Scuba talks us through the making of his fourth album, out now on his own Hotflush Recordings label.
It seems impossible to separate Claustrophobia from two significant periods in Paul Rose’s life during 2014. The first was a spell of ill health during the summer months which saw the Berlin-based producer hospitalised as a result of a severe case of glandular fever. The album’s darker moments – and many of its track titles – seem inextricably linked with this period of ill health, during which Rose says he was “in and out of hospital every few days for a couple of months” and forced to cancel his DJ bookings for the summer.
The second was a return to the studio followed by a trip to Labyrinth festival in the mountains of Niigata, Japan. Speaking to RA before the album’s release, Scuba explained that the festival “really brought the record together… I guess from people who switched off around the time Hardbody came out, and it was nice to get the chance to remind people that I don’t tend to stick with one thing for too long, and it’s the same with the album: it doesn’t sound much like Hardbody.”
We asked Paul to talk us through the album, explaining the origins of each track and discussing the broader context surrounding his creative process.
Because the album was done so quickly and there wasn’t much material from the sessions which didn’t make it to the final cut, this was always going to be a candidate for the opening track. But actually this originally started out as much more of a dance track in the very first couple of weeks of writing, before I had the break of the trip to Asia [for Labyrinth] in the middle of it. What happened was the dance track had quite a lot of changes and eventually resolved to this very dubby outro, the drums of which found their way to the second attempt at the track once I was back in the studio after the break.
So I guess the writing of this tune really encompassed at least three tunes, and eventually it distilled itself down into the album version. The title is a reference to the sub bass sweeps which sporadically appear and I found gave me the impression of floating when listening to it at high volume in the studio, and it made sense to kick the record off with a track that gave me that kind of feeling.
Why You Feel So Low
I’ve talked a lot about being influenced by my experience at Labyrinth festival during the writing process (I took about 10 days out to go to Japan and a few other places in Asia, which were my first gigs after missing the whole of July and August with a nasty dose of glandular fever).
This track is probably the most obvious example of that influence; it’s very deep and atmospheric but combining that aesthetic with quite a hard-hitting and almost aggressive rhythm section. In some respects it’s quite uncompromising but also has that slightly haunting, melodic aspect to it which really summed up my experience of the festival that weekend, sonically at least.
I remember playing an early version of this to George FitzGerald and being pretty embarrassed by how it sounded
This was the track that gave me the most problems technically, and right up to the last minute I was unsure whether I was going to be able to include it on the album. I was on a deadline as I had to move out of my studio by the end of October, so not finishing the album by then would’ve been hugely problematic and since I was mixing it myself in the same room there was quite a lot of pressure by the end.
I remember playing an early version of this to George FitzGerald, who was staying at my flat at the time, and being pretty embarrassed by how it sounded – sometimes you only get an idea of what you really think of a track when you play it with someone else in the room. But then you have to take the positives out of that kind of experience and make sure you make the necessary changes. I’m pretty happy with how it sounds now, but at the risk of sounding incredibly dry and technical, balancing the frequencies in that bassline was not a lot of fun.
A few people have been asking on Twitter where the bit of French speech at the end is from – actually it’s a recording of a crazy woman who was outside my studio one day when I happened to have a recorder with me.
One of my main influences for the album was Tangerine Dream and you can hear that the most on this track. The arrangement is very multi-layered, and mixing it was quite a painstaking process – with one or two isolated exceptions I’ve always mixed my own stuff and it’s in cases like this that it’s important for me. I’m sure there are people who could mix my music and probably make it sound technically better but I’m not sure it would be a true representation of what I’m trying to say musically. The ending to the track is a bit grandiose and I was a bit unsure whether to leave it but the whole thing is quite dramatic really so I decided that it was appropriate.