The ClubPlanet Interview: Stonebridge

The ClubPlanet Interview: Stonebridge

by DJ Ron Slomowicz
02.10.2015

From Robin S “Show Me Love” to his track “Put em High” with Therese, Stonebridge is the quintessential vocal house producer who has always stayed true to the sound.  So as the dance music world has cycled back to house music, who else would you expect to be in the spotlight.  As a leading tastemaker DJ on Sirius/XM/BPM, his radio shows expose the world to the newest sounds, spotlighting the up and coming talent as well as the latest releases from the legends.   His two labels, Stoney Boy and Dirty Harry, release music that show the variety of the music that he loves.  More importantly, Stoney is one of the nicest and most real guys in the dance world.  How else could he be a leader for more than 25 years?

RS:  Where does the name StoneBridge come from?
Stonebridge: Well my name is Stone in Swedish and the first productions that I did were mixing tools from funk to reggae and we called them bridges. We had an English sheet in our 12 inches, that we sent out worldwide and it said “Stone has made another bridge” and some genius in the office said “hey man that is the coolest name.” Apple had just released the LaserWriter and it was one word with big L and big W. The Mac guru on the team said that we should do big S, big B and have StoneBridge as one word and that is the story of that.

RS:  And 20 years later it’s still the best name in house music.
Stonebridge: Yes, that was in ’87. 

RS:  Since we are starting with history, one of the records that you made that is a universal anthem and classic is, of course, Robin S “Show me Love.” When you made that record with her, did you have any idea that it would become that big?
Stonebridge: None whatsoever; I didn’t want to turn it in. I did a mix first, and the label flat out said no and that they didn’t like it. I had a gig on a Saturday night and at 4 in the afternoon I said to myself “hell, I am going to do one more mix.” I went in and I made the bassline, but with a pick bass on an M1. The next preset on it was an organ, and the bassline was playing with that sound and I thought, “man, that is fantastic.” I realized that I didn’t need that much and that I needed something in the chorus, two chords, and I needed some techno and something with attitude because it was too sweet. I mixed it down and brought the portable DAT player to the gig and was thinking that it was too soft I couldn’t play it, and I thought that it would fail. That Monday I discussed with the other guys in the office if I should send it or not and they said that it was the best thing that I ever did. I thought it was shit actually, but I sent it and they said “it’s alright," which is typical London style. I had to re-edit and put that one part in 20 times and after the 14th re-edit, I didn’t hear anything back, it went quiet. I was in London 8 months later and I put the TV on and my bag on the bed and started unpacking and heard it on Top of the Pops. I wondered what the hell was going on and looked at the TV and saw Robin S, a big woman, performing the song on Top of the Pops. I called the label and asked them why they didn’t tell me and they said “Oh Stone, we didn’t want your remix fee to go up.” They kept me in the dark and gave me cheap mixes for a few more months and then the phone didn’t stop ringing for about 5-6 years straight, it was crazy.

RS:  That song has been redone, covered, and remixed so many times, aside from your original version what is your favorite reworking of the record?
Stonebridge: That is a tough one because the better they get, the more pointless they get, and that is why I never remixed it again, I couldn’t improve it. I think that what Laidback Luke and Steve Angello did with “Be” was similar and I actually liked it. It wasn’t my bassline, but it was a similar bassline that was banging and really good. I think that it all went wrong when they did a straight up cover of it. It was kind of pointless because it was creative the way that they did it. If I picked one, it would be “Be” before it became “Show Me Love.” 


RS:  That makes sense. You also have a really popular radio show on BPM Sirius XM. How do you choose the records you play on there?
Stonebridge: I am sort of advised and need to follow their playlist. Now that I have done it for almost 3 years, I know the station and I can choose tracks that I know are in their format. They really like it and it is a popular show and I support a lot of young guys and a lot of existing big guys. I get tweets from Kaskade when he is on his way to his gigs and it is fantastic. It is a drivetime show for when you go to the club or when you come back from the club so people have it playing in their cars. You get these really cool tweets from people like Tiesto that give you props and thanks for the drops. To answer your question, I do the selection now based on what they have played over the last couple of days and so I would say that it is about 60% playlisted, and the other 40% are the same sounds and vibe. 


RS:  How do you feel about this whole resurgence of house music?
Stonebridge: Everything is cyclical, and I think that the interesting thing with EDM is that America has done it again. If we roll back to disco, it was extremely commercial and they took it to everything disco, disco headbands, disco bumper stickers, disco housewives and TV shows, and it just got to be too much. The radio DJ in Chicago said let’s meet at the stadium and burn disco records and then it was disco sucks and America didn’t fully recover until 20 years later. Hip-hop and R&B came in between and we call it the dark ages in Europe. So it came back and now major corporations are getting into EDM and now they have EDM headbands, bumper stickers, and t-shirts and everything from puzzles to underwear, you name it! This time around at least the major players like Pete Tong spotted it 2 years ago and started to push the more deep sounds. I can see that promoters are now looking at guys like Roger Sanchez, and even guys like me are being booked more because they are looking for DJs that can read a room. It is not always a festival, it can be a small club in Jersey and it might be local people that don’t know the latest music and so you have to have DJs that can adapt. At a festival when you have 40,000 people together you just can’t play deep house, it is just not going to work. That is why trance was always the perfect festival music because you have the big emotional breakdowns and then that energy comes in with everyone together. The bassline groovy stuff is just not really festival music, and I think that the club scene has realized that they need a club format again, which is more basic house.

