Yup, we talked to the sound of the underground, the sound of Scuba, that influential bass music producer turned larger-than-life dance music don who's on a seemingly never-ending ascent. Check within for pointers on vocal samples, running a succesful electronic music label and why the 90s is the best decade for dance music.
I’ve you’ve been following the progressive end of modern dance music for more than 5 minutes, chances are that you will at some point have come across the many manifestations of Scuba’s remarkable musical oeuvre. Paul Rose, as his mum calls him, has not only he been one of the primary architects of contemporary bass music through the founding and running of the hugely influential Hotflush imprint (Sepalcure, Mount Kimbie, Jimmy Edgar), he’s also a thoroughly talented artist in his own right with acclaimed albums and an impressive number of chart-topping singles under his versatile production belt.
Much like his label, Scuba has gone through an interesting creative transformation over the course of his career. From uncompromising, dark jungle and dubstep to lush, insanely tight and danceable house (albeit house, which retains that undercurrent of edgy, bouncy, boisterous bass) this shift of gears has in all likelihood lost him a few of his hardcore dubstep fans. On the plus side of things he’s gained an impressive new reach through a growing and dedicated electronic music fan base that freak out at his Sub:stance nights in Berlin’s Panorama bar and follow his releases with a keen and unswerwing eye.
Accomplished skills on the 1s and 2s, an irrefutable capacity for making people move and, as this interview shows, a curious and inquisitive mind are a few of the things that makes Scuba a musician quite unlike any other. Here's what he had to say about his main sources of inspiration, his views on music technology and the challenges in managing the Hotflush label. Enjoy.
AIAIAI:In terms of production, what’s currently your main source of inspiration?
Scuba: Recently I’ve gone back to the Autonomic podcasts that DBridge and Instra:mental put together in 2009. Every one of them is amazing, and I find them as much of an inspiration now as I did then. You can get them from club-autonomic.com
What's your favorite decade when it comes to dance music?
I guess I’d have to say the 90s. Obviously I wasn’t involved from a professional perspective back then, but I started going out clubbing as a very young kid in the mid-90s and all my formative experiences involved music from around that time. All my favourite albums are from the 90s – Orbital 2, Autechre – Amber, Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works etc…
Your vocal samples are always intimdatingly on-point: Do you spend a lot of time digging for them?
I do spend a lot of time trawling through acapellas yes… more recently I’ve been recording vocals myself and writing for singers though. It’s obviously a different approach and sometimes a couple of snatched syllables from a crackly acapella is the thing that works best on a track.
We’ve been following your Twitter and get the impression that you have a wealth of interests outside of music. Do you think it’s important to keep up with political and cultural developments as a contemporary musician?
I think it’s important for anyone to be aware of the world around them, I don’t think musicians have a special responsibility in that respect. Actually I think artistically it’s sometimes better to clear your mind of wider issues and just focus on your own consciousness. But generally I don’t understand people who don’t engage with politics. The argument that it doesn’t matter or there’s no difference between parties or viewpoints is utter bullshit.
What sort of hardware do you use at the moment?
Very little, almost everything I do is in the box.
Are you big on music technology?
Not really, I’m a self-taught engineer with very little in-depth technical knowledge. I’m very much a trial and error kind of producer.
What have been the main challenges in managing Hotflush?
It’s difficult juggling the different parts of running a label, being a producer and DJing a lot. For a long time I was the only person working on the label and taking on some staff has made things easier but it’s quite hard to let go when you’re used to controlling every aspect of the operation.
Do you have a set process for building a track when you’re in the studio – or is it something that comes organically?
It varies hugely. Sometimes the best ideas come when you try something different but there are certain things that I use almost every time because they just work.
What are you listening to at the moment ?
I don’t listen to a lot of new music to be honest. The best new thing I’ve heard this year is the Space Dimension Controller album, everyone should buy that.
What’s the best club you’ve ever played and why?
Berghain because it’s the best club in the world.
I’m working on my next album at the moment but it won’t be out til next year. Other than that I’m continuing to develop my live set and generally travelling more than is healthy.