Between his gigs in NYC, London, and L.A, David Scuba is a pretty busy DJ. He is behind the respected imprint Superfreq, running it with his partner Mr. C.
He is also an accomplished producer with several EPs out on Desert Hearts Records, some of them with his Spaniard buddies Dance Spirit and a few on his own label, working with the likes of Pattern Drama, Silky, and Finley.
It is no surprise that the New York native is a workaholic, touring the world on the weekends and managing a team at his corporate job in Los Angeles during the week. Scuba was already in the game in the 90s while working as an A & R for Timeless Groove and Real Deal Music in New York City. Since then he has grown to be a DJ in high demand, dropping some unforgettable events, just see what the Desert Hearts crew has to say about his set at their 2 year anniversary festival “David Scuba melted our minds with some dark techno to really set the tone for an absolutely substantial night of music.”
David is a man who is passionate about music but with his head firmly placed on his shoulders, knowing how to make the right decision about his career, and always keeping his fans wanting more. So today, not only do we premiere a cut, ‘Dust’, off the latest release with Dance Spirit and Desert Hearts, but we also have a lengthy conversation with Scuba himself. Here, we learned about his upcoming gigs at BPM, England, and Ireland. We found out more about his friendship with Mr. C and Noel Jackson, his misfortunes when getting his equipment stolen, and his moments of glory at Fabric London.
On ‘Dust’, the Dance Spirit spirit crew also shine, as they present a more refined sound that strives to create and convey beautiful emotions utilizing music as their universal language. Their love of heavy layering and deep rolling low ends produce an addictive futuristic minimal techno vibe.
“Dust” is available 28 December on Desert Hearts Records
I understand you grew up in NYC and were involved with Timeless Groove and Real Deal Music, tell me more about your experience as an A & R for them back in the 90s?
I grew up in New Jersey and then New York. I met a lot of people while shopping for records every Tuesday at Satellite records.
Some of the artists I was able to connect with were Funky Junction, KC Flight, Astroglyde, and Many Ward who I was trying to get music from for the label. There was Constantino Padovano a little Italian guy, an old school guy. We had a handful of releases, four or five releases on Real Deal Music and the other label I did three or four, so it wasn’t a robust label to say the least, but I definitely was able to cut my teeth, learn a lot about the music business and forge a lot of friendships from that experience. I learned the hustle, vinyl sales were doing really well and I met a lot of amazing people that are still my friends today.
When were you first introduced to Electronic Music, was it in NYC?
The first time was in Washington DC, I was in college, I used to go to this rave called Buzz, Scott Henry was the resident DJ, and DJ Rap was in the Drum n bass room, that was probably the very first experience, and then shortly after that was New York City at Twilo, so I was connected with the music in a total different way than I ever was before. It reminded me of being at a jam band show like Phish or Disco Biscuits when they play tight, the music gets almost rhythmic, it struck that chord where I was emotionally connected to the music. When I listened to electronic music, house and techno, I connected with every tune in the same way and without the help of ecstasy or any other substances. I had a natural gravitation to the music, which was weird. That experience of being in NYC early in the 90s with that boom, I was lucky thanks to the girl I was dating at the time, she knew pretty much every promoter in NYC, I had VIP treatment and was in the DJ booth before I actually became a DJ, along side Sasha, John, Sven Svath, Carl Cox, that really pushed me over the edge.
While growing up, what were your musical influences?
I listened to Jazz as a kid, like George Benson, and loads of classic rock, like Pink Floyd. Then a lot of the old school hip hop, and some of the electro sound, like Afrika Bambaataa and Sugar Hill Gang, I was a little breaker, I was into that music, the groove and the rhythmic, and house music was what I was gravitating towards. Now as A DJ and a Producer, this is where the roots are of what I resonate to when I write music.
What made you move from NYC to Los Angeles? Were you seeking a nicer weather?
It was more for my corporate job, I found an opportunity to move business wise, I was at a weird point in my life. The last 2 years were very competitive to be an artist, I was getting a ton of work in New York, right before I left in 2007, those last 2 years being in NYC, I had the most work I ever had, in a city that was super competitive, with a lot of artists that are famous now, but they are my buddies.
