This Sunday night the WetYourSelf! team will play host to an eagerly awaited debut from Steve Lawler. The mastermind behind the VIVa MUSIC enterprise (the record label and party banner that's helped break numerous new talents including major names like Livio & Roby and Peace Division), Lawler's long-serving contribution to the business is upstanding to say the least, with him having graced pretty much every clubbing hotspot going on the circuit.
Heading to Room One this Sunday night for WYS’ legendary weekly shindig, the boys thought it best to fully introduce Steve by asking him a few questions concerning his eighteen year-long sonic journey and his thoughts on the current music scene. Their way of welcoming to our Farringdon haunt before the weekend starts properly for them on Sunday.
WYS: Steve, you have quite the legacy! Touching on the days when you used to organise parties in the rave scene, which must have been such an exciting time, can you tell us about your first contact with music – what kind of music you were brought up on and which artists really influenced your style?
Steve Lawler: I was brought up on electronic pop like New Order, Erasure, Depeche Mode… When these bands got in the charts with their more obvious hit songs, it made me dig for more of this sound, not only from these bands but others as well. I used to collect records before I even knew what a DJ was. Just for my own playing pleasure, I used to collect all the rarities like the Japanese test pressings or the special colour limited editions etc. I was born in the mid '70s so I suppose I was born around the time the synth sound was born, the electronic sound was all around me without me even realising. It obviously had an effect on me because I was automatically drawn to music made by synthesizers rather than guitars.
And then how did that move to the place you are now – in the world of electronic music?
Everything has been just a natural progression because I have just followed my own love for music not others and made my own rules up as I have gone along. I've never been one for following others, I've always just done what has pleased me. This has meant that my career and success has been very gradual but I have the pleasure of saying its also been real.
How do you feel you’ve progressed as an artist? Listening back to your early productions, do you feel you’ve changed at all?
My god, yes of course I have matured and feel I have learnt a lot and still am in fact, change is natural as its not forced and not contrived. I have progressed as technology has progressed; I have discovered new things in life and my own morals as a person have changed, as I have gotten older. I'm still only 40 years old and I feel I have both a good length of experience but also still a huge hunger for the future of music and what I can achieve.
The current music scene is always a hot topic for discussion. The Prodigy recently made a comment about there being too much nostalgia, with people referencing a lot of '90s or '80s music when producing. Should people try to move forward and venture into the newness. What are your thoughts?
I disagree with any rule especially in music (I’ve never been good with rules) and that’s what it sounds like they’re saying? All due respect to Prodigy but that statement sounds like they’re saying ‘don’t do that, do this?' Creativity doesn’t work that way, not for me anyway. There is no way forward without the past, music repeats itself thrives and survives off inspiration, without that I’m pretty sure most music would never be made. Being inspired by something old and making it new, or doing things differently to how its been done before. Using old equipment in a new way can make something new. New is good but old is equally as important. I have built my whole career on moving forward and following what excites me but always looking to the past and not forgetting the foundation of where all this started.
What have you been up to production-wise? Anything in the pipeline?
I'm in the studio as we speak working on a remix for Azari & III. I also have a line of releases forthcoming on Leftroom, 8Bit, OBJ Analogue and Defected. They're all tracks that I made in 2014 but will be released in this first half of this year
Can you tell us a little bit more about VIVa and the dynamic between you and the artists on the label?
Our main focus at VIVa is the idea of us being some kind of dysfunctional family [laughs]. We build the party together. Everyone that I have signed to the management first and foremost I have to really love what they’re doing musically both as a producer and a DJ. But it's just as important that they need to be good people (I have learnt my lesson there). Beyond that I am always here for them, as both a friend and someone they can come to for advice and help. It’s nice to have this family of friends and artists especially when we're all together. We really have a good time together.