Steve KIW seems to pop up everywhere. Be that through his multiple radio slots on 1 BTN FM or his many mixes on the web where he coincides with shooting the breeze on social media about the music he will be taking to another one of his gigs in Brighton town or further afield. Its not uncommon for Steve to be sharing Trinidadian Jazz next to eighties bangers. Good music conquers every time.
For the past 10 years or more he has been one half, third and quarter of Balearic Assassins of Love and before all that that he was playing records from the early 90s, having played Ministry, Good Times and The Cross. He joins the Half-Lights mix series with a mix of 80's records recorded at home, we talk vinyl (of course), living in Brighton and buffalo herds.
- The Stranglers – Aural sculpture
- Sonoko – Aoi tori (dai go maku)
- Bardeaux – When we kiss (sex mix)
- Nacht und Nebel – Beats of love
- Petra Janu – Rok 3000 – Supraphon EP
- Big Tony – Hangover (instrumental)
- Stephane Severac – Hold on (extended mix)
- Gary Low – Ecuador
- Kongo Band – Afrikan man (dub version)
- Toto Coelo – Milk from the coconuts (part two)
- Valerie Claire – I’m a model (tonight’s the night) (club version)
- OPM – In and out of love
- Sandy Samuel – I like sado music (parts 1 & 2)
- Toni Basil – Rock on
- Russ Ballard – Voices
- Eden – Free
- Time Bandits – I’m only shooting love
- Fox The Fox – Precious little diamond
- Finky Kontini – Bass and drums
- Savoir Faire – Frimeur (et savoir-faire) (version longue)
- Pino D’Angio – Okay okay
- Italian Stars – Pick me up
- Science – Tokyo
- Lama – Love on the rocks
- Vera – Take me to the bridge
- Elli & Jacno – Chica chica bongo
Firstly, what have you been up to lately?
Well, it's early 2018, the days are short and cold and sunny vibes are in short supply so I've spent a lot of time at home, catching up with family, friends and old tunes and, as I’m doing two marathons this spring, I’m getting plenty of running in. Rather than stay on the treadmill I’m taking a few months away from DJing out and concentrating on the radio show. This gives me a chance to listen to music for myself for a while - I'm usually listening to stuff with at least one ear trained on whether it's suitable for bagging for a gig.
I’ve also begun to think about the year ahead and start planning some gigs. I’m hooking up with the guys from Eastern Front in April, in discussions about a date for a return to Spiritland and also looking towards 1BTN’s third birthday party. 1BTN are teaming up with the Alfresco Festival in May and that’s going to be immense. I enjoy the peace of Winter but also find myself looking forwards to Summer; BAOL’s Vibes Controller is moving to Ibiza for a bit and I’m sure he has plans for us to set up camp somewhere this Summer.
In short, most of what I'm doing is looking forwards!
What is your first memory of music in your life, what was the first record you bought?
It’s always been there. My parents played music at home a lot: Dad played The Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and The Police and Mum played The Beatles, Human League and Roxy Music.
Mum had a part time job at a youth club and through this she had a budget for buying the music they played there. It pretty much meant she bought every top 40 single and, despite 'home taping killing music' copied them all for home. That was in the early 80s and planted a seed that lives on till this day.
The first record I bought isn't going to win me any credibility contest - it was Shakin' Stevens’ 'I'll be satisfied' on an Epic 7". Classic Shaky, double denim clad on the cover, and the wonderful sky blue Epic label on the disc. I still have it of course. The first LP I owned was 'Make It Big', the second album by Wham!.
You have been DJing since the start of the 90s, how did that come about?
I started earlier than that really, my first attempts at mixtapes were back in 1988. I had a funny old Amstrad home stereo that had lots of input channels so I tried tape mixes long before I had any idea of what edit innovators like Danny Krivit or The Latin Rascals were up to. Sometime around early 1990 I made a 45 minute loop of the piano hook from Autumn Love by Electra and stuck loads of samples on it. That was probably my first, and wholly unintended, Balearic mix, and a good year before I owned a pair of old school Citonix belt-drive turntables.
