IN LESS THAN TWO YEARS, Rubb Sound System had almost 30 releases and have already remixed some of the biggest names in the industry: Frankie Knuckles, Steve Silk Hurley, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Armando Gallop, DJ Deeon, Robert Armani, Fast Eddie and Ron Hardy to name names.
Rees Urban and Brian Boncher (Rubb Sound System) are both accomplished DJs and producers in their own right. Rees has been making techno, House and ghetto tracks since the 90’s with labels such as Dance Mania, Tresor and IHR while Brian has had releases on labels like Moody Recordings, Poontin Muzik and Tru Musica. With their debut remix album Rubb Down staying firmly in the number 1 album chart of Traxsource, it looks like these 2 talents are finally getting the recognition they deserve.
What was the impetus to join forces with each other and create Rubb Sound System?
RUBB: We’ve known each other for close to 20 years but started to actually bond on a more personal level the last few years. We began playing more shows together in the suburbs with a couple of different friends that we both lent a hand to.
As DJs and producers we both had our own identities but as the electronic music landscape changed our paths had aligned at the right time with a common goal in mind. We both wanted to get back to our roots of House music. Working in the studio together came naturally and we knew having a combined experience of 40 plus years would create something special.
How did you guys initially hook up with Steve Silk Hurley and Skip from S&S?
REES URBAN: I was asked to speak on a House Music panel with quite the array of Chicago icons and tastemakers. Upon the ending of the panel Skip and I caught up on a more personal level in the parking lot and talked about what was going on with S&S. Skip mentioned an upcoming remix project of the Frankie Knuckles and Jamie Principle classic “Baby Wants To Ride,” in which I expressed interest in giving it a go. Since Brian and I were already working together a bit, I asked Brian if he wanted to work on the project as a collaboration. That ended up being the first actual Rubb Sound System remix. Our previous projects were either released or slated to be released as Urban & Boncher.
Needless to say Steve & Skip were impressed with the result in addition to the excellent feedback we received and some decent sales charting on Traxsource. After that they have sent us virtually every project to see if we’re interested in showcasing our talent on them.
No one can deny your musical knowledge… Rees, which record stores did you work for? I know there was quite a list? And didn’t you Brian own your own record store in the suburbs?
BRIAN BONCHER: I worked at Superdance Records in Arlington Heights from 1997 until actually taking the business over in late 2004. It taught me the ins and outs of the record business, everything from distribution, retail sales, and management. You could say it was like a real world business college.
REES: I started out working at Frequency in Schaumburg in 1994/95. After a couple of years the store relocated and the business had slowed down a lot. Rick Garcia, the owner had formerly worked at Hip House prior to opening Frequency & was still in regular contact with Andy Adams, the original owner. I went out on a limb and asked Rick if he would be okay with inquiring about me taking a position at Hip House and he obliged. I eventually ended up leaving & worked at a mixtape kiosk in North Riverside called the Mixshop. The owners of the Mixshop ended up buying Hip House & I went back there to work. About a year later they opened up a brand new store called Supreme where I worked until it burned in 2002 when I moved to Los Angeles for a couple years. When I returned I worked again at Hip House & Mixshop again before they both went on to close their doors.
Congratulations on your album hitting number 1 on Traxsource! Tell us about it and how long was it in the making?
RUBB: Thank you! We amassed about 10 remixes on S&S Records last year as well as a handful this year. We inquired about the opportunity to remix some of Steve’s classics that we hadn’t had the chance to remix previously since they were released before we were on board. Many of these songs had already been touched by some of House Music’s hottest producers but we asked if we might be able to do exclusive reworks of “The Word Is Love” & “Jack Your Body” and incorporate them into an album to showcase all of our work collectively as we felt a lot of it went under the radar when it was included in large remix packages. We wanted the people to hear the versatility of our sound as well as give some of these previously released remixes a chance to shine under a new light. We also found an acapella to Risse, “House Train” (produced by Steve) and added it to the album. It took us close a year to get all the pieces together that resulted in “Rubb Down.”
I’m curious to see how you both divide the production work up. What are each of your strengths and how do you create your remixes?
REES: Seems like all of our mental concepts come together equally during the creative portion. We’re both hammering away on drum pads, or playing melodies on keyboard. Dropping different patches on the instruments is always an experience in itself. We both know when it’s right; you’ll see two guys dancing around the studio with smiles. In the end, two sets of ears and two heads on a project that have the same mindset really helps bring out the best in our music
Brian has very high experience level when it comes to the tech side. He’s a master at the engineering portion of studio work. Being an instructor at a certified Ableton training school it was only natural he would take on this role. Brian also handles a lot of the mixing and has really honed in on his mastering techniques on the RSS projects.
BRIAN: Rees is the wizard of arrangements, which in production can be the make it or break it part of a song. We always bounce our projects and play them out and Rees is always the first one to hear instruments out of place and come up with additional ideas for the track arrangement. We want all of our pieces to have the right movement, which is essential for making DJ friendly music.
Any plans on doing original work or are you looking to do even more remix work? What do you have coming up in the pipeline?
RUBB: Next project slated is a single on Guesthouse called “All I Want.” We have some more remix projects on S&S including a remix of Steve Silk Hurley & E-Smoove featuring Sharon Pass, and looking to do more work with Jameisha Trice as well since we have a great time working with her. You can definitely look forward to regular projects on Rees’ label Jackinthebox as well.