The productions of Cassius Select (aka Guerre) and Tuff Sherm (aka Dro Carey) have been brought together for a split 12" release from Australian label Plastic World, resulting in an energetic four-track combo of energetic house and techno. The Sydney-based pair didn't think of working together before they approached by Plastic World (as explained in our Q&A with them below) but the similarities are clear to see on the record, their appreciation of belting rhythms, lean melodies and hard-and-fast sampling techinques forming a seamless project.
One thing that does mark them apart is their difference in focus; Tuff Sherm's acute vision contrasting with Cassius' sprawling view. The former's tracks Beast Numeral and Topaz Looper grind away to some unknown point and the latter's flail and reach out unexpectedly. Bruv, premiered below, combines the cut-up vocals of sparring grime MC's and a juggernaut bassline to exciting and unsettling effect. It's no surprise that it has already been supported by London's A1 party DJ Oneman in recent sets.
Hi guys. So, what made you decide to work on a split release together?
Cassius Select: "We were approached by Plastic World to release the split. The decision wasn't necessarily ours to begin with although it felt like the sort of natural or even inevitable thing to happen between the two of us. Seeing as we occupy a similar sort of field in terms of our work."
Tuff Sherm: "It was Vic from Plastic World's idea. I guess it came about because he knew we were both working on things and were both interested in working with the label. Of course, when he suggested it I was definitely keen as I'm a big fan of all of Cassius' work."
You've both worked on projects under aliases. Do you find it particularly difficult or helpful managing a range of work like that?
Tuff Sherm: "It’s definitely helpful. I think it allows you to reach the sound or feeling you have in mind in a faster way, as you’ve set up a stylistic starting point by first sitting down and saying it’s going to be something from that alias or project.
"For other people though there is the attitude that everything should be done under your definitive artistic title and that any directions you branch out in are still presented under that name as a kind of assertion that you will take directional risks without the veil of a different title. Additionally, there is an attitude that goes even further than this which positions ‘projects’ (that are still the one producer) as cynical restarts relevant to marketability – opportunities to join what might be presently critically favoured while at the same time avoiding the risk of dragging the stylistic direction in question into their main work.
"I would like to think there is a level of risk that I take anyway, regardless of the name on the record, a level of experimentation that is on a more general structural or textural level, not informed by stylistic toe-dipping or anything like that, just a default tendency towards being weird, so that it doesn’t matter whether something is an 'outlet' for house or a 'channel' for rap beats. I would hope that it was clear that what is being waged creatively goes beyond the implementation of genre, and that the alias is something that is, at its outset, for me personally to figure out what I want, where I want to go, long before it is a name that appears on a record to indicate to the listener what that record will sound like."
Cassius Select: "It feels like a natural way to be. It’s extremely liberating to be able to throw my creative weight into any one of the projects, in that way I avoid exhausting myself creatively. I also think it’s important to be able to present an idea that doesn't have any attachment to previous work, that allows for one thing, or one vibe to come across independently. It comes off in a much stronger way. It’s not difficult to manage in terms of the actual writing of the material but certainly in real-life logistics (i.e. shows, promo) can be harder to maintain."
I'm also assuming that you both have new material coming up on the horizon too?
Tuff Sherm: "There is the Berceuse Heroique 12” which is out soon. I am finishing up some other Tuff Sherm releases too. There are also some Tuff Sherm tracks forthcoming on compilations, including on Where To Now and Butter Sessions."
Cassius Select: "There is constantly new material on the horizon. Though the gatekeepers decide when they come out. There’s the 'TWO' EP…"
To end on a nice, positive note – what do you like about each other's tracks on the 12" the most?
Tuff Sherm: "I really like Lavurn’s use of vocal samples on Bruv, which seem to draw on range of vocal snippets, not just from a single song’s acapella. Without ever having any clearly defined words in the manipulation of these samples he still manages to generate a very specific feel with those vox chops that totally matches what is going on with the drums and the rest of the elements on an emotional level."
Cassius Select: "Tuff Sherm's tracks just have an attitude about 'em. Precise. Confident. They move with a lean swagger."
A1. Tuff Sherm – Beast Numeral
A2. Tuff Sherm – Topaz Looper
B1. Cassius Select – Bruv
B2. Cassius Select – Rete Avek Ou
Plastic World release the 'Tuff Sherm & Cassius Select' split EP on 12" vinyl on 18th April 2014 and digitally shortly after.