By 1989 I was spending all my pocket money and every penny I earned from milk rounds and paper rounds on records and going to Spurs. I built up a decent collection of currentish records by going to Woolies the day after they fell out of the charts and got loads more in our local chart rigging shop as they were selling current 7s for as little as 25p and 12s for a quid. When there were sixth form parties I often ended up playing as I had the most records.
You have a wedding DJ history too, something that a lot of people disregard as an easy job which it isn't - any memories or specific stories?
I hated them and refuse to do them now. It's nigh on impossible to do, enjoy and be yourself. This is a hobby for me, not a job so I'm never going to do something I don't want to. I've all the respect in the world for people who can sustain playing these but it must be harder than ever now that most pop music is so shite.
Other than being on the receiving end of abuse, my favourite wedding memory was for a friend of BAOL. Well, for his sister. Ade and I drove about five hours to get there and by the time we started people were already well into the booze and so we played some of what we wanted and some things we hoped they'd like. We ended up, somehow, with S Club 7's 'Reach' on and turned it into a CDJ fuelled 30minute edit with Ade mumbling BAOL low into the mic. The longer it went on the more people seemed to enjoy it. I wish we'd have recorded it, we'd be up there with Greg Wilson now if we had and S Club would have had a credible song to their name.
Oh, one more, I did say I'd never do them but a friend got married in Krueger National Park in South Africa and somehow persuaded me to play at that. There were power cuts every five songs or so but there were also herds of buffalo passing beneath the hilltop we were on... That was worth coming out of wedding retirement for.
We need to talk about the 30k of records, I need to talk logistics. Where are they stored, how do you file them and is that a cut collection or an ongoing unpicky affair?
They're at home. Just over half are 7s so that helps! Out largest bedroom is given over to a music room. About 4k LPs take up one wall. Another 5k 12s take up a second and a mix of around 4k 12s and 1k random albums (compilations, sound effects, soundtracks) take up the third. On a chimney wall I've stored all my 80s 7"s and then the unit beneath the decks is divided into two: 45s from the 70s on one side and 45s from the 90s and 60s on another. Then there are boxes of 12s and 7s (soul stuff by label for example) on the floor.
Also, while we are talking collection maintenance - I had a chat with my home insurer about recording my record collection and valuing it, what do you think about that? The insurer wanted me to value a record on it's average Discogs price (true story) which I said was inherently controversial, he couldn't see my point!
I insured mine as part of our home contents insurance. I've had a few discussions about this over the years and it ended with me adding it en masse as one item to the insurance with a guesstimate value. Beyond any controversy with Discogs values (and I don't mind the site as much as others seem to) I've long accepted that I've paid a price for some records that they'll never fetch again (hello 90s house!) and I've been very lucky with others.
I've lost loads of records playing out over the years too. It's almost an accepted occupational hazard. I'd be too embarrassed to make a claim for some of the records I've lost!
Having listened in to your radio show, you seem to really respect the Balearic genre idea of 'anything goes' in the sense of how Alfredo and Pippi did in a more old school way. It isn't Balearic music in the modern sense that you play out but more so a selection of records which have the same aesthetic which I am still unsure of how to define - what are you looking for in music to play it out to a listener and how would you describe it?
Ha, I don't know about being mentioned in the same breath as those guys! I've never really given a shit about trends – for me it goes back to the whole 'hobby' thing. If I hear something I like and can afford I'll buy it and at that point it's either for home listening only or for sharing and, without trying to bring a science to this, it's as simple as that. A lot of my selecting takes place in record shops or when listening to other DJs - when I listen to a record I ask myself whether it's something I'd want to hear if someone else was playing. If yes, then it's got a good chance of making it on air.
I want people to enjoy what they hear. Music should leave people happy, or at the very least contribute to surroundings. The idea of playing wallpaper music or generic sounds... Well, no, not for me.
