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Dual Assault

Rebel Royal, pumps up the jam between Braund Reynolds and Dan Booth, as it spreads its wings out in India

Neha Sharma Jul 25, 2009
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“It’s working really well, we have a few arguments here and there but all married couples do…not that we…err…are actually married,” Dan Booth’s repartee has Braund Reynolds in a rollicking fit of laughter, but on a more sincere note, this sonic marriage must be a happy one to be blessed by the likes of Fat Boy Slim’s Norman Cook who called them, “The freshest audio/visual act to come out of dance music in years. A real assault on the senses, love them,” to BBC Radio 1’s Pete Tong who said they were “the stand out act of the year.” Rebel Royal, formed four years ago, brings together two accomplished DJs who constantly seek to push the envelope within electronica where complacency and redundancy are familiar demons. UK-based Booth is a known name on the Indian circuit ”“ he has played at both editions of Sunburn in Goa ”“ and with his more recent stint as resident DJ at the Silent Noise headphone parties in Palolem, he hints at considering setting base in India now. But despite all his experience and time spent in India, Booth keeps from any Indian distinction on his sound, which qualifies as purely western taking from the sounds of UK, Europe and America. “You know I did toy with the idea of learning more about Bollywood music and the remix scene, but then I thought to myself, why try and play ”˜catch up with the experts’ because there are loads of brilliant Indian DJs who are already doing it. I decided I’ll stick to what I know, which is the kind of sound I used to work with in the UK.” Though Reynolds is only just getting his taste of the country, having played alongside Booth at Silent Noise followed by the duo’s India Tour ”“ through Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune and Goa ”“ this May. Reynolds’ illustrious background boasts of highlights such as Top 20 UK chart successes; his massively successful claim to fame, the chart topping ”˜Rocket’ which garnered the attention of various heavyweights on the scene; and extensive tour through Africa, Russia, USA and Europe besides being a favourite back home in the UK.

What’s interesting is how this duo works its contradictions to its advantage, perhaps that being their overriding strength. Booth comes from a more “prog-y, trance background” while Reynolds takes from “breaks and electro,” and merging these two sounds invariably increases its scope to include electro, techno, house, breaks and progressive. Though Reynolds says they have a common thread which underscores this groove, “Our sensibilities within electronica are very similar yet different, our attitudes are the same, anything that is uplifting is good. We are not trying to be very intellectual about it.” Speaking of adapting to a certain audience on live sets the duo believes in striking a balance and not just quickly submitting to the crowd. “We would adapt but within our set parameters, even if you might just take a bit longer to build that pitch. Last week for example at Kosmo in Bengaluru we worked on it like that and it just took off, we hit it off well with the audience,” says Reynolds, while Booth gets slightly acerbic, “I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious, but as DJs we are there to share our passion for new music and the stuff that the crowd may not have heard. If all the crowd wants to hear is Bob Sinclair, you might as well get a juke box in there.” The spontaneity they embrace on their live sets is very relevant to the duo; a lot of tunes are conjured up on the fly and some so instinctively enthralling that they find constructive use in the recording studio, “I think the best stuff comes out at spontaneous gigs,” Reynolds affirms. But within electronica the writing process does have its quirks, and Booth interestingly carries a recorder with him wherever he goes for sonic visitations that need to be put down, “So I describe the sound in the recorder, like its a fat layered bass line, layered with a distorted sample which goes something like this…” he warbles out a string of fuzzy notes.

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An album or any structured product is perhaps the next step for Rebel Royal and of what the duo suggests they have done the homework and just need to put it to the test. “Before you start delving into the structure of an album, you actually need to get to know each other and understand the sound you want, and I think there is alot more talking about it, thinking about it and living together over it than actually doing it and polishing it. I think that’s the stage we are at, we’ve spent alot of time together, we’re now going around town, we are picking up our sound from the crowds, and once you know what you’re going to do, you have that idea and follow it through and you tend to generally succeed in one form or another,” Reynolds incisive wisdom sounds pleasant to the ears, but only time will tell.

Rebel Royal Recommends:

1. James Harcourt

2. Miles Dyson

3. Ulrich Schnauss

4. Dusty Kid

5. The Future Sound of London

6. Boards OF Canada

7. Bassment Jaxx

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