FEATURE
Behind the Masks - Rss B0ys

Behind the Masks - Rss B0ys

1. A reason to hide a buoyant, shamanistic techno

Fighting the idea of an ego, Rss B0ys is a mysterious duo from Poland with a hidden identity. Their buoyant, shamanistic take on techno, almost fully improvised live on stage, transports the audience into a ritual frenzy.

They released several albums, as part of Mik Musik‘s Secret Series. Their latest album HDDN was released in the beginning of 2015 together with BDTA.

We met the Polish duo during this year's edition of Shape Bucharest, one of the most ambitious European platforms for innovative music and audiovisual art.



Since you are from Poland, but mostly from the Internet, I wanted to start by asking what was the Internet like when you started making music?

Boy One: There was no internet.

What were you doing before Rss B0ys?

Boy One: Actually, in this interview we cannot say, because, then, everybody will know who we are. In Poland we are, let's say, known in the electronic music circles. This is one of the reasons to hide. We can do something completely fresh without this burden of knowing that people have expectations and also to see how things go when you hide all you've done before. It's like starting from scratch.

So what you were doing was quite different?

Boy Two: Not necessarily...

Boy One: It depends... A lot of things changed in more than 20 years; styles, equipment, politics, economics and so on. But it's still more or less within the electronic scene.

Are there any people who figured out who you are in Poland?

Boy Two: There are some suspicions. The people we know keep the secret with us.

Do you find yourself compelled to make up rumors about you to hide?

Boy Two: We don't do anything with this.

Boy One: Sometimes we wanted to because it's like, maybe not offensive, but not working well for us. Some of them started to work for the others, who were pretending to be us. Now we see ourselves as a hard working band. Our purpose is to be better and better and we believe in quality.

Do you feel that with Rss B0ys you are part of a specific current? The name and the aesthetic make reference to Internet. How did you draw inspiration from it?

Boy One: It was just random thing actually, the name of the band. I don't remember it correctly, but I was probably just using kind of a funny software on the internet for finding new names.

A generator?

Boy One: Something like that; but I'm not really sure, because I play with things like that quite often, but it can be. So I said yeah...it looks nice. Then we changed the 'o' with '0' in 'Boys'. We put even less ego in the name.


“We want to show that the world is a way more interesting place than it seems. If you embrace everything that's strange in the world, it becomes more interesting.”

2. Do it yourself and the element of surprise

You were mentioning in an interview that the technical limitations and options of the scene - this DIY culture - is what got you to know better what you want in terms of sound. How does this work now? What are you looking for, specifically, when constructing and designing your sound?

both laugh

Boy Two: That's a very elaborate question.

Boy One: Serious one. Hmm...

Boy Two: Basically, we don't rehearse at all. It happened like this and that's probably the most important part; or maybe not the most important, but definitely one of the main elements. While performing, we meet each other in different points. We bring some new elements of sound and then it collides during sound check. So the element of surprise is important and we usually negotiate the final outcome on stage, as we don't rehearse. We never know certainly how it's going to be. It depends on the audience, on the mood of the venue. It evolves and it is pretty much different every time.

How does it go when you record in the studio?

Boy Two: A lot of combining, we record a lot.

Boy One: It is something different from performing live, but for new stuff we definitely like to keep this live vibe and try not to interfere with the real life recording.

Boy Two: We don't over produce it; we use a lot of live recordings. There's a little bit of postproduction, but we don't invent new tracks from the scratch in the studio.

Boy One: It was a bit different in the beginning, but this is the way it is now. It's fresh and surprising as a method. We know our instruments, they're pretty small, kind of simple, but with lot of possibilities. And it's one of our goals to travel with hand luggage; and it works. So this is one of the nice things about our times right now. Everything is small, so you have a lot of possibilities to provide sound with a great quality, but you can almost hide it in your pocket.

What about the set up you use, is it DIY?

Boy Two: Not really. We wanted this project to be as technically uncomplicated as possible, which helps to break the barrier between the mind, the instruments and the sound.

Boy One: But we never know... It's still evolving.

Boy Two: DIY goes more with the way we release records, with organizers, venues, this whole network of people. We don't have a booking agent.

3. Under the mask of Rss B0ys

Speaking of blurring limits from studio and live, you are also blurring limits between Internet and real life. I came across your Tumblr and saw that it sums up aspects of your music and performances. Which was first, the music or the Tumblr?