When mixing, whether live or on doing the show on the radio, I like things to flow, to have a beginning and an end. I will often move gently through tempos (the mix here goes from around 90 to 133) and that is helped, of course, by similar vibes on tracks, percussive breaks, synth whooshes, those essential sea, rain and crowd noise sound effects.
In BAOL we throw parties where we want to play the last record of the night all night and, occasionally, and this was particularly true when Picko-D was one of our gang, the first record of the night all night. I’d like to think that each of these define what I do in some way.
Musically, who has influenced you? Who is your go to artist/bands/producers?
Go to acts would firstly be Radiohead, who I truly believe to be the best band in the world; Damon Albarn, the man is incredibly talented and rarely makes a misstep. I think his work beyond Blur and Gorillaz would surprise a lot of people who aren't aware of it; Arthur Russell's back catalogue is fascinating and every listen turns me on to something new within his music; Then there's another B: David Byrne within and outside Talking Heads; and, of course there's Mark Hollis and Talk Talk who never put a bad note down - Spirit of Eden is on constant rotation at home and Minnie Riperton and Dusty Springfield are our weekend morning albums at KIW HQ.
De La Soul, Kraftwerk, The Orb, Francois Kervorkian, The Bomb Squad, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder… hundreds really, and I’ve no shame about including a load of Mojo cover artists either... there’s that incredible alliteration of artists beginning with B: Kate Bush, Bjork, Bowie, The Beatles, James Brown, everyone a genius.
Current producers - so so many...Ruf Dug, Soft Rocks, Les Crocodiles, the Mindfair guys, Damon aka Keyboard Masher, James Boggy/Begin Holroyd, Phil Mison, Jaime Reed, the Idjuts, Weatherall and Harvey of course, and I really loved the latest J-Walk LP from Martin Brew. There has been so much great new music that I know I've left out loads of people who I should have included. Big love to everyone making music!
I’m more likely to go to gigs and festivals than clubs nowadays but DJ wise the influences list looks like a Norman Jay sleevenote thank you list... Top of it will always be a guy called Gordon Gee who took me under his wing when I was a kid hanging round the decks and who leant me boxes of records and used to disappear to the loo and ask me to cover the decks then not return for an hour – that was a great education; there was another fella called Mark Sterling who had a show on City FM in the late 80s and encouraged me to send a mix in to him (I never did); hearing Phil Mison and Jose Padilla on my first trip to Ibiza in 94 was huge as I'd been going to Orb gigs and Club Dog events on my own and had been hearing these great chilled techno records in decrepit venues in Manor House and Brixton but suddenly hearing those records and many many more in the Cafe Del Mar context meant they clicked into place.
I was a regular at the Harvey nights in his Ministry Of Sound days; Norman Jay, especially through his Giant 45 show and the opening hours of his longer sets and I've been lucky enough to play for him at a couple of Good Times parties over the years; through Norman’s website I met King Sunny Ade P and Sherman who helped me discover unexplored musical worlds that are costing me a fortune to this day; this led to a hundred lost nights on beaches and in bars listening to Ade's tales of Aficionado parties so I checked out Jason Boardman (who I still think of as the chap from Leeds' Hard Times!) and Moonboots and they just blew me away. Around that time I moved to Brighton and I was suddenly able to put names to the faces of the Soft Rocks boys and Nick The Record. It just spirals in every direction really. Plus there are so many unsung DJs who I listen to as often as I can: Dave Pickering of course, Matt Timms, the Seekmagic boys, Charlie Brown, Jeff O'Toole, lots of the 1BTN gang… I could go on for days.
Where are you most comfortable when you DJ?
In the corner. I think most DJs are extroverted introverts aren't they? I never trust any DJ who looks like they’re having a better time than their audience!
