Steve Lawler is a name many of you will be au fait with, and for good reason. A man spawned from the Acid House scene, he’s seen the game change unbelievably over the years. His humble beginnings saw him throwing illegal parties in tunnels off the M42 motorway before getting his break in 1995 with a daily slot at Ibiza’s Café Mambo. Since then he’s won the DJ Awards five times, held residencies at Space, Twilo and The End and has been nicknamed "The King of the Terrace".
All in all he's a bit of a bloody legend really so we jumped at the chance to grab him for a chat about VIVa music, what 2016 will bring and his brutal honesty in his recent documentary The Art of The DJ.
Your recent documentary The Art of The DJ is very honest, you really let the audience in. Was this something you felt hesitant about at first?
No not at first but after I did it I was very nervous about the public's reaction to the film. But I stand by my honesty and think it’s about time someone said how it was. My story is unique to me, but being an international traveling DJ that people know has its effects on all of us. That I’m sure about.
How did Piers Sanderson approach you with the idea? Were you happy with how the documentary turned out?
He is an incredible film maker, he makes you feel very comfortable and trusting when working with him. He is a very calming guy especially for a film director, but I guess that’s what veered the film to come out the way it did. Yes I’m very happy with what he did with my story. Even when I watched it for the first time I was blown away, it was like watching someone else’s life!
You’ve been in the game for a while, aside from the evolution of technology and software, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen happen in dance music over the years?
What it takes to be a successful DJ - that has certainly changed! It used to be about one thing, your talent to DJ and your talent to be able to perform other people’s music, mix it, and create your own journey. Now it’s about how you are on social media, and who you hang out with, even to the point where one released track, which in some cases wasn’t even made by that said person, could give someone a career overnight.
We want to talk a bit about VIVa Music. It’s been almost a decade since you started it, but what was the original philosophy behind the imprint and has it changed or evolved at all since 2006?
It’s actually the 10th anniversary this year but rather than, like everyone else, celebrate the anniversary for the whole year, we will celebrate it with one huge 10 track release and one huge 10 headliner party, which we are planning to release and do at this year’s ADE in October. The label’s ethos has stayed the same since day one - House and Techno for the floor.
What’s coming up for the label? Is it heading in the direction you want it to?
The label is exactly where I want it to be. We have two arms of the label, VIVa LIMITED, for newer up and coming burgeoning talent, and VIVa Music for more staple artist that have been around and stood the test of time.
Aside from VIVa, you’re still very much on rotation on the club circuit. Are there any clubs that you love coming back to?
I love playing everywhere I play, as 95% of clubs I have played before and have chosen it that way.
You’ve played a few Nightowl parties in the past, in fact, they invited you down to your first Motion show in Bristol. What is it about Motion that keeps you coming back?
I was asked to play for ANTS this time. I have played for Nightowl before and love what they do. I also love the venue Motion, so it was an easy answer ;)
Finally, what’s on the horizon this year? Anything we should know about?
As always there is lots going on. The newest project is my Radio show called Night Life Radio. I’m really enjoying it and it’s only once a month so not too much pressure either. And we’re not far off Ibiza Season 5 for Warriors at Sankeys - more news to follow on that very soon, lineups will be released in a couple of weeks.
Catch Steve at Nightowl X ANTS this weekend at Motion in Bristol. Purchase tickets here.