Scuba: ‘I don’t want to be involved in the EDM-live visual arms race’

Emma Gritt

Scuba 300x225 Scuba: ‘I don’t want to be involved in the EDM live visual arms race’Scuba, the producer with the Midas touch when it comes to putting the ‘subtle’ in ‘sub-base’, is set to premier his new spectacular AV show this weekend. But to all those die-hard devotees who trust Paul Rose to bring them electronic music on the right side of tasteful, you can relax about him ‘doing a Skrillex’ – he’s adamant he isn’t.

The British-born musician currently resides in Berlin, where he keeps a watchful eye over his label, Hotflush Recordings while continuing to build his reputation as one of the world’s most in-demand DJs.

Tomorrow, he’s bringing some of Hotflush’s best acts, including George Fitzgerald and Lando Kal, to perform at a one-off gig in East London. It’s a momentous occasion as it’s actually the first ever solely Hotflush event on these shores, and also the first time Scuba has ventured into the realm of live performance.

Anticipation is particularly high for the large light show currently being assembled somewhere in an as-yet-unknown warehouse location. The DJ won’t give too much away about its size or design, but was happy to reveal some other information about the thought behind the ambitious project, and what fans can expect from the show this weekend.

How did the light show come about?

I’ve experimented a bit with playing live in the past, but in a very low-key way which mainly consisted of working out different ways of approaching it and trying to work out how to incorporate thinking about live into my writing process.

We started planning this show about six months ago and it’s been quite a lot of work getting it together but it’s looking like the results are going to be great. The last thing I wanted was to get involved in this whole cliche of the EDM-live visual arms race though. The focus of the show is very much the music and the visual elements are there to add emphasis and atmosphere to the whole thing.

I want people to dance. The idea of having a bunch of people stood in a room with their arms crossed listening to techno and watching some flashing lights and stuff appearing on screens doesn’t appeal to me at all. Actually I can’t stand the whole “VJ” thing. You go to a club to dance, not watch TV. It’s going to look cool, but it’ll be more like a rave than a cinema.

What will the live show entail?

It’s mostly based around music from Triangulation and Personality and really it’s a combination of the ideas which went into each album. So there’s a lot of the industrial, Berlin-influenced ideas and sound angles which went into Triangulation, but adding in the much more colourful, dancefloor elements of Personality. I didn’t want to ignore the first album completely though, and it was interesting going back to that stuff and looking at it from a different perspective. It’s a combination of everything I’ve been doing in the last three or four years basically. As you’d expect, it’ll be pretty wide-ranging stylistically.

Will the visual aspect be controlled by you or VJs?

I’ve been very much involved with developing the concept behind the visual side of the show, but I’ll have enough to do on stage with the music without worrying about that stuff.

Is the light show pre-programmed or can you alter it as you go to fit the mood?

There are elements that are programmed and there’s different things which we can change as we go.

Why did you decide to premier the show in the UK and not Berlin?

I did consider doing it at Berlin, and I hope we will do one there early next year. But we haven’t ever done our own proper party in London and this seemed like a good way to start.

Does this mark a new journey for Hotflush and its roster – a dive in to the world of huge AV shows?

Like I said, I’m not interested in the visual arms race thing. It’s already been done and the limits have already been pushed to a ridiculous extent. This is about putting the Hotflush sound in its proper context with really high production values and a really great party. I think people are going to enjoy it.

This is your first AV show – what made you want to move in to this area?

Obviously I’ve had a pretty heavy DJ schedule for a number of years now, and I think most people will be aware by now that I have a fairly short attention span and I have to move on to new things when I get bored… so this is just another symptom of that really. I love DJing and there’s no way that I’m planning to stop any time soon but I have to keep things interesting for myself and this is a way of doing it.

What’s the most impressive live show you have ever seen?

The show that sticks in my mind the most was Smashing Pumpkins on the Siamese Dream tour, which was when they were still playing theatres so it was a pretty simple setup but it was perfectly pitched to add that little extra thing to the music. That’s really the kind of concept I was thinking of for this show.

Are you going to be dressed up for Halloween?

I’m going to be dressed as a giant female pumpkin.

Scuba headlines the Hotflush Recordings Warehouse Party, November 3rd, London. For tickets and more info visit

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  • GW74

    “EDM” *vomits up internal organs*

  • Scott

    Agreed – and you’d think a music writer would know the difference between base and bass.

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