HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Steve Porter

It is an ardent clubber who will not be experiencing mild effects of electro-fatigue after this summer's untrammelled obsession with the genre, which Steve Porter describes in no equivocal terms as the "Von Dutch, Gap, Banana Republic of this year for dance music". Those looking for a respite will be keenly eyeing the release date of his next mix album, after his debut 'Homegrown' did a thorough job of capsizing any criticism that this artist was in any way pedestrian. More in the realm of a commercial mix CD, the album is widely anticipated to be a showcase for next year's Miami Winter Music Conference.

Steve's grassroots influences are as homegrown as they are wide ranging, stretching as far afield as funk, disco and techno-spiked house - a diversity also seen in the heavyweight names who've taken his talents to the turntables, from his early proponent Chris Fortier, to Sander Kleinenberg, Felix da Housecat and Carl Cox. Virtually part of the scenery at the WMC with his acclaimed Porterhouse parties, Steve's self-described style of 'phantasmic funk' is gathering an ever increasing number of devotees into its vortex, and he has chalked up over seventy production and remix accolades to his name, as well as two alter egos, Agent 001 and HDF & Bons. With the endorsement of just about every major name in the industry behind him, it's testament to his modesty that he can admit to having once attempted Bon Jovi in a karaoke box when we met him before his set at Womb...

* If you would like to view the video interview...Click here !

> Introduction & Interview : Matt Cotterill


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Hi Steve, how are you?

Steve Poter : I'm great, happy to be in Japan, it's my second time here.

HRFQ : You said it was with your family the first time?

Steve Poter : With my family, my dad was a scientist, so he was over here on business with science, and he had graduate professors that graduate students that live here, and so we were over here, just kind of exploring around, I went to a few of those golf driving ranges in the city here, which was fun. We went to a karaoke bar or two.

HRFQ : What did you sing at karaoke?

Steve Poter : Bon Jovi, "Living on a Prayer". Very hard actually, ha ha!

HRFQ : Excellent! Well, Steve, the Winter Music Conference in Miami, you're quite a regular appearance there...

Steve Poter : It's been six years now.

HRFQ : You did the Homegrown in January, it's been quite a few months since then. Since Miami, how has the reaction been from that album?

Steve Poter : Well this Miami was kind of a new ground for us, it was a breakthrough year in the sense that we had our own party that was themed around my crew from up in New England, and we called it the Porterhouse Party, and it was a collective of all of my homeboys, homegirls, and it was also to celebrate the release of the album as well, so it was a breakthrough in the sense that we basically alloted our own party and our own piece of real estate this year. I'd say that was the main difference, but every year it seems to be a different step up. It's great because there are always new artists that come, there's always a new breakthrough artist at the Winter Music Conference, but this year was especially exciting.

HRFQ : You've secured it for next year as well, the Porterhouse party.

Steve Poter : Yeah, it's gonna be on Friday night. We're gonna try to do it exactly as we did last year, we had a free party, which I think had a lot to do with the fact it was so successful. People were just spending an arm and a leg to function down there in Miami.

HRFQ : You have toured quite a lot, and you said Australia was a very exciting scene.

Steve Poter : Yeah, it is, it is.

HRFQ : What are your feelings now about that?

Steve Poter : Well, I was out there last year for the first time, played Melbourne, played Sydney, and I just did the exact same thing this year, except I added New Zealand at Christchurch, and the dynamics were there; some people had left, some people had come, but the dynamics were there, and this year's gig was even more exciting than last year's, so what was good to know is that there was a carryover from one year to the next, and the excitement and kinetic energy that I experienced in 2004 had multiplied itself this year. Yea, Australia, through my eyes seems to be doing very well.

HRFQ : Taking over the world...

Steve Poter : Yeah, taking over the world ha ha!

HRFQ : Kinetic energy! Anywhere else you've heard is an exciting place?

Steve Poter : Yea, well, I mean, Tokyo's hot, Tokyo's hot right now! I mean, Japan in general, it's off the charts. Otherwise, I could say Mexico, there's a great scene in Mexico as well, and Canada, Eastern Europe, Hungary, Romania, even Russia. I played a gig in Turnmills in the UK last month and it was terrific. I was expecting more of a jaded crowd for some reason...

