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Berlin Mixtapes Episode 050 - We Welcome Steve Bug

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Berlin Mixtapes - Steve Bug

When we first started our Mixtape Series, little did we think that we would continue onto 50 Episodes, never mind recruit some of the best talent around to be part of it. The series has certainly evolved beautifully and it must be said that it's a true honour to have some of our biggest heroes and selectors joining us too. For our 50th Episode we have a very special interview and guest mix for you. We welcome the incredible and amazing Steve Bug.

'Growing up‘ in Germany‘s techno and acid-house heyday, Steve Bug‘s love for a perfect groove is as apparent now as it was back then. From the very early days DJing in Bremen and Hamburg it was clear there was a strong talent waiting to be nurtured. With a bit of encouragement from Superstition‘s Tobias Lampe, Steve‘s very first productions were released in 1993 and his musical story began. Besides this, his DJ skills and keen, innovative ear led him not down the typical path of the early nineties trance and harder dance scene but towards a fresher, hybrid sound merging stripped deep house, tweaked out acid and more minimal forms of techno.

In 1999 Steve broke yet more boundaries with the launch of Poker Flat Recordings, and his classic ‚Loverboy‘. Introducing a darker, yet totally funky and grooving sound, this minimal club hit opened Steve‘s eyes to new territories and new possibilities. Needless to say the Poker Flat imprint still runs strong today, over two decades since its inception, and Steve now stands as a figure head for the hugely popular ‚minimal-tech-house‘ sound that the label pioneered.

His relentless commitment to quality - both in his own work and in the many producers he has championed - has made him one of the world’s most revered artists and curators, and along with his labels Poker Flat, Sublease Music, Audiomatique, Dessous Recordings, Traffic Signs or Raw Elements, has made a sizeable contribution to building the European house and techno scene as we know it. Outside of his own labels, Steve has released on Bedrock, Knee Deep In Sound, Minus, Cocoon, Defected and various others.

Hi Steve, how are you and what have you been up to this week?

Hi, I’ve been in the Studio all week and at the weekend. I’ve finished a new NuGroove with Cle and been working on other things as well.

I've been a huge fan of Poker Flat pretty much from the beginning, so this is a bit of a fan boy moment for me :) - How is Poker Flat doing and how do you feel the label has changed and evolved over the past two plus decades?

Thanks :) The Label is doing well and we have a lot of strong releases at the moment. Of course things change over the years but our main goal is still the same, to release music that we like.

Steve Bug

You have released on many of our favourite labels including your own of course. Is there a release that has particular special memories for you?

I would say releasing on NuGroove was a very special moment for me, and Cle as well. It was one of our biggest influences in the early 90’s. When Defected brought the label back to life we got into the studio and focused on writing something suitable for the label.

We obviously did a good job since we got signed immediately and the track performed pretty well. So we’re very excited for the next one that we just signed with them. Hopefully to be released later this year. But in general, releasing on a label that you personally like and support is a great feeling, as well as releasing something on your own imprint.

What else can you tell us about future releases, anything exciting in the pipeline you can share?

Well, I just released a new track with BLONDEWEARINGBLACK on Knee Deep In Sound, and Cle and I have a release coming on Sublease Music by the end of the month. I also signed two tracks to Bondage Music, and I have a few collaborations that hopefully will come out soon as well.

Steve Bug & Cle - Hallucinous - OUT 28 July on Sublease Music

You started Sublease Music not long ago. Tell us more about the idea behind this label. 

We got sent so many demos that weren’t exactly suitable for Poker Flat but the music was still great. And I’m playing a lot of these rather minimal, deep tech tunes in my sets.

So we thought why not start a new label for this. And the label is growing fast, we got so many cool new signings and people dig the label. I’m very happy that we started this.

You also used to run two other sub labels, which we love dearly at Berlin-Brighton, called Dessous and Audiomatique. Are there any plans to revive or release again on these labels? 

For now these are at sleep and we don’t have any plans to bring them back to life. But we might release some compilations with some of the classics.

Steve Bug in the Studio

With the rise of online music streaming and downloading, how much more difficult has it become to monetise a label or are there lucrative digital routes to markets that new label owners should explore? In essence, in today's market what would a new label start-up need to consider at the beginning, which may be different to when you started in 1998?

Everything is different from back then. It’s a new world out there. You now have to deal with big tech companies who don’t give a damn about the music. Back in the days you were dealing with distributors, and most of them, especially the smaller ones, loved the music from their hearts. You were dealing with underground record shops who would support your music if they liked it. The closest to that is getting into the staff recommendation nowadays. No seriously... especially streaming makes it really hard for labels and artists. Like writers and actors in Hollywood, we should all go on a strike to get better conditions.

So starting a new label is even more difficult today. There is so much music out there, it’s really hard to get heard, to get into one of the bigger playlists on the streaming platforms, especially when you haven’t made a name for yourself yet. And the money that comes back for all your hard work is very little. You gotta love what you do to keep doing it.

