Who is RENCH?
Rench is a singer, songwriter, and producer with roots in honky-tonk, hip-hop, and trip-hop music. With the help of very talented friends he records and releases music because he enjoys it.
He likes sad songs and pedal steel guitar. He likes drum samples and scratches. He likes playing live sets at Hanks Saloon in Brooklyn.
Rench is an independent producer, songwriter, and musician who has been creatively breaking the boundaries between America’s top two genres since the turn of the millennium. Rench’s twangy, funky, irresistible mix is proven to raise eyebrows and open minds in a big way.
Growing up in Southern California to the sounds of early Hip-Hop, but hearing classic honky-tonk on his parents record player at home, Rench eventually landed in Brooklyn, producing hip-hop and trip-hop, but unable to resist the allure of adding pedal steel and banjo licks to his productions.
Performances from 2001 to 2006 with his band Battlestar America garnered praise from the New Yorker magazine, Vibe magazine, New York Daily News, and more.
Country goes Urban
Since then, Rench has built a reputation with his solo studio recordings that combine classic country music and hip-hop production in diverse ways. Elkhorn Riders, a studio EP of downtempo traditional country trip-hop remixes was followed by Life In Mean Season, an epic 20 track album of honky-tonk songs set to heavy beats. Worn Down Low continued the exploration of what Rench calls the “Bang and Twang” sound – heavy beats with countrified instrumentation.
To scratch a musical itch, Rench spent a month in 2007 creating a mash-up of local hip-hop emcees and classic bluegrass records and called it Gangstagrass. After putting the result up for free download, word of mouth led to hundreds of thousands of downloads, and caught the attention of the makers of a new hit television series on FX named Justified. The series debuted in 2010 with a theme song produced by Rench featuring the reworked sound of Gangstagrass, this time featuring live bluegrass musicians.
The new sound was praised by the press and fans of the series, and garnered an Emmy Award nomination for best main title theme music. Rench quickly released Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic featuring T.O.N.E-z, a full length album of original Gangstagrass material with live bluegrass players and T.O.N.E-z, the emcee featured in the Justified theme song.
The Sound Gets Louder
Two years later the Gangstagrass sound was expanded with the release of Rappalachia, a 15 song album featuring a variety of rappers, including Kool Keith, Dead Prez, Nitty Scott MC, David E Beats, T.O.N.E-z, BROOKLYN35, R-SON, and Dolio The Sleuth. Country singers Brandi Hart and Jen Larson add gritty harmonies for several songs, while Rench takes vocal duties on most choruses.
The Rench Audio production studio is currently home to a rotating collection of projects, including more Rench solo material, Gangstagrass, and several new creations in development.
While the idea of integrating country and hip-hop has gained traction and seen more attempts by the music industry in recent years, nobody has come close to attaining the nuance and authenticity that Rench brings to his solo productions and his work with Gangstagrass. More is on the way, with work on more Rench and Gangstagrass material always underway, reflecting a passion and drive to push the boundaries and refine the vision of music that brings together the best of America’s two favorite sounds.
"Goes beyond pairing laconic rappers and energetic turntablists with background harmonies and fiddling. Rench sings with a slow drawl about job losses, striving, union organizing, and other socialist concerns."
- The New Yorker
"Adding hip-hop beats, raps and turntables to the plaintive wail of Hank Williams, This is a band as comfortable with Cypress Hill's 'How I Could Just Kill a Man' as with Dolly Parton's '9 to 5.'"
- New York Daily News
"Rocking two turntables and a fiddle, Battlestar America will get you bobbing your head until your neck turns red."
- Vibe Magazine
"Rench’s vision has a toehold on a racy, improbable hybrid."
"With everything from Bluegrass to twangy, banjo and fiddle-driven country to R&B tinged tracks, the underground, alternative hip hop beats bring an urban, sassy, forthright feeling to these unusual explorations. Not wavering from the country vocals and country influence, the danceable mating with hip hop make these Country-born tracks feel joyously jacked up on pop culture."
“Gangstagrass adeptly layers rap lyrics over strong emotional accents from the instruments, something most DJs can't take advantage of when sampling electronica music. You can hear it in "Nobody Gonna Miss Me;" the skillful slide on the guitar and winsome lines from the fiddle fill in the background of the rap with a bluesy, remorseful tone.”
- Mother Jones Magazine
“Cheers to Justified for tracking down the perfect theme song. FX's modern-day shoot-'em-up opens with "Long Hard Times to Come," by the aptly named Gangstagrass . . . hits the bull’s-eye.”
- TV Guide
“A mixture of bluegrass and hip-hop that might repel some purists on either side of the country-and-rap divide, but will knock the socks off just about everybody else.”
- Wall Street Journal
“Rench and his friends have done nothing short of creating a new form of music. Gangstagrass takes two types of music that are opposites and mixes them together brilliantly in a way that is natural and enjoyable.”
- Elmore Leonard