All record sales have dropped massively in the last 5 years, but that shouldnt stop us doing what we do; we did this at the start for very little money, because we love what we do, so why should that change now?
Kicking off promo for the first in his new series of mix compilations Viva, Steve Lawler is the first to admit club culture the DJ business is changing with compilations and the benefits they bring as adversely affected financially as every other area.
Im not even sure they are a big marketing tool anymore, unless you give them away on a magazine, Steve speculates, But the way I feel personally is that mix compilations are great and worth buying if they are quality. There are still some great mix compilations out there that are way better than any radio mix or club recording download, he insists, Youre buying a piece of merchandise of someone that you are into, or in this case, also a place that you have been to; Viva Harlem Nights.
The mix hes referring to (Viva Harlem Nights) is a double CD including cuts from Martin Eyerer, Bushwacka and Gel Abril and is intended to represent the monthly parties hes presented at Londons the End for the last 5 years. Though the CDs is presented around the party more than himself, The Birmingham born DJ remains supremely confident, with upcoming DJs and producers failing to knock his equilibrium, he insists.
I dont want to sound arrogant, but they dont affect me at all, says Steve. And anyway, its not about maintaining your status anymore! The f**king race of super star DJs and super clubs is over, thank God. Its about playing house music, and good house music, to people that feel the same about it that you do. The club scene gone back to what we were all lured in by, in the first place; well the scene I like to think I am a part of has, anyway, he says.
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Youve done more than a few compilations in recent years, how much do you now have a tried and tested system? Do they get easier over time?
Steve Lawler: They have obviously become easier now with the use of Ableton live, because you can structure things, try mixes out, loop and layer sounds better, than what you ever could do with the old vinyl way of doing mix tapes. The process you go through to find the music is now much harder, as there is much, much more music around these days. Putting a mix compilation together can be easy and can be tough it just really depends how youre feeling and what music is around at the time. Music tends to go through stages where sometimes you get loads of shit through the post, and there's not a great deal out there to find, and other times there is shit loads of amazing music around.
Skrufff: Danny Howells was talking recently about there being far less compilations released generally: how much has the compilation game changed (now that so many DJ mixes are available free over the internet?)
Steve Lawler: Of course its changed massively, which is why I think the whole thing should be more productive, more of a package, this is the reason why I have decided to do this album series, this isnt just another mix comp for the sake of it, this is a mix compilation designed to reflect a residency. Over the years we have had thousands and thousands of people through the door at Viva Harlem Nights at The End. This isnt a CD series with a city name on it for the sake of it; this is a CD for fans of Viva Harlem Nights. Im not inventing something here, its been done before; its been done a million times in Ibiza Im sure. But a DJ mix CD needs to reflect something more that just a DJ mix, this is merchandise for the night it self. And thats just the way I see it now.
Skrufff: Seems like celeb culture gets evermore vicious- now that everyone has camera phones and with the net do you feel more conscious of having to moderate behaviour when you're out and about? Have you ever been snapped in any compromising positions?
Steve Lawler: Ha ha ha, yeah, and trust me, I aint mentioning them here.
Skrufff: Do you ever dream about retiring?
Steve Lawler: I think about slowing my touring down, this year has been ridiculous. 2008 is going to be a year where I slow things down, Im looking at doing no more than 4 gigs a month instead of 10, with a couple of months off in the year, and doing heavy touring throughout the summer only. As far as retiring, you cant retire from addiction, can you? And before you put that as your headline, Im referring to my addiction to music.
Skrufff: You recently said of your hometown of Birmingham: 'Im negative towards Birmingham simply because its shit; I have seen more life in a morgue': what's your view of London-and Londoners; how do they compare to Brummies? Which city do you feel more affinity with?)
Steve Lawler: If anything I feel more affinity with Manchester, which is the best city in the UK, definitely. Birmingham is completely dead at night during the week, and on the weekend there is nowhere really for someone with any musical integrity to go and hang out, apart from for one group of lads who have put together something inspiring, which is the Below parties and the Rainbow. But that is all that Birmingham really has to offer. As for restaurants in Brum (Birmingham), forget it. Obviously London's got it all, but it still isnt Manchester.
Skrufff: Do you have any pet hates towards London?
Steve Lawler: Nah, I like London, 24hour cities always go down well with me.
Skrufff: How big a role has luck played in your career?
Steve Lawler: A simple answer; I dont believe in luck.
Skrufff: How much do you ever experience existential thoughts (when djing and/ or generally: the 'why am I here? question?)
Steve Lawler: Nope, I dont get them either.
Skrufff: Why are you here?
Steve Lawler: To do this interview.
Steve Lawler- Viva London is out in November on Renaissance.
Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)