Steve Bug in the Studio

Where was your first gig and how did it go?

That was many moons ago. Story is, I played the opening of a small bar in Ibiza that one of the dancers of Pacha was running. At the time I was making tapes at home and gave them to friends, never thought of ever deejaying in public. But since I was in Ibiza for three months and the tapes circled around, I got asked to play that gig and I decided to do it.

The party started at midday, after Space closed - yes, back then Space was closing at midday. I played in the kitchen, there was no window, so I didn’t even see people dancing. After a few hours, someone came to say that I can stop now. All my friends and a few other people where still there, everybody said it was great but all I saw was the kitchen wall. Not so glamorous, haha...

KURK Life - Liquid curcumin

I read recently that you had a residency in the early 90s in Ibiza. What are some of your favourite memories of that time?

Nope, not a residency, just the opening, the bar didn’t last long either. It was located in a weird spot. But I did get a residency at the club I used to bartend at, after coming back from my three month stay in Ibiza. And I did play at other locations on my various stays in Ibiza in the 90’s before breaking through.

Steve Bug DJing

Do you still enjoy going back? If so, where are some of your favourite haunts and places to stay?

I do, even though the island has changed a lot. Back then it was a nice community of creative people. Ibiza was known for the hippie scene, as well as the gay scene, that came every summer to celebrate life. It was a colourful and glamorous time. Things were still affordable and it wasn’t all about money. Also, the secret spots were still secret.

Nowadays, thanks to magazines, instagram etc., every beautiful spot has been highlighted. There are still a few places that are not overrun by people but I would never tell where they are. But these days I prefer to spend my vacation elsewhere, anyways. If I go to Ibiza it’s for work. I fly in and out. Only if it’s a gig in the winter, then I might stay a couple of days and meet with some old friends. The island is still beautiful and there are a few nice parties but for me, there are way too many people in the summer.

What other DJs or producers are you liking right now?

Obviously the ones we signed for one of the labels, but besides that, Cinthie, youANDme, Jovonn, Maxinne and many more…

Echoneon Vaping

Steve Bug in the Studio

You have compiled our latest Berlin Mixtapes Series Episode 050. Tell us more about the mix.

It starts very energetic with some more techno-ish tracks and then transforms into a more house vibe, then into a rather hypnotic deep, sometimes twisted thing, and ends with a very summery piano track.

I chose many of my favourite tracks at the moment and I hope people will enjoy the one and a half hour musical journey.

Thanks for spending some time with us, is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Some of the greatest artists are not popular on TikTok or elsewhere on social media. Don’t trust only in playlists, look for music yourself.

Thank you.

Steve Bug at Lost City Quito
Steve Bug at Lost City Quito

KURK Life - Liquid curcumin

Exciting stuff! It's been an absolute pleasure talking with you Steve. Next up here's the Quickfire Round:

Genre: Arthouse

Favourite Colour: Yellow

What do you put on your chips: BBQ Sauce

Apple or Android: Apple

Can you juggle: I wish

Weirdest/Coolest item of clothing: My winter jacket, it keeps me warm.

What is the most useless talent you have: I can DJ

Favourite place to hang out in Berlin: The Studio

Best club: There are many cool clubs, I don’t believe in the term best.

Favourite Bar/Pub: I don’t go out just to drink alcohol anymore.

Weirdest food you have eaten? Shirako - Sperm sacs of sea dwelling creatures, it’s served either on sushi, rice, as tempura or in hot pots.

How do you like your eggs: Scrambled

Coffee or Tea: First thing in the morning green tea, later Espresso.

Favourite Track right now: The one with the kick Favourite word: Urm

3 words to describe your mix: Check it out ;)

Berlin Mixtapes - Steve Bug - 050


Byron The Aquarius - Not my Cellphone _Fool’s Gold Records

Marc Lenz - O’Right - Klaus:elle

Dylan Griffin - Doesn’t Matter (Luke Hess Mix) - Sublease Music

Rimarkable, SACRED H3ARTS - Complications - Classic Music Company

youANDme - Swell / Repeat (Kenny Larkin Remix) - Rotary Cocktail

Harry Romero - Talkin’ Jack - Knee Deep In Sound

Steve Bug - To Be Led feat BLONDEWEARINGBALCK - Knee Deep In Sound

Demuja - Red-light (Erik Christiansen’s Acido Rewok) - Digital Delight

T. Markakis - The Record - Monophony

Groove D - Red Alert - Hot Haus Records

Mark Laird - Rhythm Track - Variety Music

Roland Clark, Mario Ferrini, Brad Blondino - Sunset Walk - Ferrini Records

Afrilounge - Supafreak - Feiyr

Hannes Bieger - Poem For The Planet feat. Ursula Rucker (Steve Bug Remix) - Awesome Soundwave

Haft - Whsipering In The Background - Hoomidaas

Mathew Jonson - Into The 5d -

Selderv - Sunrise In Your Sunset - Eastern Standard

Vigi - Slow Motions - DOBRO


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