Today brings Low Steppa‘s appearance at the opening party for We Are 500 in London, a 5 week, 500 person event with social distancing pods.
Following live streams for Defected and his debut Pete Tong’s Essential Mix, Low Steppa finally gets the chance to showcase bits of his monumental new album, Boiling Point, to a live crowd. Just wait and see his energy through his set today, September 5th, 2020 at 2 PM ET or 19:00 British Summer Time via thatDROP’s facebook.
During the gruel of quarantine, we reached out to Low Steppa to chat about Boiling Point, his Pete Tong’s Essential Mix, backstory and what makes him tick.
Low Steppa’s long awaited 14 track album, Boiling Point on Armada Deep features massive singles ‘Wanna Show You’ and ‘Weekend Love’ in collaboration with vocalist Reigns, the Brummy native teams up with the likes of legendary singer songwriter Mica Paris, as well as previous singles ‘Runnin’ and ‘So Real’ vocalist Kelli-Leigh as well as fresh UK singer songwriter Stevie Neale on the album to continue to come with the sweet sounds the producer is so often associated with.
Having established himself in the international house scene with support from the likes of Pete Tong, Sam Divine, Fisher and Bob Sinclar as well as earning slots at major festivals such as Creamfields, Tomorrowland and We Are FSTVL, Low Steppa’s tenure to becoming one of the most vital and influential house music artists has seen him release on some of the most respected dance music labels including Armada, Defected and Strictly Rhythm; gaining over 100 Million global streams to date with recent release ‘Wanna Show You’ Ft. Reigns, which was playlisted by KISS FM, plus singles ‘Runnin’, ‘Heard It All Before’ and ‘Cant Lie’.
When we asked, what were your intentions behind, Boiling Point, Low Steppa shares,
“I wanted it to be full of songs, not just 10 or 12 club tracks packaged as an album. I wanted it to be a mix of defined stuff then a lot of vocals as well, something you can really sit and listen to over and over again. Hopefully I achieved that. I am really happy with it. It took a long time to get it right, but it’s amazing it’s finally out. It was meant to come out in March but…
I am quite conscious of things being as timeless as possible because some music dates, but that’s what is nice about house music, if you get it right it doesn’t date. If I am DJing I can play house records from 25-30 years ago and kids be like “Oh what’s this?!” and they don’t even know its old. That is the beauty of house music.
The same with the Essential Mix on Radio 1, that was my same thought process, nice solid house music you can listen to for a long time.”
What is the span of time for the tracks on your Radio 1 Pete Tong’s Essential Mix?
“Well you know it was going to be like journey, like a full 20 year journey for me, but then in the end I actually put tracks on there that I hardly played before because I wanted it to be one sorta picture together, so it was a group of tracks I found fitted together to get the end result. I wasn’t 100% planned either, I had a load of tracks and I went in and actually mixed. Like a lot of DJs will do it on Ableton, while I actually did it on the CDJ’s and just went for it. It happened how it happened. Its quite a natural essential mix, it’s not too clinical. There are few classic tracks at the end, but some of it is nice deep, house really.”
Great, so more stuff you are feeling lately. How about those striking vocals for ‘Heaven’ off Boiling Point that ring, “Heaven is in your mind.” Did you create those lyrics?
“With that record, I’ve done the big piano type part, then Mica Paris just absolutely smashed the vocals out of water. I got it back and was like “Wow, this is insane!” I think it’s the pick of the album for a lot of people. It got played on the radio (Radio 1 Annie Mac Show) on Friday.”
I love that line, “heaven is in your mind”. How would you interpret that?
“Happiness really does come from you. I think some people want happiness from someone else, but you really got to learn how to be happy yourself. For me, like anyone I can feel depressed I just try to think “What do I got?” not what haven’t I got. That is really key to being happy. It’s simple, but that is the way I look at it.”
Mica Paris ‘Heaven’ (acapella)
Boiling Point confirms Low Steppa as one of the most exciting acts in house music and with the second album under his belt, shows no signs of cooling down. So, how did he get here and where does he go next?
What is on the agenda for today and this week?
I actually have a couple mixes to do for a magazine and a festival.
What’s your quarantine set up looking like?
I’m lucky, I actually had the kit already because I have done some live streams. Whereas there are a lot of DJs who had to go “Oh my god, I haven’t even got any decks.” You would be surprised how many DJs don’t have decks at home since they don’t DJ in their spare time, only when they are out in a nightclub doing a set.
Where will you be doing your live stream from?
I just did one in Burringham for Defected on a rooftop, but that was a special one. Normally, I am just at home. I did one last night actually, It’s almost like hanging out with people… It was a savior for me as well. I had some quite dark days, so it was a good thing that [live streams] came about really.
How is the UK doing in regards to quarantine?
