ACID STEVE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWOctober 15, 2020
Interview -GLOwKID, Editing Mike Mannix
London’s ‘Acid Steve’ is certainly one of those spiritual Nuskool heroes of the Acid Techno sound over the last 15 years. Hes been igniting dance floors all around Europe, spinning Acid flavoured hard Techno on his firing DJ sets with his personal arsenal of tracks on various labels such as Stay Up Forever, Getafix Records, his very own Pounding Warehouse and Avinit Records.
The latter one is about to hit the Acid Techno stores, early next year, with a new heavyweight 12″ Vinyl EP. As the legendary Moby said way back in the day, ‘the very first sound we hear as babies is the beat of a heart,’ so he was literally born for it.
And despite these hard times we’re living in, we gotta stay united and never forget our way of life, its in our Techno blood!
We caught up with Steve to talk about his forthcoming release and personal plans as well as the future of Techno against the grain.
GK: Counting almost 10 years of Hard Techno life, your label Avinit Records is about to release the 8th Vinyl EP. So on the first hand, despite Techno parties have vanished, it feels like you’ve beaten Corona with this forthcoming material of revolt, haven’t you?
ACID STEVE: Haha I wish! Sometimes this music is the only way I can beat Corona by forgetting about it. Of course when the music stops it all comes rushing back. At the start of lockdown, I was pretty down, the week before I’d played in this wicked festival in France, and then suddenly..bam. I didn’t touch the decks for about 3 weeks after that. Then I got asked by Eddie (promoter behind Rude Awakenings) to do a mix, which was a proper pick-me-up.. and since then I’ve been doing a few mixes/live streams for various promoters/shows. I’ve also finally got a studio of mine set up how I want it, for pretty much the first time ever.
So I’ve spent a lot of time there, probably more time on Logic in the past 6 months than the previous 6 years, making tunes for the live streams/mixes for labels (mine and others), and having some production lessons with D.A.V.E. The Drummer as well which has been amazing. So all these things have helped with lockdown.
GK: Let’s focus on this 8th new release, which (as you already told me) has an essential meaning. What’s the background of this new forthcoming EP then? Let’s get an insight of the producers and the tracks involved.
ACID STEVE: This release is about the concept of Techno being made, played and I guess you could say ingested in a free party environment. Free as in people should be free to organise themselves to put on a party, transforming old spaces, regenerating a space for a night (or 3 if you’re lucky haha). No rip-off tickets or drinks, not being told where to stand or when to leave, no security going through your pockets, or watching you in the toilet. Warehouse parties, squat parties, free parties. That scene is my roots, it has given me so much, so the 4 tracks on the release (and the label) are about celebrating it.
Bad Boy Pete’s track is called “Fuck superclubs, it’s ‘avin it ‘ere”. It’s for all those people who have queued up for ages to get into a supposed superclub and have been turned away with no explanation. It’s for all those people who have spent a load of money on a festival ticket and felt ripped off. It’s for all those who are discovering Techno for the first time and are thinking,
“Well I like the music but I don’t want to be told what to wear, or how to behave when I’m at a club”
It’s a track that says things don’t have to be like that. There is an alternative – the Acid Techno scene. This track is also
a message for all those who run a club that plays Techno and have a policy of turning people away based on a few seconds of judging their appearance – fuck you!
It comes with a big message and I must say big ups MC KOZI and Tanja for the wicked vocals on it.
“They have no right” is a collab between Biri and Chris Liberator. Biri and me go way back, he was one of the main guys behind the Soundsystem I started playing for (Every1Sound) in 2007, he runs 3 labels (Planet Techno, Planet Acid Techno, and UFO Recordings) so I’m very happy to get him on Avinit. Chris is one of the true pioneers of Acid Techno, from Stay Up Forever which has been around since the 90s and remains the driving force behind the whole Acid Techno scene. So having them both on the release is amazing for me and will be for everyone who hears the track.
