Nick Rose of Plastic Gurus is getting back into music after being burned out from creating dance and trance music. With a newfound interest in alternative and indie songwriting, Rose discussed with us the history of his musical journey, his disillusionment with the rave scene, and the computer-free style of recording he has recently adopted.
Rose started his musical journey making dance music in 1992 with a couple of friends. Under the name Big Bang Theory, they released a track titled “Makin’ Magic” that reached U.S. No. 1 in the Hi NRG Dance Chart. The track was released on the Love Sounds label and was the first the group had ever written.
Following this period, Rose switched styles and started making trance music with a DJ called Scott Bond under the name Q:dos. Using the name Q:dos they had a productive period, the highlights of which included a publishing contract with Run DMC and a couple of releases on the Stress Record Label (“Nocturnal Spirit” and “I’m Not Going Home”), the latter of which was remixed by Radio 1 DJ Judge Jules.
Q:dos sold records in more than 20 different countries around the world and had tracks included on the bestselling “Gatecrasher” and “Kiss in Ibiza” compilation albums. They also did remixes for several record labels, including ZTT, FFRR, Sony and React. One of their songs called “Sundance” reached No. 25 on the U.K. Mainstream Chart.
After Q:dos disbanded, Rose had two more releases. The first was on the Cleveland City record label under the name Nu-topia with a track titled “Live Like This” and a second track “No Driver” released on Rennie Pilgrem’s TCR label.
“By this point I was totally disillusioned with dance music and the music industry in general,” said Rose. “I didn’t think I could relate to it any longer. I didn’t particularly enjoy the whole rave/club thing. Yes it was great to go to a club and see hundreds of people going crazy to sometime you’d created. But I wasn’t into ecstasy, and at the time it felt to me like the whole scene had its foundations well and truly immersed in that drug. It all seemed very shallow, no real substance to it. It got to the point where the majority of the people you’d meet were on chemically induced highs so they loved everything and danced to pretty much anything with the right rhythm.”
Rose decided to give it up and get a job. As the years went on, Rose’s music taste began to shift to a more alternative and indie direction.
In 2012, with two kids and a mortgage later, Rose started to get the urge to make music again. He looked at the works of Tom Waits and Nick Cave and began learning to write proper songs that did not rely on computers or sequencers or dance grooves.
Nowadays, Rose works with his long time friend Brett Wilde. Rose writes the songs and creates a rough demo and Wilde adds guitar and the occasional bass. Rose said it was Wilde who inspired him to learn to play an instrument.
“He really knows his stuff and I rely on him for constructive criticism,” said Rose. “He’s a great sounding board and tells it straight, which is important when you are predominantly working on your own.”
The songs Rose makes are for the part based on personal experiences and fictional stories. One of his songs is titled “Don’t Go Into The Woods.”
“I’m pretty pleased with the way ‘Don’t Go Into The Woods’ turned out,” Rose said. “Why? It had a life of its own; from the original concept to the final mix, everything worked and developed in a naturally kind of way. I have spent weeks writing, editing, rewriting and reediting lyrics and that’s before I even begin to develop chords, rhythm and melody. But not with that tune, it all snowballed very quickly, everything just fell into place. It’s great when that happens.”
One of the things Rose likes about working on solo music is that he is the one in control. In his past band experiences, Rose said the more cooks there are in the kitchen, the bigger the compromise. Now he has the creative to record what he wants in the style he wants.
“It is important to have someone you can trust, someone you respect, whether that is a producer or a fellow musician just so you don’t end up chasing your own tail or vanishing up your ass,” Rose said. “That’s an easy trap to fall into when you write alone. I’ve done the computer-based approach to death. I found it tends to be a spontaneity killer. You have to ask yourself what it is about the writing recording process you enjoy and I certainly never use to like the hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen. I like the creative side of things. Of course there is always compromise; I compromise the shiny sparkly production that can be achieved with today’s music software and just use a Boss digital 8-track recorder. I’ve had it for a couple of years and its blissfully easy and quick to operate. Just press record and go, no messing about.”
Rose said all the songs he has uploaded were recorded in a computer-free environment. He focused on getting the desired performance recorded even if it took multiple takes. His style is to capture the honestly of his musicianship, with warts and all. And that’s the way he likes it.
Rose offered advice for emerging artists, saying that critics and fans have a opinions about music and they like to voice that opinion, so it’s better to take everything they say with a pinch of salt.
“Don’t try to be someone else,” Rose said. “Be true to yourself and write the type of music that makes your thing sing. Don’t just follow trends because they are popular. Enjoy what you do and it will shine through your music. If you’re trying too hard to sound like someone else you will always only be a pale imitation of them. In saying that, it’s impossible to be totally original. Everything you ever write, people will try to compare with something they know, that’s just the way it is. Be inspired by other people, learn from other people but always try to put your own slant on things. Don’t just copy someone else because you can’t think of anything that’s worthy.”
Most importantly, Rose said artists should not be about impressing other people, but rather, themselves.
To follow Rose’s music, follow Plastic Gurus on Soundcloud.