Having grown up on Californian punk and hip hop, Boysnoize Record’s Strip Steve was just like any other cool urban kid of the ‘90s. But it was the latter that portended his career later in life. Steve first started DJing due to his love for scratching, something he’s not too fond of anymore as we discovered during the interview, before turning to electronic music. The youngin showed his chops behind the decks at Zouk last 19 October 2012, JUICE spoke to him post-event on everything from his fav scratch records to his literary inspiration.
You grew up with hip hop, which was the reason why you started scratching and DJing, why didn’t you end up becoming a hip hop DJ/producer though?
Because I only started producing my own music after I discovered electronic music, and at that moment I found it way more exciting than doing rap instrumentals, or being a hip hop DJ.
Do you still listen to a lot of rap these days?
I still do, but way less than before. It’s more a spontaneous internet thing now, like checking this guy’s new video or that guy’s new single. I’m not really buying any albums or mixtapes anymore. Sometimes I put on on the albums I used to love 10 years ago though.
Speaking of which, you once described scratching as “retarded and funny” in an interview? Is that really what you think of it? Sounds weird coming from someone who’s into the artform…
[Laughs] It was just a way to say that it’s quite a stubborn and performative art to me. After a while I just realised the creative side comes to a limit very fast, especially when you’re a kid discovering the endless possibilities of creation with just a software on a computer… Suddenly it shed another light on the turntablism scene, it looked like a bit like sport, or kind of a “who’s got the biggest d*ck” contest.
As a scratch DJ in your early years, what were your favourite records?
Q-Bert’s Wave Twisters album was definitely number one in terms of scratch! Otherwise I absolutely loved Company Flow, EL- P, Cannibal Ox, KMD, Hieroglyphics, Del, Method Man & Wu-Tang to name a few..
We saw your Berlin Unterwegs trailer where you show the viewer why Berlin is Berlin, but what made you move from Bordeaux to Berlin the first time?
I was still living at my mum’s place in Bordeaux, and went to Berlin two times to play, and each time I stayed for a couple of weeks. I started to get very comfortable very fast in this city, so I thought it was a pretty good sign for me to live there.
Your recent album’s name is Micro Mega, based on Voltaire’s work of the same name. Are you a literary person? Does literature influence your music?
Yes, it’s an allusion to Voltaire’s book, but I wouldn’t say the album is totally “based on” it. It’s not like I made music to accompany the lecture of the book, but rather has a few reference points for different reasons which you can find out.
I always loved literature, and the short time I studied in my life, was mainly Literature and Philosophy-driven. I can’t really say if it influenced directly my music in term of sounds or ambiances. I don’t know really, I never think of these things, I just spit out sounds as they come to me [laughs].
On the same note, what influences you outside of music?
Cinema, photography, travels for sure, people and situations. But as I said it’s not really clear in my mind, I try not to theorise or overthink my music too much as I make it. Cause I think that’s a good way to block yourself from being creative or natural.
You’ve collaborated with a large number of artists, DJs, and producers in your career so far, is there anyone that you’re hoping to collaborate with?
Oh yes, lots! But I noticed collaborations never really work just by loving the other guy’s work, I found it’s something pretty spontaneous and instinctive, pretty rare as well, so I’m never really forcing or rushing collaborations…
How did you come up with the ‘Strip Steve’ moniker? You don’t actually strip do you?
It’s from a Garbage Pail Kids card a friend of mine that collected them gave me.
If you weren’t producing music from a young age, what would you have become instead?
Well I have absolutely no idea to be honest [laughs]. I’d be probably studying books, or trying to be a real life Indiana Jones?
What would be the worst and best show you’ve ever played?
Best shows were probably in Berlin or Tokyo, because of the very special energy of the crowd there.
Worst show? I’d say the one in Miami when the boss of the club demanded I’d play commercial vocal house, and then will.i am arrived and cut my set short to do an atrocious one. It was exactly like in a nightmare, where all events don’t make any sense and everything seems very awkward.
Finally, how was Malaysia? Did anything interesting while you were here?
Malaysia was amazing! It was my first time and I loved it. I was lucky enough to be staying 3 days in the jungle in the mountains of Seremban – in a beautiful place called ‘The Dusun’. I’ll keep the memory of it for the rest of my life, and really hope to be back there in the future…