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The sound of distant drums is in the air as Steve Lawler, the DJ dubbed the ‘King Of Space’, brings his unique percussive style back from Ibiza for a one-night stand in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Words: Jack Mottram

teve Lawler‘s career has run in parallel with

the British dance music scene. from the illegal

parties he staged in a disused tunnel under the M12 to the marathon 8-hour sets at Cafe Mambo and thrice-weekly sessions at Pacha in Ibiza that kick- started his career.

These days. Lawler is known for his considered. technical approach to DJing. cutting up records from the myriad offshoots of house music to forge sets that are both deep and hard. inventive and crowd-pleasing. In effect. he manages to pull off the neat trick of satisfying the trainspotting fraternity with his magpie approach to music while simultaneously making sure that those who prefer good old-fashioned fun to obsessive label- watching stay firmly glued to the dancefloor.

Despite garnering much acclaim for his unique style - he has been dubbed ‘The King of Space‘ by notoriously picky regulars at the Ibiza super-club. and branded ‘the UK's Danny Tenaglia‘ by the dance music press - Lawler isn‘t one to blow his own trumpet. ‘I don't know about all that.’ he says. ‘I wouldn‘t even say I have a style really. My sets take in deep house. tech house. tribal stuff and progressive tracks. so ifl have a style it's just based on quality - I won‘t play horrible. cheesy music!'

As well as steering clear of the commercial end of

the house spectrum. the key to Lawler‘s ability to

24 THE LIST 9-16 Aug 2001

‘I can play a set that’s really funky, really light or I can go really dark and twisted’

Neaking and turning the knobs, Steve’s in control

incorporate disparate genres is down to his penchant for home-made re-edits and an enthusiasm for technical jiggery-pokery. ‘I like to make my set unique.’ he says. 'Sometimes I get a record where I love one half. and the other halfl hate. so I’ll just edit out the shit. and keep the good stuff. It's always the elements in the music I look for. not necessarily a whole track. When you do that. those elements

combine. even if they‘re from very different types of

music. and. working that way. I can play a set that‘s really funky. really light or I can go really dark and twisted. I‘m moving towards using three decks. two CDJs. a sampler and an effects unit. so I can pretty much create any sound I get in my head as it comes to me. It‘s like having a cut-down version of a studio set up in the club with you. and that‘s what it‘s all about. moving forward and never playing the same set twice.’

And. thanks to a residency at IT in Edinburgh. and his ongoing relationship with Colours in Glasgow. Lawler looks set to become something of a permanent fixture on the Scottish scene. Judging by his reception in the past. the DJ could play North of the Border week in. week out. without dulling enthusiasm for his particular brand of twisted house.

‘I know DJs say this so often that it's a cliche. but I love playing in Scotland because of the crowds. In Glasgow. they do this chant. where the crowd just shout my name at me. I don't know why. but that never happens anywhere else in the world. you only get that in Scotland and Ireland. and [just get really shy and coy when that happens. I appreciate the fact that they‘re appreciating me. but I just don’t know where to look!‘

Colours at The Arches, Glasgow 8: IT at The Honeycomb, Edinburgh, Sat 11 Aug.



13th Note Club. Glasgow. Mon 30th Jul. 0...

The 13th Note rarely shies away from unconventional line-ups, and tonight was no exception. The evening opened with a set from DJ Mingo-go, with her trademark mix of alternative classics and tracks hot off the CD writer, united by a seam of sleaze. Next came Cnut, previewing material from their forthcoming debut disc.

The main attraction, though, was Nicole Willis, accompanied by Mr Willis, a.k.a Finnish odd-funk virtuoso Jimi Tenor. On stage, Willis dispenses with the slick, production-heavy sound, vocoder effects and electro drum breaks that litter her recent long player Soul Makeover to home in on the songs.

Simultaneously beefed up and stripped down, the likes of opener ‘I’m Not Going' take on new life, calling to mind the heyday of US funk, all taught snares, breathy flautistry and driving basslines. The ghost of jazz was in the machine tonight too. Not in the noodly improv sense, thank goodness, but much of the band’s output was underpinned by the sort of hard bopping that can spiral into frenetic interplay between instrumentalists at a moments notice before dropping back into the dominant funk groove. At the centre of all this inventive retro-styling, Willis’ voice was allowed to shine, equally at home with the languorous, bluesy summertime singalong ‘Soul Makeover’ and on ‘New Skin’, another dose of raw, joyous funk.

By the time the encore came around, a loose- limbed rendition of Tenor’s ‘Call of the Wild,’ the crowd were won over by a performance that oozed cool and proved that funk, in the right hands, is alive and well. (Jack Mottram)