Interview: Sir Bob 'Cornelius' Rifo, aka The Bloody Beetroots
The electro-terror maestro talks art, collaboration and new album HIDE
In 2007, Sir Bob 'Cornelius' Rifo donned a black mask and unleashed a sound that would soon become one of the most distinctive in EDM. Something stirred in the dark depths of electro, and there came a movement of chaos, christened The Bloody Beetroots.
Rifo, a classically trained musician from Bassano De Grappa in Italy, tested the water in punk bands before he took his place behind the turntables, and cuts an intimidating figure. Lithe and rarely seen without his signature black Venom-esque mask, Rifo has become infamous. A real picture of punk, Rifo flies the flag of anarchy, defiantly sucking on cigarettes and with 1977 (the birth year of the genre) emblazoned in ink across his chest.
The Bloody Beetroots proceeded to make waves on the electro scene, Rifo (joined by DJ Tommy Tea) soon becoming renowned for the mêlées that they instigated. With tracks coming across as a blend of Daft Punk with rabies, such as 'Cornelius' (inspired by the work of sci-fi anarchist writer Michael Moorcock) and the photon blast of 'Warp 1.9' from 2009 debut album Romborama, the band dropkicked their way to worldwide recognition.
Since the early days, The Bloody Beetroots have viciously evolved, like a demonic possession in the soul of EDM, collaborating with the likes of Steve Aoki and Congorock and injecting themselves into remixes that range from Groove Armada to Britney Spears along the way. Expanding on the duo format he had created with Tommy Tea, Rifo took the concept to new grounds and introduced The Death Crew 77, a full live band who also featured Denis Lyxzén of Refused as part of the monstrous collaboration.
Rifo's circus of horrors continued to mutate, and along the way a collection of EPs escaped the laboratory, with ‘Church of Noise’, a track featuring Lyxzén’s screeching vocals, and the garage-punk hook of ‘Rocksteady’ among the sparse insights into the inner-workings of The Bloody Beetroots since Romborama.
Whilst the newer material still held elements of raw electro-punk, Rifo allowed The Bloody Beetroots to manifest itself as a movement more so than ever before. Launching the Church of Noise as a social collective, with a website where members could utilize online sharing to spread The Bloody Beetroots gospel of artisic freedom, Rifo has continued to splice multiple outlets into the group’s armory.
Now as the summer draws to a close, the masks have returned from the impending murk with HIDE, the hotly anticipated follow-up to Romborama. With the record incuding collaborations from a ridiculously varied selection of artists, HIDE is yet another of Rifo’s Frankenstein creations. Featuring the likes of Lyxzén, Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee and even Sir Paul McCartney, HIDE is a throttling statement from The Bloody Beetroots, one that reveals them and simultaneously adds to their mystery.
Rifo – on the road in Russia – shared some thoughts on his latest experiment.
The Bloody Beetroots have returned. While it’s not quite been a hiatus, this album has taken a long time to come together. Could you explain what you have been doing in this time and why HIDE was released now?
It’s the infamous second album – it always takes a lot longer than the first! It’s a big album, with a lot of collaborations, so it’s taken a lot of time to make it happen. My team and I have also updated the new live show completely from the DJ set and that took a long time.
Can you briefly describe your new record to us? HIDE is an interesting title for a Bloody Beetroots record, by the way.
HIDE is a collection of stories about me and my life, created with some of the best musicians worldwide.
There's been a lot of changes in the history of The Bloody Beetroots. The Romborama days, the Death Crew 77 run, to your present day incarnation which incorporates art, fashion and the idea of a collective 'movement' more so than ever before. Is this an evolution of your original vision, or are you where you always strived to be?
The evolution of The Bloody Beetroots project has been completely organic, but I don't feel as though the real core values have actually changed. These ideals of art, fashion and culture have always been present – now I'm just getting better at communicating them and speaking to a larger audience.
The new record has some interesting contributions. What was it like working with Sir Paul McCartney? Also, would we be right in saying that 'Spank' is inspired by someone who robbed you?
I was in the studio with Youth and he basically helped make it happen. He asked me who I would like to collaborate with on my new album and I told him Sir Paul McCartney – he actually had an old song from Paul – one thing led to another and ‘Out Of Sight’ was created not long after. Yes, 'Spank' was inspired by being in Munich with my buddy, TAI, and at the airport someone stole my bag. We wrote the track that night.
Image has always been an important part of the band, and now seems to be even more so than ever before. What is The Bloody Beetroots to you?
The Bloody Beetroots is me. The Bloody Beetroots LIVE show is me and my band on stage. The Bloody Beetroots production is just me, the little masked bunny. I have tried really hard to make sure people understand the distinction between the projects and the involvement of other people, I do this visually.
You are a cultured man. Can you please tell us your most favorite piece of music, artwork and literature, and a brief reason why for each?
Music: Wendy Carlos – Switched-on Bach. Wendy aka Walter opened the doors of musical experimentation to me.
Artwork: Tanino Liberatore – Ranx. He is the Michelangelo of the post-modern era, a friend and a true artist.
Literature: Cesare Pavese – 'Verrà la morte e avrà i tuoi occhi' [Death will come and have your eyes]. Pavese is my most favourite poet of all time. I would like you to understand Italian because that poem, recited by Vittorio Gassman, is a masterpiece.
Impareremo Italiano. Who are you listening to at the moment?
What is the future of The Bloody Beetroots?
Chaos & confusion… same as always.