I like to play where people are there for the music or that the music is there to enhance an experience. I love it when we do BAOL parties knowing that we can do what we want and people will join us but I've also enjoyed playing blissed out music in the first set at festivals to saucer-eyes kids still raving from the night before. I've not really thought this through before - I could easily have told you about the hundreds of places I'd feel uncomfortable - but actually I think I'm happy anywhere I'm genuinely wanted.
What does it take for a party to become a well remembered party?
A heady mix of the right people, the right music and lighting, the right venue – ideally outdoors and beautiful, and probably, for those so inclined, the right drugs. And Ade.
Ade is incredible. We may not always see eye to eye - he's a foot taller than me for a start - but he has something about him, especially in the middle of a field or a rave. He's a shaman, a leader, a terrible influence and a dear friend. If he's at the party I tend to remember it.
Any special gigs come to mind?
I'm very privileged to have a hobby I love and yet there are many moments where I find myself thinking: "what the fuck am I doing here?" Yet through playing records I've got to meet incredible people the world over and had some amazing experiences in bizarre and beautiful places.
The pick for me aren't parties of packed out ravers though, they're about connecting with friends old and new and so on that basis I'd be minded to recall a couple of BAOL gigs: our first on the banks of the River Vlatava in Prague where Ade and I played some 14 hours from pre-sunset to a pre-sunrise police assisted plug pulling, and the BAOL party just outside San Antonio in Ibiza in 2016 where our Vibes Controller surpassed himself by inviting Rolo McGinty of The Woodentops to join us and our mates for a few days. I’m sure a little but of Rolo is still in those sun drenched hills.
In Brighton my favourite day of the year is the annual Pride Festival and I’ve been invited to DJ atop one of the parade floats at the last two. Seeing our home town streets full of beautiful, colourful, happy people is just a complete joy. Last summer, through my shared ‘BANGO’ residency at the Fortune Of War we hosted a Pride party ‘The Queer Takeover’ that was just ridiculous… so many friends all in one place, dancing on the seafront, on tables, chairs, on anything they could find space to stand on. It was a pleasure and, and I use the word again, an absolute privilege.
How is living in Brighton at the moment - where are your haunts, what has kept you down by the seaside?
Bloody cold!! Actually this is the best time of year in Brighton because everywhere is less busy. The summer is a little crazy because of the number of visitors and I end up avoiding the beach and the town unless I absolutely have to go in. Out here in Hove it's much more peaceful :) I live on the seafront and run on the prom every day. I still love London but can't see any circumstances where I'd want to swap cities!
As for haunts, well, I'm more of a pub guy than a club guy (hello Wham fans!) these days. Fortunately Brighton and Hove is blessed with some top pubs that successfully walk that fine line between being a top boozer and bringing in and supporting great DJs so I'm often found at The Fortune Of War, especially on summer nights, The West Hill or The French Horn. In Hove I'm often sat at the bar, sometimes playing records, at The Coopers Cask and The Southern Belle.
We've also got over 20 record shops and Rarekind and Mr Bongo are world class. There are some great second hand shops too, notably Monkey Music and, if you're other half doesn't fancy record shopping, I suggest trying the thrift and salvage stores such as Snoopers Paradise. They get rinsed by locals regularly but there's often a find to be had because the stock is updated so often.
I can't miss the opportunity to plug 'The Secret List: Brighton' which is perfect for record shop seeking visitors to Brighton. It's very good.
For visitors where would you recommend checking out, where do you see the town heading over the next few years? It seems to be changing rapidly.
See above... And the pier. No visit is complete without a seagull nicking your chips and then shitting them back on your head.
It's a funny place. I love it but it gives me the hump too. I've no idea where it's heading if I'm honest: there is a real danger of locals and students being totally priced out which would be catastrophic from an artistic and social perspective.
Homelessness is a real problem. Demands on the city - which is a tiny city all things considered - are stretching it to breaking point.
