HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Steve Lawler

"I love all kinds of music and I'm an avid collector ranging from rock, drum & bass, ambient, jazz; literally everything, though I've shied away from a lot of the big guitar led house records, because for me, one of the beautiful things about rock & roll is that it's actually very meaningful. Songs are written about an experience or the meaning of something, and often dance music is written for commercial use. I love rock, but I'm not so fond of rock house, if that's what you want to call it."

Chatting down the line from his Balearic villa, Steve Lawler admits to feeling ambiguous towards Ibiza's biggest media story of the year, Manumission Rocks, and its role in revitalizing the white island.

"I don't know about whether it's revitalizing the club scene here because certainly the club scene does not need revitalizing in Ibiza, but having said that I always encourage new music," says Steve.

"In fact, it's amazing what's happened in the last two years, it's been the most interesting time in house music, because it's taken on all these different influences from hip hop to rock and even this German wave of minimal house and techno. People are all being really open minded about music again and that is a massively good thing, especially for someone like me who doesn't really stick to any style of music - I just play what I like. It's great that there are so many different influences out there being used in house music," he continues.

"It's always the same for me, I listen to a record and I either like it or I don't. Sometimes there are tracks out there that everyone loves and I hate, or vice versa. I think that's what gives the DJ his style, his own personal taste."

And personal taste is the key factor behind Lawler's latest compilation Lights Out 3, a 28 track affair he's labored long and hard over, with a perfectionist's attention to detail, he asserts.

"Whenever I do an album, I put so much effort into it that by the time I've finished I always swear that I won't do it again, but the trouble is that as soon as I start doing a new one, I get ideas, good ideas, and I need to do them. When I start on a project like this compilation, I always want it to be as good as it possibly can be, so if I see places where it could be improved, I'll always go back and make the change. That's why it's always long process."

> Interview : Jonty Skrufff


Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff) : What's the procedure involved in choosing the CD's tracks?

Steve Lawler : The first thing I did was send out an email to every single record label I possibly could, stating that I was doing the album and saying in the message 'it doesn't matter what style your music is, just send it because I might like it'. I then went through over a thousand of songs literaly, in a matter of a couple of months and when you go through these things, I'm not just looking for a good record, I'm looking for something that's going to fit into the style and the vibe of the album. The most important aspect of a compilation is the programming, because you can make a record sound better than it actually is, by what tracks you put either side of it. That definitely works. Every track has to really go with the track before it and the track afterwards as well. There are some tracks that I really liked but didn't get on the album because they didn't really fit anywhere.

Skrufff : I guess you're traveling or spinning almost constantly, how do you find the time?

Steve : I am, but I usualy travel at the weekend and during the week I spend Monday to Thursday in the studio, ten hours a day, it's a seven days a week job for me when I'm doing an album.

Skrufff : Have you moved down to London from the Midlands since we last spoke?

Steve : No, I'm in Birmingham still or rather I'm in Ibiza at the moment but I finished this album in June while on tour. By the end of the process, I'd got it all onto my computer. What I actually did was get the track selection worked out exactly, I got all the mixing points exactly how I wanted them and knew where to drop each track in, where to take it out. After that it was a process of doing it twenty or thirty times, making sure I got the mix nailed and it sounded good. Then what I do is mix it down live and mix it into a computer program called Ableton Live on two separate channels, so I'm still mixing it myself as a human and that way I can get the feeling into it the way I want it, the way I'm mixing in a club, the way I drop the bass in and stuff, that's important to me to have that feeling there, which you can't really get when you are laying it up together on Ableton Live.

Skrufff : How easy is it for you with all the traveling to maintain your health?

Steve : It's not easy. I 've probably spent the last twenty years of my life being as unhealthy as I could possibly be to be honest.

Skrufff : Carl Cox had a near heart attack last year, how easy is it for you to handle all the pressure long term?

Steve : It's not easy and in fact I've probably spent the last seven years of my life living as unhealthily as I possibly could.

Skrufff : Have you had many health scares?

Steve : I've had lots, particularly when I was younger. I've been in situations when I was younger when I've nearly died on a couple of occasions. I love what I do, but this whole lifestyle is a lot harder than people imagine, people don't understand until they actually do it, spending your whole life on tour. It's incredibly tough but there's a lot of rewards for it so it goes both ways.

Skrufff : What were the situations where you nearly died?

Steve : When I was eighteen or nineteen I was seriously beaten up and put into intensive care on one occasion. It happened in a bar. It was by someone I know but I can't really divulge any more details, it's something that might come out in a book I the future and I've been told not to discuss it specifically in interviews.

Skrufff : We chatted to you last year about you being threatened by gangsters in Mexico, have you been back since?

Steve : Yeah I've been back to Mexico City and a couple of other places in Mexico, which have all been amazing. Mexico is really good territory for me, one of my best in the world; I can go to Mexico and put on a show for 4/5000 people quite easily. As far as that one particular experience is concerned, I was just unlucky to be the first DJ at the club, I believe it could have happened to anyone. It was the opening night of the club and the club owners shouldn't really be club owners I think, they live in a different world. In their mind they thought they could actually physically threaten us to go back in the club and play music and that was quite a scary situation, not mainly for me, I was obviously scared for myself, but I was more scared for my girlfriend who was with me. I don't really want her to be exposed to anything like that, ever, and they wouldn't let her go, so it was quite a frightening situation. I discussed it with my agent afterwards and he felt that people should definitely know about it, because other DJs were booked there and it obviously wasn't that safe. The story seemed so unbelievable that people tended to question me about it. It was true, though; everything that was said was absolutely true. That's how bad it was. Even we couldn't believe it. I was in shock that it actually happened and how far they took the situation was unbelievable.

End of the interview

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