Clubplanet Interviews Steve Lawler

Clubplanet Interviews Steve Lawler

by Marcos Colón
07.05.2010

There are DJs that climb the ranks of popularity in no time, then there are DJs who have done and seen it all, gaining the respect of the masses through their longevity and seemingly untiring efforts in the booth. One of these DJs is Steve Lawler. Being one of the top DJ-producers in the world isn’t something that’s handed to you, or a feat attainable in a matter of months. Mr. Lawler has been around since the start of the acid house days, playing illegal parties in tunnels under English motorways in the early 90s. Now he’s constantly touring the globe, playing the biggest and best clubs in the world, and releasing some of the best electronic music we’ve heard on his infamous VIVa Music record label. There seems to be no end to the man’s creativity and musical knowledge, and as more time goes by his “legendary” status just seems to grow along as well.

We recently caught up with Steve Lawler and chatted about his summer gigs in Ibiza, what he thinks makes a good DJ, and what he has in store for the remainder of the year.

Clubplanet: I recently caught some footage of your set for Space Ibiza’s opening party this summer, and it looked insane! How’s the club season treating you so far over there?

Steve Lawler: It’s been absolutely fantastic. That party was just amazing, it was like a Michael Jackson concert. The level of production they had was insane. They had this huge screen, which was the first one that had been used in Europe. The first time that they used that whole setup was for my set, so I had to talk to all the sound and production guys to sort of do a dry run of how it would all work and when I should drop my track in. It was all timed precisely. It was an amazing party.

Clubplanet: You’re also helping to kick off Wonderland Ibiza with Pete Tong. What do you look forward to from that event?

Steve Lawler: Well, first of all we’re playing with a legend that is Bryan Ferry. If you look at his career, it’s spanned over the last 30 years, it’s insane. The kind of music that he’s released, even though it’s commercial, it’s been very good music.

Clubplanet: As I’m sure you’ve already heard, SONAR’s going to be expanding and taking their show to Chicago. In your opinion, what does this mean for the electronic music world in the U.S.?

Steve Lawler: The electronic music world in the U.S. has grown so rapidly in the last two years. I’ve been coming out here since the early to mid 90s, so I’ve been coming here for many years. In the last couple of years I’ve seen a huge shift in popularity and the number of fans for the music on this side of the world. I’ve always said that the American public, if they get into something then beware! (laughs) because if they get into it, they get into it big. There’s always been a scene here, but in the last couple of years it’s really amped up. I’ve been pushing a more underground sound on this side of the world since 2004. Now the kind of music I’m playing is being received very well in America and Canada. For example, during Winter Music Conference I played seven parties in seven days. Usually that seems like too much, but every single party was slammed and people were really into the music. It was really refreshing and exciting to see.

Clubplanet: Many people seem to believe that nowadays it’s easy to become a DJ because technology is rapidly improving and becoming so user-friendly. What do you think it takes to be a good DJ?

Steve Lawler: Well it is easy to be a DJ because anyone can buy tracks off of Beatport and anyone can buy Traktor and mix two tracks together. Anyone can do that. But that’s not what makes a good DJ. What makes a good DJ for me is the music selection and programming; programming being the key-point for me. There’s a difference between hearing a bunch of records play and hearing a bunch of records play in a certain order that kind of drive you and suck you into the music and gets you lost in the sound. That’s not something that you can buy, that’s something that you can develop over the years.

Clubplanet: The DJ now is the main attraction during a club night. Before they were an important night of the club experience, but now people show up to the club and the DJ is the focal point. Do you think this now puts more pressure on the DJ from a production standpoint, making them want to deliver more of a show?

Steve Lawler: Yes I do actually. But not only that, in this day and age for people to make it as a DJ they have to prove themselves as a producer and build their name and their fan-base that way. When I started DJ it wasn’t like that. You could do well as a DJ from the strength of you being a DJ and not really a producer. I think it’s a good thing because DJs should be an artist, but it should be something that they can take on the road. When I’m on the road I try to keep my set limited to tracks from my label or my production. Therefore, not everyone is going to have these because they’re unique to myself and my label, so I try to bring something unique. Of course I play some tracks from other labels, because there’s other stuff out there that’s so good I can’t help but play it.

Clubplanet: If there’s one message that you’d like to communicate through your music what would that be?

Steve Lawler: I don’t know about a message, but I’ve always produced music in the studio and performed music as a DJ with the sole purpose for people to get lost in the music and leave whatever baggage they may have behind. I’ve always seen music as a place of solitude where you can enjoy it and get lost in it. That’s the way I’ve always seen it and always understood and made music.

Clubplanet: What do you have lined up for the remainder of the year?

Steve Lawler: This summer has a real heavy touring schedule for me but then I’ll take a few weeks off to get back in the studio. The way I schedule my year out, is try and set up four to six gigs a month in the winter time so I can spend more time in the studio. I usually leave home at the end of May and don’t return until the end of October. When I get back in the winter I take time out and focus on the studio and more European dates, but I’m looking to do a big VIVa Music tour at the end of October/beginning of November, in the States.


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