, creator of the cyberpunk RanXerox.
"The secret is tying up thoughts and visions via the process called music," says Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo of his distinct aesthetic. "I'm a grown child who enjoys reading comic books of the 1970s, who never stops dreaming, and listening to punk and classical music. I'm disciplined and undisciplined at the same time." These contradictions allow him to change at a moment's notice, and eschew established patterns. "Unlike many of my colleagues, I hate to read biographies of those who did music and arts," he adds. "I prefer to watch, understand, and analyze the world by myself. My taste has to be influenced by something that is not art. I love to be struck by life."
Nevertheless, as a youth Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo served his time in the culture trenches. After years of studying Chopin, Beethoven, and Debussy, he cast off the straightjacket of classical musicwhile still retaining its hard-earned lessonsand turned his attention to reconciling the new world of samplers and electronic music with his affinity for punk and '80s new wave. Pushing himself as a budding producer, performer and multi-instrumentalist, he embarked on a decade of variegated projects that Rifo now affectionately refers to as "exercises." Starting with his 1997 debut, a production for Northern Italian hip-hop stars Da Fam, he tore through genres like a child shredding gift wrap on Christmas morning: Film soundtracks, house, drum and bass, trip-hop, and more. As the climax of this dizzying string of well-received collaborations, he initiated his first genuine solo project, an electro-punk band with revolutionary visual style: Bob Rifo's Gang.
At the instigation of his colleague Tommy Tea his on-stage partner and longtime minister of propaganda Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo then created Bloody Beetroots, an artistic alter-ego that would draw on all Rifo's experiences to date. Initially conceived as an all-inclusive way to package the live thrills of Bob Rifo's Gang with the excitement of dancing-till-dawn DJ after-party, the producer set to quickly establishing the Bloody Beetroots as a electronic musical entity in its own right.
First up were "French Touch" icons Alex Gopher and Etienne de Crecy, who let Bloody Beetroots put their edgy, acid stamp on the respective tracks "The Game" and "Funk." With other French artists like Rinocerose lining up for his services, within a single year Rifo cranked out 28 Bloody Beetroots remixes. But not to mark territory, so much as to respond to fellow artists from around the world, and poise Bloody Beetroots as a truly international sound.
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo is determined that this goal will remain central as the Bloody Beetroots star ascends, and their fame travels the globe. "I want to sit at the table with a Chinese person one day, and the next with an African, and the day after with a Vietnamese, and absorb their different cultures, to learn and to inspire myself and my music."
In 2007, two pivotal releases pushed Bloody Beetroots to the next level. First, a vigorous overhaul of "Maniac," the percolating 1983 electro-pop smash from the soundtrack of Flashdance, an homage so inspired it won accolades from original composer Michael Sembello. Next up was "Discommunication," a futuristic disco redux of Timbaland's "Miscommunication." As original music and remixes by Bloody Beetroots began to bubble up in pop culture, via placement in episodes of CSI: Miami and prominent use in videogames, peers like Justice, MSTRKRFT, Adam Freeland, and Martin Solveig were singing their praises in the press.
Dim Mak founder Steve Aoki was an early, and passionate, convert: "The Bloody Beetroots is my favorite project right now. Bobs remixes are some of my biggest bangers in my sets." He lost no time in snapping up Bloody Beetroots to release their US debut, the ROMBO EP (with a full-length slated to follow soon).
"The EP summarizes much of my world," says Rifo. "You hear classical music, electronica, pop, fidget, punk. And the album will be even more comprehensive, because I want to incorporate new elements... all my musical components. I need that." Like so many things in the universe of Bloody Beetroots, the creative impetus behind ROMBO came from idiosyncratic sources. "My inspiration comes from events affecting my day-to-day life, and my creative process takes place outside the studio," emphasizes Rifo. "For example, when while I was creating ROMBO, I was also studying the Italian Futurists." To translate the innovations of composer and theorist Luigi Russolo (author of the 1913 treatise The Art of Noises), one of the earliest pioneers of electronic music, into a 21st century context, he recruited an outside observer: Fool's Gold recording artist Congorock. "I chose him because he is synonymous with bass. And while he opened the oscillators, I closed my eyes and tried to find that special sound. Once I had it, I opened them and mixed madly. ROMBO was ready in an hour. This is what happensI follow the moment."
History has shown that the most provocative moments in artthe 1913 premiere of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du primtemps, the notorious 1981 show by Public Image Ltd. at the Ritz in NYCcan provoke civil unrest. The Bloody Beetroots inspire that same brand of revolutionary fervor, yet with exuberance, not outrage. There's a riot goin' on, and you're all invited.