RS:  I am so happy to hear house music coming back and vocals and singers as well.
Stonebridge: I was always the champion of singers. I never left songs and that was always my core sound. People always ask me how I keep going and how I reinvent myself and the reason is because I focus on the song. As I play every week and I hear all the music for the show, I sort of get influenced and see what is happening with the basslines and you sort of update your sound but the core is always the song. I love singers as well, I love Crystal Waters and we have been working together for 4 years. We finally we have a song together and it has gone really well and we are both really happy. It is the same thing with my new one with Koko LaRoo which is a traditional StoneBridge record if you will, it is the same format as “Put ‘Em High” which is a club song, uplifting and not too serious, without dramatic lyrics. It is a happy record and someone has to do it! 

RS:  Speaking about “Put ‘Em High,” you just had remixes of it come out, what is the story behind that?
Stonebridge: I started working with these two Dutch guys Atilla Cetin and Alex van Alff, and they did a few records and mixes for me. They told me that they really loved my classic and that they remembered when they used to hear it in the clubs and asked for the acapella.  Mark Doyle of Hed Kandi put in on the vinyl so it is on the internet and everyone can get it so I get remixes at least once a month and have been since 2004. I sent the a cappella to the guys and they delivered and I was wondering why they would do a free download because that’s just boring. I reached out to Hed Kandi and told them that a couple of my guys did some new remixes and they loved them. I was expecting a compilation release, but they are going to do a full single release first with Atilla Cetin and then with Alex van Alff and shortly after with “Take Me Away,” which is probably the best of them all, it is a really good remix.

RS:  What is the difference between Stoney Boy and Dirty Harry?
Stonebridge: Stoney Boy Music is the more artist-driven label where I do my artist singles and albums, like for Silosonic, who is a big UK act. I have a great plan and I service it to radio media. Regarding Dirty Harry, I felt that I needed an outlet for fun club tracks, it is totally house and never EDM. It is filthy disco in a modern take; it can be slightly progressive, but always with that funky element. It started when I did mashups and played in the US, I wanted something different but I still wanted the EDM hooks. For instance, I did a Lana Del Rey mix and put that on a disco-y track and it was sensational. Most people thought that it was the Cedric Gervais mix, but they don’t really care as long as it kicks. I got a lot of feedback because it is artwork-driven, we always have retarded artwork.   Around Valentine’s Day we had a release and it was a girl that was lying on the floor with a rose in her hand and a Valentine's card and you see Dirty Harry in the shadows and he came too late to rescue the girl. We overthink it, and the designer and I have a really great time, and people look at it quickly and love the art. We have done tours and have had big banners in Ibiza and people love it. We picked Dirty Harry because he was a San Francisco cop and disco was very big there so it kind of fits together.

RS:  I want to go back in time with you, I want you to pretend like you are in a room and sitting next to you is your 18 year-old self.  What advice would you give to your 18 year-old self?
Stonebridge: I would say keep the line and don’t go for the quick buck. I’ve heard many sad stories where people buy followers, likes, and views, but there is going to be a crunch point where you have to show real talent and the only way to get that is to spend those 10,000 hours to get really good at something. People are too eager to become big and make a record, some kids even buy a ghost-produced track to put their name on it and they buy all the views and likes to show promoters that they are really big. The problem is that there is no cover and it is empty likes and empty followers and there is no fanbase. My advice to my 18 year-old self is to keep the line, always focus on the song, focus on the good stuff, deliver, and be professional, be on time and think about the crowd. I overthink a lot and spend time with fans and take the time. You never know, one guy that’s in the mailroom of a major label might be the CEO 10 years later, you never know. For example, I got a really big remix from someone that was a fan that I put on the guest list years before and he remembered that. The people that you step on during the way up are the first guys you meet on the way down. I have a lot of favors to call in everywhere and I have been nice and I can reap the benefits, the karma points.

RS: You are a nice guy as well.
StoneBridge: Yes, it helps to be nice. I don’t understand why some people think that they are bigger stars if they have a really diva attitude and they think that they are untouchable but it doesn’t work.

RS: Agreed; what do you want to say to all of your fans out there?
StoneBridge: Thank you for all the support, come to my show and I will give you a spectacular time!


Interview conducted at Amsterdam Dance Event 2014.


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