Bryant Rutledge has come a long way. He moved to San Francisco from his hometown of Portland, OR, took a position at electronic music rag XLR8R (where, I should note, I also contribute), and began work on his music career as a multi-talented DJ and producer.
Once known around our city's clubs as LL Cool DJ, Rutledge now produces and DJs under the name Low Limit. He may be better known at this point, though, as one-half of the electronic glitch-hop juggernaut Lazer Sword, which pairs him with production partner Antaeus Roy (a.k.a. Lando Kal). Lazer Sword has helped put San Francisco's leftfield beat scene on the map with its chopped and screwed, synth-heavy dance tracks.
Rutledge spoke to Behind the Beat in preparation for his live solo performance this Saturday, March 27, at 222 Hyde. We chatted out about what's new in Lazer Sword's world, turning bank statements into beats, and the many ways he likes to "keep it hip-hop."
How would you quickly describe your music to someone new to dubstep or electro?
Coming originally from a hip-hop and rap background, there's often an underlying theme of gangster activity in my music, whether it be slappy drums or a real mean bassline or lyrics from various rap songs. I've always really enjoyed keeping the doors of influence very open and maybe don't follow the rules when it comes to sticking to a particular tempo or style from project to project. I like to keep it different. Some of my material can get more moody or experimental than other times, but more often than not I'll incorporate styles meant for the dancefloor.
When or where do you get most of your inspiration for new beats?
I get most inspired to make new tracks when I finally get the time to! Haha... Lately we have been traveling for days--or occasionally weeks--at a time, and being away from the studio is a massive inspiration to get back in there. At the same time, getting to experience and hear some really incredible music coming from scenes far away from home is always very inspiring. What else... Getting a surprise email from a good friend with some new tracks to check out is the best ever! There's almost nothing cooler than that.
by LOW LIMIT
How much of your track creation relies on software? How much on hardware?
I do all of my recording on software. I mean, I have a SP-202 sampler, but it gets more use at shows than in the studio. I had a Microkorg synthesizer, but sold it a couple months back. Antaeus is pretty much grand master plug-ins collector guy, so he tips me to the good ones. I like them much better than the Microkorg anyways.
Where do you find the majority of the samples in your tracks?
Percussion wise--aside from the incredibly huge and out-of-control library (file labyrinth?) of drum packs and sample kits that I've collected over time--I'll sometimes bust out the mic and record a shaker, tambourine, the sound of me crumbling one of my bank statements, etc. Aside from that I still keep it hip-hop and occasionally sample records, MP3s, cassette tapes, VHS, etc. The voice recorder on my phone has a decent built in mic, so I am always findin' some random samples in my day-to-day too. Unless I am trying to make a blatant remix or edit of someone else's song, I usually try to flip the samples so they are unrecognizable in their new context.