THE BIRDHOUSE 149: Steve Lawler

This week on the show, I am excited to welcome VIVa Music label boss, legendary DJ and house music hero, Steve Lawler to the show. Steve has been in the game for a long time. Taking influences from early acid house and detroit techno, Steve has been prominent figure in the world DJ circuit since the 90's. 

Steve Lawler's has also created a highly renowned label, VIVa Music, responsible for breaking some of today's top international DJs. Having seen releases from the likes of Jamie Jones, Audiofly, Waze & Odyssey and of course Lawler himself, among others, VIVa continually releases music finding its way into the biggest clubs around the world. 

Over twenty years deep, Steve continually pushes the boundaries and limits of producing and DJing. His love for house and techno is apparent in everything he does,  and I couldn't be more happy to have him on the show. So without further ado, check out Steve Lawler's guest mix below and read on for his BIRDHOUSE interview.

THE REAL

How did your music career get started in earnest?

It came about from my love for acid house and Chicago techno from around 1989. I had a vast collection of records that I wanted to share with people, so I started throwing my own illegal parties to be in a position to play my collection of records to an audience. 

I played many parties before I realised it was actually a potential career path. I was DJ’ing for about 5 years before I ever got paid for anything. Illegal parties mainly, bars, friends house parties. A hobby turned into a career. 

Where are you from and does it have an influence on your music?

I’m from the countryside in the midlands in the United Kingdom. If anything I think its the opposite, I have always preferred in my own opinion music made from other countries, personally I have taken my influence mainly from the United States of America. Not so much in today’s music format, but certainly in the not so distant past. The percussive warehouse sounds of tribal from the early 2000’s. The sound of Detroit from the late 80’s and the dubbed out sound of San Francisco from the mid 2000’s. So many of my personal influences are from North America, Masters at work, Tenaglia, Kenny Glasgow, Frankie Bones to name, a few varied but all offering something that formed my style. 

How many times did you want to quit trying to make this your career?

I did several times, back when I was grafting my way through it was much much harder to break as a DJ than it is now, to make a record you had to own a $100,000 studio, the known acts dominated the circuit. It took time, you needed patience, tenacity and above all belief in yourself.

What was one piece of equipment that helped define your sound early on?

The Akai drum machine, all my earlier music and still to this day always started from the drums first, it was a central point to me for my production. It's where I felt organically drawn to the music. Build a groove then take it from there. This early sampler gave you the freedom to play drum sequences like nothing else at the time. Very much now like Native Instruments Maschine 

When you were getting started, which artists did you try to emulate (both musically and careerwise)?

My Biggest influence was Tenaglia, but not just because I liked a lot of the music he played but mainly because of his genius ability to program his sets in such a way it created an intense atmosphere and over a long period of time. Its where I learnt to be patient as a DJ and to take your time, build to something, this way it has more impact, how to control the audience musically, take them on a journey. I think this was very typical of Dj’s in New York, in particular mainly in the Gay Club circuit. I learnt a lot watching and listening to Danny both in New York and Miami in the early days. 

When you have a tough week or a rough tour, how do you get yourself back on track?

Now its my daughters. We all know how hard it can be touring. Moments of pure elation coupled by moments of pure loneliness. Its easy to get caught up in your own mind, get depressed, get low from sleep deprivation, over toxicating yourself. Its a game of yoyo. Up and down, up and down. Its tough. But when I look at my girls, within 1 second I feel pure joy, pure love. They are the light in my life. 

Where and when are you at your most content/happiest?

2 places. With my children and behind the booth. period. 

Do you have any secret hobbies or hidden talents?

Yes but their secret by definition that means I cant tell you ;)

THE REST

Favorite and least favorite colors?

Black - White

Favorite and least favorite words?

Cunt - Fuck

Favorite animal?

Dog

Favorite board game?

Never played one

Favorite guilty pleasure food?

Pizza

Favorite guilty pleasure song?

Pure Shores by All Saints 

German or Detroit techno?

Detroit .. all day lonnnnnng

Festival, club or illegal warehouse?

Warehouse 

Biggie or Tupac?

Tupac

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars.. 

Exercise or Netflix?

Netflix is my tour buddy