Steve Bug Interviewed: On Poker Flat, Minimal Techno and Avaland's Fifth Birthday
While the likes of Richie Hawtin, Sven Vath (and his Cocoon label), and the Kompakt label crew (Michael Mayer et. al.) get much of the credit for sparking the techno resurgence of late, Berliner Steve Bug deserves just as much reverence.
Like Hawtin and Vath, he's been making and spinning boom-tss sounds since the early 1990s and, as the genre started to experience a second wind at the dawn of the millennium, Bug was there too. His 1999 track "Loverboy" was ground zero for techno's return to big-room prominence. Just as trance started to peak in an orgy of synthetic strings and spiky haired excess, Bug offered a more muted, minimal alternative that carried with it a darker, weightier sensibility. Bugs new "minimal" sound crouched lower to the dance floor.
This summer Bug unveiled his fourth studio album, Collaboratory. Like other recent long-players from techno stalwarts (Damian Lazarus' Smoke the Monster Out, for example), Bug's album eschews the genre's no-vocals, four-on-the-floor-bangers-only ethos to explore terrain beyond the dance floor. But he's still a superclub staple. His melodic, buoyant DJ sets have been staples of the world's greatest DJ booth at Fabric London. Meanwhile his label, Poker Flat, is celebrating 10 years in the techno business - a sign of how long this boom-tss resurgence has been brewing. The label has been out front in releasing accessible, big-room techno and in unearthing some of the genre's major talents, such as Trentemoller and L.A.'s own John Tejada. On the event of his DJ set to celebrate Avaland's own five-year anniversary at Avalon Saturday, we asked Bug about how things have progressed since the debut of Poker Flat and his scene-shaking track "Loverboy."
LA Weekly: It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since "Loverboy." How have things changed since 1999 in terms of the popularity and acceptance of techno?
Steve Bug: In Germany not so much has changed. Techno got really big in the early '90's. After that it was a part of the club culture and always had some ups and downs. Small-room music turned into big room music and so on, but it's still the same game.
You've been instrumental in the return of techno to the big rooms of clubland. Yet when people talk about the techno resurgence, Richie Hawtin, Sven Vath, and the Kompakt crew seem to take the spotlight. Do you ever feel like you deserve more credit?
No, I don't have to be in the spotlight. I am feeling great about where I am. And being in the spotlight sometimes gives you less room to develop yourself. Also, I think I get enough credit from people around the world for what I do. I'm content.
Collaboratory is your fourth album. Do you feel like you have something to prove in terms of techno being a viable long-form medium?
No not really. For me it was and is always important to come up with something that I am happy with. I just think that these days most artists don't really think of an album as a playground to create something else than just releasing 10, or 11 dance-floor tracks as a bundle.
You've worked with some Detroit stalwarts such as Paris The Black Fu. Is it important to acknowledge the influence of the Motor City in your work?
I honestly think that Detroit has always played a big role in techno, and even these days some of the most interesting tracks are at least Detroit-influenced. But it is the same with the Chicago and New York sounds: These are the roots of house and techno and you can't wipe them away. They will always be a part of it. So yes, how can you ignore the influence of Motor City?