Ibiza Voice Podcast 566 :: Steve Bug
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Steve Bug is a bona fide dance music legend. His labels Raw Elements, Dessous and Poker Flat have all helped shape house and tech for 20 years, his own energy and drive is infectious and his productions have been staples in the bags of those who know since he started producing in 1994. Still being around all these years later is an achievement in itself, but Bug is still setting the agenda, which is impressive indeed.
Already this year he has put out an innovative album with Langenberg, he will launch it with his own party at London’s Fabric and then heads off into a summer that will take him across Europe and the States.
Here we find out what keeps him going, what the hardest parts of his job are and ask him how full lengths need to be different from 12”s in order to succeed. Considered and candid as ever, he drops plenty of knowledgable insight as well as the latest mix in our podcast series.
Ibiza Voice: After so long in the game, what still excites you and enthuses you most about working in dance music?
Steve Bug: So many things, like hearing a great new record, or listening to an amazing DJ set, or being at an incredible party, or a special gig you play, or a good day in the studio, hearing a new demo that totally rocks, and, and, and. But still one of the best things about DJing is definitely connecting with the crowd, while being in the zone. It’s a special moment when everything falls into places and you become one with the crowd and the music.
What have been the biggest challenges in your career to date, what’s been the hardest part of the job?
For me, travelling is the hardest part, sitting around at airports, spending another week alone somewhere in the world. I can deal with being tired and getting up early and everything else, but long haul flights and jet lags are rough. But you forget about all this, once you’re in the club, playing the first record :)
Tell us about your latest studio album - what made you want to work with Langenberg on it? Why was he the right person?
Well, we just had the idea of trying to work together in the studio, so we met for a first session and it felt so good, we simply kept on working together. After we had a bunch of tracks ready, we thought, why not finish a few more and do a whole album.
Did you approach it different from previous ones? Any new direction or techniques? Was there a plan for it from the start?
No plan, no directions, just writing music together, that we felt and that made sense being released as an album.
How different is it writing with someone vs alone? Is it easier or harder?
In this case it was easier I’d say. We barely had to argue about anything. Our musical tastes go along very well, and I think somehow we have the same idea of what makes a great track.
How different from a 12” does a dance album need to be? Can you just have an album of club tracks work as a long player you think?
For me an album has to tell a story and doesn’t have to work in the clubs. While club tracks in general don’t always make great album tunes. These days a lot of artists release 10 functional club tracks as an album: to me that’s something I don’t wanna listen to at home. But that might vary from listener to listener. Deeper tracks work great for me as album tunes, but again, that’s just me.
About the label, how has it evolved over the years? Are you still looking for new music in the same places and for the same specific sounds, as ever?
Of course it has evolved, we have grown a lot over the years, musically. We have many new talented artists and a variation of music styles. But we are not a label that jumps from trend to trend, to whatever is hot. We have our roots, and we’re proud of them. And you can probably still hear them in a lot of the new releases. I think this important for a label to survive for such a long time.
How did you record the mix and what equipment did you use?
I recorded it in Ableton, like I do with most podcasts these days. I like the idea of going back and being able to really work on the transition between two tracks. Playing out in a club is always different from doing a podcast for me. When recording a podcast, I listen to the mix between two tracks for 20-30 times, if not more, while in the club…well you just have one go at every mix. I haven’t used any FX on the mix, since I basically didn’t need them to make the transitions any smoother this time.
Was there an aim for it from the start, did you have a certain thing to say, certain records to play, a sound to represent?
Not really, I just started to look for tracks that I really like at the moment,and then the mix came alive by putting the tracks together in a certain order, that made the most sense for me. In general I try - like in a DJ set - to have an opening and a closing track and try to tell a story in-between these two points.
Where do you get your music from and how long do you spend looking for it each week?
Never counted the hours, but it’s many, many hours. I still go record shopping, pretty much every week that I am in Berlin, then I check the digital stores (at least once a week), as well as I try to keep up with promos and sometimes I even search music in online record shops. A lot of tunes are still being released on vinyl only and I don’t want to miss out - even if it’s just one great track per month.
But I figured, that at the end of the month I bought a lot of tunes that I played maybe a couple of times and then I never ever touch them again. I’d rather be buying music that’s worth playing for half a year, but it became hard to find these tunes since there is so much replaceable functional stuff out there. And unfortunately not many special tracks that are playable for more than a couple of weeks are being released nowadays. So many artists just keep on reproducing what works best at the moment.
What else have you got coming up/are you looking forward to?
I have a new release with Cle (including a remix by Edwin Oosterwal) coming up on Poker Flat in June, as well as a release on Ornaments. I also did a remix for Loyoto that is coming out soon. And I am working on several other projects right now. On the DJ side, I am still on the album tour, in the moment in Europe, but I have the USA, Latin America and Australia coming up as well.
Steve Bug & Langenberg - Paradise Sold is out now, click here to buy.
More music? Of course: