Let's Talk: Steve Bug

With releases coming from names like Hannes Bieger, Markus Homm, and Mihai Popoviciu, Steve Bug has built his Poker Flat Recordings imprint into a dependable hot spot for deep and tech house sounds.

The Berlin-based talent has also developed an apt level of experience in the studio, which has resulted in his music coming on a number of genre-topping labels, including Mobilee Records, Last Night On Earth, Kwench Records, and Rejected.

Last month we saw the Poker Flat boss return to his own label for the release of his brand new “Montafon” single – we caught up with him recently to chat about the track, why he decided to put it out as a single, and his thoughts on getting back into clubs after the pandemic. Get the full discussion with Steve Bug below.

Hey Steve, we hope things are good in Berlin at the moment, what have you been up to recently?

Well, I’ve mostly been working on new music, went for many climbing / bouldering sessions to stay fit and sane, and I’m slowly starting to play a few gigs here and there, since some clubs are able to open up again.

You just released your new Montafon single on your Poker Flat imprint, what is the inspiration behind this track?

After my new studio was finally set up, I was hungry to write new music. In the past couple of years I haven’t been able to start even half as many tunes as I already have in 2021. Every now and then I open projects to see if I still dig it, and if I can finish what I’ve started.

I always felt that Montafon, even the early version of it, was a super strong tune. It did take a bit of time to finalize it, but I still think it’s a very strong tune. To find the right arrangement wasn’t easy, and I had to record the bass like 10 times until I thought it was right. The track reminds me of a long hiking trip in the Montafon area. It was a long, challenging hike, in a beautiful environment with more than one peak. But not sure anyone else can see it!

And why did you decide to release it as a single, instead of as an EP with remixes or other originals?

First of all, I think it is a very strong track that doesn’t need another track to accomplish a release. In general I like the idea of having two, three, maybe even four tracks on a release. But somehow that works best when we’re talking about a vinyl release. In times of streaming, we have to ask ourselves, does it always have to be more than one tune? Or does it maybe even make more sense to release singles? I still haven’t figured it out yet.

And regarding remixes, I’m not a big fan of remixes that come with the original release. It somehow questions why you are releasing the track in the first place, if you think it needs a remix. Just release tracks that are strong enough to stand on their own. Remixes can also take the attention away from the original, which I think, especially for younger artists, is a bit of a shame, because they were the ones who came up with the original idea. If it turns out the track is a hit, you can have people remix it afterwards.

As we mentioned, it’s out on your own Poker Flat Recordings, how do you decide if a track should release on your own label or another imprint?

Like with any other demo I get for the label. It is a feeling, I can’t really explain why, I just know. And it’s not about a track being better or stronger. And of course sometimes you feel like releasing something on another label. Thinking of it, sometimes when I’ve finished a track, I do have a label in mind where it could fit best. That doesn’t always function, but many times my feelings are correct.

And on that topic, which other labels can we expect to see you release with in the coming months?

I’m just about to release another single track as a part of 20 years of Moon Harbour. The track is called Going Up. In terms of all the other stuff it might be a bit early to talk about details, but there might be some surprises. I just recently finished a very cool house track with Mr.V. to be released on a very cool label, that I have dug for many, many years. I’m also working on a collab with Dennis Quinn, and a special, rather oldschool-esque release with my mate Cle, that we hope to release on another one of my favourite labels of all time. Exciting times!

And who else will be releasing on Poker Flat before the end of the year?

We don’t have anything 100% confirmed at the moment, but I am talking to some amazing talents right now, and I hope that we can sign some of these tunes. It seems to me, that many artists have held their tracks back until the clubs open again. Let’s see.

Do you ever second guess yourself on whether or not a track is good enough to release on Poker Flat?

Of course, I’m second and third guessing most tracks I sign for the label. Only a very few times I have been 100% sure about releasing them when I first heard them. Over the years, I think I have turned down a few tunes that afterwards I thought I should’ve released, but I don’t remember regretting having released a track afterwards. That’s better.

Clubs around the world are slowly beginning to open at full capacity, it must feel great to get back in front of a crowd after it being off limits for so long?

It feels incredible! I have to admit that traveling, especially with all the regulations is a bit hard to get back into, but playing music to a crowd on a loud sound system feels maybe even better than ever before.

And have you noticed any change in the atmosphere of clubs since pre-pandemic?

You can definitely feel that people are still careful about being so close to others for example. I think for many of us things still feel a bit weird. And when looking at the whole world, things are far away from being back to normal. So being a bit cautious is just natural.

Steve Bug – Montafon is out now on Poker Flat Recordings.