Ibiza Voice Podcast 544 :: Steve Rachmad
One morning in Amsterdam in 1993, Derrick May answered his door to find a twenty something and then unknown Steve Rachmad clutching a tape. The Detroit legend was living in Amsterdam at the time and was about to discover one of techno's greatest DJs, quite literally, on his doorstep. "I was in my early 20s and I was lucky that Derrick lived in Amsterdam back then, Rachmad told Ransom Note a few years back. "I was determined to release on his label and I was very often at his doorstep with a tape. Each time he said something had to sound different, I went home, worked on it, and next morning I would be again at his door. Until he said yes."
Nearly three decades later, Rachmad is the hungry, young blood who made it to techno's top table and then some. He is almost synonymous with Detroit techno, despite the fact he was born in Amsterdam. His 1996 album "Secret Life of Machines" is regarded as a techno classic and his output over the years, whether it be under the name Sterac, or one of his many other aliases is incredibly prolific. Rachmad is quite simply, a studio machine. And he's not a bad DJ to boot, as can be heard on his Ibiza Voice podcast. Recorded at the HYTE x Ricardo Villalobos event at Amsterdam’s Warehouse Elementenstraat during ADE 2017, the mix bubbles through a deftly selected blend of old school under-the-radar gems, tough, chord heavy house, trippy techno and some stone cold classics.
Ibiza Voice: What's new with you?
Steve Rachmad: I had a very busy period travelling in and around the summer. I came from Brazil and Buenos Aires and did Berghain in the last weeks. It was a great summer for me socially but musically I didn’t get to do anything as planned.
I’m making up [time in the studio] lately in the darker and colder days and I’m in a good flow. So music wise, not much is coming soon except some remixes that just out on Suara or for Kerri Chandler on Watergate or are at still coming out. [These include] two projects for Indigo Area and a remix for Paul Ritch all under Sterac.
How did you record the mix?
This mix was recorded live in the club so I basically used what was there. The crowd was deciding my tactic at the moment. The mix was done with three CDJs and a mixer. Sorry, no vinyl.
Where do you get your music from?
The music I play is either from promos or given by colleague artists and friends. I recorded a lot of vinyl as well from older records that fit perfectly again nowadays. I don’t have a lot of time time to shop around for music. At least I don’t take it. Since time can be limited, sometimes I rather spend that time on producing new music.
Tell us about your record collection?
My record collection started in 1980. The 80s was the best period for me musically and the most diverse period concerning different styles. My big love was always the electronics in 80s disco. I don’t have a lot [common ground] with 70s disco stuff. It’s simply not electronic enough. But overall all the 80s stuff is my favourite. From pop to ballads to rock to anything. That’s not to say I’m stuck in the 80s with my collection no, but it’s the most important part of it. I like too much music and there is so much music.
Do any of these records tell a story about you?
To be honest doesn’t music always do that? Tell you story I mean? I can put on a record and a whole memory passes by at that moment. Or a specific feeling you had in the time you heard the record for the 1st time. I can’t think of a special moment at this point but I know there must be many.
Tell us about the scene you came up in, how did it influence you?
My scene back in the 80s was the radio. I was too young to go out and all I had was the pirate radio stations playing the underground 80s electronic disco. So it was the radio and my weekly pocket money to spend in the import record shops. It didn’t influence me, it formed me. That part made me who I am today as an artist.
Can you tell us about the most significant turning point in your career?
The point that I had to choose between going harder or going back to my roots. There was a point where people changed whatever style of music they were playing into minimal. That was a very influential thing that happened and that shook music land upside down. Techno was being taken over by it, people were losing work because of this new style.
I was losing work as well, but going back to my more musical roots gave it all a new life for me. Nowadays I split into Sterac and Steve Rachmad so I can have both. My techno [me] and my more diverse me. For me, it was the best thing that could have happened because it all became more diverse. Not every week the same style but sometimes this, sometimes that.
Is it true you used to doorstep Derrick May to give him tapes when you were in your 20s?
Yes correct! I was a big fan of his label and it was a dream for me to put something out on it. I got to meet him when he lived in Amsterdam for a few years. In that time we were hanging out sometimes and of course I used these opportunities to play him my latest productions. Until he finally said yes.
What clubs were instrumental in influencing you, can you recall any standout stories from this time?
Music wise, there was only one club in time that influenced me big time. Club Roxy in Amsterdam in the 90s was the first club where I really heard all the different types of house music. And house music is what it was all named. There was no box thinking yet. As long as it had the four-four, boom-boom kick drum, it was called house music.
This music was totally new. Sometimes even science fiction-like. It was really an experience. People came up with their own sound and style of sounds and all the sounds were new at the time. I went home always with this ‘wow’ feeling musically because I heard so much great music then.