TFword in Conversation With RUEBIK & Michèle Ducray

We spoke to the Kiwi artists about their latest tune on Dutch drum & bass label High Tea Music as part of their ‘Chamomile’ compilation.

There’s incredible drum & bass talent from virtually every part of the world, and Kiwi talents Ruebik and Michèle Ducray are the latest entries in the burgeoning list of seriously creative up-and-coming names. A product of New Zealand’s vibrant and inclusive drum & bass scene, Ruebik is consistently pushing his production game to be regarded as a formidable DnB force to be reckoned with.

Originally from South Africa, Ruebik made the move to the other side of the world and give impetus to his love for drum & bass music. Honing his studio skills while paying equal attention to the DJing side of things, Ruebik got his big break when he won the 2020 NZ Music Month competition hosted by Toocut and George FM. Since then, Ruebik has gone from strength to strength and received support from heavyweights like the Prototypes, Annix, and Ben Snow, to name a few, making him a name to watch out for in the coming years.

His counterpart, Michèle Ducray, is a dark pop artist known for her spellbinding wordplay that is intertwined with a deep and mystical touch. After bagging the semi-finalist spot at the 2021 Voyager International Songwriting contest, Michèle has left no stone unturned in exhibiting her style of complex lyricism across various genres.

Having worked with some high-profile names in New Zealand’s expansive music landscape while making appearances on some of the country’s most popular radio stations, Michèle Ducray is one of New Zealand’s most exciting rising artists at the moment.

For Ducray’s first debut venture into drum & bass, she has teamed up with Ruebik for a tune on Dutch DnB label High Tea Music, titled ‘Ashes,’ which is a cross-pollination of dancefloor music and melancholic and alluring undertones. We were keen to know Ruebik and Ducray’s thoughts on the tune, their careers so far, and their plans for the future; here is what they had to say.

In Conversation With RUEBIK

From winning the NZ Music Month competition to your latest tune, how has the Ruebik experience been for you so far?

RUEBIK: It’s been an exciting rollercoaster ride, to say the least. It’s so satisfying to see how my hard work is paying off, to see how far I’ve come and to see where I’m heading. I’m in love with the process of improving my craft, experimenting with new sounds, growing the brand, and taking on bigger opportunities. The highlight of it all is to see the crowd’s reactions when I test a new track on the big rig!

What was the definitive moment in your decision to start making music, and especially drum & bass?

RUEBIK: Originally from South Africa, my music journey started when I received my first drum kit at age 12. As a kid, I’ve always been into heavy rock, which later translated to becoming a heavy metal drummer for a band. Despite winning battle of the bands, a recording contract, and the opportunity to pursue this genre, my love for electronic music began to take over.

It took a 11500 km move to the other side of the world before I rediscovered my passion for drum & bass. Attending festivals here in NZ is what made me realize this genre is for me; the energy you get from the crowd, the versatility in being able to experiment within the genre and being able to translate my metal background into drum & bass. That was the ultimate key to why I will always love this genre.

We love the dancefloor-driven yet measured approach you have taken on your tune, ‘Ashes.’ Tell us more about the creative process the tune went through.

RUEBIK: ‘Ashes’ was always going to be a track that had a large cinematic intro. I’m a big fan of cinematic scores and merging that with my metal influence of heavily distorted basslines. I drew inspiration from Kanine as I just love how crisp and heavy his synth sound designs are.

To add a bit more flavour and energy into the drop, the bassline evolved into a pulsating pluck that doubles in the timing of the beat. Michele’s vocals ended up being a perfect match for this tune as she adds a soft melancholic touch to the throat-grabbing drop.

We’re also big admirers of your DJ sets. Can you give us a peek into how you go about prepping your sets?

RUEBIK: I usually start my prep by judging what type of show it will be, venue, slot time, line-up. This is usually a good indicator of the audience that will be there. Throughout my work week, I generally listen to a lot of drum & bass and will add songs to my playlists that I might want to use in sets later.

So, when it comes to prepping for a set, I usually already have a bunch of new tracks I’m interested in playing out. Once I’ve bought the tracks, I would start testing different combinations/flows/doubles on my decks. I generally always aim for a mixture of happy dancefloor, heavy dancefloor, boppy tunes, and great singalongs, matched with heavy basslines and a few unsuspecting surprises to keep the crowd engaged.

When it comes to the night of the 250performance – I would have my prepped set playlist along with a few other backup playlists that I know work from the past that I would use to spice up the set, depending on the crowd response.

What are the genres that you would like to produce other than drum & bass?

RUEBIK: I mean if I had all the time in the world, I would love to dabble in bass house as well. Love the naughty boppy energy!

Who would be your dream drum & bass collaboration?

RUEBIK: Hands down Camo & Krooked. They are my favourite producers at the moment, and I draw a lot of inspiration from their cinematic soundscapes, complex rhythms, melodies and just overall sound design, that are all so clean and calculated.

5 tunes you are feeling at moment?

RUEBIK: Nothing Left – Bensley Remix
Camo & Krooked – No Way Out (ft. Mira Lu Kovacs)
Primate – Slow
Maduk – Our Love Will grow (Andromedik Remix)
Camo & Krooked – Overture

In Conversation With Michèle Ducray

Your spellbinding vocals compliment the tune’s sonics incredibly well. How did the collaboration come about?

MICHÈLE DUCRAY: Thank you very much! I first reached out to Ruebik a while ago on Facebook, as I really wanted to do a drum & bass song. He sent through the backing track you now know as ‘Ashes’ and I came up with a melody and lyrics to go along with it. The idea behind the lyrics were to inspire anyone battling inner demons, that you are able to overcome them and burn brighter on the other side, even when everything around you feels like it’s falling out of place.

How did the Michèle Ducray journey begin?

MICHÈLE DUCRAY: My journey began in 2020, inspired by the COVID lockdown, I decided to leave music school and pursue my own journey and pave my own way when it came to my career. I felt like I’d get a lot more out of what I wanted by doing it on my own. Since then, I’ve played some big festivals in New Zealand, made a lot of amazing musical connections and friends, and now have the most amazing and supportive team behind me!

This is your first time venturing into drum & bass. How would you like to describe the experience?

MICHÈLE DUCRAY: It’s been an awesome journey! I’m so excited to be a part of a different world. I love exploring other genres and understanding how they could fit into my usual body of work, which just makes it that much more exciting.

We also love the cyberpunk aesthetic of your Instagram page. What was the idea behind it?

MICHÈLE DUCRAY: I’m very into my carnival-themed aesthetic, haha! My mom and I were chatting one day and we came up with this idea that seemed chaotic yet intriguing, which is that cyberpunk vibe you can sort of feel in my work. I wanted to catch people’s attention by presenting something different, yet artsy and mysterious. This look just recreated what I want to bring out of myself.

What are Michèle Ducray’s plans for 2023?

MICHÈLE DUCRAY: I’m playing a few festivals next year which is super exciting! Bay Dreams 2023 and Electric Avenue 2023 are the first to be announced, with a few live shows and an EP on the way! Updates for anyone who would like to follow the journey will be on all my socials @micheleducray.

Buy/Stream High Team Music’s Chamomile compilation – HERE

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