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The Rhythm Masters From New York!

Disconnect Your Head

NAJM Dance Culture
Combine the funky filtered Hip Hop sounds of DJ Steve McGuiness with the classically trained Jazz pianist Robert Chetcuti with a chance meeting in Malta and you end up with the Rhythm Masters! After remixing the likes of Michael Jackson, INXS, Todd Terry, David Morales, Junior Vasquez, and Roger Sanchez, the Rhythm Masters are now offering up their debut album "Disconnect Your Head" on Tommy Boy Silver...


dot_clear.gif (43 bytes) NAJM: How did you guys meet?
STEVE: We met 11 years ago in Malta. We we're getting drunk together.
NAJM: (Laughs) Short story?
ROBERT: Steve came from the UK to DJ in this club in Malta. I used to be a jazz musician/pianist playing in bars. We hooked up after we formed this hip-hop group. There were about six members in the band, the other four happened to be crap, so the two of us stuck together.
NAJM: Why did you form the Rhythm Masters?
ROBERT: We formed Rhythm Masters because we always wanted to do music. It's really been our dream for both of us since we were very young. Steve's roots are in Hip-Hop and my roots are in Jazz. Obviously working in clubs, we ended up doing house music.
NAJM: What would you say your first big break was?
STEVE: Todd Terry's remix of "Jumpin". When we remixed that record, I thought we did a really good job with it. It ended up exploding in the UK and all over Europe. Before we knew it, the phones were ringing off the hook with artists wanting us to remix their records. That led us into remixing very heavily.  
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Making Your Own Big Break!

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NAJM: How did you land the Todd Terry remix? That's not just something that falls into your lap?
STEVE: It was one of our favorite Todd Terry records and he's one of our idols. We did some sort of mad version of it ourselves, like a dub play, and we put out a 1,000 copies of it on a white label. Judge Jules picked a copy of it up when he was working at Manifesto. He said it was a great version of the song, and that he'd just signed Todd Terry for the UK. He wanted to know if we'd like to do the remix. We went back into the studio, spent about a week and made sure the new mix was to very high standards.
NAJM: Robert, you are a classically trained pianist/jazz musician and Steve you are a DJ based hip-hop artist. How do these worlds collide when you are in the studio and what do each of your bring to the work?
  ROBERT: We've been together for eleven years, so we've learned so much from each other. When you work together for that long, it just sort of happens.  
STEVE: A lot of knowledge, a lot of studio knowledge.
ROBERT: Obviously, Hip-Hop and Jazz tie into Soul, and it just sort of gels.
NAJM: Stylistically, how would you classify your music?
STEVE: Real funky house. Really funky shit.
  ROBERT: Banging, drum programming. Musically varied, not just sticking to one style of music. We sample different stuff. It ranges from disco, funk, jazz, techno, breakbeats, to everything.  
  NAJM: You guys use a lot of different sounds and techniques in your mixes. Do you have any secret weapons in the studio?  
STEVE: Can't give that information away!
NAJM: (Laughs) I figured as much.
ROBERT: Our favorite is the SP-1200. The EMU - the EMU sampler. We use a lot of analog keyboards. That's general enough for you.

In the studio with Rob and Steve

Achieving a Life Long Goal...

NAJM: Your ultimate goal has always been to record your own album, here it is. Tell us a little bit about "Disconnect Your Head".
  STEVE: It's a mixture of music. It's a house music based album. We did other tracks on there like some down beats and breakbeats. We're very happy with it considering it's our first album. It took us a couple of years to get it all together. We actually did around 27 tracks and then used what we thought were the best ones. We're going to start working on the next album in September while this one is still being promoted to keep a step ahead of the game.  
  ROBERT: The album really shows how we are - Steve's dubbed the beatmaster - and I'm like the music man.  
NAJM: How did you guys connect with the Tommy Boy Silver label here in the US?
  STEVE: It was actually Neo Records in the UK who we are signed to who got in contact with Tommy Boy. I'm not sure which direction it actually took. We've got some friends here in the U.S. that have been pretty good to us; Roger Sanchez, Armand Van Helden, Junior Sanchez.  
  ROBERT: I think that Neo Records just sent them a copy of the promo and Tommy Boy Silver really liked it. It just happened really.  

