The German capital of Berlin still sets the tone for underground electronic dance music on the wider global scene. And celebrated DJ-producer and Poker Flat Recordings boss Steve Bug has been at the helm of Berlin house and techno for two decades now.
With 15 years' worth of formidable chart-topping releases and a star-studded artist roster that includes such international luminaries as Trentemøller, Martin Buttrich, and Josh Wink, the Poker Flat label remains a touchstone for quality sounds as forward-thinking as they are classic.
"In the beginning, we simply wanted to create a platform for me and my friends to release music that we like," Steve Bug tells Crossfade about launching Poker Flat in 1999.
"Soon, the artist roster grew and the family became bigger. Nowadays, we still release music that we like, and I'm good friends with most of the artists, it's just that I met them through their music first."
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Regarding his criteria for handpicking Poker Flat releases, Bug explains: ""I really have to feel the music. It needs to have a great groove and take me on a journey, something with soul, rather timeless than super-hip at the time. Tracks that haven't forgotten about the roots of house and techno but that are still sounding up to date.
"If we can keep on releasing great music, and people are still appreciating what we are doing, we might do it for another 15 years," he assures us.
But if you truly want to get a sense of what defines the Poker Flat sound, lend your ears to Four Jacks, the label's newly released four-part EP series to commemorate its 15th anniversary, featuring brand new tracks and remixed classics from the back catalog.
And before you do, check out what Steve Bug had to say about his personal picks of four essential Poker Flat cuts ahead of his Art Basel Miami Beach week performance at Do Not Sit on the Furniture.
Steve Bug's "Loverboy"
"Released on the Double Action EP, the first ever Poker Flat record. A perfect start for our young label. It got a lot of attention and has been selling many copies over the years, even though we had to change distribution three weeks after the original release date -- it took about three months for the new distribution to set up."
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John Tejada's "Sweat"
"Next to 'Loverboy', one of the biggest sellers on the label, and still one of my favorite tracks by John Tejada. It has been remixed by Sebo K for our 15th anniversary celebration Four Jacks EPs."
Trentemøller's "The Very Last Resort"
"Anders [Trentemøller] had a big hype at the time, and the album had already been making big waves when we finally released it and re-orders came in the tens of thousands. We were a bit worried, because the deal for CDs you had to make at the time was that the shops could send every CD back that they wouldn't sell. So knowing that, it was a big risk to press that many copies. But it all went well, and at the end, we sold plenty of it. We even got a silver CD in Germany and I think a golden one in Denmark. Major labels were a bit jealous at the time."
Argy's "Love Dose"
"There was a Luciano remix on the original release, which has been played the most from this EP. I still think the original is great, and it just got remixed by Audiofly for the Four Jacks EPs."
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Steve Bug. With Orazio Rispo and Surreal Flight. Presented by DNSOF and Resolute NYC. Thursday, December 4. Do Not Sit on the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach. The show starts at 10 p.m. Call 305-450-3809 or visit facebook.com/DoNotSit.