When I moved to LA it was a crazy situation, the girl I was dating sold all my DJ equipment, it was all gone. I took a hiatus from the music for about 2 years, I told my buddies the story and they were shocked, but it’s true. When I came back it really helped me to fine tune with my sound and reconnect with what I love about music. I played everything in NYC because it was so competitive, from House to Techno and Tech-House, just to get gigs, I was playing more housy stuff, and I stopped doing that. Coming back helped me to be more laser focused.
I read a feature about you on Beatport, the topic was about the struggles of working 9 to 5 plus full time in the Dance Music industry. Do you see yourself working in the Dance Music industry only in the future?
I could, the balance of having 2 careers is a little hard, I have a crazy work ethics and I don’t mind wearing two hats at the moment. I think when the time is right financially it will be a much easier decision. I am very comfortable where I live. It is afforded because I have a full time job. Once the gigs will get more stable, when I will make as much money as I am making now, the decision will be much easier. It will come to making the right decision, not a guess, a hope, a prayer, a business decision that is more strategic and makes sense, sustainable to a certain degree.
That sounds like a wise state of mind
I have to, I have a beautiful place with an ocean view and I would hate to lose that, I am getting married and there is a stability I want to bring, if it’s not stable, I jeopardize all that I worked hard for.
Tell me about your role with Superfreq and how you manage to run the label with your partner MR C? What is your relationship with him?
As we grow as a label, I have been pretty strategic in the events that we are doing with showcases, working at BPM, WMC, some of the underground events we do in LA, I have been doing A&R stuff as well. I think we play different roles. My focus is how to get better showcases and be more strategic and developing the brand. On the A&R side I’ve been making a huge push, we have Click Box EP with Troy Pierce and Hearthrob, we have another EP with remixes by Camea, my EP will have remixes from Ambivalent. We have other artists that have committed to give EPs that are very high profile. They are interested in doing something different that they normally do, because Superfreq has a twisted unique sound and a lot of artist want that outlet, as a label we want to have that outlet for the music that they normally don’t do, but usually they connect, it’s not like they’re forced to write EDM. They come to Superfreq because they can write something twisted, dark and fun and be creative in a different way. Richard and I are best buddies. We’ve grown really close together as we were running the label. Noel Jackson is also a partner of ours who is instrumental and doing a lot of the technical side of the business, he becomes the glue in a lot of ways more so than people realize. They both are amazing people, amazing producers and artists as well. I think between us three we have a nice mix. For 2016 we will see Superfreq in a much bigger showcase, just solidified. There will be one showcase in a big festival here next year, I’m working on bigger showcases with major artists, we will be able to attract people with the momentum that we have. We are excited about it and we have now the right pieces of the puzzle to make it happen and push it to the next level.
Your Number# 1 selling track on Beatport is the remix you did with Noel Jackson, Illusion. Noel is another busy DJ based in Los Angeles. How did you guys meet?
I met him at a Superfreq Party in Brooklyn, we played at Resolute, that’s how we met. He owns and runs Hypertone, which is a vinyl only label. I will be putting out music on it next year. Richard knew him much better than I did, but it was easy, we’ve become really good friends, I talk to him twice a week. He has an amazing studio for mastering and engineering. It’s good that we have access to other artists in that regard, it’s developing really nicely.
Who are your mentors today? Are there any friends you consult when you want to have an opinion about your own music or even for Superfreq?
Yes, The Dance Spirit people are like little brothers to me, we give each other very honest feedback. Mr C has been a huge mentor and soundboard for music. When I get a chance to hang out with Dice (Loco Dice), it’s always nice to have a perspective on how he runs his empire, he is ridiculously successful and I totally appreciate how he runs his company, it’s great to see what he does with Desolat.
There was recently a Desert Hearts Festival in California. The Desert Hearts crew always has very nice words for you. How was it? What makes their events so special?
