Q&A with Berlin EDM Legend Steve Bug, Playing Electric Pickle Tonight
For nearly two decades, German DJ, producer, and label magnate Steve Bug (born Stefan Brügesch) has stood as one of electronic dance music's prime movers and most influential tastemakers. A veteran of the early-'90s Berlin techno scene, Bug's first label, Raw Elements, would prove instrumental in defining the sound of contemporary EDM for the new millennium.
Pioneering early releases by Bug and other pivotal producers on the label such as Vincenzo and Märtini Brös eventually geared European dance music away from the brasher, denser styles of trance and hardcore and toward the more elegant and artful minimalism prevalent today.
In 1999, Bug launched the esteemed Poker Flat imprint, which, with an all-star roster of artists including Trentemøller, Phonique, and Matthias Tanzmann, has emerged as a global touch point for cutting-edge house and techno.
Relentlessly ambitious, Bug has followed up the success of Poker Flat by launching two more labels, Dessous and Audiomatique. They're both home to a slew of the world's most acclaimed producers and breakthrough releases. Meanwhile, Bug has continued to cement his own reputation as a world-class DJ, and he'll bring his golden touch to the Electric Pickle tonight, where you can catch him along with Brooklyn techno luminary Adultnapper and LINK residents. We managed to cajole a brief interview out of Steve Bug on his way down to the MIA for tonight's how and picked his brain a bit.
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Steve Bug. With Adultnapper, LINK Residents. Friday, June 11. Doors open at 10 p.m. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. $20 in advance from wantickets.com; $25 at door. Ages 21 and up. 305-456-5613; electricpicklemiami.com
Read the full Q&A after the jump.
New Times: As a long-standing veteran of the German EDM scene, what do you think distinguishes your country, and especially Berlin as a capital of electronic music?
Steve Bug: I don't know, but there are so many people in Berlin who are loyal to and into electronic music and that might be the reason. Berlin as a city still has a lot of possibilities for young artists as well. You still find cheap flats or studios, it's easy to make a living here and we definitely have a lot of clubs where DJs might be able to find a homebase.
So if you are living here, the input you have from all this keeps on pushing and developing you, your sound. Berlin became something like a place where people come to party for a whole weekend without sleep and then fly back home on a Monday morning. Berlin clubs have no curfew, everyone has a party and liquor license for 24 hours which makes it such an obvious home for electronic music and parties.
What's it like juggling the multiple roles of label and A&R work, DJing and producing? Which is the most rewarding of these roles for your personally?
I really like all of them and for me it all belongs together. It is only one job for me. But of course I couldn't handle all this without my partners who are taking care of the administration, bookings, and so on.
What sets Poker Flat, Dessous and Audiomatique apart from each other and what do you have in store for the labels next?
Dessous stands for classic house and deep house, Poker Flat stands for techy house with reminiscing early Detroit and Chicago house and techno. Audiomatique stands for all kinds of modern tech-house and techno. On Dessous we will release an EP by Goldwill, plus remixes of Phonique's album "Kissing Strangers", and several other EPs are on the release schedule for the next 6 months.
Pokerflat will be releasing its eighth label compilation "Shaping Elements" plus an EP by Chris Flatner and Lopazz, including remixes by Paul Woodsworth and Wareika. Also we will release several other EPs and digital-only stuff, for example, the first "Animal Trainer" EP including a Jay Shepherd remix. For Audiomatique we are planning to release a great track from Piet van Dongen including a fantastic remix and more EPs later this year.
What do you think is the secret to keeping an independent label afloat during this era of digital distribution?
I think it's important to maintain a high level of quality and have a sound of your own. Something that people can associate the label to. I'd rather stick with the sound and make small adjustments instead of jumping on the next hype, in the long term I feel that is something that ensures longevity and pays off.
While minimal techno was the predominant style coming out of Germany and Europe a couple years ago, its seems most DJ/producers (yourself included) have returned to a deeper house sound. Do you think these trends are cyclical?
I don't know, it's just that people get bored with certain sounds after a while due to total over-hypes. Once any sound is hyped, everyone jumps on that train and kills it for themselves and everyone else. Overkill happens so fast.
Which artists/records have never left your crate in all these years and which new ones should we be listening out for?
There are always new tracks being added to the all-time faves of course, but some tunes like "Housenation", "Jesus Loves The Acid", "Can You Feel It" and some other classics have never left my crate. I also think there are a lot interesting people to watch out for, but for me there is no one single person that really stands out from the others. On the other hand I still dig productions from Detroit with a more old school techno touch to them.
What can Miami expect during your upcoming performance at Electric Pickle?
I never plan a set in advance, because interacting with the crowd is really important for me. But since I am playing with Francis Harris a.k.a. Adultnapper, people can expect a very special party and electronic dance music from deep house and nu-disco to Detroit techno.
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