There’s a lot of things one could call Steve Bug; label owner, DJ, producer, music-lover and so on and so forth. The guy has so many hats to try on at times it’s unbelievable how he juggles one occupation from the next. Whilst running one of the most broad-minded electronic labels at the moment (Poker Flat), he’s maintained his stance on past, present and future audio concoctions from himself and others. With a busy schedule and a limited amount of time, Steve spoke URB about his label operations, upcoming releases and how he handles everything at once. Oh, and he gave us this fantastic mix. No tracklist. Open mind and open ears are necessary over here. Check out the interview after the jump.
URB: The new compilation ‘Forward To The Past’ is out shortly. The title seems to be a statement of intent. Is that the case? Is this a mission statement for your label Poker Flat in general, or something specific to this release?
STEVE BUG: Yes, the title is a statement, and it is very specific for this release. For this project we asked people specifically that we thought might also have a strong connection with the tracks of the early days like Kink + Neville Watson, Sasse, Deetron, Redshape and others. We wanted them to produce those paricular kind of tracks that sound really like tunes from that early era of Chicago House, Acid House, Detroit Techno and New York House and I am very happy with the results…but even in the “normal” Poker Flat releases you may hear a fondness for some of those sounds from the beginning of house and techno, but in general in the tracks we put out there is always something new to it. It’s more trying to keep the original vibe but creating something new. That’s what is usually important for the label stuff.
URB: You obviously operate several labels. Pokerflat. Dessous. Audiomatique. Each is known for its distinct sound. But I wonder is there an ethos that underlies all three. What is the common thread that ties the labels together, other than you being in charge?
SB: Well it’s my love for music that underlines all three and sometimes we really have a problem to instantly figure out on which of the labels we want to release a new demo, but then we always find a reason why it is more this than that label…
URB: I’m sure today the labels are nowhere near as lucrative use of your time compared to DJing. What drives you to maintain one, let alone three?
SB: Don’t really know, it would be simply hard to put all those various styles of music on one imprint and as long as we get music that we want to release for any of the labels we will probably continue running those three labels. I can’t help it, good music needs to be released even though it might not do as good as it used to years ago.
URB: Poker Flat is obviously one of the top world labels in dance music. When it started it was very much underground. How do you cope with that growth? It is something you aspire to?
SB: You just can’t really keep things underground if you’re not running away from people liking what you do. And what is underground anyways these days? For me it was always more about releasing music that I like and was worth releasing and when it was successful I was even happier. I mean, I would never ever release or produce anything just because I think it would sell well. Suiting my taste is always the first step and then we’ll see what happens afterwards. But I was never being offended by more than a handful of fans buying our music; it feels great that so many people appreciate our work, that for us is still the same.
URB: You played in L.A. with the Culprit crew. It is a pretty small party, compared to the normal Avalon or warehouse shows you play in LA. It is also a sunny daytime party, which I think isn’t an environment many Americans would associate with your sound. Is that a fair comment? What drew you to play that party?
SB: The LA party was awesome it was the last party of my US tour and the date fit perfectly in the calendar. I also heard a lot about those rooftop parties from friends of mine, so I decided to give it a go, definitely a good decision!
URB: It seems like America is getting some attention at the moment, with Culprit, Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap, Nicolas Jaar really drawing a lot of buzz. In Europe is this something people are responding to, this deeper more soulful sound?
SB: It definitely is, not in all clubs though, but the smaller and sometimes cooler clubs are on to that sound. I also think there was a lack of musical elements in the past few years in most tracks, nothing to remember or something that would stay in your mind. This is still happening in bigger clubs, but I think a lot of people were bored by that sort of sound and then all these new American heroes came in at the right time and kinda took over, at least some of the places. A wider variety of sounds was always important to me, so I am very happy that this little hype for those guys is also going on in Europe!
URB: As a label boss who has released music from all corners of the globe, I am intrigued to hear whether today you find that certain environments produce certain sounds. You hear a lot of discussion about Latin house or Berlin techno, but in today’s globalized world, do you think those terms are still relevant. Can a producer from sunny South America produce just as dark and ominous a techno track as someone living in industrial Berlin?
SB: Weather and surroundings definitely influence you as an artist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t produce some proper dub techno in a house on a beach or produce a latin-flavored track in a cold, grey city. Music should come from your heart and people shouldn’t try to write music just because it’s hip. To have a style of your own is priceless and that should be the main goal for all artists. It would make the music world so much better.
URB: Lastly, what can we look forward to from you and your labels in the next few months?
SB: On Poker Flat we have several 12 inches coming from artists like Show-B, Alex Niggemann, Cle and myself and a compilation of those digital only releases from which we will also release four selected tunes on vinyl!
On Dessous we have an artist album by Vincenzo, plus remixes of the album as well as some 12-inches and The Best Kept Secret Various Artist Compilation Vol 3
On Audiomatique we might have a new Tigerstripes and several other releases as a new best of compilation as digital only…
For myself, right now I am working on a new album and a follow up for my last Ovum release to be released end of 2011.