Star Wars, Halo, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings are science fiction/fantasy canons that don’t—at first thought—conjure up thoughts of bass music. But, it’s these exact genres and franchises that inspire Bass Therapist Rebel Scum who finds his inspiration from these movies and shows that he loves.
Hot off the heels of releasing his first EP on KJ Sawka’s Impossible Records label, we had the opportunity to talk with Rebel Scum about how this influence has driven his production and musical style, while also nerding out in the process for our fourth and final installment of our Behind the Booth series.
[well]Rebel Scum, aka Chase Golka, grew up in Bothell and lived there his whole life, until moving to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University. At a young age he was enamored with the vastness of space and what could be out there, becoming fascinated by all things space, including science-fiction franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars. Growing up in a small community like Bothell, there wasn’t a huge music scene and in a way, Chase used music as an avenue of exploration that allowed him to explore different parts of the world, different cultures, all in the comfort of his familiar home.[/well]
How did you get into music? Bothell isn’t exactly known for its thriving music community.
Rebel Scum: Haha yes that is definitely true unless you count Blake Lewis who had minor success on American Idol and the town threw a parade for him. But yeah, you’re right it’s just basically suburbia. I got into music with my two best friends when we started a band together. We didn’t know exactly how to play the instruments but we learned together and got pretty good. I think our desire to start a band came from our infatuation with Muse. We thought (and still think) they are the greatest and we wanted to be as cool as they were. So we started wearing v-necks and pea coats and now here we are haha! I had always loved music and I did choir, but that band was my first real experience dissecting and writing music.
Do you think the influence of where you grew up affects your musical style now?
RS: I actually think in a way, it does. Bothell/Suburbia was a great place to grow up, but it has no character or attitude like you would find in a city. It’s all clean and perfect, but stale. I think it reflects how I’ve always been interested in and influenced by things that are the opposite of that place like sci-fi/fantasy and also electronic music. My favorite thing about dubstep is that one of my goals in the studio is to just come up with the craziest sounding shit I can think of, and dubstep as a genre lends to that type of creation.
What is it about sci-fi/fantasy genres that speak to you the most?
RS: The scale of it all is so humbling to the point where I can’t help but focus my time on creative endeavors. In a way, you’re adding to that universe and even though we’re only here for a short time, you connected with everyone else that’s in the same boat as you and have tons of fun doing it. I think sci-fi also reflects the desire of humankind to be immortal by either creating something that can’t die. There is a great Star Trek episode for that idea. There is a lot to be learned in the Star Trek episodes where all the humans try to explain humanity to Data.
Data definitely had the most interest in human nature, which makes sense considering was only made to resemble humans but not actually be human. Science fiction in general really seeks to understand what it means to be human. Does this type of thinking find it’s way into what you’re creating?
RS: All the time. It may not always be directly, but the feeling or pursuit of trying to become something bigger than myself is always there. Music is just so weird in how it affects us. I’m always trying to understand how and why certain noises do, but I know I’ll never have an actual answer. It’s about the journey because there literally is no destination. Much like Data’s pursuit of being human.
Being a science-fiction lover, do you have a favorite movie or show that really sparked that interest?
RS: Growing up I remember my focus was largely on Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and The Matrix. Or at least those were the big franchises that I latched onto as a kid. My best friend and I would hang out at his house just absolutely blasting the shit out of his theater system watching those movies. I actually didn’t really get into Star Trek until after college, but that is a huge one for me now. I don’t know how I went so long without getting into it. Oh, also shout-out to Halo, that was a big one for me in terms of the world they built and the score accompanying it. Hence the Rebel Scum name! I’ve accepted that Star Wars will always be in my life either just in my head or actual reality (thanks Disney).
We have to ask, since you chose the moniker “Rebel Scum” what side of the conflict do you find yourself to be on, Alliance or Empire?
RS: Oh Rebel Alliance all the way.
Well there goes that, we can’t be friends now…lol
RS: So, you love destroying planets full of innocent people? There is actually a subreddit thread called “The Empire Did Nothing Wrong” and I love it.
What is your process like when you creating a track or an album? Do you have a specific way of starting or do you let things flow naturally?
RS: Usually I’ll have an idea in mind that can be either a melody, chord progression, or even just a crazy noise in my head I want to try and create. Some of my best tunes have all started with a melody just hitting me (usually when I’m about to fall asleep) and I record it on my phone real quick to recreate later. Those are the best because they come naturally and write themselves naturally.
Once I have that small spark of an idea, I let my mind run with it. It’s hard to explain, but just as naturally as the idea started, I start to “hear” other ideas that work with it. The next steps are just getting all of those parts down so you can actually hear it out loud. Oddly enough, some of the ideas you think will be the best, are not, and vice versa. The important thing is to stick with each idea and flesh them out as much as you can. Once you have done it enough times, you become better at recognizing what’s good and what’s not.
Inspiration can come from where ever, whenever. Something we think is as miniscule as a sci-fi movie can be the very thing driving an artist to create. For Rebel Scum that rings true, and every day he creates tracks inspired by his love of space. A love that has garnered him attention at Bass Therapy and from the likes of KJ Sawka who personally signed Rebel Scum’s first EP Take Off on his label Impossible Records. Conversations like this make us excited about what artists are doing because they become that much more relatable in their process as well as their music.
Give a listen to Rebel Scum’s debut EP below, and remember to have that deep conversation with others; you never know when you may inspire someone to create the next big track!