Boy One: The music was first, of course. Every time. With a project like this, which so specifically contains the visual aspect from the first show, you have a weapon in your hand. It's also about our interests. We are generally interested in art. The music is the closest to us, but art is our realm.

Boy Two: We've been both involved in visual arts at some point, also in design, so the boundaries are usually blurred. We've chose to do music, but who knows what the future brings?

Boy One: We even think about making films even though it's too early. It seems as if everything has a meaning, but it's mostly about pleasure.

Boy Two: It's also a good way to engage the audience through other means than just music.

Boy One: Everything works towards public relations, but this is just for fun. It also got a cultural meaning in a wider sense. We try to express some bigger ideas to people. At one point it's been said that it's not clear whether we are or aren’t boys. We want to show that the world is a way more interesting place than it seems. If you embrace everything that's strange in the world, it becomes more interesting. The mask is usually associated with exotic culture, so it's telling a story about the beauty of the world. But we chose this particular element because it fits with our image. Two or three years ago a lot of fashion designers were using masks. I see that now it's coming back, it's an interesting thing in itself.

Boy Two: It's also a political statement.

Boy One: Yes, what is going on in Poland especially is, let's say, cruel. The way society reacts to refugees is on an unbelievable level... people are so afraid of cultures different from theirs. In Poland you have more or less one nation. Even here in Romania you have a wide mix of people. Of course, I'm telling general things right now, but the thing is we are pro variety. We are not pushing too much in order to bring up a political subject, like we recently did in a Facebook post; it’s a really delicate thing. Sometimes you need to say things clearly, but we prefer giving hints like sharing links that can lead people to making a donation.

Boy Two: Even our mere presence on the stage shows that we are embracing elements beyond our own culture.

So you feel that wearing the masks not only adds to the artistic concepts, but that it allows you to make other statements.

Boy Two: Yes, it is not our point, but we enjoy having this opportunity.

Boy One: In a technical sense it's different when you are playing with a mask. Sometimes you can't see clearly what you do, but by now we are used to this.

Boy Two: It helps to give you some sort of a rush when you are playing. Even if you make a mistake, you know you are not going to be pointed at.

Is it you creating the masks?

Boy One: No, actually my mom makes the costumes, but we are designing them together. The initial idea was not of African inspiration, but rather of Haitian carnival masks. I've seen some photos so I said these are quite easy to make. The African element is now a bit gone, but in the beginning we tried to blend techno with a tribal element. Now it's more blurred because we traveled a lot, which also influences what we do. It's about making a wider and wider thing, continuously updating. We don't stick with one style... I can't imagine we doing the same thing for decades.

Did you grow up with costumes around you?

Boy One: Not of this kind.

Boy Two: laughs - Not for me, no costumes.

Boy One: One of my first dreams was to be a traveler because distant lands fascinated me. It didn't happen in a proper meaning, but it happened through music. I don't take my backpack and go to Amazon for half a year.

Boy Two: Not yet...

Boy One: We'll see. Masks are a tool used mostly to scare people.

4. Artist talks in Poland

I know there is a pretty coherent and DIY noise and industrial scene in Poland. Are you connected in a way?

Boy Two: We cannot disclose this information.

Boy One: The experimental scene in Poland is blooming, so because we are active in it, we know a lot of the people involved. In terms of Rss B0ys we cannot tell too much.

I've read that you met in Benin, is that correct?

Boy One: No, that is part of the mythology.

But anyway, how did you meet?

Boy One: Because of art, you know... Most likely at a contemporary art gallery.

Do you guys get to do lectures or did you have any requests to do a lecture?

Boy One: With Rss B0ys... not yet.

How would you manage to do that?

Boy One: It's difficult even with recorded interviews. We didn't do a lot because even if we say please use voice synthesizers, it ends up with us having to do it. It's hard to make our voices unrecognizable without turning them into noise. It is possible to make a lecture, but how can be difficult. We are open, we'll see.

Boy Two: We do artist talks, but not with Rss B0ys.

Boy One: Interestingly, sometimes it so happens that we play as Rss B0ys in the same night we play with our solo projects.

Has it ever happened to cover the whole lineup, with Rss B0ys and your solo projects?

Boy Two: Not the whole lineup, but almost, yes.

So you don't get to regret that much not having people come over at you to talk after you finish the show because they would recognize you...

Boy One: Sometimes you go to the bar to order a beer and you can't get it for free.

both laugh

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