Electronic dance music’s influences like Bass, House, R&B, Grime, Juke, Footwork, Post Dubstep show how eclectic a playlist can get. Despite being displaced by their origins between the US and UK, how they make sense collectively is irrelevant. Our current age of music and cultural convergence, has bonded them together into the only communication that matters—body language. Scuba of Hotflush Recordings, Distal and Mite behind Embassy Recordings, and Bok Bok of Night Slugs are on the frontlines dictating the sound, via their respective record labels. In our three-part series, we caught up with these in-demand musical triple-threats to discuss their DIY method. First up, Scuba (né Paul Rose), who dropped his most recent album, Personality in February.
RECORD LABEL: HOTFLUSH RECORDINGS
ARTIST: SCUBA “BETA”
Mass Appeal: For those that don’t know your music, tell me who you are?
Scuba: Well, I guess its easiest to talk about it in terms of a label, which started in 2003 and accidentally became apart of the early dubstep scene in London and I guess me making tunes was apart of that. In terms of stuff that was release worthy, it took me a while after we started for the label to get to the stage of making tunes that were good enough to put out.
With Personality being one of your earliest releases, was that where you felt you crossed over?
S: It seems to have happened like that. It’s difficult for me to put it into perspective. The second album [Triangulation] did really well. It didn’t happen immediately cause it wasn’t hyped before the release. It was just kind of a slow burner. It was over a year after it came out that things started to happen and obviously the stuff I put out last year were kind of mainstream like Adrenaline. But I don’t know, it’s weird. I think it’s more accessible than the previous two albums. I don’t think it’s as different as some people make it out and I think there’s a lot of continuity between Triangulation and Personality. Obviously there are differences. I mean if you flip through the previews, it sounds really different but I think if you really listen to it all the way through, there’s a lot of continuity. I mean the main difference between writing this one versus writing the last one, [was] the process—I was very much part of this sub genre, the left field dubstep type stuff. With this one I was making a conscious effort not to be constrained by anything.
Did you already have a plan when making “Personality” or did it come together while you were in the studio?
S: Well, the writing process took a year but the vast majority of it was written in two months. So, basically I wrote loads and loads of tunes and decided I hated them all. “Lost” and “Adrenaline” were apart of the process. I already had the album in mind while writing that. But like I said I wrote lots and lots of stuff, all over the place stylistically. Throwing stuff to the wall and seeing what would stick. I thought I was in a good position going up to August last year—I had a lot of unfinished tracks. It was sort of an existential crisis. I think you sometimes need a kick up the ass.
You once said “When you create something, the first thing you have to do is clear your head of clichés and let whatever is in there come out uninhibited.” Do you feel that you’ve done that with Personality?
S: I think you can use clichés in a creative way. There are tons of clichés on the album such as ’90s dance clichés. Its not necessarily a bad thing, depends on how its presented.
What’s the biggest thing people misunderstand about your music?
S: At the moment, there’s a consensus that I’m trying to go mainstream. That wasn’t a conscious thing when I was making the record at all. It was quite the opposite. It was a reaction against what I thought after the second album. I said to myself, “I’m not going to care what people think and I’m going to make music that I like.” So, it’s kind of ironic that the result of it is that people are saying that I’m trying to go mainstream and commercial. People have said that Personality doesn’t work as album at all, it’s just a collection of tracks. Which is a bit unfair in my opinion.
Do you hate being tied to dubstep?
“Yeah, I really do hate it. Dubstep now isn’t what it used to be. The word means something different now.” – Scuba
You seem unhappy with other dance music, are you?
S: I wouldn’t say necessarily that. I think it’s really healthy at the moment since the ’90s. I mean I get incredibly frustrated by how it works. It’s the way that people consume music and the role of the media in that. Whenever the label is written up, it’s called a dubstep label. If you look at what we’ve released in the past two years, we’re actually more like a house label if anything. I’ve never seen us written up as a house label.
SCUBA “IGNITION KEY”