In 2012 Scuba has returned with yet another surprise, releasing Personality on March 6, a '90's-inspired slab of breakbeat euphoria. The London native, who moved to Berlin in 2007, and is currently a resident DJ at the city's techno haven Berghain, sat down with Spinner/RPM to discuss his new album, dubstep roots, and plans to continue putting out "bangin' techno."
What inspired Personality? It reminds me of when I first got into dance music, the early, innocent raves.
You're right, it's definitely '90s influenced ... I don't think "nostalgia" is the right word, but it's definitely trying to go back to a time when everything was a little less cynical in the dance scene. It was probably mid 2010 when I started getting on that vibe a little bit. The "Adrenalin" EP was written in January, February, also, 'Loss' and 'Future Unknown' the SCB tracks, and 'Feel It,' they're on a similar kind of vibe. The album is a bit different to that, but it's sort of coming from the same direction. Yeah, you're right, it's kind of ravey, '90s. The kind of vibe that was in clubs when I started going out, which was sorta mid '90s.
You've lived in Berlin for the last couple of years. Is Personality a reminiscence of the UK scene that you've left, or perhaps brought to Berlin?
What happens in clubs in Berlin is much closer to that than what happens in clubs in London now, just in terms of the general atmosphere in the club. I guess that was part of it. I moved over in 2007, so it's a combination of things, really. Not just your surroundings, but wanting to do something different musically. The last record [Triangulation] was quite introspective, quite dark in places, and I didn't want to make another record like that. I wanted the next album to get into a different way of thinking about music and let things flow a little more. On a technical level, I felt much more able to do that. The first time I felt really unburdened by technical limitations in the studio was the last couple of months of making Triangulation, so once I finished that album, I was like, "OK, I don't have to worry too much about what I make now. I can kind of just let things happen in the studio, and not worry too much about what they're gonna think about it, or what I might be limited to in a technical sense." It was just "F--- it, let's see what comes out." That period of music was really so influential on me. It just makes sense to do stuff that reflects that a bit more.
How does that reflect what you're playing out? Is that what's going on in Berlin right now?
No, not really. What I do isn't really representative of Berlin at all. I wouldn't even see myself as part of the Berlin scene, to be honest. I kind of sit in this uneasy place halfway between Berlin and London. There's not really anyone else in that position, I don't think. The majority of guys who move here from the U.K. are in that proper house and techno scene, really in it, which I'm not, really. I certainly don't feel like I am. What's big in house and techno these days isn't retro '90s stuff. [laughter] So, I don't know. Maybe what's happening in certain parts of the UK scene, it probably fits in more with that kind of stuff. I feel a bit homeless really, in terms of where I sit in the musical spectrum. In terms of what we do in the Sub:stance parties, they've always been really wide-ranging. It started off in 2008, and back then dubstep was still something I thought was OK, you know? On paper, dubstep was the kind of starting point, but it's obviously moved on a lot from that in the past couple of years. We just kind of book people that we like. It's all kinds of stuff that's being played at all the parties we do. It's what I like in a party -- musical variety, without being completely off the wall about it. As long as people can dance to every set, I'm cool with it.
When you made Personality, did you have any concern about what people would say about the direction of it, or were you just like, "f--- it, this is what I want to do?"
Well, it's definitely the first time that has been a concern. I just tried ... Because Triangulation was pretty popular and a lot of people really like it, I didn't want to do the same thing again. I knew a lot of people would want me to do that. The more you think about that kind of thing, the more of a problem it is. I just put that completely out of my mind. I knew I didn't want to make another album of left field dubstep. I'd already started making house with the SCB thing, so, I thought "Let's mess about a little bit and see what happens." That's part of the reason why it took so long to do, I didn't have a clear vision of what I wanted it to be at all, at the start. So much stuff fell by the wayside, I definitely made over 50 tracks for it, covering a really wide range of different styles. It was only really later on that I was able to pull it together into a vaguely coherent thing. It's difficult to look back on it and say how much I was influenced by those thoughts at all, really. Foremost in my mind, I was trying not to do stuff that people thought I was going to do.
Right. People hear "Adrenalin" and say "Great, let's have a whole album of this," and you're like "I don't want to do that."
Yeah. I know. On the flip-side of that, I think a lot of people were thinking, "Oh god, I hope the whole album isn't going to be like "Adrenalin."
That's so funny, that was a big song.
Don't get me wrong, It was certainly popular.
So, you're saying it would have been hitting people over the head...
I think it divided opinion, as well. Oh, don't get me wrong. I think it's a good track. [laughter]
Along those lines, will you be releasing any more SCB stuff? What direction will that be going in?
I think I definitely will. I think it's going to be harder, less in a house direction and more in a techno direction, is the way I'm thinking at the moment. I've spent a year writing '80s- influenced house and electro, I think I just need to try some distorted loops for a few months. There's nothing in the schedule, but I'm back in the studio this month. I want to make some bangin' techno, I think.
Scuba's Personality is in stores now.