If you were stuck on a desert island, which album would you bring and why?
I’d probably say in terms of hip hop, I’d say Jeru the Damajas wrath of the math album. This album I would definitely take away with me to a desert island with me because it still kicks.There’s not really any skippable tracks on this album. It’s just a sick hip hop album. In terms of electronic music, I would probably say I would take the album Boards of Canada; Music has the Rights to Children, which came out in ’98. There’s so many synth heavy keys on that album and so many varied tracks, it’s just one of those albums you can stick on and just get completely lost in it, you can just have running and you never want it to finish. Also, in terms of rock and metal, I would take Tool’s Lateralist album because that album is just an hour and a half of really experimental and art driven rock and metal music.
How do you find new music for your sets?
A lot of my new music comes from my peers, it depends. If I’m in a mainstream club scenario, you play the tracks everyone knows and you know where to source them from. When it comes to new music, the main music I love playing out is a mixture of half-time D&B, jungle, and experimental electronic music, which I really love pushing in a dark club scenario. When it comes to finding those tracks, I look to guys such as OmUnit, Fracture, John First, a DJ/turntablists based in Leicester. John’s my source for finding what’s popping in terms of electronic music and footwork and those kind of genres. I keep a close tab on social media and follow those producers/artists because they’re always making new and really exciting music, it’s generally where I go to when it comes to sourcing out new music.
When you first started mixing, was your set up any different to what it is now?
Oh dude, it was vastly different to the technology that’s now around. The first time I saw turn-tablism, I was fourteen and I was at my cousin’s house in Devon. All my cousins were huddled around this really shitty mixer and this pair of technik 12/10’s trying to emulate scratch DJs they’d heard from the States on these battle records – they’re records that have loads of sounds and samples you can mess about with. I’d always heard scratching before but never seen how it was actually applied. You just hear it and it didn’t really compute that was how that sound was formulated, and then I saw it being applied on turntables and I was like yooooo… I’ve got to know how to actually do this, this is what I wanna know how to do.
Unfortunately, the only person that had a pair of 12/10’s was my cousin and he lived in Devon and I lived in London so it was a 3hour drive again and it wasn’t exactly practical, so my access to turntables was really quite far away. I got lucky when I was about 18, my elder cousin was studying Interaction Design at the London Royal College of Art, but he couldn’t afford to rent anywhere in London, so he crashed in my bedroom, and of course that meant him bringing all his stuff into my bedroom, just boxes of so much crap, but amongst all of that was a pair of 12/10s, a really bog-standard mixer and lots of drum & bass vinyl, and he showed me how to beat-match by ear. The technology that I was dealing with then was just like the very kind of grounds up; mixer, two 12/10s, vinyl, learning how to blend, how to use the EQ properly, how to count music in, understanding the structure of drum & bass music, and how it builds. And also just simple things like knowing how to release a record, counting it in (1,2,3,4 release) and putting it into time. Things like that which are now elementary to me, I’d no idea how to do.
Unfortunately 6 months later he moved out and took his turntables with him, and there was a period of seven years where I had no access to turntables. During that period, I started to notice the things that were changing in the DJ-ing community, especially in the States, like DVS started coming out, Serato was coming out, and that just made me so excited about DJ-ing, like oh my god we don’t have to take crates anywhere, you don’t have to haul these 10 kilo boxes to venues anymore, you can just take your laptop with you and it’s all there, you can just focus on applying your craft to something, but its all being manipulated through the software. At the time, it was so expensive, so I graduated from university in 2009 and I had a tonne of money left over, didn’t spend it on turntables but I went travelling for a year. I came back and I just didn’t want to live in London, I want to go to Bristol, where a lot of my family who I looked up to creatively were based. When I got here, I actually really wanna try and give this DJ-ing thing a go and make a run of it.
You’re right about the mixing and DJ-ing, it’s a completely different thing.
It’s completely different, and I’m not taking anything away from it, because I’ve watched so many sets where people aren’t even scratching they’re just mixing and I’m just vining hard off of just their set. Whether you scratch or not has got nothing to do with it, it’s about how you string music together and make a real presentation out of it for people who have come to see you. I’ve been in the wings when DJ Marky has been playing, and he’ll take a turntable on his side and keep on scratching it with the tone arm, and I remember seeing that and was like what? I still to this day don’t know how he does it.
So after the success of the Red Bull competition, what’s next?
Next thing that I’m doing is a… huh I don’t know if I can talk about it yet because it’s supposed to be premiered to the DJ-ing community because no one knows I’m on Serato. So I don’t think I can tell you!
Who are your top musical influences?
That really depends on the genre. In regards to the drum & bass scene, there’s just too many cats out there that are just doing amazing music, I just get this cognitive dissonance like argh I can’t decide. When it comes to things like metal music, I put people like Dave Lombardo from Slayers, Danny Kerry from Tool, Thomas Hark from Meshuggha, Buddy Rich, the late great Buddy Rich, Dennis Chambers from Parliament-Funkadelic, and Jay-Z’s drummers Lenny Royster Junior. I think my main influence in what I do is drummers, because I come from a drumming background, I did my grades from when I was 11 to 14, I pretty much did it until my mum couldn’t afford the lessons anymore because my teacher upped it by a fiver. I think what drumming did was it trained my brain to have that coordination of moving through turntablism, because I’ve only been scratching since I was 25 and I’m now 32, and in regards to how far I’ve come it’s actually really quick, I have to thank drumming for that, having that sense of rhythm and coordination in your hands. So I would say in terms of influences to my music, I always put drummers in front.
If you had to perform a set, anywhere, any festival, any stage anywhere in the world , where would it be?
To many people’s confusion over the title, the Shambhala Festival in Canada. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen photographs, I’ve spoken to people, I’ve known people who’ve played it and every single person I talk to about whose played at that festival have said there’s nothing like it. You have to see it for yourself. It’s set in the woods, there’s kind of like lanterns hung from trees, people playing in the most obscure stage rigs, I really can’t put into words. The reception of how welcoming the audience is to DJs regardless of what they’re bringing to the table, regardless of whether they’re scratching or not scratching, they’re literally there just to take in the vibe of what you’re bringing to the table. Some of my peers who’ve played that festival play such a wide spectrum of different genres of music, from what I saw and the footage Ive seen there’s not one punter who didn’t look like they weren’t having a good time. It’s such a warm reception from the audience, it’s definitely the festival I want to play.
Obviously Glastonbury is now a milestone for getting noticed in the UK music community but I still find it a difficult festival to crowbar into. You have to either know someone who works there or be specifically asked to play there. The pay is unattractive too. Call me a snob but the only time I’ll ever go to a festival is either if there is someone I’m dying to see or if I’m playing. Some artists I will go and see but most of the time, I’d rather be at home concentrating on my craft and making sure its in tune ready for that time when I’m ready to deliver to a live audience, that’s the thing I like to concentrate on.
Interview conducted by Sam Buckley, Lauren Dutch and Sally Mosley
Liam Cooper, aka Revrt, is a DJ based in Bristol who focuses his sets around a range of different genres, from drum and bass to techno and hip hop. His influences are wide and varied, from moves and tv shows, to his early beginnings as an amateur drummer; he is also a big fan of heavy rock and metal bands, such as Tool, Slayers and Meshugga. Recent winner of the 2018 Redbull Music 3Style UK Vice Champion, Revrt has received a lot of attention lately, and has already secured sponsorships from turntable hardware producers.