Steve Lawler: "The whole genre thing bores the shit out of me"

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In the latest edition of RA’s Exchange series, Birmingham stalwart Steve Lawler steps up for a lengthy rumination on his never-boring career. The DJ tracks his dance music journey from his unhinged parties under the M42 motorway to a residency at Cream, legendary slots at Café Mambo and Space in Ibiza and the 15 years he’s spent solidly touring.

There’s plenty of insights for fans across the hour, and one section of the interview focuses on Lawler’s stint with the Excession agency alongside the likes of Nick Warren, Sasha and Sander Kleinenberg, and the ‘progressive’ tag he was then saddled with.

“On Excession, I was a little bit on my own musically, because I didn’t play such big-room music,” he recalls on the RA Exchange. “Progressive house built into a melodic, almost trance-y sound, and I wasn’t playing that. A lot of the other guys on Excession were filling stadiums and playing that melodic, trance-y, progressive sound.

“Unfortunately media isn’t always fair sometimes, and that’s how it’s felt for me. I was being tarnished with the brush of being progressive. Let’s be completely honest; when Global Underground came to me [after] I did the Nubreed CD that I’m really proud of, I refused to do a Global Underground CD, because you’re doing Dave Seaman, Nick Warren, Sasha: a very specific sound, and I don’t play that sound. I had no melodies in my songs: it was always vocals, groove, drums.” And so Lawler’s enduring Lights Out series was born.

“The media called me progressive,” he continues, “then progressive became a dirty name, as all trends do. It’s happening now with the whole Hot Natured whatever, and before minimal was great then it was a dirty name. The whole fucking genre thing bores the shit out of me, to be honest with you. I’ve been around long enough to see the patterns and the cycles.”

Lawler also delves into his perfectionism in the studio, and why he’s yet to deliver an artist album. “I know I haven’t achieved the exact sound that I’m looking for,” he says. “I don’t know if what’s in my mind even fucking exists in a studio. I don’t think I’ve ever written an amazing record, but I want to. I’ve spent the last 15 years on the fucking road, seriously touring like crazy.

“I’ve had to gradually pick up everything I’ve learnt in the studio. I’ve never picked up a manual. That’s why my album has never happened, and when it does I think it’s going to really shock and upset people. It definitely won’t be what people expect.” Listen to the full interview here.