Recent years have marked the resurgence of the broken beat in electronic dance music. (Not that breaks ever went away, but they did stay on the fringe for a good decade.) Now, with the rise of dubstep and '90s UK garage/two-step nostalgia, producers across the international scene are breaking the four-on-the-floor house music mold and blending in a fair share of polyrhythms and sub-bass.
One label is a cut above the rest -- Paul Rose's Hotflush Recordings. With genre-bending sonic iconoclasts like Sepalcure, Instra:Mental, Joy Orbison, and Mount Kimbie on its roster, Hotflush runs the increasingly blurry gamut between breaks, dub, jungle, house and techno.
And Rose (AKA Scuba and SCB) himself practices the same eclecticism he preaches through his A&R efforts, producing his own brand of dubby breaks as Scuba and deep techno forays as SCB.
Crossfade: How did you first get drawn to electronic music?
Scuba: I grew up in London in the '90s when there was a pretty incredible club scene in the city, far better than what is there now. You could get into clubs with fake IDs that everyone had. So from about 14 or 15, I started going out pretty regularly. There was a lot more in the way of proper techno and house on the legal radio stations back then. And of course in London, you've got the pirate thing which was heavily skewed towards jungle and garage. So the music was everywhere, it was impossible to ignore it. And as a kid just waking up to everything, it was pretty exciting.
You also lived in Bristol, which has a heavy dub/jungle/trip-hop tradition. How did that city influence your own musical tastes and sound?
I only lived in Bristol for three years from '98, and I'd been going out to jungle raves in London since '95. So by the time I got there, I knew my way around. Bristol is completely different. It felt like a tiny village, coming from London. When we started Hotflush, it was a club night, and it was probably easier to get something started there just because of the different scale. But when I moved back to London in 2001, it was starting from scratch again.
When did you first give music production a try? And how has the creative process evolved over the years?
I'd played in bands as a teenager and whenever we did any recording, I was totally into the whole production thing. And I gradually realized I was more interested in that side of it than being in a band, partly because you can make tunes on your own. I hated having to rely on other people. But I only started really working hard on it after I finished in Bristol. All I did when I was there was learn to mix and start playing out. Once you start producing, it kind of takes over your life, though.
What prompted your move from London to Berlin? And how has living and working there impacted you artistically?
I was bored of the music scene in the UK and I wanted to do something different. Berlin seemed like as good a place as any, and I didn't really think about it that hard before moving. It just seemed like a good idea at the time and I haven't wanted to move back at all since I came over. The clubs in Berlin are incredible. That's what made the most impact on me initially. And to be honest, that's still the same now. There's nowhere else I've been in the world that has a comparable scene, anywhere.
As Scuba, you straddle breaks, dub, techno, and the territories in between. What moves you to take a particular stylistic direction at any given time while producing?
I don't really think about it to be honest. I mess around with tons of different styles in the studio. And I just tend to release my favorite tracks without going too much into genre semantics or anything else. I guess being able to release your own stuff helps with that. I
don't have to worry about anyone else worrying about what will sell on their label or whatever. If it sells, then great. But I don't beat myself up about that side of things. If I think it's good, then that's the most important thing for me.
What differentiates your SCB project from Scuba? Do you plan to continue producing under both monikers?
There's not a lot of difference really. I suppose the SCB thing is a bit more straight and dancefloor-oriented. But there have certainly been Scuba tracks that could've been either. There tends to be more of a difference with the DJ sets I play under each name.
Hotflush is pushing a far more eclectic variety of sounds than most single labels out there. With such a broad spectrum of styles among your artists, what is the criteria you use to select your releases?
It's similar to my stuff really -- If I like it, then I'll release it. The aim of the label when we first started was that it shouldn't be tied to any genre. The dubstep association really came about by accident, and it's nice to have been able to shed that a little bit over the last couple of years.
There's been a bit of buzz this last year about the "death of dubstep" due to the genre's commercialization and generification. What's your take on the situation?
I don't have a problem with people wanting to make money out of something. What I would call "mainstream" dubstep has been going downhill since it started getting popular. It didn't need the majors to get involved for that to happen, and some of the most cynical
people in the scene have been there since the very start. It doesn't bother me what happens to it to be honest. It's not something I think about.
You juggle the multiple roles of producer, DJ, and A&R man. When push comes to shove, which of these roles do you find the most personally rewarding?
Actually, they all have their great moments. And equally, they can all be incredibly frustrating. I wouldn't want to give any of them up.
What can we look from your personal projects and the label during the rest of 2011? Any forthcoming releases?
I'm in the middle of the next Scuba album at the moment. But before that comes out, there will be an EP on Hotflush and some other bits and pieces. There will certainly be more SCB stuff this year as well.
What can Miami expect during the Hotflush showcase at Electric Pickle this Saturday?
I hope it'll be a lot of fun. We are certainly all looking forward to it very much. Just don't expect to hear any dubstep!
Hotflush Showcase.Saturday, March 26. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $12 to $20 via residentadvisor.net. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.