“Scorpion Pills” is from another pioneer in the scene – The Geezer. He has this incredible sound that anyone who knows Acid Techno will instantly recognise. Uplifting, pounding, amazing synth sounds… all of which are all over this track. I have to say as well that he’s played a massive part in Avinit Records over the years, from releasing to engineering, and has helped me loads when it comes to studio stuff.
Mine is called “Do it”, with a vocal sample talking about how the authorities can’t stop people wanting to do parties, so
“whether it be ‘legal or illegal, we’re going to do it”
Maybe the timing with Covid means it might seem like this is a lockdown protest track but it’s definitely not meant that way. It’s meant to be about how people can come together and organise autonomously, that these sorts of parties represent that spirit, are something that we’ve always done and we’ll never stop (even if Covid has put things on hold).
GK: And you have also an interesting story to tell about yourself and Bad Boy Pete. A tune incarnated from a recent trip in Berlin as Pete told me. Can you talk about it?
ACID STEVE: Yes! Last year we went for a weekend wanting to check out the Techno scene. We got turned away from Berghain, which happens to many people, so no big deal. Problem was that we then visited a couple of other clubs and they turned us away too. No explanation, just “no”. We weren’t drunk or anything, so that was when we thought “hang on, this is bullshit. We’re not drunk, none of these clubs have a dress code, we’re here for the music, so if you don’t want us to come in, say why.”
For clubs to play Techno, music that originated within marginalized communities, and then operate a door policy where people are expected to queue and then get turned away – without telling them why? Fuck that. Front up and give a reason, otherwise, it looks like you’ve got something to hide
I totally get that clubs like Berghain are alternative and they want to protect that vibe. The thing is, I know plenty of clubs that manage to do that, without this door policy bollocks. Fetish clubs, gay clubs, goth clubs, whatever the subculture, plenty manage to keep the right diversity. Memberships, dress codes, rules on their websites, or giving people a chance and then throwing them out if they behave like dickheads. Or just having security who will explain why you can’t come in. The main thing is that they’re upfront with their reasons
So Pete’s track came from that experience. We ended up in a wicked place anyway, a proper mix of people from different backgrounds. No hassle from security, cheap bar, banging music. Basically the kind of vibe that Acid Techno is all about.
GK: What are the differences between other cities you’ve played out VS London? Throughout Europe, you’ve been booked in places like Barcelona, Eindhoven, Czech Republic, etc. Is London the big winner?
ACID STEVE: Well, London is home, so it’s great to play with and for friends. But the Acid Techno scene is truly global, with people connected online, so playing abroad is now like playing with friends and meeting new friends. Abroad it’s often longer sets, so that’s one difference, whereas London is usually an hour. I’d say Barcelona has a special place in my heart for sure, having played there a few times for different crews, Acid Corp, Acid Lab, Acid Resistance… with Acid legends like Ignacid, Koko Acid Lab, Zyco, Acid Mutant…you can see the common Acid theme there! Eastern Europe is always fun..I’ve been lucky to play there a few times. Every country I’ve played in has its own energy, people who really know and feel the music, often politically aware, free spirit people…and in it for the love of it.
GK: Do you think that this 8th EP is the best release of the label so far, or maybe the most crucial? How would you describe it?
ACID STEVE: Well, they’re all great releases even if I am biased! Perhaps now you say it, it could be the most crucial because of lockdown. Getting new music out there helps me sane of course, but without being able to meet with friends and rave together, then I guess all that’s left is the music.
GK: What’s the future of Avinit and your personal plans for this new season?
ACID STEVE: Definitely keep going with Avinit on vinyl as long as possible. With Acid Techno, there are still many DJs who play vinyl, so as long as there’s demand I’ll keep going. I have a digital label (Pounding Warehouse) which is more for straight-up Techno and I’ve got some releases lined up for that over the next few months, plus a couple of tracks for other labels out soonish. Actually, I am doing a special vinyl release for Pounding Warehouse as well, which should be out before the end of the year. That will have Acid Techno on one side (an absolute killer track from A.P. and one from me) and Techno on the other side (a massive belter of a tune from Tassid and one from me).
