Fresh off the back of his Return to Rio debut, Rave Reviewz' Sean McDonald caught up with Steve Marx – a master of the art who has been tearing up decks around London and Sydney since the 90s, for a post festival debrief…
RR: Steve, good to see you again. How was Rio for you??
Steve: Ah man, it was honestly the best festival I’ve ever been to. The production was so good and the people were amazing. Even when the weather was shitty it didn’t stop anyone from having a good time – everyone got involved. It was like one big, happy family!
RR: Sure was. So what was your highlight of the festival?
Steve: Probably breaking my Rio cherry! It was my first time playing there and I had a good crowd at the pool stage, which was great. Of the internationals I thought Khen’s set on the Sunday was really good, I love the way he puts his music together.
RR: Yep, he smashed it. You’ve been spinning tunes a good while, how did your journey into DJing begin?
Steve: It started when I moved to London in the mid-90s. I went clubbing a lot and caught a real bug for the music, then bought myself some decks. I taught myself how to mix vinyl and it was all perseverance from there. There was no Google or Shazam - you’d hear a tune in the club and need a good set of ears or to know the DJ to find out what it was. I’d spend 5 or 6 hours looking in record stores, sifting through hundreds of vinyls and only buy maybe 10 or 20… sometimes none! I loved it haha.
RR: Sounds cool. How was London’s club scene different to Sydney back then?
Steve: Well, I cut my teeth pre-1996 in Sydney. Parties ran for 24 hours back then so you never had to go home! London was wild and had a lot of different genres of dance music across the city - prog, trance, breakbeat. I’d go to the Aquarium in Old Street, Turnmills and Malibu Stacey at Hanover Grand… but I’m happy to be in Sydney again. There’s no hiding from the strict rules and lockouts but they’re starting to relax now. Our music culture is flourishing thanks to a lot of very passionate people in this city.
RR: What’s the mentality when you get out there to perform? How do you approach playing a set?
Steve: I believe in quality control. I take a lot of preparation to every set and for each track, I ask myself “do I like it?” and then “will the dancefloor like it?”. I love intricate melodies, layering and blending sounds to create something new. I’m not the kind to be throwing his hands up in the air behind the decks, I really immerse myself in my music. But at the same time, I do read the crowd to see what’s working so that I’m not clearing the room!
RR: You’ve shared the bill with some huge names like John Digweed. What has been your most memorable set?
Steve: Warming up for Hernan Cattaneo at the Electric Gardens after party was something else. Hernan requested me personally, which was mind-blowing. I was so stoked but there was also a lot of pressure. People were rocking up from the festival so I was keeping it nice and deep to maintain the interest of the crowd.
RR: We were in that crowd, you also went back to back with Eelke Kleijn!
Steve: I did! It was a very special night.
RR: So which DJs have been your biggest influences?
Steve: Nick Warren – he’s a mate of mine, I would love the opportunity to DJ with him. Digweed, Sasha, Hernan of course, and Dave Seaman is terrific. It’s got to be those 5.
RR: Good choices! You’re also very prominent in Sydney’s underground radio scene with Beach Bondi Radio and Radio Motif. How did that come about?
Steve: When I returned from London in 2012, I went on a bit of a hiatus. Then Julian Lacey put me on his radio show which got some really good feedback. I’m really grateful to him because that led to working with Bondi Radio and the Digital Therapy guys, where we had a Saturday night show. The off-shoot from that became Progression Sessions where I linked up with Stuart, Barry and Jesse from Motif. I really liked their events and ethos and it just made more sense to align it with the brand to form Radio Motif.
RR: One of BBR’s frequent hashtags is #radiorevolution. How important do you feel online radio broadcasts are to Sydney’s dance scene?
Steve: Really important. Commercial radio, for the most part, has just gone downhill. The ability to broadcast online means we can play without the restrictions and regulations. We can tailor it to what we want, so I’m all for digital radio.
RR: Most definitely. What other events have you got coming up?
Steve: I’ve got the Norti Vikings party at the Bridge Hotel on the 18th November, which will be my first time playing with the guys. I’m also playing the Cristoph gig in December with the Spektrum team, which should be unreal. There’s also Chicane at Bungalow 8 and a secret harbour cruise on New Year’s Day. That’s all I can reveal at the moment!
RR: You’re a busy man! Thanks for the chat mate.