Dysfunctional Music For DJ's By DJ's

NAJM: You guys ran your own records label for a while. Do you still do that?
  STEVE: Yes, the label is called Dysfunctional. We took it off the market for a while. We actually just did a distribution deal with Subliminal for North America. The rest of the world is going to be done by Cyber in France. So we have some really hot stuff coming up on that as well.  
ROBERT: Our distribution on that label is going to be really wide.
  STEVE: This music is music made by DJ's for DJ's. We're not going to put out CD's and stuff, it's a vinyl-based thing. It's really just for DJ's.  
NAJM: What are your expectations for "Disconnect Your Head"?
  STEVE: Hopefully it will do really, really well. If it suddenly explodes, we're lucky. We're becoming an artist act, so if it does okay we're looking at a second and third album over a period of time. A lot of dance acts like Chemical Brothers or Fatboy Slim, if you look at their first albums, they did okay. They didn't go massive, but it's a lot of work and promotion.  
ROBERT: I agree completely.
  NAJM: You are in good hands with Tommy Boy Silver. They are one of the better labels here in the States. "The Underground" the current single has exploded here in the States via the clubs. How did it come about?  
  ROBERT: Steve was stoned in the studio in '96 or '97 and he came up with the Underground vocals. He was doing it on a pitch voice.  
  STEVE: The track came out on the Dysfunctional label previously, but it was a much darker version than the one on the album. I remember that we dropped it at the Miami conference a few years ago, and friends would also say that we should put it out again. So we went back in the studio and re-vamped it.  

The Sum of Two Very Different Parts

  ROBERT: It was a two-part process, we started with the beats, which is Steve and then the music comes in, that's me. It's a mixture of both of our styles mixed together into one record.  
  NAJM: The two of you will work independent of each other, just like you were saying Robert where Steve will do the drums and then you will come in with the music. Do you collaborate with other people?  
  STEVE: We've done a couple of tracks that are coming out on the label like DJ Disciple and Junior Sanchez - just loaded up DJ music. Working with others, everyone learns from everyone else. If you're into this type of music - it's your life. It's not about money or anything. You just hook up with a bunch of friends and you're like school kids excited over a new record.  
  ROBERT: We're like sponges. We're always learning from others. When we come back together we might try something completely different.  
STEVE: Everyone has something to offer if you have that love for it.
NAJM: What will be the next single from "Disconnect Your Head"?
STEVE: The next track is a single called "The Ghetto" which is a great tune.
  ROBERT: It's a very vocal song, very full. There is another track called "Angels" that should be quite big as well at least in the UK.  
  NAJM: Aside from your appearance at Centro Fly for the Billboard Dance Music Summit, are you doing other appearances here in the States to promote the album?  
  STEVE: We will be. We're flying home on Friday and then we're off to Amsterdam next week to do Dance Valley which is about 80,000 people. No DJ sets, we have a live show as well. We've got a guy coming in that may be our new tour manager for the US, so that's forthcoming. For sure we'll be coming back to tour America.  
ROBERT: It's always important to tour the US; we'll definitely be back.
NAJM: How active are you in the promotion process?
ROBERT: Very, we've had no time to do new tracks. I'm dying to do a track!
NAJM: But your too busy doing interviews. (Laughs)

Sound Advice

  NAJM: What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter the business and start mixing tracks or making a name for themselves?  
  STEVE: Start sitting in front of studio equipment and spending eight to ten hours a day hardly getting sleep learning the trade.  
ROBERT: Even if the equipment is crap, you still have to learn it.
STEVE: Totally believe in yourself, be confident because that will help.
ROBERT: Do what you believe in. Don't copy others; get your own style going.
NAJM: No Attitude Just Music, what is your take on attitude in the music business?
  ROBERT: I don't care much, I just try to be myself. If I'm in a mood some may think I have attitude, but I really don't. Some people have it and some people don't.  
  STEVE: I'm just happy to be doing music. I could be doing some crappy office job, so I'm quite glad with what I am doing.  
NAJM: After the promotional push is over for the single and album, what's next for you guys?
  STEVE: The next album, which we will start recording this year. We have better ideas now. It doesn't matter how long you've been doing it. You learn something new everyday.  
  ROBERT: We really want to do the second album because we want to be in the face of people all the time. To get a concept for "Disconnect Your Head" it took two years, the second album should be much easier!  
STEVE: Just be machines. To do what it takes to make a name, work, work, work...

Check Our NAJM's Review of Disconnect Your Head


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