How to stay in the game long-term: The Bloody Beetroots
Sir Bob Cornelius Rifo, the man behind The Bloody Beetroots has had an impressive career so far. He’s a classically trained musician, made 3 albums and various EPs, and has remixed everyone from the Chemical Brothers to Depeche Mode. His music has appeared in TV shows, video games and he’s been performing to huge audiences worldwide since 2006. He’s also one of the most grounded and lovely person I’ve had the pleasure to meet over the years of booking artists.
Read on to find out the tips and strategies that help him maintain success in the music industry.
You started touring over 10 years ago and your shows are full of energy. What are your tips on how to stay balanced and healthy, at home and on the road?
I believe everyone should try to understand which skills are needed to be balanced and healthy. It’s kind of a personal path of analysis, based on your background. What's good for me may not be good for someone else. I stay balanced by combining healthy eating, crossfit exercise, and my second passion, photography. I’ve studied these collateral disciplines in depth to find solid bases to lean on when the ‘music world’ becomes too invasive. I’m a certified crossfit L1 trainer and I have been working as a professional photographer since 2012. All of that is the glue that holds together my personal discipline and strong mental structure.
Feeling isolated on tour is a common problem. What are your strategies to make it easier?
My strategy is to create a routine of activities that can make me feel engaged. Detaching yourself from ‘the music world’ when you're on tour is necessary to clear your mind.
I like to photograph each city while on tour and get to know places with the most personal interaction. i also love creating personal relationships with the locals. It's an excellent social exercise that makes you feel at home. That said, I continue to train physically to keep my level of performance up. I do not drink, I do not smoke, and for those who say that it’s impossible to follow a strict diet while touring, I say it’s bullshit. ‘Wanting' is power and complaining must not be part of the vocabulary on tour or at home.
You’re as successful now as you were 10 years ago. What choices did you make in order to stay at the top for so long without burning out? What kind of person do you think it takes to maintain long-term success in music?
To be honest, the first few years were not easy. Success brings a lot of power. The kind of power that you don’t know how to handle right away because it comes at you so fast, and throws you into a world completely unknown to you.
I had to take measures by learning from my own mistakes, but above all else, being aware that it’s the job I've always wanted, so why fuck it up? To live a day of glory and then die? I believe that type of rock and roll lifestyle is over.
Always remember that this is your project, so you have to be the captain of the ship. You're the only person who can guide your crew to the next level with passion and pride. You have to be a stand up man, for them and for yourself. Be bold and loyal. Teamwork is the only secret of succeeding.
Social media pressure is real. What advice would you have for artists who obsess with their social media comments, or constantly compare themselves to others?
We live in a dark age where memes win over MoMA. That brings the culture down to a niche, but I'd rather be part of a niche than be an online idiot. The patience you need to create does not come from the world of socials.
Creating requires quality time, quality thoughts and some hard studying and commitment to the subjects where you want to succeed.
The obsession with social numbers is just an obsession so it does not lead to anything good. It makes you lose your mind, so why not commit yourself to doing something real that can last? My advice is to find satisfaction in reading a good book, to deepen the topics left out of your personal culture, or to try to step out of your comfort zone. Rediscovering nature and understanding what is the quality of time is a good exercise too… oh and don’t forget to leave that fucking phone at home.
The more you popular you become the more you’ll be exposed to judgment from people, both positive and negative. Be ready to evaluate envy, obsession, fanaticism, malice, as well as goodness, objectivity, love and criticism. It’s a game that takes time to learn, but as you learn, it becomes an exceptional tool for your personal growth. In a nutshell, there’s no easy way to navigate this business if you don’t put yourself on a positive path.
Musical careers are made of highs and lows. What's your #1 tip to navigate this instability?
You gotta realize you will not be in the spotlight forever. Music changes, people change. This business is ruthless and you gotta be ready for it. As I mentioned before, and I want to be redundant, creating solid foundations on other collateral activities can save your life.
It’s a subjective and difficult journey as it requires analysis and understanding of oneself but it’s time well spent. It will help build a strong, disciplined person. No one but yourself can help you when the whole world will abandon you. Build yourself up with structure and perseverance, so you’ll find peace and serenity even when the world is shitting on you.
More and more artists are coming forward with their struggles with anxiety, depression or breakdowns - and may not reach out for help until it's too late. What would you say to an artist you see struggling?
I say stop, no one forces you to move forward. Remember that YOU are your business. Not your manager, not your agent. YOU and only you decide. You must be aware of that and repeat it calmly to yourself whenever you have doubts. You have to remember that you always need time to recharge your batteries, so dictate your time. Enforce how long you want to be on tour, and how long you need to re-energize by being at home, or whatever location you may need to be in to recover. Remember that ALL the people around you make money on your work, and never ever forget that a good career is made up of more ’no’s’ than ‘yes’s’.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out?
I do not regret anything but I would have been less naive. I believed many people who turned out to be pieces of shit : presumed friends, collaborators, managers and so on and so forth, but because of that I learned how to separate my emotions from the business. Business is business, and it’s not all about money but it’s about money. As you soon as you learn that you’ll survive the music business.
You said "As long as I'm vertical, I've got to keep evolving” which I agree with 100%. Why do you think it’s so important to keep evolving?
I’ve seen many artists stop out of fear of making mistakes and thus disappear over the years. Evolving is life. Evolving allows us to rediscover and reinvent ourselves.
You never know what comes after a failure or after a success, but if we stop there, it's a bit like dying. If a creative stops creating, it's the end and here comes depression, mental issues, anxiety. Fear is fought by putting one foot out of the door. A foot that only you can put forward. There is no special pill to get you out of bed, the only thing that matters is the willpower which does not imply any justification.
Lastly, what is the most important thing you’ve learned over the years of being an artist?
I’ve learned where my place is in the world.