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Interview: We Love resident Steve Lawler

Once hailed as the King of Space or was it King of the Terrace, my memory is hazy, either way, Space Ibiza legend!

Spotlight: Hi Steve, tell us what have you been up to recently?

Steve Lawler: Well, towards start of year I was in the studio working on a few remixes I'd had commissioned and since then I've done a remix for Cocoon for Be As One and for Slam, which are out or will be coming out in the next couple of months. I was also working on my new single that has got a vocal from Roland Clark, so I was in the studio at the start of the year and then since March I've been touring heavily, before and after the Miami conference, North and South America, Europe, so I took a bit of time out at the start of the year and by March I'm touring mainly.

Speaking of studio time, is an artist album planned?

Yeah, it's something I've had planned for a couple of years, it's just the most difficult thing is to find the time to really focus on a album. I have dabbled with the project several times and then been pulled out by a tour and 4 weeks later your heads not in the same space. I need to take myself away for several months really. My album's not going to be the kind of thing I'm known for - like is dance floor bombs or house or techno - it's gonna be stripped and I need to get deep in myself and away from the usual pattern of life.

You're back at Space this summer for We Love. Is there anywhere else that feels quite as much like home for you as Sundays at Space?

The End did in London but that's gone now. Because I was the resident there for 7 years, I had a similar feeling when I walked into the club, it did have that homely feel; you know the room really well and you know a lot of people that are going to be there. It just makes the gig very different and the only 2 places I feel like that have been Space and The End.

The We Love line-ups seem to grow more and more innovative every year, which seems a long way from 10 years ago when it was centred around the giant names like Tenaglia, Sasha, Carl Cox for example.......

I know the guys that are involved with We Love and I know what they're like when it comes to music, and they massively into their music. I don't mean just one style of music, Mark Broadbent has got huge musical knowledge, he's really into some amazing music and the more involvement he's had over the years, the more he has really pushed for more, let's say, more discerning acts to come in and play at the club.

We Love has always been about, first and foremost, delivering a party, but with a certain amount of integrity about bringing something to the island that no one else does. I don't think anyone has ever challenged what We Love do, bringing in different types of music in 5 rooms on the same night. I personally, think what they do is cutting edge and they are always giving a nod to the past and the future. What amazing line ups they have through the summer! They deliver the parties but also bring the music to the island that no one else does.

I don't want to get bogged down talking about genres but you've been tagged within a couple of different genres down the years, tribal and progressive notably, have you made an effort to get rid of those associations.

Well yeah because one of the things I always encountered in my career, which I felt was a hindrance, was that I was always associated with a scene of music, not that I didn't feel part of but you know when people talk about progressive house, DJs like Nick Warren, Sasha and Digweed, I never have played the same music or records as those guys. My track on Bedrock was a vocal record with stabs, it didn't fall under the genre of progressive house. I was also on a progressive house agency with Excession and releases compilations with Global Underground as well, but in my opinion Nu Breed and Lights Out, they weren't progressive house, so it was the association musically with something I wasn't doing.

I've found myself being booked to play a club that wanted progressive monster tracks and I was playing house with drums and techno, funky things and it wasn't going down very well. I found myself being squeezed into a hole I didn't belong to. I think over the years, that vanished anyway, because clubs would be full of people because they knew what I was going to play, so it wasn't that I tried to get out of it, it just happened that way but it was something I was aware of yeah.

Interestingly though, the percussive sound has again been popularized in the last few years, the Mannheim sound for example or even Tim Green's Lone Time, that tracks was really big this year and is all percussion and even your own Kalimba from last year, has a tribal soul to it.

I actually believe I have quite a unique style and sound and it's not something I do on purpose, I like music that is built around rhythm and bass, grooves and house tempo, nice 124/125 groovy basslines and rhythm…..that was what I've been attracted to in house music. I've never been attracted to melody, I don't know why, it's just not my taste, I'm not a big fan of anything too noisy and hard or guitar riffs, I just like grooves and drums. Naturally out of my taste, it develops your own style and the drums, they've never really gone, they've just become popular again.

It's almost that the underground sound is now in fact the popular sound, the success of Cocoon, Luciano in Pacha, Space's own program is very underground when compared to before, but also that it seems new promoters are using this group of high quality, underground labels as their staple rather than any other genre.

Absolutely, you're absolutely right. But you know what this is, it's all circles, I've been DJing now professionally for 17 years, so I've seen this circle come around 3 or 4 times now. I remember back in the early 90s, Renaissance was what Cocoon is now sort of thing, people naturally need heroes and to follow things and Cocoon put out great parties, great respect to them. I doesn't matter how much marketing or bullshit there is, the truth always wins in the end. With Cocoon, they were putting on amazing parties and they became popular, simple as that. Same as DC10, you've got people who I personally think they a lot to thank for their careers and they've developed a lot of new things that are now considered normal. People didn't do it to be the biggest or to takeover, they did it to throw good parties and I have total and utter respect for that.

I feel overwhelmed with the amount of new music I get sent, how do you deal with the amount of music you get sent or want to listen to and how do you organise it all?

It's a nightmare! I have somebody in my office, one of my brothers, who downloads everything onto a hard drive and he gives me that hard drive twice a week and I'm probably getting 500 tracks a week that I have to listen, between promos and demos for Viva. Alongside that, we also dropped around 500 record labels, what I mean by that is that we were getting everything coming through, so I would say to my brother, if this label sends any music, there's no point downloading it and we let them know it's not the right stuff.

There is only one person who can choose the music and that's me, obviously I can't give the job to anyone else, it's a job I have to do, so I spend around 2 or 3 days a week going through new music. It's just part and parcel of my job.

How do you organise the music regarding your sets?

It's a simple system, I have a folder of maybes, my folder of stuff I'm all over straight away and then I decide from there. I load them into Traktor and I go from there.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

I'm doing a lot of festivals around the world, I'm happy about the Viva music events we're doing. We're doing an arena at the Extrema Festival and in Romania, so I'm happy with that and I'm just really looking forward to the summer.

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