Profile — RSTY Explores Liberation on New EP Out July 5th (Exclusive Interview)

Emerging from the vibrant Denver music scene over the past five years, Rusty Steve has made a name for himself as half of the duo N3ptune and Rusty Steve. Now going by RSTY, he’s renowned for his face-melting guitar skills and production prowess and is now stepping into the spotlight on his own with a bold new solo EP titled “EP1” under his new, simplified moniker. This release marks a pivotal moment for the artist, showcasing his evolution and promise as a rising talent in the industry.

303 Magazine recently spoke with RSTY ahead of his EP’s release on July 5th about growing up in a musical family, the disconnect between what’s seen online and what’s actually real, his love of absolutely shredding and more.

READ: REVIEW — N3ptune and Rusty Steve Turned the Bluebird into a Religious Experience

Under the banner of “alternative everything,” RSTY’s project offers a fresh perspective on music, blending genres with an experimental edge that defies easy categorization, RSTY aims for a sense of weightlessness in his music. “The biggest thing I come back to with my music is I always want it to feel freeing and unconstrained,” he said. Raised in a musically diverse household, RSTY recalled listening to a wide range of influences on his CD player growing up, from Gorillaz to Aretha Franklin. He reflected on car rides with his parents and their diverse taste in music, perhaps the reason why it’s so hard to define what sound RSTY is achieving on this project.

The project seamlessly blends elements of metal and shoegaze with subtle undertones of funk and house. “I recently went through a huge Thundercat phase. He inspired me so much. Sometimes I feel like he plays bass like a guitar,” said RSTY, regarding his lack of fear in diving into a wide range of influences while exploring unique sounds to craft his music.

RSTY gravitated towards the guitar from a very young age. “I got Guitar Hero for PS3 and I was obsessed with all the songs on there, and one day my friend said we’re gonna start a band and play for real.” He also started at Denver’s School of Rock — where he now teaches — around the same time. This early immersion laid the foundation for his current virtuosic skill set, evident throughout his latest endeavors.

Discussing the project’s themes, RSTY said, “This project addresses the disillusionment with our parasocial, postmodern society and how crazy and confusing it is. I don’t think we should live like this. “It also deals with the heavy breakups I experienced over the last four years, and some songs attempt to connect these two ideas.” His music is deeply personal, serving as a canvas for him to express his thoughts in their rawest form.

The EP’s opening track, “Microfreak,” sets a compelling tone with its gritty techno-infused vibe, tailor-made for the resurgence of club scenes. The pulsating bassline and intricate production techniques demonstrate RSTY’s adeptness, honed through collaborations across a diverse spectrum of artists.

“All my songs usually start with a single musical idea,” says RSTY. The debut single, “Consume,” began with the captivating guitar riff that drives the track. The riff came to him one day between lessons. The explosive guitar juxtaposed against a backdrop that transitions seamlessly from pristine melodies to explosive choruses is more reminiscent of djent and metal than some of the more hip-hop and gospel-influenced sounds of his previous work with N3ptune. RSTY’s mastery lies in his ability to control the sonic pace. As the listener, you are never quite sure where you’re gonna go next as he weaves you through the ecosystem of sound he has built. 

Highlighting the EP is “10 Colors,” a poignant track that builds tension through melancholic guitar melodies and haunting vocals, evoking shades of Trent Reznor’s introspective ballads. For a minute and a half, the song creeps with building tension. Then, suddenly, it crashes, and it feels like everything is falling apart, with the walls crumbling around you. A visceral scream cuts through the chaos, hitting you right in the gut. This breakup track perfectly captures the dichotomy of something beautiful yet painfully raw. The endless loop of thoughts about a past love is something many can relate to, and this track captures it beautifully.

Beyond the music, RSTY’s persona diverges from his tortured soundscapes. Soft-spoken and introspective, he joked about childhood memories of Tooth Tunes and the Black Eyed Peas before saying, “Who I am doesn’t fit into one community and sometimes that can kind of scare me.” He is still trying to find his place in the musical world and his music serves as a liberating outlet where he exercises full creative control over narratives and worlds.

While immersed in the digital realm of social media communities, RSTY acknowledged the disconnect from an in-person audience — a gap he hopes to bridge through upcoming live performances. With a self-produced, mixed, and mastered EP that shines both in streaming formats and promises heightened experiences in live settings, RSTY is prepared to captivate audiences at his upcoming shows, including a highly anticipated release event on July 12th at Lost Lake and participation in the Underground Music showcase later this month.

For fans eager to experience RSTY’s signature blend of flashy guitar prowess and experimental flair, his promise remains clear: music that challenges conventions while delivering exhilarating sonic journeys. As RSTY himself puts it, “Playing way too many notes is fun as fuck,” embodying the passion and dedication that define his evolving artistic trajectory.

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