Low Steppa just finished off an eight-date run across the U.S. — and what a run it was. He hit up some of the county’s finest clubs over a packed two-week schedule and was finally able to do it exactly his way.
We were lucky enough to catch the in-demand DJ/producer at Billy’s Lounge in Grand Rapids, Michigan before he headed off onto the next one. It was during that stop he filled us in on a range of topics, from his love for deep house (real deep house), to Skrillex and Prince, to how he rediscovered his sound, and some other crazy tidbits along the way.
If you weren’t able to catch him on tour, then you’re in luck, too. His final stop at Spybar in Chicago just hit SoundCloud via Rinse FM so you can vibe to all his energy over the next two hours. With this strong finishing set, it’s easy to hear Low Steppa is on top of his game.
Listen right here and read our full sit-down chat with Low Steppa below.
Low Steppa Live at Spybar Chicago August 2018
How has your U.S. tour treated you?
I think it’s the best one yet. My agent has been telling me for years that we’re sort of building. But now, I can turn up and play exactly what I want, because I think I had a stigma before for being a bit harder than I was. People might have expected me to play bass heavy stuff. I did a Night Bass show quite early on with the Low Steppa stuff and for a while you’d always get the kids turning up with Night Bass shirts. Which is wicked! Night bass is smashing it! But, it’s not really the vibe I’m on. It’s been perfect so far. So hopefully tonight’s not shit. [laughs]
Does the music you play during shows differ from what you listen to in your spare time?
So, this is something that pisses me off. I find it a bit cringe now to say I’m into deep house, because that term has been completely destroyed. Deep house is still the most amazing genre for me, but I’m talking stuff like Black Loops, Jimpster, and Spirit Catcher. There’s so much amazing music! Even on Apple Music it keeps suggesting stuff once you find one tune, and that’s my favorite. But, I don’t think some people understand anymore what deep house is. Traxsource is good for the DJ.
What made you first want to be a DJ?
God, that’s going back a bit — 20 years next year? [speaking across the room to Hatiras] Is that how long you’ve been playing, George?
Hatiras: 20 years.
No, you must have been going longer than me. So, this is interesting — this guy made one of those massive tunes about the year I started DJing, on Defected, “Spaced Invader.” I remember seeing that on the shelves when I first started going record shopping.
But, starting DJing, I feel like I was about 14. And, you get these cassettes passed around school recorded from raves like Helter Skelter and Kinetic. I was just facisnataed by it. Up until then, it had been stuff like Green Day and Nirvana and then I heard this music and it was continuous. That’s what really got me. It didn’t stop. Then, when I was about 18 I actually saw someone playing on Technics and I was like, “Wow, that is amazing.” I was hooked on it.
I don’t know if I would have been so mad on it if I went to a club and watched some guy standing there on a laptop or even CDJs — it was the magic of vinyl. I don’t know if it would have drawn me in if it was now. Especially a laptop. Don’t really want to walk into a club and see a laptop. There’s gonna be loads of American laptop DJs who hate me now. [laughs] Skrillex was first a laptop guy, then he ditched it and went to CDJs. Can’t argue with ol’ Skrilly can ya?
Any guilty pleasures when it comes to music?
Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Which artist would you most like to work with?
Prince, but he’s dead. That’s my answer every time.
What’s the craziest that’s happened to you because of music?
Burning Man, yeah that was quite mind-blowing. I went two years running. It’s a really hard thing to even explain to people. Like, seeing 200 naked dudes. You don’t see that normally. It was basically a bit like being in a ‘Mad Max’ film. It was insane. I’m sure there’s way better things than that, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
At the end of the day, why do you want people to show up and hear you play?
That’s the first part of being a DJ and why I became one. You want to show people this other music. Like, when I started DJing, I was at university and they were all listening to Bob Marley or drum and bass. I really believed in house music and I wanted them to hear it. As a DJ, it’s just a natural thing. If you go back, real DJs just looked like shit didn’t they? [laughs] They aren’t turning up and worrying about their image — they’re turning up to play records.
Someone tweeted me the other day and said, “Thank you so much for not getting on the microphone.” Like, wow, that just shows how much people must get on the microphone in America. I don’t even make a choice not to. I don’t want to fucking talk to anyone. If you gotta shout, “1, 2, 3!” on every drop it’s because you’re music is fucking shit. Why do you have to do that to hype up the crowd? Have I gone off point? It’s because I’ve had that drink! To be fair, if anyone wants to get on the mic and shout that — do it.
[We opened up the floor to his friends in the room for the next couple of questions…]
Tell the story of how you reinvented yourself…
This is funny actually. I was living in LA doing that, then I moved back home, decided to give it up and work in this office that sold electrical switches and plug sockets. I was just shit, so after a couple of months I got sacked. I was devastated when they sacked me. But, it all worked out for the better. I guess it all happened for a reason.
Electro had kind of started to die, then this moombahton thing came and went away as quick as it came, and then trap started coming in and that just wasn’t for me. To me, trap sounds like a strip club. I thought this isn’t dance music — so I fucked back off to England. But, Dimmak used to do this Tuesday party and there was this one night the music was totally different. It was house and stuff and a bit garage-y. All of that was kicking off back in England and that was part of the reason I went home as well. I thought, this is what I’ve been waiting for and I need to come back to where this is coming from.
Low Steppa — How did you come up with that?
I don’t know. People ask me all the time and there’s nothing behind it really. What I think it’s from subliminally is that there was a record when I was growing up that said, “Here comes the hot steppa na na na, I’m the lyrical gangster…” But, Low, obviously was the bass.
After this tour is over what’s your plan?
I’m gonna relax for a couple of hours then I’m going to Defected Croatia the day after I get home. It’s the best house festival because there’s a lot of classic names. Then you got new school people. That’s five days long, I’m doing three days. Then I’m going from there to Ibiza, straight over to Spain. I think it’s me and Roger Sanchez. Then, back to England. I’m going to watch Liam Gallagher. Then, I’m playing b2b with Idris Elba at South West Four, which is pretty cool.
Actually — your question about crazy. To me, that’s quite mad because I love TV and movies and he phoned me last night. It’s weird because I know his voice so well from watching Luther and all that. I don’t get starstruck with DJs and stuff, but with actors…
What about Shaq?
Wanna play with Shaq?
Who’s, Shaq? Basketball! Oh, I don’t know about basketball. I know they throw a ball into a hoop.
Random question — since we talked about Prince and Skrillex, what are your favorite songs by them?
I think “Purple Rain.”
Skrillex did one called “With You, Friends.” He did two versions and one was really slow — and I love it!
Anything else you want to say?
God Save the Queen!
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