A few weeks ago the city of Detroit gained close attention as it hosted techno's most important event in North America; Movement Detroit. The celebration of all things techno called upon electronic music's biggest players of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It is where we had the opportunity to sit down with none other than Steve Rachmad. The Dutch producer - no stranger to any techno stadium - surely needs no introduction by this point. Dj'ing and producing techno music inspired by Detroit's pioneering efforts for over two decades now it was a germane opportunity to have a sit-down with the man himself in the midst of a crazy weekend.
Meeting up with Rachmad at the Westin lobby we quickly get to talking. Well-mannered with a calming demeanor, his softened personality emanated a peaceful vibe that was a great antidote after two previous nights of loud partying. But Detroit party-go'ers weren't the only ones on a busy schedule. Having just landed from a gig in New York, Rachmad prepared himself for two sets during his stay in Detroit, which immediately followed a trip to Japan. When I asked how he managed to keep a good head on his shoulder with all the travels his reply almost shot out of him saying eating as healthy as possible and having the capability to sleep on planes is something essential for him.
Tough times with travels weren't always easily handled, however. Recapitulating past moments when traveling discrepancies and identity crisis' all began to weigh in on him, he asserted the internal difficulties that came along when the so-called minimalism of the late 90's and early millenium started taking clubs by storm. Vowing to stick to the Detroit-rooted sounds he fell in love with and remain true to what he believed in, the rapid shift in club momentum proved to be a definitive moment for him. " For myself, I have to say, I had difficulties when the music started changing in 2006 when 'the other' minimal came up", he says thoughtfully. " I saw a lot of colleagues switching their stuff from techno to this whole minimal sound, which I couldn't understand." Resisting the trend that cost him bookings, he continues, "[Techno] was my big love. How could I say goodbye to it just like that? I couldn't. It took me a while to get over this tough time. I even thought to myself, 'Should I do music still?'" And thankfully he did.
With the mention of roots, the conversation headed back to his Amsterdam where one of the city's most noted clubs, Trouw, recently closed its doors for good. When asked if he thought the city had lost a sense of home, he quickly made note of another Amsterdam gem, which doesn't quite get as much mention as Trouw ever did, Studio 80. "This place really feels like home because I also like smaller spaces to get more intimate with the crowd and it's something that was difficult to get at Trouw. Studio 80 is the place where I don't play my Sterac stuff. I play my more housey side, softer Detroit stuff, and even 80's. It's a close intimate space and I've got to know the people real well... Indeed, it feels like a family affair."
Getting more into the aspects of his mindset while controlling the decks, he puts great importance in making sure he speaks to the crowd through the music. "To me it's important to be at a place about an hour before just to have a connection with the place and the sound. It's personal. Musically I usually never prepare, but it all usually comes to me when I'm there an hour before. It's more spontaneous for me".
Sticking to his gut-feeling and not straying too much is something that seems to be something that's been working out quite well for an artist like Steve Rachmad. Resistant and resilient to the adversity faced, there are definitely strong similarities in character and heart that the Rachmad and the city of Detroit share.
Steve Rachmad will be headlining an all-nighter at Studio 80 July 9th in celebration of their 10 year anniversary. Be sure you grab your tickets (available here) if you're in the area.