Recently, Rules Don't Apply unveiled its newest series, SPLITS, which features two tracks and at least two artists which each release. SPLITS 001 is led by Walker & Royce and Ardalan's collab project, Escapade, and features a reunion between VNSSA and Lenny Kiser.
Rules Don’t Apply is a fitting progression in Walker & Royce’s artistic journey. With a focus on quality and innovation regardless of genre or style, they can now focus their decade-plus of underground influence into nurturing the next generation of trendsetters.
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W&R to Ardalan
Walker & Royce: First off, how are you doing? Heard you hurt your knee while running the show at Dirtybird's glow-in-the-dark soccer game?
Ardalan: I’m doing fantastic. Aside from tearing my ACL that night. But I am in good spirit. I’m not gonna give up! I’m not a quitter. Still going fast.
Walker & Royce: Can you take us back to growing up in Iran? What was your exposure to electronic music like back then? or did that come about when you moved to the states?
Ardalan: I was exposed to so many different styles of music growing up in Iran. From western music such as jazz, early house, and trance to Iranian music. It was interesting for me because the way people consumed music in Iran was very different. There were no record stores or a place you buy official CDs. Everything was bootleg. I remember when I wanted some music. I would go to this store where there was nothing but a dude with a computer and a CD burner and he be like, “I have the newest Global Underground mix” and he would burn it for you on a CD for 1 dollar.
I was also exposed to a lot of Electronic music mostly in Iran due to watching a lot of European music channels that we had access from via satellite dishes. I eventually got really into underground electronic music when I moved to San Francisco.
Walker & Royce: What do you think of when you hear our label/brand, Rules Don't Apply? How is the ethos a fit with your project?
Ardalan: When I hear the name RDA, I think of something with no filter. I think it’s fun. Music is supposed to be stimulating and fun. Even if it’s a sad song. I really stand by it because I love exploring new sounds and not giving a heck about how I’m supposed to sound or make something. Whether it’s house music or psychedelic Mongolian trance, I just don’t think there are any rules to enjoying music. It’s a universal language to me and personal, so I feel like it's very fitting to have a label where you can do whatever you want.
Walker & Royce: Why do you think fans are so hyped on "Animals"? What was the production process like for you?
Ardalan: I think fans are hyped about it because the track is literally wild af. It turns the dance floor into a Planet Earth episode from my own experience. The production began with me sampling the movie “Taxi Driver.” I had recently watched it again and I’m always so fascinated with New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We used the line when Robert Di Nero says “All the animals come out at night” and then we ended up just doing our own version of it. It’s also fitting because Escapade was created when I visited New York for the first time and Gavin took me on my first escapade around New York City.
ARDY ASKING W&R
Ardalan: What was it like coming up in NYC? How do you think that impacted your love of house music and career?
Walker & Royce: NYC is such a powerful place to live. It will influence you in all sorts of ways. Coming up as DJs there is interesting and also tough. There's so much house music history there and there will be multiple top-tier DJs in the city almost every single night. The local talent is always good as well but also very competitive. As things progressed for us, we started to feel really confined. Things seemed so serious after a while. It actually influenced us to start doing things our own way. That's how we came up with the concept of Rules Don't Apply.
Ardalan: It feels like every time we play together as Escapade it's on bigger and bigger festival stages. Just a few years ago it feels like house was kind of a side dish at more mainstream festivals. Why do you think we've seen the styles of house that we play explored so much in America over the past 5 years?
Walker & Royce: We feel like for a long time America looked to Europe for what was popular in house music even though the music originated in the states. Whatever DJs that were popular over there would come here for a few weeks at a time and play all the clubs. House music at the time wasn't popular at festivals. Now that's all changed. American has its own house music scene and its own house music DJs. It has grown so much over the last few years and has no signs of stopping. It really is a great thing and we are proud to be part of it.
Ardalan: When did you guys first envision starting a record label? What is your goal with your own imprint?
Walker & Royce: It has always been on our minds. We started making music together because Gavin was doing A&R for the Nervous Records sub-label Nurvous, and Sam was doing mastering for them so there is already a natural feeling to it. What delayed us starting it was just timing. It took a while for us to feel like we had the energy and right vision. Our goal is to create a place to support artists and music we love. It's not about one genre or creating any kind of niche, we don't want artists following any kind of format that restricts them. We want them to feel comfortable like there are no rules. We just want people to have fun!
Ardalan: What, if anything, about our Escapade project, feels like a departure from our respective sounds? Why is it exciting to you?
Walker & Royce: We love working with you (Ardalan) because you encourage us to access this quirkiness that we have but might usually ignore. We've always been fans of the music you make. You always have a way of making things work that we would never think would but in the best way possible. You don't follow any rules and that's what we love.
Ardalan: Why was ‘Animals’ a good fit for the first of this SPLITS release series? What reaction have you seen this track get live?
Walker & Royce: We have been sitting on this track for a while. We've never really shared it with anyone. It sort of got this cult following and we thought it was time to get it out. RDA is about music we believe in and this track fits smack in the middle of that. It's a club banger and always goes off at shows so it's nice to finally get it in the hands of other DJs.
Ardalan: What is the goal with the SPLITS series?
Walker & Royce: The SPLITS series is a nod to the days when we would buy vinyl that would have a track on each side. It would usually be two club tracks that would complement each other and might have big samples that couldn't be cleared. We are going to continue the series and the tracks will be meant for the club. We hope people dig the concept.
Grab your copy here.