Steve Porter Interview

HRFQ : Really?

Steve Poter : Well, just because the UK is just such a well founded scene, it's been around for a long time, so I was surprised. My gigs in Ibiza were great. But you find them in the weirdest little corners of the world, you know, I've had some great gigs in Tennessee, which is in the middle of the States, in the middle of farm country, so it's funny, you see great little pockets of music enthusiasm, in the weirdest places, and sometimes in some very obvious places too, but.. well, I guess that answers the question.

HRFQ : About the American scene, there are artists like Chris Fortier, Jimmy Van M, who about five years ago were pushing the progressive, dark, deep sound quite heavily, and it seems there's been this evolution into electro, particularly this year...

Steve Poter : Oh, for sure, there's no doubt about it, and the epicentre of that electro, I would call the German electro movement, I got a big dose of it in Ibiza, it's very prevalent there, and for me it's a stripped down, ode to analogue type vibe. It's not a whole lot different, it's just the producers are taking the effects off the synthesizers, and they're using more retro sounds, and they're adding a bit more dysfunction to it; it's a little bit more dysfunctional, glitchy, and it's you know the Von Dutch, to me it's the Bugle Boy Von Dutch, you know, Gap, Banana Republic of this year for dance music, it's very popular. I enjoy the influence, but for me I try to look at the scene from a bird's eye view, and try to take little influences from each one, but, it's definitely huge.

HRFQ : It is huge, and your music is in different areas. We had a friend who said they'd seen an after-hours set of yours and said it was funk. I don't know how true this is, but...

Steve Poter : It's probably true, I have such a varied taste when it comes to DJing, it's my friends' fault, all my friends have influenced me in different directions. As far as I'm concerned I have a spectrum that goes from straight up funk to the trancier, synthesized realm of dance music as well, so I guess that leaves me somewhere in sort of 'fantasy funk', or 'phantasmic funk'...

HRFQ : That would be a good genre, 'phantasmic funk'.

Steve Poter : That's pretty much where I sit, right in the middle. Every situation is different, you have a gig at a lounge type environment, small, a hundred people, you're not going to want to be playing the big room type stuff, you want to warm it up a little bit, and show a little soul. Big rooms are big rooms, so you play stuff that's a little bit more spacious. I mean, you can cross over, but it's nice to be diverse, I think it comes from my roots being a wedding DJ, and also I did freelance DJing, and I think it took that diversity of being a wedding DJ or when you play Bah Mitzvahs, or social gatherings; you have to be diverse. So I try to take that diversity to mind when I play these underground gigs.

HRFQ : Steve, in a week, how much new music would you listen to?

Steve Poter : Well, I guess it fluctuates from week to week, but...

HRFQ : Best guess...

Steve Poter : Best guess, err, I probably cycle through a couple hundred tracks, but it's so much easier these days with the digital realm, downloads, you can go online and shop for records that way. So a couple hundred records, but that all filters down to maybe fifteen or twenty I would consider playing for myself, because you have your select tastes as a DJ. But yea quite a few records. You end up with quite a stockpile of crap; it's not crap, it's other people's music, but at the end of the day you have a pile next to your door or a fragmented hard drive of stuff you might not be playing, but that's part of the job.

HRFQ : It goes with the territory.

Steve Poter : Yea exactly.

HRFQ : Do you still buy vinyl or do you carry vinyl with you?

Steve Poter : I do, I still buy vinyl, and I find a lot of records that I can't find in the digital realm, and it makes sense, because people who are still making vinyl, they're going to be releasing the vinyl first, anyways. If they're going to release digitally then they're really shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to vinyl, the way I see it, so, I still buy vinyl, but what I do is I record it down to Cd at the end of it anyway, because that's made my life easier, in the sense that I can re-edit; I'll buy the records, and I'll re-edit them down into a CD form, and then play them that way. It also makes it easier as far as not having to carry around a fifty-pound record bag as well. And it doesn't skip and I'm able to play the records the way I want them to sound, really taking the remix element and adding that to the DJing itself. That's basically what I do now is re-edit everything I have, I'll trim it down and cater it to how I like to play, which is nice, because you can buy music that you wouldn't normally play, but you can chop it down and then size it up the way you would want to play it. Say it's a vocal track; you may not like the vocal but you love the groove, and you can use it as a dub.

