Being a global techno icon with a hectic international touring schedule can take its toll on the best of them. After a decade of exponential momentum, the globetrotting DJ lifestyle certainly caught up with Hotflush Recordings boss Scuba, AKA Paul Rose.
"The whole of 2014 was a pretty difficult time for me," Rose tells New Times. "I'd not really had a break from touring for close to five years, and the whole thing was beginning to catch up with me. It all sort of came to a head in July, and I spent the best part of two months completely out of action and in and out of hospital."
Of course, if you're as prolific and inventive a producer as Rose, even a dark period of convalescence from illness can beget new work. Even superlative work, like his fourth studio album, Claustrophobia. And with track titles like "Needle Phobia" and "All I Think About Is Death," the new LP is by no means trying to hide the troubled personal circumstances from which it emerged.
But Claustrophobia also marks a return to form for Rose, who's spoken to the media in the past about feeling a "constant pressure" from fans who want him to stick to one sound. "With the new album, I really ignored external expectations completely," he explains. "It was made in quite a short space of time, where I was completely removed from the lifestyle of touring and immediate interaction with the audience, and I very much got back to just making music for myself. I cut back on my schedule for the autumn and made the effort to get in the studio and try to get back to what I originally enjoyed about making music. The album is what came out of that."
Cut off and isolated from the DJ life and rising tide of fan expectations, he admits he hasn't arrived this close to his genuine artistic vision since his earliest production work, before Hotflush blew up and the international hype took over.
"I think [Claustrophobia] is closest in vibe to my first album, A Mutual Antipathy," he says. "Not so much in direct genre or stylistic comparisons, but certainly in terms of the overall mood and atmosphere of the record. Generally, the new album and the first one are much closer to what I'm really about musically.
"Going forward, I'm trying to keep hold of that mental outlook when in the studio. I don't think trying to live up to external pressures, subconsciously or otherwise, is ever a good thing, really." But an international DJ of Scuba's magnitude cannot stay cooped up forever. And having made a full recovery, he's embarked on a new album release tour that sees him returning stateside for the first time since last year.
"I had to cancel my last long trip to the U.S. due to illness," he laments. "So it's been a while since a lot of people will have heard me play over there."
On what to expect when he alights at Trade Miami tonight, he explains: "Generally, I'm quite focused on techno now as a DJ. [But] I always allow myself a bit of freedom to go off on tangents from that.
"There'll be a lot of unreleased material for sure and also lots of forthcoming stuff from the label and affiliated artists. I'm looking forward to it — should be a lot of fun."