It seems kinda normal now. I mean you can go out to bars and drink, but you have to sit at tables. There are no nightclubs yet where you can dance. You get told off if you have too much fun. It is quite strict, but it feels like we are heading in the right direction. The nightlife industry is really suffering ya know? I am worried that nightclubs will close and never reopen.
True. Hopefully the government helps the entertainment industry as well. Well, I am curious, How would you say you got your foot in the door in the music industry?
I got more into music when I was young because my Dad was a musician. He played in Whitesnake, it was a big band at the time. He toured the US with them and all sorts. That’s how I discovered more music, since there was always music around. In terms of dance music, I started DJing when I went to University. I met a load of guys who were doing it and that’s how I got my foot in the door. Then a couple years later that lead to producing.
Think for a lot of people DJing isn’t enough, you want to move onto making records too. In 2002, I bought a sampler. It is important to go hangout and show your face. I think a lot of kids now want to sit at home and message people, but it is always better to go to the clubs and hang around the DJ booth and get involved.
What were the first clubs you went to and DJs you got connected with?
It was a city called Bristol and there were a lot of bars that had DJs. In a club it’s harder to get to the DJ booth, but in bars you can actually approach the DJs. I just started hanging out with the locals. I am still friends with all those guys now. A lot of them have stopped DJing, I am like the only one still doing it. I suppose I moved on to doing it as a job. I was always hungry for it. My hunger never died. That is the important thing, you have to be driven.
What are some of the bigger names you opened for back in the day?
I opened for Marshall Jefferson, Harry Romero, Benny Benassi, back in the early 2000s.
Has your style changed much since then? Did you start with house music?
Yeah that’s the beautiful thing. I am now back in the position where I am doing the music I started doing, because I drifted a lot. Got into different styles, I kinda wasn’t happy because it got so far removed from the house music I started playing. Luckily house exploded again and I managed to transition back to where I wanted to be in the first place 20 years ago. It worked out really well in the end.
During quarantine, you must be glad you have your music to dive into. What is a day in the life for you as a producer and Simma Black label head?
Before I do anything, I have my black coffee and go for a walk. Going for a walk is really an important part of the day for me. Its kinda hard to wake up properly I think, if you don’t go for a walk. There is always something to do. I don’t go into the studio everyday anymore. I used to but there are always other things to do now. The label, for instance, we get sent some much music. Our schedule is pretty much full this year. Its hard to fit anything else in now. Most of the music is sent to us, but sometimes I might hit someone up if I play their track and be like “Do you have anything for my label?” We are just picking what we want. We have sorta a certain sound, but we are not too stuck on that. If we really like a record, then it doesn’t matter if it is a bit different.
Your releases and Simma Black records are consistently at the top the Beatport and Traxsource charts. What is the vision of Simma Black that is resonating with so many people?
It’s still very much a DJs label, DJs music. That’s how I see it, but I could be wrong…
Boiling Point was released on Armada Deep, how did you feel the album fits Armada Deep?
It’s been really amazing working with Armada, they have been really supportive of me. They are sorta big fans as well, they are really open to my music, so its been great to release the album with them. They have released quite a bit of music for me, so it just made sense that the album was with them. It is easy to work with them, which is nice. They don’t sorta tell me to do this or do that. If they like it, they like it. They don’t get massively involved in the records, cause that can take the fun out of it.
Do you have anyone in the studio with you to bounce ideas off?
Well I am on my own really. I always get a bit envious of people in duos… I do have some friends that I will pester to have them listen to ideas. I think it’s about listening to a lot of other music as well, to keep you inspired. I haven’t been in the studio a lot lately. I think it is because it’s been such a difficult time mentally. I haven’t been playing at shows and when you go out and you DJ you hear music live and that’s what inspires me to go to the studio. So with that part of it missing… Well I have been enjoying the live streams. The studio will come, that urge will come back.
Lets get into the mind of Low Steppa for a second… What is going through your mind when you are performing? Do you have any game-time tips on reading a room?
Thats a tough one, because its been so long since I have done it. haha I think when you have been doing it awhile you just know what to play. For me, I suppose I naturally got an energy when I play which always helps. Its not just the music I’m selecting, people sorta buzz off my energy as well. I mean two DJs could play the same records and one would be better than the other. I suppose some of it is just a vibe. Obviously you got to see what the person is playing before you but it helps when you get to be a headliner because you can do what you want. You can take it harder or you can play it more mellow. When you get to that stage it’s really nice to just to know people are excited you are there and you can enjoy it more.
Have you heard of that drinking game a never have I ever? What is one thing you have surprisingly never done?
I have never jumped out of a plane. If I ever make it to 80 years old I will probably regret that…
What are you excited for next?
I just ticked off a few things off my list, so I need to set some new goals. I think focusing on America more, trying to grow in America. I have been playing in America for a few years, but it would be nice to move up a level in the USA. Coachella is something I haven’t done before, so I would love to do that. I had a really good summer plan, I was doing Tomorrowland and Creamfields and all kinds of great festivals…
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