In the midst of this, one label, Hotflush, was already developing several distinct, maturing directions. And by 2007, the imprint's tempo had increased along with all those spikes in temperature, bringing the dominant sound on the label somewhere between early jungle at -8 (and then some) with increasingly complex electronica-influenced soundscaping. The sound was changing really, really quickly, but it was still predominantly heavy, hectic, slow and menacing—a homage to metal and metalheadz, mumbled from under heavy smoke.
But nothing released on Hotflush by the end of 2007 could have prepared you for 2008's A Mutual Antipathy: Scuba had taken his own lessons from everything I've just mentioned and elevated it into a new form all his own. And it just keeps getting better—last year's SCB remix (Scuba remixing Scuba) of "Hard Boiled" will undoubtedly go down as one of the classics of its time. It's also one of the most subtle and elegant presentations of the new synthesis of minimal techno, dubstep and electronica that's developing right now. In 2009, Scuba seems capable of anything—"Klinik" on Scuba's forthcoming Hundreds and Thousands EP is the sound of Hot Flush (and a certain form of dubstep) arriving at peaktime to destroy Berghain, and, along with it, every complacent rendition of recent techno. These are massive waves, but who's making them? In his own words, he's not a Spurs fan, he's not a conformist... he's not even sociable. He's Paul Rose.
What drew you to music?
It was all I ever wanted to do really. It's the only thing I've ever been able to sit down and concentrate on for more than an hour or so without getting seriously pissed off.
Tell me a little bit about your musical development: What did you listen to as a kid?
My mum made me do music from when I was really young, like five or something. I went to these classes where a few kids would get taught really basic stuff and just learn to enjoy music. Looking back, it's definitely the kind of thing I'd want my kids to do, if I ever have any. There was more classical music in our house than anything else, but they had a bunch of old LPs from the '60s and '70s that I used to jump around the living room to when I was a kid, stuff like Led Zeppelin and the Stones. I wish there'd been more rhythmic music in our house, most of the time it was Mahler and Beethoven which isn't that accessible to a kid growing up.
I guess it was obvious that I wasn't into the classical side of things so they tried to get me into jazz but I wasn't feeling that either really. I started playing trumpet as well but had the same problem with that in terms of the repertoire. I just didn't find it inspiring. At home I pretty much listened to two bands: Pet Shop Boys and Iron Maiden. It seems like quite a contrast, but actually in terms of melody they're not that far apart. Anyway you couldn't play any of either of their tunes on piano or trumpet really—certainly you couldn't get it to sound like it did on the tape. Thinking about it, I guess that's what later drew me into writing and production—I was more interested in making sounds than playing an instrument.
It's a reaction to hearing so much classical music when I was young I think. In the last couple of years I've started to listen to some late 19th century and early 20th century composers again, which was always the stuff I liked the most when I was studying it. Purely on a melodic level though, I can't get into orchestral percussive music at all. There's something about a repetitive rhythm that taps into some primitive part of the brain, it's quite hard to pin down, but it just does something that nothing else does.
How did you get into electronic music?
The unfortunate truth is that it was through taking drugs. I was pretty young and suddenly all the girls were going clubbing and, suddenly, having long hair and listening to Metallica didn't seem that cool any more. So I started listening to Colin Dale and Colin Faver on Kiss. If I recall correctly, Faver played harder European stuff and Dale played more on the house-y side as well as more stuff from the US. I used to record the shows and listen to them on the bus on the way to school. It was completely eye opening to me. Then, I got hold of a fake ID, bought some Es and went out to some clubs.
Within a couple of weeks any music with live instruments was out and all I was listening to was techno. The only time I heard anything else was when I was practising my guitar. That went on for about three years, and in addition to techno I really got into the early '90s Warp stuff and then jungle, which totally blew my mind. Then I had about 18 months of doing the indie band thing, and after that it was garage, which eventually turned into dubstep.
What are some key records of the past few years for you (artists, EPs, labels, sounds etc)? Which of these has had the greatest influence on the music you make now?
Concept 2's "Cause n' Effect": Unadulterated, straight-ahead directness. Mala's "Lean Forward": Mala is definitely one of the most imaginative people making music today. Autechre's Amber: That album influenced me more than anything else. "Slip" is one of my favourite tracks ever, it's really special. The whole album is great though—it's the combination of that incredible atmosphere with the rhythmic and melodic elements, it just works. The first album Incunabula is amazing as well, and they really make sense alongside each other. I can't listen to their new stuff to be honest, but I understand why they couldn't keep remaking those early albums again and again.
And what sounds of the past few months have really impressed you?
The new Boxcutter album is really amazing. He's one of the most talented guys doing music anywhere at the moment for me. Each album has been better than the last one and this one really is something else. The other one would be Mount Kimbie, who are just starting out. The potential they have is pretty incredible.
And of those released on your label?
My favourite Hotflush release is Brood / Sunshine by Boxcutter. That sums up everything that the label is supposed to be about.
How do you feel about the current cross-fertilisation occurring between techno and dubstep? Which of the current crossover tracks/sounds/labels do you feel are most interesting, promising or fertile?
