By Kaelan Unrau
VANCOUVER — “At the time, I just wanted to do something different,” says Paul Rose – a.k.a. Scuba – explaining his move away from dark U.K. bass music and toward techno and house. “Very early on in the dubstep thing – I guess just as it was becoming popular, actually – I didn’t want to do it anymore, which from a career perspective was probably a bad idea. But you’ve got to do what you feel like, I guess.”
Rose’s first two records – A Mutual Antipathy (2008) and Triangulation (2010) – were both classic exercises in English gloom. But to the puzzlement of many long-time fans, he followed these up with a string of dancy, tech-infused releases, culminating in the aptly titled Personality LP (2012).
“I moved to Berlin in 2007,” says Rose, “and it was basically about that time that I started to figure that I wanted to do something else. My first two albums, I guess you could say that they were dubstep albums. So it took a couple of years – two, three years – before I made a complete break away from it.
“I think my motivations for that were really just wanting to do something that was as far removed from what I’d become known for as possible, really. So there was a sort of element of almost trolling to it, and I wanted to provoke a reaction, certainly, within the audience and just really say, ‘OK, look – I’ve done this stuff now, I’ve made two albums of pretty doomy, techno-influenced dubstep-type stuff, so here’s some house music and you can get on with it.'”
Despite the change in mood, Rose argues that his aesthetic shift wasn’t as drastic as some may have supposed: “The Personality LP, I don’t think it’s quite as different people tend to make out. I mean, there’s definitely some uplifting moments on it, some euphoric bits. But a lot of it’s quite hard as well. I think it was just more in the big room – almost like stadium techno – kind of a way than the previous two records, which were quite noir-ish – quite kind of, you know, eyes down – that kind of aesthetic.”
Yet ever the restless spirit, Rose hints that his current artistic phase may also be drawing to a close. “I’m almost coming full circle now, because the stuff I’ve been doing more recently is definitely very dark and brooding,” he says, laughing. “I had a couple of years after Personality going around the big room, European festival circuit – you know, techno, tech-house, house stages and all that kind of stuff, which was a completely new experience for me at the time. I mean, that whole thing – it can be a lot of fun doing it, but ultimately it has its limitations to what you can do artistically.”
“Over the past few months, I’ve been releasing some darker stuff, and what’s going to be coming out this year I going to be even more stark. I guess it’s similar to the first two albums in the sense of the mood. But stylistically, it’s completely different; it’s much more sort of techno-type stuff.”
Rose’s return to gloom comes on the heels of a serious bought of illness, although he denies that it has had any serious effect on his music. “I had a pretty rough year last year,” he explains. “I spent most of last summer in bed ill with glandular fever, which was not that much fun. I had to cancel a few months of shows, was in and out hospital. Yeah, it was not cool at all.
“By that stage, I had been on the road for five years, basically, taking nearly 200 flights a year and having no days off. It’s a lifestyle that, on the face of it, seems a lot of fun. And a lot of it is fun, for sure – I’m not going to be some sort of moaning artist. But equally, it takes its toll on you physically and mentally. And I think for everyone, really, there comes a point where you know you have to step back a bit and take stock. I hadn’t done the smart thing, which is to take a month off every year or whatever. I just sort of powered on through. And I definitely hit a bit of a wall last summer.”
Half a year on, Rose insists that he’s doing much better. “I’ve come out the other side of it now and had a really productive autumn and have had some really good shows this winter already,” he says. “And on a conscious level, I decided that I didn’t want to play those kind of shows anymore – not necessarily commercial ones, but more big house stages and big house clubs. I wanted to do more serious, techno-influenced parties, which are just a lot more fun to play.”
“I mean, I have a lot of fun making more poppy music. But there’s also the element of, like, I’ve done that for a few years, let’s do something else. Enough’s enough, let’s change it up. I’m feeling pretty positive about it all now.”
Scuba performs at the Electric Owl on February 7.BC, British Columbia, Electric Owl, Scuba