Kehakuma, the carefully curated gem of Space weekly programming, for the last few years has been the guilty pleasure of those clubbers who like to listen to non-commercial house of a very high quality in a dark and cosy room that doesn’t burst from overcrowding. What started as quite an experimental event grew into a true staple of Saturday night and a household name for Ibiza scene. One of the main treats of Kehakuma line-ups this season are back-to-back sets by Josh Wink and Steve Bug that take place once per month.
Just imagine: the owner of Ovum Recordings and the author of the seminal When A Banana Was Just A Banana album, on the one hand; Poker Flat Recordings creator and one of the most emblematic DJs of German scene, on the other hand. When these two appear behind the decks together, they don’t just entertain but also educate the crowd, showcasing their finest craft and making proper use of their impressive collection of tunes.
Their first performance together occurred on June 13, the next ones are scheduled for July 11, August 8 and September 12. Anticipating another night of pure sonic magic, we had a chance to talk with Steve and Josh about the process of assembling a musical puzzle during the set, about some genuinely funny stories from their DJ careers and the difference between playing for people and to people.
When we do our job of making music and looking forward to a good party, like tonight, it makes me happy awake...So you say that at the moment of our conversation you had very little sleep? How do you manage to look that well?
Josh: We are professional non-sleepers! Well, I did have a 4-hour sleep on a 7-hour flight. When we do our job of making music and looking forward to a good party, like tonight, it makes me happy awake. The work part is the travel. The hard part is over, now it’s the fun part. Well, it’s a little bit of work, because I have to play with him tonight!
How can you comment on that, Steve?
Steve: I’ve nothing to add! Tonight it’s gonna be hard work, to keep up with this guy (laughs).
How did you come up with the concept of playing together?
Josh: I think it has come for us.
Steve: We did play together before, but I don’t remember exactly when our first time was. We’ve done it before, we are friends, we are label mates – I’m on his label, he is on my label. I think our back-to-backs will be good for the line-up here – they are trying to bring something new and special to Kehakuma night this season.
And we like it, we love the club, they have great production and great sound, it’s amazing to work with them..Josh: Are we special? Nice.
Steve: They came with the concept for us, and we agreed that it would be a good idea.
So they offered you a monthly residency and you agreed, right?
Josh: It’s a bit funny to say so, because I think that residency has more of a commitment, sort of like every week. We play only 4 times per season – 4 times in 4 months is not so much.
Steve: But still it’s consistency.
Josh: And we like it, we love the club, they have great production and great sound, it’s amazing to work with them. This is my first time playing in Space or maybe even on the island on a Saturday. I’m always on a weekday here, or on a Sunday.
Last summer they had amazing line-ups, but maybe a little bit too sophisticated for the island...Steve: I played for Kehakuma on Saturday last year, so I know. Two years ago I was playing two or three times for them as well. For me personally it seemed that last summer they had amazing line-ups, but maybe a little bit too sophisticated for the island. They had a lot of interesting artists, enjoyable from the very beginning, and the bookings they were doing were not only focused on the biggest names in the business, but created with the aim of bringing some interesting programmation to the people. I’m happy we’re part of it again. I think Josh did one of the first years, right?
Josh: Yes, this is my second time playing Kehakuma, but I played the first year, when it was on Wednesday night. It was not so known and popular, but it was nice because it offered an alternative to the more usual sound of the big and respected club.
This summer Kehakuma went slightly less experimental. Are you planning to adjust the sound of your sets to its new spirit somehow?
Steve: As a DJ, you always try to make the most out of the records that you really like. Still at the same time you are trying to please the people the most you can with the records you want to play. So instead of playing something that you think they might want to hear, you go with the flow, you try things out, and some of them work, others don’t. In general, I think it’s something important that you learn or at least should learn over the years: to be able to react to certain moments, but still bring your own sound instead of playing the same as everyone else.
We are sensitive to being able to entertain & educate, and to be able to be in a position where we can put unreleased new music on the forefront...Josh: I think there is a unique balance and responsibility of a DJ to do two main things. One is to educate people with new music, and the other is entertaining people with your music. There is actually a third one for me too, which is to create an atmosphere with the music. Sometimes DJs don’t look like this on their job, they just think: “Fuck it, I’m gonna play what I want, and if the crowd doesn’t get it, I couldn’t care less”.
Steve and I have been doing this for a really long time, both as producers, artists, record label owners and DJs. We are sensitive to being able to entertain and educate, and to be able to be in a position where we can put unreleased new music on the forefront. We don’t want to play over people’s heads just because we can. You know, there is a difference between playing to people and for people, and I love playing to people.
When was the very first time when you played together, can you try to remember?
Steve: I think it was when we were doing weekly Poker Flat parties at Stern Radio club in Berlin. I’d just moved to Berlin a few years ago, so it might be somewhere mid-ninetees. Apart from us, DJs from the label, playing with weekly or two-weekly circulation, we were inviting guest artists as well. Josh was on the top list for us, and we finally managed to book him for the club.
Josh: Here it’s important to say that I don’t smoke. I’m an avid non-smoker; I never do cigarette-related events.