I'd suggest visitors avoid Churchill Square and the chain stores; get in to the small little shops and stay in the family run hotels and b&bs; ignore the Wetherspoons and have a locally brewed pint in a Harvey's pub; and, also, recognise that for a lot of people Brighton is home and that turning up for the day and treating the centre of town like its a party zone and a dustbin, is likely to piss locals off!
What labels, radio shows, blogs are doing it for you at the moment?
Label wise I'm sure I'll sound like your other guests! Aficionado, Music For Dreams, Growing Bin, Erased Tapes, Kinfolk, Is It Balearic? for new releases; and then, among many, there's Music From Memory, Be With, Mr Bongo, Awesome Tapes From Africa are all putting out some amazing older music.
Radio shows: Dave P's One Million Sunsets of course; on 1BTN we've got loads of great DJs so I must say Beneath The Trees, Tim Rivers' Warm Sounds, Ben Monk and Balearic Mike's show and Woodenhorse Provocateur’s Music of a Soft Rock; also essential listening for me includes the Balearic Ultras and Balearic Social shows.
As for blogs, well, I must confess I read loads but, aside from yours Tom, I’ve got to say the best is Ade's One Million Sunsets. I’d go into more details of the legal battle between Ade and Dave over the name but my lawyer, Sherman, has told me not to incriminate myself.
Bill Brewster's DJ history podcast has been a regular listen for years; Dr Rob's Remedy too; my good friend in Budapest, George Mihaly hosts a great show on QMLS; Beane Noodler and AMC on MyhouseYourhouse; Steve Tee on SS Radio; then there's the Emotional Pop selections, Adam Warped's Strange Days and I try to check each of Deep Transmissions podcasts too. Beyond those I listen to as many of the sets posted up by London venues Spiritland and Brilliant Corners as I can. Long, diverse sets that soundtrack my working day.
Can you tell us a little about the mix, where it was recorded and what music is on it?
It was recorded at home the day after Spurs stuffed Arsenal and I was feeling a little hungover. No magic involved, just me using the basic 2x 1210s and my trusty Pioneer DJM 600 mixer.
I’m not a secret squirrel type, nor am I the sort of bloke who wants to get a reputation for being wilfully obscure or obstinate in my selections. Each of the tracks on this mix are taken from 1980-1989. Some people hate the 80s, I love them. It’s a golden period that even now, 35 years on, keeps on giving. I’ve avoided big names and obvious tracks – somewhere in my canon (if that’s not too big a word for a bunch of online mixes!) there are a couple of mixes that I put together featuring movie dialogue and obscure remixes and b-sides from the big names of the time but I wanted to do something that would have something new for most people who listen to it.
To do the mix I picked out about 50 7s and 12s, ordered them by BPM and just moved gently through the gears. None of these are too rare or pricey really and two are recent reissues. They’ve been accumulated through trips to Europe and the USA and through the nudges of other like-minded DJs, namely Matt Timms, Ty from Beneath The Trees, Mark Limb of Electric Disco, Andy Simms and Bobby Coulman from Soft Rocks, Steve Tee, Ben Monk, Dave Holloway, and the BAOL brothers past and present.
Lastly, outside of music, what else are you interested in - films, books, TV shows?
My wife and I enjoy travelling and seeing as much of the world as we can. Beyond that, it’s a typical mix: football, 80s arcade games, marathon running and I’ve got a real passion for the whole story of 1970s/80s New York - the art (which includes the music!), the people, the ‘scene’ and the changes since. I find it fascinating to read the stories and see how those influences permeate through pretty much all the art, not just the music, that I enjoy today.
Want to see what Steve is doing with the radio, DJing etc ? His Twitter feed is regularly updated, follow him here.
His Upcoming gigs:
- Easter Sunday, April 1 (5pm-10pm) Spiritland
- Sat, April 21 Eastern Front Soundsystem
- Sat, May 12 Biscuit Hammer at Fortune Of War, Brighton
- Sun, May 27 Alfresco Festival, Tunbridge Wells (main stage, support for DJ Harvey alongside Kinfolk and Nancy Noise)