Interview: Steve Rachmad
The constantly reinventing artist Steve Rachmad is the type of DJ and Producer firmly entrenched in the best that Techno and House have to offer.
The Dutch dancefloor legend has an unequalled gift for making a connection with every thinkable drum machine and synthesizer possible, resulting in numerous productions and Intertional DJ sets – the result of more than two decades of dedication to his craft. Steve has been responsible for classics such as the essential ’95 release ‘Secret Life of Machines’, and has worked under labels like Klockworks, Delsin, Mote Evolver and more under a slew of aliases, often whirling around the grooves of Detroit techno yet consistently inspired by high quality disco, dub and electro from the early days.
This weekend, Steve Rachmad will join some 50+ artists across four days at the intimate and beautiful German festival: All We Want. Ahead of the event, we managed to catch up with the man himself, here in Amsterdam, to discuss his latest Voyage Direct project, as well as some of his own impressions on summertime rigours, DJ memories, and more.
“I separated myself in the studio from what was going on in the DJ world and made music straight from me and my heart.”
We’re talking here ahead of this weekend’s All We Want Festival. Tell me, what has been your relationship with this event in the past?
It’s the first time for me. I see it’s in a castle, so I’m very excited to go there as I love castles! I haven’t played much in castles. I had a fortress in France once, which was cool, but no castles. I’m really looking forward!
I’m always interested in these kind of events that tie in exotic locations and venues into their experience. For you, what have been some such places you’ve played over the years?
That’s a good one! For me, usually when you go to an “illegal” party, you have this whole process you have to go through that includes an interesting location. For example, here in The Netherlands, we had an event at the dunes. We had to collect the people in a parking lot and then we had these pulling wagons for the DJs to put their records on. We’d collect all the people who were there and go quietly into the woods, past the forest security, and walk another half hour before we’d end up in a beautifully decorated spot. It was an illegal party, but they really took care of all that could be left behind. I was with two friends for the first time, but the next year I told everyone! I remember DJ Dimitri was playing the second year, but half hour later the police came, so I didn’t even get to play a record.
When was this?
I would say about 8-10 years ago. It was very special.
What about some places that you haven’t visited before. Are there places you’d like to play at?
There’s many. I couldn’t tell you all of them as there’s no way to know all the possibilities but, I’ll tell you, in the past I’ve seen DJs playing on mountain tops. I’ve even seen a party in the Amazon where people were sleeping in tree houses.
Would you say such places that interest you play also have a certain natural element?
Yes, for sure. I love nature. We are in clubs all the time, so in summer I am usually the one who doesn’t go to the afterparty. Even if they ask me to play, I know how I’ll feel after spending the whole day outside. I just don’t want to be in the busy club at night, even if its great.
That actually leads well into my next question, which is, in the summer the schedule inevitably gets busier with Ibiza, festivals and the likes. How do you manage to maintain your health and mindfulness? Do you have a routine to make sure you maintain your spiritual health through a hectic schedule?
I make sure I rest. I know people that go straight into the studio after traveling, but if I need to take two or three days between them, that’s what I will do. I really listen to my body and eat as healthy as possible.
So you could say comfortably that you can identify how you feel and what you need to do?
Yes. Definitely. I know what I am capable of and I build my schedule around it even during the week. The weeks are short if, for example, you’re in Ibiza Monday – Wednesday, and then on Friday you have to leave again. It’s really a good idea to take care of yourself as best you can. Of course, sometimes when you’re traveling it’s difficult to find healthy food. 9 out of 10 airports, for instance, definitely do not have healthy food options…maybe in Italy they do [laughs].
I also wanted to ask about your latest Sterac Electronics album on Voyage Direct. What was its starting point?
It was born out of the arrival of the new Minimal. There was a moment where I saw lots of people around me, all of a sudden, go from whatever DJ they were to playing Minimal. I was so disappointed to see the love they had, set aside for this new thing. For me, this was a way to take a distance from what everyone around me what was doing. I separated myself in the studio from what was going on in the DJ world and made music straight from me and my heart. No rules. Just music that touches me and no one else can say anything about.
If you were choose a particular piece of gear or tech that was instrumental in making this project, what would it be?
Definitely the Minimoog. Most of the basslines come from that. Since I started making music in the mid-80s, I collected all the machines from my favorite artists. On this project I used all of my favorite drums from the 80s, alongside the Minimoog and also The Prophet.
So, if I asked you this question 10 years ago, Im guessing your response would be similar?
[laughs] Yes. The funny thing when I did start the album it was around 2006, so the answer would be exactly the same. Nowadays, since I’ve got some new gear, I may add something or use a different synth but the Minimoog is such a great machine for basslines, I know I’d still use it a lot.
Finally, through the summer, anything you are looking forward to?
The summer is great because of all the Dutch festivals so I don’t have to travel too far, which is handy sometimes. Of course I have my Circoloco Ibiza residency which I am really looking forward to. Next week, I’m also at the HYTE opening, followed by an Argentina tour!!