It’s been a busy year for dutch artists in Australia, and they don’t get much bigger in the context of consistency than Steve Rachmad. His hard work and perseverance over the past 25 years has seamlessly paved an alluring sonic path that’s left a deep impression on not only those dutch artists that have progressed over more recent years, but certainly those abroad. In some ways it’s kind of fitting that his first release was pressed on Pro DJ International in Australia in 1995, the first of many etched across Music Man Records, Saved Records, Soma and Joris Voorn’s Rejected. Futhermore, his alias Sterac supports the foundations of his ideals that reflect the spirit of that unrelenting impetus to make a difference. It’s been a rolling saga of invention and reconfiguration that’s kept his ethos fresh and the work productive.
We’re taking time out with Steve Rachmad this week whilst we move into the Australian summer, and there’s certainly no shortage of parties around which we hope our guest might be a part of in the new year.
Kn: You started producing music before House music even existed. Lets begin by painting a picture right there. Can you describe what life was like for you back then in terms of ….What were you doing during that time that inspired you to produce music and what did your set up look like for the those early forays into production?
SR: It’s a wellknown story I started buying records at the age of 11. This was exactly the period disco music started to get interesting for me, more electronic and synth based. I heard DJs do their thing on pirate radio stations and wanted to do what they did, make edits. It was mostly disco, funk and new wave I mixed back then. My setup was still pretty basic, cutting up tapes to match beats, bringing stuff back and forth with a reel-to-reel recorder. This was my life as a teenager, discovering the technique of mixing and recording, meanwhile getting to know the sound quality from all those great 80s producers. When I started making house and techno I always tried to maintain the high sound quality I heard in those early years.
Kn: Were you taking inspiration from certain things or experiences at the time as well, or were you actively saying “I don’t want to sound like this, I want to try to build my own path”?
SR: Actually, when I was starting at the age of 14 I did what a lot of producers did and still do: try to copy stuff. It’s the best way to learn, simply break down a track you like and re-build it on your own. I used to play a lot of melodies and basslines of those 80s songs and mix them up. But that was all just practice, at one point I realized I wanted to make my own stuff. That’s also why I’ve hardly used any samples in my career, even though I know a lot of good ones. Indirectly you could say the 80s were a source of inspiration, a lot of sounds and melodies came from my fascination with that era..
Kn: On the studio front, and maybe something a lot of people struggle with, is time management. How do you best manage your space and time in the studio to keep things moving forwards to avoid frustration?
SR:That’s a delicate thing. For me it’s always been about creating different sounds. I can play you disco music as well as house, techno and slowdown R&B, it’s all stuff I produced in recent years. When I start working in my studio it’s difficult to manage this; I simply get going and see what comes out. It’s also a way to not get stuck, if I’m not getting anywhere I can just as easily change the mood by working on a completely different sound. I need this freedom, the diversity kept me excited throughout the years.
Kn: You’ve been DJ’ing for almost 25 years yet we haven’t seen a live show. Is this something you’ve been considering recently?
SR: A lot of people have asked me about this. Of course it’s something I’ve thought about but at this point it’s still too much work to get everything ready. I wouldn’t want to do a half job, if I do a live set it has to be the real thing, with lots of hardware on stage and everything. And that’s simply not what I’m working on right now. So the thought and ambition are there, but it’s a bridge too far at the moment.
Kn: Sterac is a different direction – do you want to elaborate on the tangent of the pseudonym?
SR: You could say it’s my techno persona. As Steve Rachmad I’ve grown into a DJ where you can expect anything, from techno to deephouse, while STERAC is mainly techno stuff in a 90s vibe. This can vary from deep, melodic tracks to louder productions, although there’s always room for surprises. The STERAC moniker has created some expectations though. I remember when I did a Boiler Room set recently, I played a Robert Hood vocal track and someone told me people online were commenting on that, saying a vocal track wasn’t a thing STERAC was supposed to play. Well, it was me playing it?! At one point the picture you’ve painted as an artist takes over the artist himself…or something like that.
Kn: You’re set to embark on a world tour under your Sterac guise. How will this differ to tours you’ve done in the past under your birth name, how are you preparing for it and ultimately what does this tour really mean for you?
SR: It’s mostly me going back to the techno music I like. There’s a lot of interesting music coming out again and with STERAC I can fully focus on the techno side of things. Preparations are mostly done by sorting out the music, creating a special vibe that people might expect from STERAC haha. I’ve never stopped enjoying solid techno music, with a tour like this it’s nice to focus on that and present some of the new sounds I’ve added to it. Call it a renewed acquaintance with STERAC.
Kn: With regard to releases, we’ve seen a great Sterac twelve that was recently released on Klockworks, what can we expect to see in the coming months under the same guise?
SR: Coming up is Hypnoticus II EP on Delsin Records, and I am also working on a remix for Rebekah on CLR. I do feel it’s time to focus again on Steve Rachmad too though – I am working on a remix for Ovum, to start with, and trying to finish some EPs inbetween the crazy travel schedule; more info on this will follow.
Kn: With new projects comes the opportunity to venture out into other mediums. There’s a lot of artists pushing the visual aspect more so than what others have done in the past. What ideas have crossed your mind that one day you’d like to incorporate?
SR: Well, it would be nice to start working on something incorporating a singer and live musicians. Like I said, my fascination with the 80s is still there, it would be great to do a something of an 80’s R&B/disco thing. But this might as well only happen in the studio. I’ve also been talking to guys like San Proper, Boris Werner and Tom Trago about some new projects, as well as doing something together with Sotu The Traveller. So perhaps not a live thing, but still lots of new ideas for the future.
George Alatakis. 1st December, 2014