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Steve Bug - Art for Art

Reported by Tristan Ingram on November 22, 2007

Steve’s chatting to Skrufff to promote his upcoming Fabric compilation (Fabric 37) though stresses business has never been his primary concern.


“As an artist releasing records it was never about making money; that I finally made money out of it was a very lucky situation. It was more that I wanted to reach a certain level as an artist - I was always doing it for the passion of making music. Making money was a side effect,” he says,


“Producing records these days is still about making money but it’s also part of the snowball system,” he explains, “You have to play good gigs everywhere to sell records and you have to sell records to play somewhere. It all works hand in hand.”



Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): You’re just about to release a Fabric compilation, how much does playing there differ from playing any other clubs?


Steve Bug: “It’s a big club but it doesn’t feel like a big club when you’re playing there, it feels like a small club because of the way people react to the music. The sound system is great and everything is very professionally organised but everyone who works there is very passionate about music. They’ve been booking consistently good DJs over the years so the crowd that goes there are really knowledgeable. That’s really important for a club- they have really good taste in artists and are always bringing new names in. They started asking to book me way before I reached the level I‘m at in the UK now.


Skrufff: So is the  Fabric mix essentially a snapshot of what you play at the club?


Steve Bug: “The CD shows my own development in the club. When I first started DJing there I was playing the first slot. When you start playing in an empty club of course you don’t play banging tracks, you play really deep ones although lots of people came in as soon as the club opened and I remember being amazed by how crowded it was by 10.30pm. So the mix isn’t just a set I’d play at Fabric now, rather it shows what I’d play in the first set, the middle set and at the end slot too. Though trying to fit this into 70 minutes was difficult.”


Skrufff: You were already a big name DJ in Germany and around the world when you started at Fabric, how did you feel doing the warm-up slot the first time?


Steve Bug: “It did feel kinda’ strange I must admit I was curious thinking why they booked someone like me to play the first slot but I said ‘OK, sure let’s do it.’ Because I always liked doing opening sets because you have the opportunity to play different music and I hadn’t done many sets like that for years. You can build it from wherever you want to take it, whereas if you start playing after someone else, the other DJ has already taken it to another point. I like to do this, sure it was a little strange but it was also good to test how the crowd was. Though as I said it was already crowded by half past ten and I really enjoyed it; I had a great time.”


Skrufff: How much advance preparation do you typically put into sets; do you generally know in advance your starting track or your finish track?


Steve Bug: “I never know what track I’m going to play first, I need to listen to the last track the DJ before me plays before I can make a choice. Sometimes I like to start with an intro so I put comments on my software alongside certain tracks that are right for that, others I label as chill which I’ll use for the first hour in an empty club or at an after-hours. So I never really know what I’m going to play and I feel it’s better to be able to react to the situation.”


Skrufff: How are compilations being affected my downloading from your perspective?


Steve Bug: “The last few compilations I’ve done have definitely shown there’s still a market. Most of the mixes on the web are live DJ sets recorded at clubs and mix CDs are quite different. I love doing mix CDs because you have the opportunity to really use the software to make something completely new out of all the tracks. You can put them together in ways you could never do in a club. They’re special things that are different from normal downloaded club sets.”


Skrufff: Do you have a problem with the quality of downloads?


Steve Bug: “Yeah I do, I think some people give un-mastered versions to net shops. Also, when files are completely digital and created maybe entirely on one computer without being recorded through an outboard system they seem to be inferior. I think it’s really important to be at least mastered through an analogue source, then also pressed on vinyl because the sound of vinyl has this special sound. I know this sounds stupid coming from someone who plays digital tracks but if I had the chance to carry as many records in a small pockets I’d definitely stick with vinyl.”



Skrufff: How much is releasing music more about marketing yourself than about making money?


Steve Bug: “If I’m looking at big companies, they’re giving away CDs for free definitely because they have the rights to make money from their touring. But for us as a small label it’s impossible to do it this way and we still need to make money out of selling music, either physical or digital.”


Skrufff: On your biography you talk of being forced to play the triangle at school, what kind of student were you; a rebel, were you popular?


Steve Bug: “I was popular with some people but I was also a little crazy- teachers either liked me or hated me. I felt like that about teachers too. I was a good student when I liked them and bad when I didn’t. I think that’s quite normal. I was always better in sports and arts and languages than the other subjects.”


Skrufff: Before you got involved in clubbing, what other ambitions did you have, what kind of job did you envisage doing?


Steve Bug: “I was a hair stylist back in the day though initially I wanted to become a tailor. Then I saw how little money tailors make in Germany, at the time it was something like 90 DM a month for the first three years, which was impossible to survive on. I was moving out of the house of my parents and had to stand on my own two feet so I had to think of something else or I wouldn’t have been able to survive. I still wanted to get into something creative and, I don’t remember how, ended up becoming a hairdresser. I found a job at a shop where I trained for three years, and worked as a hairdresser for further four years. I had a great time doing it and I still have many hairdresser friends, many of them have now moved into free-lance styling for photo shoots and shows. It’s an interesting job and they all seem to make good money. The only problem I had was that living in a small town, all my clients were not so adventurous and pretty much all of them wanted the same hair style, which in the end became very tedious.”


Steve Bug: “Once I attended a Tony and Guy seminar in Stuttgart where one of their original guys was training, he wanted me to go and work at his shop in London, but by then I was already well into music so I gave that opportunity a miss. My life could have gone into a completely different direction, just as interesting and fulfilling I’m sure.”


Skrufff: When did you last cut someone’s hair?


Steve Bug: “It has been ages since I’ve done a haircut. The last person who asked me to cut their hair was my mum.”



‘FABRIC 37: STEVE BUG’ is out now.


Jonty Skrufff (