Text by Zsofi Erdei. Recording a BBC Essential Mix is a breakthrough level for anyone, even the most talented DJs. But combining it with a live Sonar gig in the same time is something that gets you to the stratosphere. Scuba, head of the label Hotflush, commanded his Essential Mix at the prestigious stage of the Sonar Night venue. The mix is now available on his Soundloud account, and the tracklist speaks for itself. Scuba’s unique taste in music materializes in each item of this sophisticated set, a technocentric blend of music from his own and other contemporary UK bass labels.
It was very surprising that you did this kind of techno set at Sonar. I know that you have a love for deep house, but is this something new? Or did you try to adapt to that huge, theatrical venue?
At the moment my DJ sets are pretty wide ranging, but it’s difficult to put things together how I like when the set is only one hour long. So what I tried to do with the Sonar set was to stick to one kind of idea but try to include as many tangents as possible. So it was based around 125bpm 4/4 music but it covered quite a lot of stuff around that, and I also played one of the tracks off the Beaumont EP (which I think is the best 12″ of the year so far) so there was quite a lot of variation. There’s not too much new “dubstep” that I’m into at the moment, and of course I wanted to play new music, so it made sense to approach it in the way that I did.
Were you excited because of the set is going to be on air as a BBC Essential Mix? Was there pressure because of it?
It certainly added to the pressure of the set; it was the biggest room I’ve played in and obviously when something is being recorded to go out on Radio 1 then you want it to be good… actually I wasn’t that worried though. In some ways it’s less nerve-wracking than playing in a small club where there are people two feet away looking closely at everything you are doing.
What do you think is the uniqueness of Hotflush? What do you do differently than others?
I think fundamentally we just release good music, but also we are more consistent than other labels. There’s always one label or another that gets hyped up in the press and they’re flavour of the month for a bit, but then they can’t sustain it and they fall away. We release a lot of stuff, it’s all top fucking quality, and we’ve been doing it for years. I don’t see any other labels on that level really.
When do you know that an artist is worth caring about? What kind of “exams” do they have to pass for releases at Hotflush?
Someone said to me recently that if you like someone’s music you’ll probably get on with them personally, and actually that’s how it is with Hotflush. Everyone who we’re releasing gets on really well, and on (far too infrequent) occasion when we do label nights it’s a great atmosphere. But in terms of signing new stuff, it’s just whether I like the tracks really. There’s no theory behind it… either I like it or I don’t.
Where do you see Hotflush moving toward?
I’ve been saying for years that I want to release more albums, and that is still the main area that I think we need to develop. Sepalcure and Sigha both have LPs in the works though, and there’ll be more next year, so we are moving in the right direction with that. We’re trying to steer people into long term projects, that’s what interests me from a label point of view.
Is there any other label which you see doing a kind of similar approach?
I guess any electronic label looks at Warp and how they developed. There’s one or two contemporary labels that we usually get grouped with, but I don’t think musically there’s anyone who can touch us really.
Why have you chosen Berlin as a venue for a club night series?
I moved over from London in 2007, and one of things I wanted to do in the city was to put on a big night. It was a combination of things that came together than enabled us to put it on at Berghain, and it’s been great working with them. The third birthday is on July 15, so we’re all really looking forward to that.
When do you plan to release a new EP or album?
There’s a single that is coming out in September, a track called Adrenalin that I’ve been playing a lot recently. I’m working on the next album as well… that’ll be out early next year I think.
Check out Scuba’s BBC Essential Mix: