Reso Will Tell You Exactly What Real Dubstep Is, Even If That's Not Exactly What He Makes
UK producer Reso (Alex Melia) is a guy with a thing for robots, video games and anime, who has made a name for himself with sci-fi inspired tracks that span what little distance there is between drum and bass and hi-tech dubstep. His juddering bass and precise, articulate drum workouts make his material feel mechanized yet organic, evoking fantastic alien technologies. His long-awaited debut album Tangram reproduces the ominous rumblings of the modern metropolis, which are fantastic enough. The album was made in London, but after listening I went out into the streets of New York City and seemed to hear Reso’s steely beats and hydraulic synth echoed by my surroundings.
Turns out, it wasn’t just my imagination. Among other revelations, (like that he’s for-real a Deftones fan) the first thing Reso told me during our frank trans-pond phone conversation was that he often uses his synthesizer to try to reproduce the noises he hears around him and that he’s even been using his iPhone to sample from life. His music might be inspired by unreal worlds but it’s also rooted in reality and genuine exploration. Maybe that’s what puts him on a slightly different level of play from other, equally aggressive bassmeisters.
Apart from talking Tangram, we also chopped it up about dubstep and its massive rise. His thoughts on the subject are sure to interest purists and everyone else as well.
So, you like using your synthesizer to try reproduce sounds you hear around you?
Yeah. Or you might hear a weird noise that just inspires to try to record something like it. You might be outside or walking around in a shopping mall and you hear a noise in the outside world and you say “that’s kind of cool” and then it kind of gets distorted by your memory a little bit and you kind of half-remember how it was and then try and recreate it. You get inspired by anything and everything. I do, at least.
A lot of people would classify your music as dubstep …
I supposed it is dubstep, mainly. Well, this album at least … predominantly dubstep orientated. But it’s not just one thing. It’s dubstep tempo and I suppose it’s got some dubsteppy, like, half-steppy beat patterns, but I’m trying to do something different within a rigid framework.
Yes, I feel like Tangram leans toward the drum and bass roots of dubstep.
Yeah, well, I am a lot more drum and bassy than I am dubstep, really. Or, like, really original dubstep. When I got into it five or six years ago I always liked the more drum and bass sounding stuff from labels like Destructive and the early Hotflush records releases. I always liked the techier, sort of breaky side. I suppose you could have called it breakstep back then. For a long time there wasn’t a name and then everything just got called dubstep.
Today there are a lot of different things being called dubstep but the tempo seems to be the main thing they have in common.
The rule back in the day was make it about 140 [beats per minute]. It’s got to have a lot of sub-bass. Other than that anything goes!
It’s all kind of got a bit rigid right now. You have to make mental, bro-ey, whatever music or really kind of minimal stuff.
There’s still people kind of doing the more original, people call it the Dungeon sound. It’s kind of what dubstep always was: quite minimal, stripped back, lots of space, still kind of half-steppy, but not so full-on. It’s more for, you know, big sound system, dark room. It’s not like really hype party music, which is what seems to be predominantly popular in America. That’s what dubstep was when I first started going. It was a dark room, a fuck off sound system and everyone’s effing stoned. You’d just stand there and there’s like 50 people in a room.
You sort of danced in your own weird little way, but it wasn’t like now where it’s lazers and super-mega hypeness. The irony of dubstep is it’s turned into the thing it was started to go against. A lot of the people that started it got bored of drum and bass because drum and bass went really kind of hype with lazers and big flashing lights and they’re just like: “Nope. We just want a big soundsystem with lots of sub-bass and a dark room where you can kind of go on your own mad little journey in your head.” And now it’s suddenly become stadium rock.
Let’s talk more about Tangram. How did you choose the name?
There’s a couple of meanings. One was the Chinese dissection puzzle. There’s seven pieces and each piece is called a tan and there’s over six and half thousand different ways to solve it. In one respect, to be really pretentious about it, the way I put the album together, it’s like a puzzle.
The other one is that I have a theme of naming my EPs and records after different styles of robots. Tangram is also the name of a robot that I like. It’s not a real robot. It’s a robot from a Sega game called Virtual-On. I’ve got a Tangerine Dream album called Tangram as well.
The song titles are also all references, aren’t they?
They’re almost all references to computer games, manga, weird science articles and things like that. That sort of stuff I’m quite interested in.
Do video games especially inspire you?
Quite a lot. I’m quite up on games. I play a lot of games and read a lot of articles about how video game designers go about making games. I steal track titles and samples and melodic ideas from different various video games.
If you could compose the music for a video game, what kind of video game would it be?
I’d love to make the music to a crazy bullet-hell style Japanese shoot ‘em up game and, equally, I’d love to make music for something like Halo or Dead Space, like a kind of really dark sci-fi-ey thing.
Did manga have a role in inspiring the album?
Well, I watch a lot of anime, old films like Akira. And, just the soundtracks like, Kenji Kawai [who scored Ghost in the Shell] is an awesome composer. I often get inspired by him. I even took a couple samples from Ghost in the Shell, the soundtrack. It’s not like traditional film scores. In a way, they can be a bit more experimental.
Why do you think writers keep associating you with the word brostep?
I do some stuff that you probably could call bro-ey. But the way I would try and differentiate it is I make some aggressive sounding stuff but it’s not supposed to be violent, if you see what I mean. It’s just heavy textured, and that’s sort of more fun from a technical standpoint.
Bro-ey stuff to me implies a certain thing. It’s kind of got its tongue in its cheek and it’s there to be ridiculously hype for the sake of being ridiculously hype. It implies that there’s a lot of guys there taking their tops off and going “raaarrr” and going crazy to it. Where the stuff I make, it’s supposed to be aggressive but not in an in-your-face sort of way.
Think of nu-metal. There was Korn and Limp Bizkit. Think of how bro-ey that was. And then there was The Deftones who go lumped in with that. They made really hard, aggressive stuff but it’s not the same in my eyes.
So, you identify with The Deftones?
Definitely. Look, they’ve got a new album out and they’re still progressing as a band, maturing. Whereas, the last Korn thing was appalling. My god, that album was terrible. The last Korn album, which had the track with Skrillex and Excision and stuff like that. How desperate are you to stay relevant that you’ve got to get those guys on board?