GK: Name me please your top 5 Acid Techno DJs/producers these days…
ACID STEVE: Just 5? That’s hard..seriously. Ok for anyone reading who doesn’t know much about Acid Techno, I’ll choose 5 DJ/producers who represent different elements of Acid Techno and that have wicked back catalogues to explore. 5 pioneers (Geezer, DDR, Liberator DJs, Sterling Moss, D.A.V.E. the Drummer). 5 established (A.P. Bad Boy Pete, Tik Tok, Tassid, Biri). 5 new-Skool: Benji303, Krismix, Ciucek, Jack Majic, Rats On Acid.
GK: Are you optimistic about the future of Techno in regards with the big break of parties this year? Is the ‘illegal’ side of an illegal rave, a good solution to reconnect ourselves again?
ACID STEVE: I’m very optimistic about the future of Techno. There’s so much great stuff being made, both within the Acid Techno scene (even though it’s also got plenty of Techno without Acid), and the wider Techno scene. Many of the artists on those big stages and festivals ‘get’ Acid Techno, with Rebekah bigging up free parties on social, Perc alongside Stay Up Forever artists on a Fold live stream, Dax J playing One Night In Hackney on Radio 1, Amelie Lens and others playing Darc Marc’s ‘Dirty Rockin’ Bassline’ among loads of other Acid Techno tunes.
The biggest threat to Techno is the lack of underground clubs and alternative spaces. Even before Covid, parasite developers have been allowed to rip the guts out of London nightlife for years, closing clubs to build rabbit-hutch flats normal people can’t afford. It’s a fucking scandal what they have done to this city. One case which went to the High Court, in particular, involving Tony and Louise of Club414 in Brixton, who built up that club over many years only to be kicked out by developers who now have the building sitting there empty.
For people just getting into Techno (like me, I grew up in a Kent suburb and discovered Techno through a mixture of Carl Cox CDs and Radio 1 Essential Mixes) clubs like 414 were the perfect gateway. At first, just to listen and discover new music, but later on, as a place for me and others to learn how to DJ as a resident in a club environment.
Without these sorts of clubs acting as a drip feed for new people to discover our scene, and see there is an alternative to over-priced, over-regulated, and over-marketed events, it makes things much more challenging. But you know, that’s part of the buzz of the Acid Techno scene…challenges everywhere.
As for illegal raves, I wouldn’t describe them as illegal. Despite the government’s best attempts, they can’t make it illegal for people to come together and party. Yes, illegal things happen at raves, but illegal things happen everywhere. It’s a free environment being created, and it’s a massive privilege to play and contribute to that. Of course, with Covid things are different. But post-lockdown, whenever that is, reconnecting in a space without restrictions and control is something that should definitely be seen as a good solution. Especially if you’re someone who has got into Techno and wants to dig deeper and explore the more underground side of things – from a music point of view and from the view of going out and partying in places where you have more freedom. Plus it’s human nature to want to come together, we’ve done it for thousands of years. Covid may have put things on hold, but we will get through it and the Acid Techno scene will definitely be stronger, of that I am sure.
GK: Last but not least, give us three good reasons why someone should get the new Avinit Vinyl…
- Every track is proper peak-time Acid Techno. Made for big sound systems in booming warehouses.
- Each track comes with a banging story behind it. Either through the track itself or from the person who created it.
- You not only get 4 wicked tracks, but also a beautiful round piece of black vinyl thrown in at the same time. I promise it won’t ever need a firmware update, doesn’t need backing up, and will look great if you wave it around on social media. (PS it will also be available on digital)
Forthcoming in mid-January 2021:: AV008 12″ Vinyl EP by Avinit Records https://soundcloud.com/acidsteve/sets/avinit-008
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