On The Record: DJ Russoul
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
The process is just as important as the final product for local DJ and producer Russell “DJ Russoul” Dement-Trent, whether he is hard at work in the studio putting the finishing touches on a decadent dance track or warming up the dance floor at Asylum Afterhours.
When Russoul first decided to try his hand at producing two years ago, it was a life that consisted of eight-hour studio sessions following by 10-hour work shifts that would eventually lead to bouts of compressed confusion and self-doubt.
”I remember when I first started, it was frustrating trying to make the sounds I wanted,” he said. “You still need to push forward and not stop. I worked countless hours to get to this point.”
Despite an avalanche of setbacks early on, which included not knowing what kind of DJ he wanted to be, the self-described workaholic never allowed the bumps in the road kill his drive and desire to make music.
“Producing allows me to have the mindset of a painter,” he said. “Whatever moment I’m in is what I will paint in my production work. If I feel like making a break track, then I will or if I want to create a bassy tech-house track, then I would. It’s all about the moment.”
Russoul may not get the instant name recognition or fanfare, but he’s quietly come into his own, putting Hawaii on the map in the process. He likes to mesh the mellow cadence of tech-house with high servings of bass; his catchy, groove-centric bass-driven beat blends that have already been on display for tech house devotees in Chicago, Hollywood, San Francisco and Detroit. Signed to Asylum Afterhours’ offspring label, Asylum Confidential, it doesn’t get any better for Russoul than showcasing his smooth-tempoed, funk-glazed house sound.
“You can label my music whatever you want to call it, but to me, good music is good music, no matter the genre,” he said. “Being able to see your track is working at major clubs in the U.S is an awesome thing.”
Russoul’s career defining moment took place in November when his track, “Get Down,” was hand-picked and played by dance music icon John Digweed on his highly acclaimed “Transitions” radio show, a show synonymous with introducing groundbreaking global grooves since 2000. While Digweed mispronounced his DJ name, the error took nothing away the moment.
“(It was) definitely the proudest moment of my life,” said Russoul. “It has been a big goal since I started in the scene. I (wanted) to either DJ for his show or have a track played by him.
“I’m just truly blessed and grateful that he played it and mentioned my name, track and the label.”
It isn’t known if it was the first time an electronica producer from Hawaii has ever been featured in the show’s 13 year history, but the global exposure not only made him the first producer from Asylum Confidential to gain such high praise, it also kick-started the label’s entire roster to take things to another level.
“His music has progressed exponentially in the last few years, (so) there’s a reason (why) Russell is getting booked quite often outside of Hawaii,” said Willis Haltom, co-owner of Asylum. “It’s only going to up from here.”
The topic of conversation quickly shifted away from his achievements to the success of mentor Chris Chartier (aka DJ Higher Concept), who discovered last week that his track, “Night Time Kiss,” was played on “Transitions” in July 2013.
“To see Chris’ music being played gave me a big confidence boost to work even harder and keep making music,” Russoul said. “It’s so funny, because Chris had helped me for sometime in teaching me things about producing.
“The awesome thing is that we all really push each other and believe in each other.”
In the next two weeks, fans of electronica will get to know Russoul even better with the release of two new tracks: “Guilty As Charged” and “Being Disciplined,” both via local imprint Waska Records. Both songs will be available via Beatport.
While the last few years have been packed with great moments, 2014 might end up being one for the books for Russoul, who will embark on a US tour in March with Chicago producer 18 Street West as tech house tandem Pacific Flights. They pair will also kick off an Asia tour in India in September.
While his career is on an obvious upswing, Russoul believes things have come together for him at just the right time.
“To see the results is mind-blowing, to be honest,” he said.”I’m neither a favorite nor an underdog. I just want to stay humble and enjoy all the moments when the time happens. Great dreams are made up of moments worth waiting for.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.
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