Like he says in this interview, Paul Rose’s Hotflush label has never really been the absolute flavor du jour. Instead, throughout its nine-year history, the label has always been in the shadows of the zeitgeist, informing it, informed by it, but never… it. That said, there have been some hugely monumental releases along the way in the form of Mount Kimbie’s debut LP, that Joy Orbison track and most recently Jimmy Edgar’s Magenta.
But change constantly seems afoot for the now Berlin based label, and in 2012 the boss himself has spread his sonic wings, reaching out to a less erudite audience with his polished main room melodies and massive peak time hooks at the same time as fomenting new talent in the form of Locked Groove and Guy Andrews. Quite possibly on the verge of unknown – at least for the underground – acclaim on a massive scale, Rose aka Scuba has recently decided the time is right to unleash his live show on world, and will do so on November 3rd at a Shoreditch warehouse along with a long list of label associates including Lando Kal, the aforementioned Locked Groove and George FitzGerald. Get a sneak peak of the live show here, and then read on for a label lowdown…
I understand your vision was always to head up a label with a broad spectrum of sounds – why did you have that plan initially? What influenced that? Other labels you liked, or…?
When I was thinking about setting up the label, which was a long time ago now… 2001-2002 sort of time, I was really into Hospital Records which was a lot different back then: they were releasing a lot of Drum n Bass but also deep garage-y stuff and broken beat. Everything on the label had a common vibe and sonic direction though, which is what I wanted for Hotflush. I had also been very into Warp from the mid 90s onwards, and really admired how they’d broadened out into doing all kinds of different stuff. So I was aiming pretty high, and really I had no idea what I was doing. But you have to start somewhere and it’s better to be overambitious than not I’d say.
I don’t think about what’s trendy or whatever, I think part of the reason why people like the label so much is that we don’t really follow that kind of thing, which means while I don’t think there’s been a time where we’ve been the absolute hottest label out there...And how has it turned out, are you getting closer to that goal?
In the last 3 or 4 years the label has developed into something I’m really proud of, but I’m not sure we’re quite at the level I was aiming for in the first place. We’ll get there eventually though, I’m sure of that.
How much do you/would you like to nurture artists and have a family feel vs just releasing the odd EP here and there – are relationships with artists important to you?
I’ve consciously tried to sign artists that I think have long term potential, especially in terms of albums and that automatically lends itself to developing a family feel to the label. But I also try to keep slots open in the schedule so that I can sign the odd track or EP here and there that isn’t necessarily going to build into something – that’s important for keeping the label fresh and relevant. Generally though, we’ve got a great bunch of people associated with the label at the moment and that makes the events and parties we put on a lot of fun.
How involved do you get with the music you eventually release? Do you give out advice, get in the studio with people, or is it more the case that you wholly give over creative control to the artists?
It really depends. There have been some projects we’ve worked on that I have been quite closely involved: not actually in the studio but in terms of giving feedback and advice quite specifically about the music. Equally there have been releases, even albums, where I’ve let the artist have a completely free run. It’s just dependent on what works and what is required really – there are no rules to these things.
How actively do you A&R? Acts such as Locked Groove etc – are they your findings or people that have come to you or? Are you looking for anything specific?
Again, there isn’t a rule or a set way of doing things. I do listen to new acts and obviously I listen to demos but I’m always open to recommendations or whatever else that comes in. A lot of the A&R process involves wading through tons and tons of awful music, but it’s worth it when you find something great, and that doesn’t have to be a great club track at all. The first demos I got from Mount Kimbie were very strange indeed but there was something there that drew me in.
Do you just release music that you like, or must it somehow fit with the other releases and the label in general? Do you think about such things? Is there anything that ties the entire catalogue together do you think?
It’s just what I like at any given time, but that in itself makes it quite coherent musically. I’ve got quite particular tastes I suppose, but covering quite a wide range of styles so that comes out in what we release on the label.
I don’t think about what’s trendy or whatever, I think part of the reason why people like the label so much is that we don’t really follow that kind of thing, which means while I don’t think there’s been a time where we’ve been the absolute hottest label out there, people know that what we’re doing is interesting and distinct from pretty much everything else.
How different do you think the label would sound if you lived in London (or anywhere but Berlin)? Does your location have an influence on it all do you think?
I get asked that question a lot, and maybe in the first couple of years of living here (I’ve been in the city since 2007) it did have an impact, but actually since then I’ve been away more than I’ve been here so I don’t think it’s really had much effect. And anyway, London music has slowly gravitated towards Berlin stylistically in that period. We just put out what we put out, it’s not a scene thing really.
You release a steady stream of albums – do they give you more pleasure? Are they much more work intensive for you? Is it much harder to give the go ahead on an album vs an EP?
The album format is commercially pretty much irrelevant these days, but I still think it’s artistically crucial. When I look at producers and musicians I really rate, it’s the albums that stand out, and so that’s how I judge myself as an artist and also the label. The process is so much more complicated and difficult, both in terms of writing and releasing… a single is just that. An album is a proper statement.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt in the last 9 years re running a label?
That following trends is a road to nowhere. You have to do your own thing. If you follow then you’ll always be behind the curve.
And what have been some key releases or things of which you have been particularly proud?
The Mount Kimbie thing was incredibly rewarding to be a part of, from the very first demos Dom sent in, to the EPs and obviously the album. My proudest moment in music was watching them play their first big show in Berlin, which was in early 2010. Obviously they’ve moved to Warp now, which was a bit disappointing for us but I think it’s a good fit for them… I can’t wait to hear the new stuff.
Similarly, any regrets, things you should have signed but didn’t, or things you did sign but wish you hadn’t?
Plenty of shoud’ves, only a couple of regrets, but I’m not naming names!
Why have you decided the time is right for a first London showcase?
It’s the debut of my live show which we’ve been working on for ages, and it made sense to put the two things together. We’ve done events before in London but this is the first proper standalone show… it should be a lot of fun.
Have you got anything planned for the tenth anniversary of the label next year? And what are your thoughts on the last decade looking back…?
We have absolutely nothing planned, and to be honest I not interested in that kind of thing at all. It’s like doing a greatest hits album… you celebrate at the end of something, and the way I see it we’re right in the middle.
On a personal note about you – you recently seem to have made a conscious decision to fuck shit up on twitter – am I right, and why is that?!
I have fun on Twitter… the vast majority of what I say on there has some element of what I think but is obviously to be taken with a pinch of salt. That’s what Twitter’s for isn’t it? Obviously most musicians are incredibly boring on there, mine is hopefully a bit more engaging.
Web Site: www.hotflushrecordings.com
Shop Online: www.surus.co.uk/Hotflush-Recordings
MAJ002 - Jimmy Edgar - Sex Drive
HFT025 - Recondite - DRGN / Wist 365
HFT024 - NeferTT - Blue Skies Red Soil EP
HFRMX009 - Scuba - The Hope (Recondite Remixes)
HF035 - Shelter Point - Forever For Now
HFT026 - Jack Dixon - E / Find Shelter
Scuba, Jimmy Edgar, Mount Kimbie, Sepalcure, Sigha, Beaumont, George FitzGerald, Joy Orbison, Arkist, Locked Groove, Guy Andrews Recondite, NeferTT, Jack Dixon, Dense & Pika, Paul Woolford & Psycatron, Braille, Roska, Lando Kal, Incyde, FaltyDL, Boxcutter, Boddika, dBridge, Untold, Pangaea, TRG & Dub U, Toasty, Shackleton, Gravious, Elemental, Slaughter Mob, Search and Destroy