Hope you all are having a wonderful Tuesday! Spring has finally sprung and we are excited to kick it off with Dirtybird producer and selector Steve Darko. With a music library covering labels such as Audiophile XXL, Country Club Disco, Psycho Disco!, Dirtybird and several others Steve has been hard at work making lots of bootylicious house music to keep us groovin. He recently took his selecting skills to Holy Ship!, you can find him in Miami in a few days for a WMC party with some of the other Dirtybird Crew and the list of BBQ’s and Festivals on the agenda is setting up to be a great summer indeed for Mr. Darko. He put together an incredible mix for us that will get you movin for sure and we are excited to share it with you! We will have a bit more from him later this week over on the website (www.losangelesmusicproject.com) including the full track list so make sure you check back. Enjoy the mix.
PZB: Hi Steve and thank you for putting together this weeks mix. You have been very busy lately so we appreciate you taking a moment to put something together for the series. What can our listeners expect with your mix this week?
SD: Thanks for having me! My goal for this mix was to start with some deeper cuts and work up the energy into something in the same realm as one of my peak hour sets. It features a couple unreleased records including “Work Your Body” which is out in March 29th on the Dirtybird Miami Players compilation.
PZB: Most people will know you from your work with Dirtybird. It was lovely to meet you at Campout this past year and I have been enjoying discovering more of your music since then. How did you get started with music production and what lead you to the Dirtybird family?
SD: I’ve been producing seriously for about 10 years now. Around 2015 or so I shifted my production focus from bass music to house/technoey stuff. After seeing one of Claude VonStroke’s sets I was immediately drawn to the Dirtybird sound, which ended up strongly influencing my productions. I send them a boatload of demos, but finally landed a release with “Fried or Fertilized” and “Thumbs” in early 2018.
PZB: Tell us a little more about your music background. I am not sure where you grew up but I am always curious how our guest childhood and upbringing influences the music that they make today. Who were some of your musical inspirations from the past and today that have had an impact ton the artist you have become?
SD: I grew up playing bass and guitar and making shitty hip hop beats. I was big into punk/hardcore as a teenager, but also took interest in hip-hop, psychedelic rock and electronic stuff. A few big inspirations: Rage Against The Machine, The Crystal Method, Pink Floyd, Biggie.
PZB: In addition to Dirtybird you have releases on Audiophile (where I first heard you), Perfect Driver, Psycho Disco! And several others I follow and a few I don’t yet. What would you say is the hardest aspect of finding the right label to put your music out on. Are there any labels out there that you have your eye on you would like to see your music on as well?
SD: For me, the labels you listed were putting out records with a similar sound to what I was making. Bassier tech house I guess you could call it. Working with Audiophile, Perfect Driver, Psycho Disco, Box of Cats, and more I’m forgetting helped spawn lots of strong friendships and collaborations. Ultimately, all of those dudes pushing my music was crucial to the success I’m seeing today. I’d love to land a release on Relief, Hot Creations, Desert Hearts or Sola next, as well as more stuff on Dirtybird.
PZB: Just perusing through your FB page I am blown away at the number of events you have on your schedule for this year. You have already had a great year and with WMC this week and the list of Festivals and clubs you have coming up looks like you will be keeping yourself busy! Are there any events in particular you are looking forward to?
SD: I’m really stoked for Element Festival in May. I attended last year and was blown away by the production and overall vibe of the festival!
PZB: Connecting with your audience and building up a crowd is an important aspect of performing. What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig? What are some key elements you always try to bring to a set to help build that relationship.
SD: Reading the crowd and playing to your time slot are arguably the most important and most difficult aspects of DJing. To prep for sets I usually throw together a crate of 50ish tracks that I’m really into at the time and it’s often tailored to the time slot and venue I’m playing at, but I almost never stick to those tracks exclusively.
PZB: Let’s say you’re working on a new tune and you’ve got the chance to program some remixes for the EP. If you could have your pick and money, time etc were no object who are some of you favourite producers right now that you’d want to have a go at reworking your tracks?
SD: Jon Hopkins, Ardalan, Audiojack, Flume
PZB: Our industry is constantly going through changes, and we as artists are competing for ears with so many others out there. On the flip, listeners are bombarded and overwhelmed with the amount of music out there. How do you try to connect with your audience, and what do you feel helps you stay relevant?
SD: I just try to do my own thing without ripping off anyone else’s sound. Once your production chops are solid enough I think originality is what will set you apart and help gain a following.
PZB: Outside of music what other passions and creative outputs do you have? What are some that you’d love to add to your mental vocabulary?
SD: I try to reserve most of my creativity for music, but honestly the rest of it is spent bullshitting and annoying my friends and girlfriend with stupid puns and hypothetical situations that I think are hysterical, but usually aren’t understood by others. Not stopping anytime soon.