Steve: The club, without us even knowing, got a sponsoring for the night – cigarette sponsor. For other nights, I was picking artists with my rusty Polo at the time. But they said: “No, we are going to have a car service picking up Josh from the airport now”; and so…
Josh: I showed up at Tegel airport in Berlin with my bags full of vinyl. And there was a big strange limousine with something like ‘Camel’ or ‘Marlboro’ logo outside, big and huge. I had never seen a limousine in Europe before, it was very different than in America. And the guy comes out with a sign and says: “Josh Wink!”…You can imagine my reaction.
Can you actually say that it’s a challenge for you to play together?
Steve: In a way, but in a positive way. I mean, it’s kind of challenging, because you never know what’s really happening. You don’t hold everything in your hand; you have to take what’s left from the last track that the other one played.
When you DJ with someone, it’s like a puzzle. It’s like Steve puts the pieces of the puzzle there, and I’m like: “Hm! How can it fit the puzzle?...Josh:For me, it’s not a challenge, but it’s more thoughtful.
Steve: Yes, that’s a good way of expressing it.
Josh: When I DJ on my own, there are two kinds of sense I can have. The first one is when creativity flows through me, I don’t have to think about it, it’s just organic, and it just goes. The second is when I think about it too much – sometimes it’s a good thing, and sometimes I overthink it.
But when you DJ with someone, it’s like a puzzle. It’s like Steve puts the pieces of the puzzle there, and I’m like: “Hm! How can it fit the puzzle? What can I do to make it fit? Or what can I do to bring another part of the puzzle in?” The core thing I like about the sets with him is that it goes a lot to different places, up and down, with different styles. There are different aspects of him that, I think, I bring out, and there are different aspects of me that he brings out.
Sometimes you play a little bit deeper, or sometimes you play a little bit more aggressive, sometimes you play a little bit more techno; sometimes you play a little bit more of acid house...What are these aspects?
Josh: We both have a lot of music in our computers to play. In usual DJ sets you have like one and a half hour to play and 10,000 songs in our computer, so you can’t play every one. Sometimes you play a little bit deeper, or sometimes you play a little bit more aggressive, sometimes you play a little bit more techno; sometimes you play a little bit more of acid house...
So Steve kind of calms me down a little bit, when I tend to play with the speed that does not necessarily need to be so fast – you know, there is a different kind of emotion in the music, when I play by myself. And it’s fun, because sometimes he may go to a certain area, and I really like it, and I start to feel it, and I start to do ‘Steve dance’ a little bit, and then I kinda go with him in his direction.
And maybe sometimes when I go to a different direction, he feels it and comes with me for a couple of songs, as if saying “Now, I don’t like it, I will bring it back down”. And it’s fun! I think, people also enjoy looking and seeing our banter when we are at a club. Because we are old friends, and we have fun; for us, it’s all about the money…I mean, it’s all about the music!!!
I think, people also enjoy looking and seeing our banter when we are at a club. Because we are old friends, and we have fun; for us, it’s all about the money… I mean, it’s all about the music!!!Steve: Ha-ha-ha!!!
Josh: All about the music, the music!
Steve, would you like to add something?
Steve: No, I think that was well said. It’s all about being stupid, that’s the thing. When Josh plays something more driving, that’s why we sometimes mostly use two tracks each, because the way Josh plays is like…kind of…
Steve: He plays a lot of tracks and he makes them work by mixing them together… like I mean, what I do as well – sounds stupid though! For example, he plays a track where there is not very much going on, there are no big build-ups or something, and it’s for five minutes. But he manages to mix it together with another track, so it makes sense and doesn’t become boring. And sometimes, when we play two tracks each, then Josh does the things after I’ve been playing some deeper staff maybe, with more build-up and with more melodic kind of things, and then I realise that I have to be continuing with this kind of music, and I have to look for tracks.
Josh: Which you have!
Steve: I know, I know. But it’s great to re-discover this, or sometimes even to play this track that I have just bought, but I wouldn’t have played if I were playing by myself. So it’s great to have someone who leaves you with something that you’re not usually being left with, so it’s a great…
Which memories do you have of your first ever gig in Ibiza?
Josh: In 1993 I played in Es Paradis.
Steve: It was the first time ever when I played a DJ set and got paid for it. I started going to clubs in 1987, I fell in love with the music, kept on buying records and made tapes at home. I gave the tapes away to friends, and they would always tell me that I should start playing in clubs and become a DJ – but I was enjoying being on the dancefloor so much that I wasn’t really thinking ever of becoming a DJ.
Then in 1991 I came to Ibiza for three months. I spent there all the money I made cleaning the salon – I used to be a hairdresser and made extra shifts by cleaning the salon, and also I worked as a bartender as well. I brought some records with me, and I kept on buying records in Ibiza – actually, I don’t even know why I brought some records from the abroad, I did it without thinking I would play them out. Then I met one of the dancers of Pacha, later his was running the Funky room, and he was opening a bar next to Space.
I had friends on the island, I was working here all summer, I was driving my Volkswagen Beetle, I was shaved bold – so people knew me for being around, and they found out that I liked to buy records, and I think they even had some of my tapes. So they said: “We gonna open this bar as an afterhour for Space” (at that time Space was closing around midday), and they asked me to play the opening party. I did play, and the funny thing is – that’s why I remember it so well – I played in a kitchen without a window. The people were outside; I didn’t even see anyone, which was good, because I was very nervous! I played to myself, to a white wall, and people outside were going nuts, but I didn’t see anything.