That’s a hard one! Where do you start? The energy of the place is so amazing, everybody is super excited, you have the hippie burners, hipsters, older people, everybody is just there to get down and everyone is so open minded about the music. It’s like not being in the U.S., It reminds you of being somewhere else in Europe where you have a culture that’s being built around Dance Music, you got that sense when you’re there. I was talking to Nitin (No19), he and I hung out a bunch, he said there is nothing like that festival, it’s so rad and the energy is just second to none. These guys are stocked every year. They always give me amazing slots to showcase my passion for music. The only other gig that’s close to be as good is probably Fabric London Room One, that’s how awesome it is. Everyone is going crazy, It is special, just being able to be there for that many days in a row. Most of the time when I go there, I am not in and out, I go there and spend the week end, it’s not like I want to leave, I want to get a chance to hear the artists play, I hang out in the RV with my friends, joke around, it becomes to one of these things I look forward every year. Hopefully I will be back next year, I have a good feeling I will be, it’s an annual thing, regardless of if I’m going to play or not. It reminds you of being in New York City with that energy, you have that over a weekend for three days, that’s why people are so attracted to it.
Dust EP will be out very soon on Desert Hearts Records. Great EP! How did you end up producing that EP with Dance Spirit? You produced with them before. Tell us about the project and the producing process?
We always like to write music together, I learn something from them, and I think as talented as they are, they learn something form me every once on a while. I am just different with techniques and ideas to create certain sounds. Whenever we are in the studio we always feel like it was collaboratively creative and we’re pushing each other to do different things. From a process stand point we work together on how to start and finish a track, and come up with ideas not to do the same thing twice, which is fun. Every time they are back we try to get together in the studio and before they leave we’ll try to get together and write an EP, they’re my best buddies so we take advantage to spend time together while they are here. We spend time hanging out, eating food and get caught up on life, it’s something I look forward to. We are going to do another EP together under their new Moniker on SuperFreq, the EP will have a pretty huge remixer.
Can you describe David Scuba’s sound?
Dark, funky, techy, that’s really what I gravitate to. A sound with a fat bass line with the groove. I like playing deep and can play everything across the board.. but yes, Twisted, Dirty, Techy grooves, that’s me.
What do you think about people recording mixes with Live Ableton, is this something that you would do?
It depends if you are given the time. I have a hard time doing it. I have recorded with Live Ableton running it through the mixer, so you get a feel of a real mix, you’re not drawing in the mixes. I think I make a much better mix when it’s mixed live, personally. I don’t have anything terribly negative to say about it, I prefer to record a live mix. If I’m travelling it might easier to fire it through Ableton, most sets that I have are mostly live sets.
Over all these years, can you name three shows which were your all time favorites? Best crowd and best moments ever.
That’s easy, Cable club in London with Mr C back to back, the first time I played there. Fabric Room One, and Desert Hearts. The last BPM was probably a close fourth, killer vibe, it was excellent. For LA gigs, The Vibe Party, which I believe Le Jardin is the spot in LA. Then Richard and I are doing a show in Seattle, it’s an anniversary show in February. We will be playing together for 6 hours. We have that room from start to finish, that should be pretty awesome. I am really excited about it. We will get a chance to play everything, which is something that I love to do. It’s been a long time that I have played in a room for that long and I love it. It’s my favorite thing in the world.
You tour in so many countries all year long. Where do you get to eat the best food?
New York is still my favorite. I guess because it’s a melting pot of cultures, last week end when I was there, I ate amazing Mediterranean Israeli food. I miss that part because going into a different area of the city is like being in a different country. The people in the place did speak English but everybody was Israeli in that restaurant.
You’re staying true to your roots, where you grew up?
Yes, New York has the best chefs in the world, so it’s easy.
Is there anything that we missed and that you would like to add for your fans?
There is a ton of amazing stuff happening for 2016. I will be playing at the Superfreq anniversary in London on March 5th, I will play the Subtranning afterhours prior to that show, I am very excited about that. I love going back to London. I built quite a nice little fan base there. I might be doing something in Ireland on that Friday night. Superfreq in Ireland. I want to go surfing when I am there but I won’t have time.. They get good waves in Ireland. They have amazing gulf courses, but it will be cold and rainy so I won’t be there to play Gulf. I made a remix for this guy, Confute, he is Irish, I think he lives in Dublin and it’s going to come out in the middle of January on Compatible, a record label based out of the UK, they do more techno stuff so I did more of a techno mix, it is kind of a different spectrum from what I did with the Dance Spirit boys, but I like to write music that does not stick to one thing, stay true to my style but with a different spirit.
by Emeric Dally