Steve Lawler and his VIVA

Starting with the motorway raves back in the '90s, then some of the hottest nights in Ibiza which are now a legend, from his Viva Harlem Nights at the London based club The End and his Light Out tours from North America, Steve seems that has never fallen short. If we mention Steve Lawler as a producer and not only as a DJ, the work he has done is quite impressive: many 12" releases for labels such as Bedrock Records, Nervous Records, Subversive, Beside Music, Superfly, Joia Records and his own Harlem. And a lot of remixes, dj mixes, compilations and tracks produced by him appeared on various materials.

Dance music has always created passions and transformed platitudes in hobbies. And also it has created a tandem of different styles, with different communities to support it and different mentalities. There have been seen lots of cranks in the dance music circuit: DJs who are not playing anymore the same music they used to a few years back, record labels that can't afford to resist with an original music under a powerful music trend, people that don't go anymore at the same parties and so on. But also there are a few persons that didn't give it up, still remaining always surprising and exciting for the crowd. Steve Lawler is definitely one of these examples. A person whose name is whispered with admiration and excitement by a large dozen of fans and supporters, always expecting for fresh stuff from him.

I never felt good about the producers tracks being delayed beyond my control, I never felt good about giving producers very little for their great work, generally I never felt good about letting people down.
The new compilation called VIVA

It must be said that one of Steve's recent achievements is a 3 CD compilation called Viva which is set for release on the acclaimed Ministry of Sound record label. Divided in three parts, the material is composed between Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3, three different mixes for different days. This is his new compilation project planned to become also a series of parties which Steve is doing in certain territories such as Ibiza, Italy, UK, and USA..
"Rather than just doing a 1 disc mix comp, this mix is giving people a variety of music to listen to, all music that I love and that I am passionate about. And this also ties in with my live DJ sets in these territories around the world", Steve says.

VIVA encompasses different styles of dance and also non-dance music, split up in three parts wisely named "days". "Day 1 is my representation of what I play in the bigger rooms, a more funk driven mix with large sounds etc. Day 2 is my representation of club music, deeper, darker more underground. And finally Day 3 is my representation of chill out, more leftfield than most chill out albums you will hear, a little electronica with some old personal influences thrown in." Regarding this interesting partition of his VIVA mixed CD, he believes that "every different kind of music has its place in our lives". Fair enough.

However, if we slide into the past and listen to his "Dark Drums" from 2000 and "Dark Drums 2" in 2001, or "Homelands" and even the Lights Out Series, the things are pretty different: different sound, different music, same Steve. But with the Day 3 mix from Viva, Lawler has shown some of his personal music hiding-places. "I listen to jazz or 50's ballads or ambient when I'm sometimes relaxing at home. I listen to a lot of rock when I'm in the car etc, and with this album, day 3 for me is what you want by the time you get to day 3 of a big weekend!"

Viva goes to Pacha, Ibiza

Steve declared that from the beginning of the new concept Viva, he was highly interested in Pacha, since the whole look behind his concept is more suited to this club. "Pacha is a great club with an amazing sound system and by far the Best dancers / performers in the world. The club is dark, and oozes Sex but with an edge, this is all a great setting for some VIVA party's. It's important for me to have all the elements right when you do a residency or a series of parties." The Viva Parties are on Fridays, joining Pete Tong's Pure; the design of the club and the dancers' clothes would be changed during Steve's concept. (...) "the club is going to look slightly different to norm, different production, different costumes for the performers and ultimately a different sound expect something along the lines of party monster meets studio 54 in the era of Goth".

The nights at The End are as strong as ever

With over five years of existence, the Viva Harlem nights from the London based club The End does not stop. Not at all, since Steve is totally dedicated to this residency, considering it "his baby". "I really think that the atmosphere at VIVA Harlem nights is one of the best in the world, of course that's going to sound bias coming from me, but it really is special, and this is due to the fact that it's a regular dedicated crowd and now after how long it has been running, they all know each other, and that means people feel very comfortable from the second they walk through the door.." This also can be one of the reasons that Steve Lawler is a name which still awakes excitement and curiosity in people. At this moment, this residency is his longest time spent in one place, so actually, this could be considered like a home. "having a residency gives you chance to express your music properly and have a home away from home."

Features Archive

[2008]

Steve Lawler and his VIVA
PUBLISHED

July 19, 2006 at 3:44 AM CEST

WORDS

Beat Factor

Digital / non-digital, digital / non-digital...?

After closing down his three Harlem record labels at the end of 2005, Steve puts up a new online only label, called Viva Music. What should be the excuse, the purpose or the disadvantage for closing three record labels? (...)"it was becoming increasingly difficult to sell the producers music.(...) "unfortunately a label does need money to run, and your label is always at the mercy of distributors, and pressing plants and this takes the label out of your control sometimes with distributors demanding exclusivity from you and then not supplying certain shops with your records etc. all in all the labels became stressful and a financial loss."

However, the new digital label will have the first release this summer. It will be Streetlife with the release named YoJay, and following that a Steve Lawler's track with Dino Lenny Called S.L.A.D.L.Y. – Unicorn. Open-minded, Steve doesn't ignore the future but it embraces it, since he renounced of being a vinyl daddy. "I personally still buy records sometimes, but I then burn the music straight onto disc and play them out that way, that also holds advantages. I love vinyl and I always will, its what I was brought up on."

Maintaining his position about approaching to the digital way, Steve thinks that another reason he closed the labels for is because he doesn't want to let people down. "I never felt good about the producers tracks being delayed beyond my control, I never felt good about giving producers very little for their great work, generally I never felt good about letting people down. With the possibilities there are now with a digital label, things could really go back to how they used to be for producers."

Yet he is still under suspicion regarding digital in the future. "The amount of positives there are towards having an online label are huge and I think online labels will be good for dance music as a whole. What happens in the future will be the real test so only time can tell."


Special thanks to Nikki Wright from IMD to allow us to produce this feature.

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