I had a chance to speak with Steve Lawler, the Viva Music boss and the infamous UK DJ/Producer. Steve has been DJing for 19 years. Steve is well known for leading the tribal house movement in the early 2000’s and his compilations on Global Underground, Renaissance, and Thrive. Today is Steve is best known for his sets at the world’s most popular club nights and festivals. Not to mention is productions and success of his record and artist label, Viva Music.
Where are you now?
In England; at my country house in the midlands of Strafford, in Shakespeare country. In my 270 year old manor house where I come to relax. I have a proper recording studio in the basement. Underneath the house was a huge wine cellar that I turned into a studio. It’s an old Georgian property that I have to keep maintained since it’s a listed property.
What have you been up to lately?
I had some time off, from November to March. I had some health scares and 2009 was very busy in the studio and on tour. I ended up in the hospital from pneumonia on us tour. I checked myself out of hospital next day and flew to Ibiza for space closing since it was a very important gig. As result I took a lot of time off and had to cancel a lot of gigs. I just had to give some attention to my health. The good thing was that I got a lot of studio time and got to work on some great tracks.
What were some highlights of 2010 so far?
We had a great conference in WMC; the main highlight was the Viva Music party at Space. The conference is a beast with so much going on. Even though I have been doing this for 18 years, I still get worried about the outcome. I want the Viva Music show to be about the artists so they can represent themselves at a great show. It was a great success and everyone was very happy.
Another highlight was the Lights Out WMC event at Bed in Miami Beach. We had problems as the Fire Marshall wouldn’t let people in since the club was so crowded. A lot of people waited 4-5 hours outside to get in. So I played an extra 4 hours just so I don’t disappoint them. I played from 12-8:30am. They blacked out the club’s white walls and ceiling with black drapes to make it dark to give the Lights Out feeling.
What’s coming up next in your career? What’s the next level for Lawler now?
My artist album; it is such hard work. I have been working on it for years. I have 9 tracks finished. I want to get it to 20-30 tracks and then choose the right ones from that selection. None of them are really dance floor records. More on the electronica tip, ballads and rock influences. It is a mixture of my musical inspirations, from rock, jazz, and ambient. I want it to be musical and that puts a lot of pressure on me as I am used to making dance floor tracks. I have been working on this project for years and but I haven’t been able to devote much time to it. The less going on around me the more creative I can be. I’m so in love with touring and DJing that it becomes hard to take a few months off to work on the album. It’s hard to say no to gigs. I go on holidays for 2-3 weeks and when I get back I just can’t wait to get back to performing and going on tour. I am addicted to performing.
What’s coming up next for Viva? Have you been working on any interesting collaborations?
I was touring in Australia and saw James Lavelle. We went out to dinner and started talking. James is coming up with recent UNKLE album. He wants to get the whole album remixed by Viva artists and released on UNKLE. It’s a great opportunity for Viva and a great collaboration.
Which artist would you love to get to produce a track on Viva? If there was one artist in the world, anyone if possible or not, who would it be?
One artist that I would personally love to do a Viva track would be Ricardo Villalobos. Ricardo’s dedication to music is inspiring. I don’t know him personally so I won’t know how to ask him.
What separates Viva from other UK record labels?
For me it’s important for Viva music to be solely about music and building its family of Viva artists. I want to give new talent a chance because they are writing great records. We want to help them make it. All the money the label has made we have put it back in the label. It’s been very hard but we are focusing on being a big part of the artist’s career; publishing, management, gigs, agency, and events. It makes me very happy to see how Viva is helping our artist’s careers grow.
Best club show you played at in 2010 so far?
Panorama Bar in Berlin was one extreme of the spectrum, a smaller 500 room venue with great sound and trippy atmosphere. The other extreme was the Space opening party in Ibiza which is packed with over 10,000 people.
Best festival you played in the last year?
Viva music arena in Sound Waves festival in Romania with AudioFly, Livio and Roby, Leon.
What is your favorite club in the world? There isn’t one favorite club. However The End meant a lot to me, RIP. The End was our home in London for so many years; it was very special to us. Space in Ibiza is currently one of my favorite clubs in the world. Also any venue in Argentina has been a great experience for me.
What is your favorite sound system in the world? Any room that has been tuned by the Function1 sound crew is incredible. At Space last week for the opening party, inside sounded absolutely ridiculous. The sound there is incredible.