The great thing about techno music is that those who pioneered their respective scenes are still about today. Steve Bicknell is one such master. The hallmark of the London based producer and DJ is his Lost partied who he ran with Sheree Rashit. Before Lost was established, Steve was already a renouned figure in the UK club scene, having played at the legendary Energy raves in the late 80's which attracted crowds of up to 20,000 people.
Lost was started in 1991 by Steve and Sheree, with the intent of enriching the club culture in London with bespoke raves. Steve would set the environment up with a meticulous attention to detail, making sure that everything was in its place, from the netting to the lighting, to maximise the sensory experience. It goes without saying that Lost was a strong tributary to the rise of techno and house in the UK. Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, Richie Hawtin and others all played their first UK shows at Lost. You could say that Steve ad Sheree where true taste makers, and that's putting it lightly. Other names that graced the Lost events include Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Luke Slater, Dave Angel, James Ruskin, Mark Broom and many more. I think you get the picture now. Steve is a hero amongst all us techno heads as he had the audacity to stick his neck out in a time when techno was new and fresh, and help brew a culture that now thrives today.
Steve is coming down to Australia for show on April 22nd and 23rd (see the bottom of the article for event details), so the most prudent move was to ask the man himself a few questions. Enjoy.
FS: I’m sure I speak for many people in Australia when I say that we’re excited for your return to the land down under. How have your past experience(s) been in Australia? Is there a memorable moment, in or outside a gig environment, that comes to mind? Is there something you wish to see or do on your upcoming trip?
SB: Past experiences great, nice people, great parties and good food and weather of course. A memorable moment was my first visit to play and thinking 'I'm the other side of the world and this party could be in my hometown'. Basically I was impressed. Something I wish to see or do, well I'm only around briefly so to relax enjoy the parties, be a tourist and see and experience as much as possible.
FS: You’ll be playing two shows, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. What's your thoughts on the electronic music scene in the two cities? Is there any particular concept that you wish to present to crowds during your sets or do you prefer to read the crowd when you play?
SB: I've played both Melbourne and Sydney in the past but that was a long time ago as I mentioned previously I was impressed on my previous visits. Both the energy and knowledge of the crowd was amazing, having spoken to friends who have played recently they only have good things to say about both cities so I'm looking forward to my visit. My concept is always to play as much new and unreleased material as possible and experiment whilst playing.
FS: What emotion do you remember experiencing when you first heard electronic music? Was there a particular artist who first introduced you to the sounds of techno and house?
SB: I would say my real introduction to the world of house/techno was by Jazzy M as he was working in a record shop I frequented called "Spin Off Records", this must of been around 86/87, I walked in one day Jazzy M was playing Liz Torres "What You Make Me Feel" whilst jackin behind the counter, that's a great memory I can still visualise the that moment to this day. My emotion, excitement, my thought, what the hell is this.
FS: You begun to DJ before you made music. What made you want to start mixing and making music?
SB: Dj'ing - I was a music collector from a young age, so if any friends were holding parties, I'd be asked to play as I had records.
Producing - As a producer, a friend of mine Phil Asher kept saying to me why don't you go into the studio and make a record, eventually Phil organised the studio and engineer. Another friend Nigal and I went into the studio with my record bag of music I was playing at the time, we were introduced to the world of sampling, can't remember if we were in the studio for one or two days, made two tracks which ended up getting us a 3 single and album deal with Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto Records.
FS: You release music under various alias. What made you choose to release under different names and what purpose does each hold?
SB: Mmmmm maybe I have multiple personalities or sometimes I like to get away from Steve Bicknell :))
As for the purpose of each, The S.B Project was focused on an area between Chicago house and Techno, Kim Bilir translates into "Who Knows" and The Evader is to escape to evade reality.
FS: Between 2005 and 2014, you took a break from releasing music. Why was this and what made you get back into producing tracks?
SB: I stopped producing for a number of reasons, the sound of Techno had changed, I felt it had lost it's spirit and become metallic and harsh, all was becoming extremely business focused. I began to feel I was producing music to meet release schedules all of this combined dented my passion for producing music so I decided to stop. Richie Hawtin got me back in the studio to remix Plastikman, which awakened my interest in producing.
FS: For those who may not know, what was it in your opinion that set LOST apart from other parties back in the day?
SB: A clear focus, creating the environment, caring about what you are presenting.
FS: You were the first to bring names such as Jeff Mills and Robert Hood over to London. How did you find out about their music initially and what was the crowd reaction at the time when they played?
SB: I was buying and playing their music, so wanted to invite them to play at Lost. I would say every artist that has played Lost gets a good reception, Lost is music focused along with being very relaxed.
FS: Since having started LOST and been with it since its inception, what’s some lessons that you’ve learnt from running the outfit?
SB: Make sure the location has enough power to run the sound system :)))) Follow your instinct......
FS: To follow on, what is some lessons you’ve learnt from running a record label (6dimensions) and what advice would you pass on to those who are thinking of starting their own?
SB: Well..... I'd say be true to yourself and plan ahead.
FS: Can we expect more records on 6dimensions and more Lost Recordings?
SB: On 6dimensions, next release (METRO SKIM) should be out in May, followed by Heartless June/July and a release from myself August/September. In November I aim to introduce another artist, Jing which is a conceptional release away from what people would expect. As 6dimensions develops the span of material will widened. 6dimensions focus is to be open, it's not really a record label as such I see it as a creative outlet.
Throughout the year my past productions from Lost etc. will be interspersed alongside the 6dimensions release schedule which will be on vinyl and digital format.
FS: Behind each one of your pieces of music, there is purpose. What creative process do you have before writing a music? For example, do you think of a concept and then work towards that or does it’s your process change from time to time?
SB: All of the above really, producing music for me is about where you are at that moment in time. 6dimensions is an exploration into balance and imbalance of the human mind's natural make-up, these 6dimensions are Love, Joy, Fear, Hatred, Boredom and Sexuality, which lays a solid foundation to explore.
FS: What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had playing a gig, be it good or bad or both?
SB: Playing a party in 89, the crowd parting like the sea from the film "The Ten Commandments", a naked long haired man appeared and then disappeared and the party continued as if nothing had happened that was a tad surreal for that time.
Seb: You played as part of LSD at Berghain on the weekend, with Luke Slater and Function, how was that received?
SB: I always enjoy playing Berghain, such a great friendly openminded place that goes across the board from the staff to the audience, amazing space, sound and lighting. We have played two LSD shows now at Berghain, both have gone down well and I get to collaborate with two friends, that's nice.
Seb: Recently you’ve also been performing live along side Luke Slater as part of PAS. How do you contribute to Slater’s dynamic in this collaboration and does it extend beyond live performance and into the studio?
SB: My part in the PAS shows, I free up Luke a little to focus on the impromptu.
Steve's Australian shows:
Thanks to Steve for taking the time to answer our questions.
By Fergus Sweetland and Sebastian Bayne.