Steve Porter Interview

HRFQ : Do you think you have to do that now to survive in today's climate?

Steve Poter : I think you always have to do something to separate yourself from the rest, for me that's the kind of hard work I put into the DJing element of it, to be able to stand out in that sense. But I think it should be a hard working profession if you want to make a living travelling the world playing music for people. For me it's a hard-working process, it's not about going and playing records and sipping on vodka drinks, it's about really putting on a show, and at the end of the night, you know, I'm sweating, and people would hopefully have had as good of a time as I had. That's my hope, so...

HRFQ : You've had this tremendously busy schedule this year, and we've read a lot about that, and you said in the autumn/winter you wanted to work on the Porterhouse album releases; you mentioned an EP of original material and a compilation mix. Any sneak previews from that?

Steve Poter : Well, I have a few tracks, I'll be playing some tonight, the EP is going to be just a four-track EP which will lead into the compilation that I'm doing, it's going to be my first DJ compilation per se, which is a kind of commercialized version of a DJ mix, so I suppose there will be a few tracks of mine on there, but there'll also be a representation of many other people's music on there as well. I think it was important for me to do that, to get a commercially licensed mix CD under my belt, just out of the way. I really enjoy making mix tapes for people, doing live mixes, or studio mixes and giving them out for free as promotional mixes, for me that gets out further than any commercial mix album can, but I am looking forward to doing it this year, especially because it's leading up to the party in Miami that we're doing, and it's all going to be tied into that event and so it's kind of the cherry on top for next year's conference.

HRFQ : And that'll be a perfect time as well...

Steve Poter : Yeah, that's the plan, and we're having fun with it, the whole Porterhouse thing, it's kind of a joke, my friends are always joking about it, like "maybe you should do a Porterhouse, like 'medium rare' or 'well done'!", like the steak, you know ha ha!

HRFQ : Ha ha! With a garnish of salad, on the side.

Steve Poter : Yea, I know, yea! It was this ongoing joke, and eventually it was just like, OK, let's just go with it. It's Porter, house, it works, it is what it is.

HRFQ : We just want to ask how you see the scene in America yourself?

Steve Poter : Sure, it's very unique in the sense it's very big, I would even include Canada into the mix as well, the scenes are... certain pockets, New York is an ongoing cycle, it seems to recycle itself every couple of years because it's a big an active scene, but then there are other scenes, there's just an immense amount of excitement building, and every single time I go back, like situations like Pittsburgh or Cleveland or cities that are more blue collar but really are getting into it right now, they haven't even had that first cycle yet. Maybe they've had the rave cycle where they have underground raves, but right now it's like those graduated ravers are just now, and there's a new generation who are just getting excited about it. So from my perspective, the American scene - it's a big engine, it takes a lot longer to get the engine started, but now the years are cranking, and so, it varies, but for the most part the American scene is growing.

HRFQ : It's too much of a force not to, there's so much diversity and talent.

Steve Poter : Yeah, I think we've learned how to do it correctly and not be shady and not do warehouse raves and cooperate. Like I said, graduated ravers. And club owners who have learned to get their stuff together, handling security, and everything's handled properly, no shady police business. But every scene's a little different, it's cute sometimes, you can go to a smaller town in America; it's a smaller scene, there's only a couple hundred people there, but those are the forefathers for that particular scene. It's always a cycle, Orlando used to be a huge hotbed for progressive music, then it kind of went down because everybody moved out, but I had a gig there this past July, and there's a core group that stuck together, and now that core group is bringing more people back in, but now it's just getting larger and larger, and more organized, which is good for the scene.

HRFQ : If you could give the Japanese fans a message?

Steve Poter : Sure. I'm happy to be in Japan, it's my first time here playing music, I hope you guys enjoy it tonight, hope you enjoy the interview, and hope to see you guys soon!

HRFQ : Thanks very much Steve. We'd like to wish you all the best for the future, and for your career and everything, been great talking to you, thank you.

Steve Poter : Oh, my pleasure, thank you.

End of the interview

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