In a recent interview with Ibiza Spotlight, Ross Wareham aka Rossko speaks openly about bad habits (being late), stolen passports, and adapting to life with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Since writing that feature I’ve got to know the guy behind the decks, and I’ve come to know this is an artist who has finally found direction and stability in his personal life, balancing out the chaos and unpredictable lifestyle of a touring DJ.
I meet Ross at Cream, a small, on-trend cafe in Shoreditch. It’s four days since Enzo Siragusa played a marathon 10-hour set at Village Underground and everybody involved in FUSE is still on a high. The last six months have been a wave of success for everybody involved with the London-based brand and right now is an exciting time for Rossko as an artist.
The FUSE resident is fresh off the back of a six-week tour that saw him play clubs across Australia, Asia, USA, Latin and South America. His long-awaited collaboration with Archie Hamilton on their brand new label Arkityp is being repressed on vinyl after selling out in its first week and a few days after our interview takes place, he is packing up his belongings (mostly records) and moving to Berlin to begin the next chapter in his blossoming career.
“The more I travel, the more I begin to understand that when it comes to music, the lines between countries don’t actually exist,”
While on tour, Ross made the most of his time outside of the nightclubs, visiting record stores in every country he could. “The more I travel, the more I begin to understand that when it comes to music, the lines between countries don’t actually exist,” says Ross. “I try and buy records from every country or store I visit. I want to learn about music in other countries and introduce these cultures into my DJ sets.”
Since becoming a FUSE resident at 93 Feet East over five years ago, Ross has built a reputation within the underground music scene as a selector. The last 12 months has seen him go down the production route for the first time. “When I first got into DJing, production didn’t really appeal to me. I was more of a crate digger, content buying and playing other people’s records.”
When asked what changed his mind, Ross explains that Archie Hamilton said something to him that resonated: “When you start producing, that is when you start feeling like you have a purpose as an artist.” Few may know this, but in his teenage years, he used to be a Garage MC (more on this later). “Now I am buying all different types of records to sample from them, recording my own lyrics, spoken poetry and allowing my creative side to take over.”
“When you start producing, that is when you start feeling like you have a purpose as an artist.”
Ross’s debut production was released on FUSE5 last summer. The track titled ‘Jabba the Hut’ was a collaboration with London duo OdD and released part of a three-track vinyl-only EP that celebrated 5 years of FUSE London records. Later this year, Ross will release his debut solo EP on FUSE and now he feels he’s ready to start following in the footsteps of his fellow residents contributing to the brand on an international scale. “Right now, a lot of artists are looking at FUSE and Infuse as labels that could kick start their career. Not many artists get the opportunity to release their first solo EP on a label like FUSE, I’m extremely proud to be in this position.”
With Ross evolving as a DJ and releasing music, he now has the thrill of seeing the crowds react to his own productions, a feeling that all artists say never gets old. FUSE founder Enzo Siragusa played three of Rossko’s productions in his recent 10-hour set, including ‘Tony’s Tax’, from his solo EP that was finished just two days before Siragusa’s set. If there was a sign that Ross’s hard work in the studio with OdD and Archie has paid off, surely this was it.
“Not many artists get the opportunity to release their first solo EP on a label like FUSE, I’m extremely proud to be in this position.”
I tell Ross about a moment I recently spotted on a recent Be-At.TV live stream from the BPM Festival, where Seb Zito clocks Hector playing his track, ‘Holywell’, at Vatos Locos. Hector turns around to Zito in the DJ booth and the two artists share an exchange of hugs, words and handshakes. The smile on Seb’s face after the exchange shows that this clearly meant a lot to him.
“It’s a sign of respect,” says Rossko. “The last track I played in my back to back set with Archie [Hamilton] in Ibiza two years ago was Seb’s first ever release, ‘Frankies Groove’. While the track was playing out I turned around, found Seb and put my fist close to my chest as a sign of respect.” A moment that was also caught on Be-At.Tv.
The title of Rossko’s debut FUSE release is ‘Blossom’ a word that beautifully describes Rossko’s current state of mind in relation to career and personal life. While the other FUSE residents are all happily settled in and around London, Ross has always been the one who has moved around with spells in East London, Barcelona, Madrid and Ibiza. Now at the age of 32, Ross sees the move to Berlin as the next chapter in what he calls “the love/rave triangle” (London, Ibiza and Berlin).
“Ever since I first visited Berlin I’ve always said that it is a city that I would love to experience living in. I could have easily moved back into London but it wouldn’t have taken me out of my comfort zone. A close friend is letting me his newly refurbished apartment. I fell in love with the place straight away, luckily it’s only 10 minutes away from Tegel airport and 20 minutes to my studio by metro. The plan is to hibernate in my studio, tour on the weekends and experience what Berlin’s nightlife has to offer.”
“Ever since I first visited Berlin I’ve always said that it is a city that I would love to experience living in.”
Later on, I meet up with Ross at the FUSE London studio in Shoreditch ahead of the labels weekly show on Rinse FM. We are shortly joined by Enzo Siragusa and I have the privilege to see both DJs in preparation mode. “I know after about four beats on whether I am going to like a record or not,” says Ross.
As the two DJs dig through unreleased tracks and promos, I start to see how ‘selection’ really work as a DJ. The phase ‘perfect radio music’ comes up more than once, as well as the phase ‘play dem’, slang for the records that make it into the record collection for the club. “It’s very rare that I’m sent a track that instantly makes it into my bag. It has to be special but when you find it – you just know. That’s why we call them ‘play dem’ tracks, you just can’t help play them in every set. They’re that good.”
“In my early teens, I was MC’ing, writing lyrics and a part of the pirate radio scene until the age of 20. It was a big part of my music culture growing up. I’m always nodding back to my past, it’s in my DNA.”
The Rinse FM studio is located on Brick Lane, right next door to the courtyard of 93 Feet East, the venue where FUSE made its name as a Sunday morning afterparty. Rinse FM made its name championing drum n bass, garage, jungle and grime as a pirate radio station.
Essentially, Rinse is like going back to where it all started for FUSE. FUSE’s trademark deep and dubby sound has huge influences of jungle and garage, so to have a monthly show on Rinse is a big deal. “Listening to Rinse FM inspired me to express myself. In my early teens, I was MC’ing, writing lyrics and a part of the pirate radio scene until the age of 20. It was a big part of my music culture growing up. I’m always nodding back to my past, it’s in my DNA. To do this day I am going back to these sets I’ve recorded on tape, sampling sounds and lyrics to layer over my DJ sets.”
The main Rinse FM studio has a ‘producer’s bedroom’ feel to it with decks set up in the corner. After Enzo and Seb both play for 20 minutes, Rossko takes to the decks, giving shoutouts to his crew in South America before playing tracks from Branddub, Rodrigo DP and Nacho Bologani while Enzo and Seb nod their head in approval in the background.
With the clock striking 12, it was time for me to make my exit. Earlier in the day, Rossko mentioned he wanted to start contributing to FUSE on a worldwide basis. But it dawned on me that he’s already been doing this for a number of years. What comes next is simply the next chapter in his ‘Research and Development’.
Get to know Rossko on his social media channels and use the hashtag #ManLikeRossko.