It's just an interesting avenue of current dubstep, and it's nice that it's getting some attention because it is interesting—which is not something you can say about a lot of dubstep at the moment. And the music I play, all of which I would put in the same general area, isn't all techno influence—there's quite a wide range of influences. It's great that two-step has come back as well as the 4/4-type stuff. There's a lot of good music coming out of that corner of the dubstep scene, easily the most interesting stuff in the general electronic sphere at the moment for me. There are the well-known names, but also producers who haven't had much in the way of releases, especially people like Sigha, F, Anstam, Shortstuff.
Who/what do you think your "sound" is?
That's not an easy question. I guess fundamentally I make music to be listened to, as opposed to just being stuff to dance to at the weekend. That's looking at it just from outside the electronic music context though. I get the impression that quite a lot of my music sounds a bit weird even to people who are actually into electronic stuff. When I look back at all the music I've made since I was in bands, I'm really still developing themes that have always been there. Of course a lot of new things have been added along the way but the basic concepts of my music now, especially the melodic concepts, were there from the first time I wrote anything. The whole thing is very fragile though, and I go between the extremes of confidence and pessimism in terms of how I view my output, which can make the whole thing quite difficult. For the first record I basically scrapped an entire album and wrote a new one because I wasn't happy with it. I'm writing the next one at the moment and really hoping that doesn't happen again, 'cos it's been a bit of a struggle so far.
Which of your own records is your favourite?
In terms of a release, I would have to say the 12-inch that came out just before A Mutual Antipathy which was two tracks off that album, "Hard Boiled" and "Tell Her." Those two tracks pretty much captured everything I had been trying to do musically up to that point.
the first thing you have to do
is clear your head of clichés."
Describe the relation between your work, your identity and politics.
The idea of artists contributing to politics is attractive in theory I suppose, but the reality is it doesn't work beyond single issues, and real politics is never just about single issues. I find the image of the famous singer or actor using their status to advance a certain fashionable cause pretty embarrassing really. You see it a lot. I guess the obvious example being the Tibet thing, and, yes, it can be virtuous and maybe it can occasionally make progress when politicians have prioritised something else, but when you break it down it's just special interest lobbying which is more damaging to the democratic process than anything else.
People are obviously incredibly cynical about politicians, and of course there are plenty of career politicians who are in it for ego's sake or worse, but I think voters can smell that—they rarely make it right to the top, not in mature democracies anyway. Too many people who have zero understanding of the realities of it feel justified in offering conspiracy theories which only succeed in devaluing democracy as a whole. The idea of creating art that has a political message is a different thing entirely, but that's not something that concerns me in terms of music really. I make music for it to be heard, but past that my identity is private and so are my politics.
Scuba's guilty pleasure
Guns n' Roses. Not the new album though, the 1991 lineup. I went to see them in 1993 but Izzy had left by then so it wasn't quite the same. And personally, to be honest, Appetite for Destruction is great, but if they'd made a twelve-track album from the Use Your Illusion albums that could have been even better (a controversial statement, I realise…) That said, there's nothing on either Use Your Illusion that's as good as "Welcome to the Jungle" or "It's So Easy."
Personal freedom. I had a job for six years after I left uni and I hated it. I mean I really fucking hated it. I couldn't deal with being told what to do by someone who had achieved nothing in his life past getting to middle management in a big company. For the last two years I've been able to do what I want and I actually look forward to getting up in the morning. The same is true for music, and I guess it's true for all forms of art. 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.
Freedom and non-conformity seem really important for you as a person… could you elaborate on some forms and subjects that really embody those values to you? And where do you see them under threat (in music, in everyday life, in Britain, in Europe, etc.)?
Part of the reason I left the UK was because I had trouble dealing with the relationship people there seem to have with the media. It's like they look to it to see what they should think, what they should be interested in. It used to be the media reacted to public opinion, but it's increasingly the opposite.
One of the few benefits of living somewhere where you don't really speak the language is that you get cut off from a lot of the every day media stuff. I'm sure people are just as obsessed with celebrity in Europe as well but if you can't read about them then the whole thing ceases to be relevant, which is quite liberating. I do still read some UK news websites though, so I got the stuff about Jade Goody, which summed up the whole thing. The amount of attention that got can't have been in any way proportional to the level of interest people actually had in the story, but they just suck it up—because it's easier than trying to get their heads round credit default swaps.
More generally, it's difficult not to be cynical about the way governments are allowing freedoms to be eroded at the moment. I grew up in England, but a lot of my family are from Ireland so I kind of had both sides of the Northern Ireland terrorist thing. I remember getting woken up by an IRA bomb a few streets away one morning when I was a kid, and one of the bombs that went off on the tube in 2005 was on my route to work (I was late that morning luckily), but it's hard to argue that the threat to people now is any more than it was in the '80s—so how do they justify the legislation? Especially when you hear about these anti-terror laws being used to break up protests.
In terms of music, I think too many people allow what they think people will like or will make them money to dictate what they do. That's what leads to talented people making boring music, which you see a lot in all kinds of scenes. Since dubstep got popular people who used to be incredibly snobbish about it a few years ago are suddenly making tunes or starting labels, and suddenly they're your mate and want you to play their tunes and help them out, etc. It's pretty funny to watch, but at the same time it's depressing because you wonder how they can be so cynical. The worst is when you have people who started off doing dubstep and then made some other music because it sold more and now dubstep is selling so they come back to it. The saddest thing is that most people can't see through it.
What are three things that Scuba/Paul is not?
Sociable. Conformist. A Spurs fan.