Back in 2012 things were going well for Paul Rose. His Hotflush label, a breeding ground for dubstep, house and techno techno talent such as Joy Orbison, George FitzGerald and Mount Kimbie, was releasing quality music at a steady pace and he’d just unveiled his Scuba project’s acclaimed Personality full-length (which featured the memorable banger “Hardbody”). Rose soon began to feel as if he had come to a professional crossroads. The question before him was a difficult one: which way should he go? At this important juncture Rose pulled back the reigns on Scuba. He stopped releasing music and spent countless hours listening to music and working in the studio to figure out his next move. Rose eventually emerged with a bigger, bolder and more diverse vision for Scuba. Influenced by a wealth of musical styles, he eventually produced what became his career defining three-EP Phenix series.
The Phenix 1 EP, which was released in April, presents a moodier, more atmospheric soundscape and sports a standout downtempo vocal number (“Time Relentless Time”). This month sees the release of the second EP, Phenix 2, an effort this sonic adventurer describes as “a bit more abstract, there are no vocals and it gets really deep and spacey in places.”
Ahead of a busy summer, Rose details how this fruitful chapter in his musical story came about, the evolution of his heralded live show and the success of his recent string of dates playing Coachella and Mysteryland in America.
Scuba’s only live show show of 2014 with Kowton and Tom Demac takes place at the Village Underground in London on June 20. Phenix 2 is released on Hotflush on June 30. Scuba’s remix of Audion’s “Sky/Motormouth Remixes” is out July 7 on Ghostly. Phenix 3 will be released later this year.
Paul, you took nearly two years to release new Scuba material. Why did you take a break from releasing Scuba music?
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I made a lot of music in loads of different styles last year but I spent that period in two minds about what direction I wanted to take the project in. What felt right after spending that long working on stuff was to focus on a much more moody, atmospheric, techno-oriented style than my newer followers might recognize but people who have been around since the beginning might find slightly more familiar.
I love how Skream has expanded his musical palette beyond bass music. He’s now playing everything from techno to disco. Do you see yourself going in the same diverse direction? Are there any genres in particular that you’re looking to explore?
Actually, if anything, I’m looking to focus my sound a bit more. As a DJ, in the last couple of years I’ve played all kinds of stuff, but in the last few months I’ve been focusing much more squarely on techno and that’s how I see it going for a while yet.
“I’ve recently changed the musical approach I’ve taken to the live show to focus more on newer material and to add a more improvisational approach to the whole thing. So there’s more of a focus on techno and building musical themes slowly rather than trying to cover all the different things in my back catalogue.”
The new EP is part of a trilogy that represents a change in direction for you. Is there a life event that led you to this new creative place? Where did the concept come from?
As I mentioned, it was the result of spending hundreds of hours in the studio making everything from ’80s freestyle to really banging techno.
“Time Relentless Time” on Phenix 1 is an absolutely gorgeous track. Who is the vocalist?
The singer on that track is called Fabi. She’s from London and is obviously incredibly talented. She’s been working with a few other producers, and I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from her in the future. We’ve also done another track together that hopefully will see the light of day at some stage.
Phenix 2 is released on June 30. What role does the second installment play in this musical trilogy?
The second part of the series is a bit more abstract, there are no vocals and it gets really deep and spacey in places. It’s probably the most atmospheric stuff I’ve released since Triangulation actually.
How would you describe your work ethic? Are you always producing music, or do you plan sessions?
When I’m at home I work all the time, but since I’ve been on the road pretty much constantly for the last couple of years I have to make sure I make the most of studio time when I can fit it in. There’s going to be a point where I need to take a complete break from touring for a while though. I do miss having more time to make music.
Your live show is getting a lot of people excited. Aside from making sure all of the gear works, what’s the biggest creative challenge you face when you’re performing?
I’ve recently changed the musical approach I’ve taken to the live show to focus more on newer material and to add a more improvisational approach to the whole thing. So there’s more of a focus on techno and building musical themes slowly rather than trying to cover all the different things in my back catalogue. It’s been going well, and I’m looking forward to playing some shows with the new setup.
You’ve recently played dates in America, including Coachella. How did it go? Any standout moments to report?
I’ve been in America a lot this year, and it’s great to see the underground scene developing so well over there. Coachella was a lot of fun, and I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction to the harder stuff I was playing.
How was Mysteryland? What was it like performing on the site of Woodstock?!
It was a fun show. Obviously it’s a pretty historic site but it wasn’t much of a hippy festival! There was some good music on though, people like Marcel Dettmann, Joseph Capriati, Heidi… which made up for what was being played on the main stage.
Summer is almost here. Are you a fan of warm weather? What’s your plan for the next few months?
I’ve got a ridiculously busy summer, tons of festivals, Ibiza shows, a trip to Asia, and lots of other stuff in between. So not too much time for sun bathing.
What’s the best thing about being Paul Rose right now?
Since I quit my day job in 2007 the answer to that question has always been the same.