Photo: Noam Ofir (Steve Rachmad)
It’s hard to talk about Steve Rachmad without resorting to hyperbole. After more than three decades in the game, the Dutch DJ and producer has so many releases under a plethora of pseudonyms as well as an extensive back catalogue of remixes under his belt, it’s hard to imagine that he himself can keep an overview. As Sterac, he regularly dedicates himself to deep Techno cuts while simultaneously exploring his roots in Disco, Funk and Electro as Sterac Electronics. Rachmad’s spiritual home however has always been Detroit, the sound of the first and second waves of Techno in particular. His contribution to our Groove podcast was nonetheless recorded in his native Amsterdam, a city he’s stayed true to over the years.
You have a reputation as one of the first European DJs to champion the Detroit sound. What’s your relationship with the city and its music like, a quarter of a decade after?
Detroit remains my heritage, and it’s something that still has impact on my sound, this will never change. It’s the funk, emotion and groove of Detroit sound that left impact on my production style, and this is still deeply rooted in what I make and release, with my own touch of course.
With Things To Think About, you released your first album as Sterac Electronics after 15 years of on and off activity under the moniker. What characterises this particular project of yours?
It’s the 80s Disco, Funk and Electro that characterises this moniker of mine. That sound is also at a very root of me as a producer in general, it’s what I started with in the 80s. As Sterac Electronics, I still do occasional DJ sets too, but I prefer to keep this special, and I do this only at very special locations. The tracks on this album have been laying around for a while, most of them were made in the mid-2000s when the whole Minimal sound took over. I was for a moment lost, and I didn’t feel like following trends in those times. So I went into the studio and did something else, something that felt good, and where I stayed true to myself. I never concretely thought about releasing those tracks. Then a few years back, at a dinner at my home, Tom Trago joined too, and I let him hear these tracks. He was immediately very enthusiastic. A few more years passed by, and then Tom contacted me if I wanted to release this as an album on his Voyage Direct. This felt right, so I decided to do it. Finally, the album came out this spring. I intentionally didn’t want to play too many shows around it though, I just did an allnighter with Tom at De School back in February, and closed Drift festival in Holland in June. I prefer to keep this sound to the special places and the right crowd.
Throughout your career, you have regularly collaborated with other artists. What is it that draws you to working with other people?
I am very difficult with this, to be honest. I cannot work with just anyone, it has to feel right in the way how people think. I prefer to complement each other instead of compete, this is essential in order to be able to go into studio with someone. And then when I do, it’s a matter of inspiring each other. Over the years, I went to studio with Joel Mull, Petar Dundov, Heiko Laux, Ricardo Villalobos and The Advent. These people are my dear friends, and I deeply admire what they do.
Your passion for analogue hardware and especially the TR-808 is well documented. What’s your stance on the recently announced TR-08 clone, have you worked with that already?
It looks super cute. It sounds pretty convincing, like a real 808 on its own. But if you put them next to each other you hear that the real 808 has so much more power… Big balls and more life to it. But I’d still like to have the new one too, it will probably come in handy in the future for while on the road.
You had a very strong connection with Amsterdam’s Studio 80, where you hosted your regular Kis nights. However, Studio 80 closed in late 2015. Which Amsterdam clubs do you feel most at home these days?
It’s De School that feels most like home. But we are richer for a few more great clubs, like Shelter, Claire and Radion. I enjoy playing all of them.
Two years ago, you praised Ricardo Villalobos in a DJ’s DJ feature in Groove for his creativity and spontaneity, both of which you trace back to his 80s upbringing. Do you think younger generations miss this sense of adventure?
The younger generations have their own adventures. Sometimes I find some youngsters more open minded than others; sometimes I also notice the switch of generations. But this is something that is the case with every generation. It comes in the end to the individuals and their paths.
Your contribution to our Groove podcast kicks off with some House leaning vibes before venturing in to hard Techno. What was your idea behind it?
It is who I am, and how I like to play; I have different sides, and I try to split this into different aliases usually as I noticed that people like to know where they’re at. But ideally, I could play just anything I want in my sets, depending on the mood, vibe. This set was recorded at Amsterdam’s Shelter, and it is a part of a three hour journey. It felt like people in the club were open to it all.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks and what are your plans as a producer?
I am touring a lot these days, from South and North America, over Ibiza and across Europe to Asia and Australia. In Berlin, for example, you can hear me at Watergate as Steve Rachmad end of this month; or as Sterac at Klockworks night at Berghain at the end of November. Amsterdam Dance Event is coming up too, and I’ll play a few shows as Steve Rachmad and Sterac there. On the production front, I have remixes of Kerri Chandler on Watergate, as well as different remixes on Suara coming up. I also remixed Paul Ritch’s alter ego Kaczmarek as Sterac. I have 2 tracks as Sterac on Ben Klock’s anniversary compilation release. And I have quite some tracks ready for my Sterac album, but I’m not there yet, so I will not give you any concrete info yet. I am not under any pressure.
Stream: Steve Rachmad – Groove Podcast 125
01. Jimpster – Alsace (Josh Wink remix)
02. Mad Science – Parallels
03. Rennie Foster – The Healing Hall (Echonomist remix)
04. Loudon Kleer – Worst case scenario
05. David Alvarado – Ysleta
06. Choice – Acid Eiffel
07. Gary Martin: Well (Robert Hood remix)
08. Jasper Wolff & Maarten Mittendorf – Stellar Cult
09. Frank de Wulf – Moral Soundbase
10. JAM – Opportunity Rover
11. In Sync – Storm
12. Mr. G – 28 (Zombie Version)