Getting Into the RoOtine

Attractive RoOtine is a Beijing-based Electro live band. Luh Pi commands lead vocals, singing in three languages; English, Chinese, and French, while Ruda, the half-masked super composer, also on vocals, plays on his elaborate setup of samplers, effects and synthesizers. After attending their live show at MAKO Live House, I was pretty impressed by the French duo’s high-energy presence and comical on-stage antics. That being said, of course, an interview was in order. After a long discussion about everything from politics to country music, we have the gritty details below.

LYBZ: How did Attrative RoOtine come together?

Ruda: Actually we met in Barcelona, in the corridor of a hotel. We had an eye contact, and then a language contact. We agreed on many things and decided we should start something. I was in Paris at that time and she was in London. I was already planning to move away from Paris, which is a very beautiful but really boring city, to Brussels, but then decided to move to London instead because…

Luh-Pi: Maybe because I was in London..

Ruda: Yes, you were in London too.

LYBZ: Whats the story behind the band’s name?

Luh-Pi: We spent some time on the name because we are French, so we wanted a name that was sounding French and English. Attractive is a French word and routine is a French word too.

Ruda:  She is attractive and I am the rootine, so the attractive part is there. I am the male part, she is the female part. For the routine, its something that I hate, doing the same thing everyday. But if the routine is attractive then, whoa. It’s in fact also the rootine, with a double O, that’s related to the roots, we all come from the same origin, all are humans, it’s the substance from the roots. A substance like any other which name finishes by “ine” like aspirine or dopamine. That rootine is related to the notion of attraction which is a physical phenomenon we can’t deny, and so powerful.

LYBZ: Why did you choose to come to China?

Ruda: Luh-Pi is very gifted and talented. She speaks four languages, Chinese included, she sings some tracks in Chinese. I think she’s got some super powers, I believe she can even speak only with the eyes, kind of telepathy. About China, people say it’s growing, people are getting more freedom, that’s exciting to witness it and bring something like new original sound…

Luh-Pi: There’s an element of curiosity that’s right, and we thought, yeah, why not share our music with the Chinese people. I can speak Chinese, so I can talk directly to the audience. We really want to make people dance and discover music…

Ruda: Yes, our music is very electro. It is influenced by some Jamaican roots too, dub and ska mainly. The roooootine again… That fusion is really really uncommon around here.

LYBZ: What has been the hardest obstacle in trying to penetrate into the Chinese music scene?

Luh-Pi: The problem is they have never heard of machines, and Ruda plays on 7 different machines. To Chinese people, he’s just a DJ. That is the hard part, the electronic music culture knowledge is still very low.

Ruda: Yeah, there is that confusion. They confuse what I do with the DJ work, which I respect, but is totally different. I create my own original material. A DJ, if he’s a good one is a good selector, he’s got to get a mixing technique and, let’s go. But I am a composer first and then live performer. It’s totally different.

LYBZ: And what has been easier in China?

Luh-Pi: Well, it’s easier to attract them because we are foreigners. But then, for example, this agent we met wanted to change everything. He wanted us to put some traditional Chinese music in what we do.  He wanted us to change the machines. He said ‘oh those cables, its awful. You have to have something nice to look at’. But for us it’s not awful. It’s part of our setup, that’s it.

LYBZ: From production sense, do you prefer the process of writing, producing and recording in the studio, or playing at live shows?

Ruda: We are a live band, definitely. We actually started a year and a half ago.  We wrote a lot, we worked a lot. We already have 26 tracks but it’s not for release now. It is only for live shows. We are a proper live band. At first we want to test our tracks with the audience. So we can select which songs are the best. And then we will record them properly. We have to find an adapted and well-equipped studio in Beijing and money to produce it, too.

LYBZ: As musicians, where do you draw your inspirations?

Ruda: I’ve been doing electro music composing for 12 years now. I was in fact in electro music production, before I met her [Luh-Pi]. As long as you hear the music, you know what you like, you know what you dislike. I try to do things I like.  The basic fusion of our music is between the electro and…the ska, which is very festive, very human. There is a meaning in music. I want to put some reflections in the lyrics, it’s not that light. I like to put some sense, you know? I think the roots of Jamaican music are social, the rude boys’ expression.

Luh-Pi:  We like to write simple and light stories that have indeed a deep meaning. That’s why we have a song about an alien coming to earth.

Ruda: If I was an alien, actually she was an alien: what would she see? People fighting because they are different? Looks so stupid, isn’t it?

Luh-Pi: We never talk about love, lovesongs you know? Too many people write about their personal love stories. It’s so cliché!

Ruda: Love between man and woman is obvious. The relationship between man and woman is very personal; we want to speak to everybody. So what do we say? Love between human beings, no racism. This is important to us.

LYBZ: Your sound incorporates elements of dub, techno, ska and house. On your Myspace page, you described this sound as “electrosteady”. Tell us more about that.

Ruda: Electrosteady is very simple. I was already using this term 12 years ago because my basic aim was to fuse electro and ska. And rocksteady is a part of ska, it’s a bit slower in tempo than ska and a bit more groovy. But it’s not reggae. Quicker than reggae, but slower than ska. As it was called rocksteady, I called it electrosteady.

LYBZ: What makes your live shows so appealing? If, let’s say, someone had never heard of your music, what kind of experience could they expect?

Ruda: I’m very disappointed at some electro live music. I have some friends doing that and I think they are not showing anything on stage. They are on their laptops. Very calm. We are doing the contrary. We feel like moving, expressing energy, make a real live show, 2 people and the hardware machines. What’s the point of playing live on stage, if there’s nothing to see?  In the rave movement, the DJ wasn’t an object of attention. He was just an object playing the music. People were enjoying the music together. There was no star, except the dancers. The DJ was quite anonymous. It was just the music that was important. This is part of why I wear a mask. I am incognito, I am anonymous, and it makes me look weeeeird, don’t you think?

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