TLDR: Steve Parry talks about Liverpool’s unique place in the electronic music industry.
Liverpool has been a standout music city for generations. Designated the “City of Pop” by Guinness Book of Records in 2001, it remains an influential city for music for all genres including (and especially!) electronic music. Cream at the Nation nightclub in Liverpool became one of the best known nightclubs in the world during the 90’s, hosting DJs such as Sasha, Chemical Brothers, and Paul Van Dyk, and with residents including Paul Oakenfold, Judge Jules, and Seb Fontaine. And that’s just one of many influential venues! Witness to and participant in the growth of electronic music in Liverpool was Steve Parry, creating the intimate Alderaan as an alternative to the large clubs, while also playing along side the biggest DJs of the era. (Read more about Steve Parry in his Artist of the Week Interview) Active in the scene for generations, Steve is able to give us a personal and experienced look into the current Liverpool scene.
You’ve had many various roles in the industry, in what ways are you currently involved in the Liverpool house music scene? What role do you enjoy the most?
Ha yes, I have worn many different hats in this industry we call music. Currently I keep myself busy in several ways – I run a DJ promo pool called SMP3 Music Promo (SMP are my initials, and so I combined it with mp3 to make SMP3). I work with around 25 labels hand picking DJs to send each promo to, so the DJs know I’m only going to be sending them music they like, rather than bombarding them with anything and everything. i work with Sudbeat, microCastle, Selador, Under No Illusion, New Violence, Perspectives Digital, Sprout and many more, some really cool labels. It’s exciting taking a track and watching Djs get very excited about hot new promos!
I also have a unique job of working with several big named DJs sourcing music for their sets each week, finding exclusives tracks, buying tracks on beatport, scouring through sound cloud, buying vinyl exclusives.. kind of like the modern day equivalent of a record shop assistant (a job I’d done previously for 13 years!), I love doing this, it keeps me really on the forefront of the newest music. I work with Sasha, Tiga, Just Be, Dave Seaman, Sander Kleinenberg and a few more… it’s very time consuming, but its something I’m extremely passionate about.
I am part of ‘Luna’ our occasional party in Liverpool, pushing underground house and techno. We’ve had Stephan Bodzin, Dave Seaman, Psycatron, Ralph Lawson play for us, all DJs I really love, and all a little different musically, I like that, rather than sticking to one specific sound.
I run ‘Selador Recordings’ with long time friend, Dave Seaman, We started April 2013. It was a lifetime ambition to runs label, and realised I had no reason to set a label up, as I had been in the industry for 20+ years, so I had the contacts and connections. When I told Dave what I was doing, he asked if he could do it with me.. I know most people in the World would have kept at that offer, but I was a little unsure, as explained to him, it had to be a joint label, rather than me doing all of the work for ‘Dave Seamans’ new imprint, as he’s a clubland legend, so I didn’t want to be overshadowed… Dave was very understanding, and it really is a 50/50 partnership with everything. We spookily have ridiculously similar musical tastes, I mean really freaky how similar, and so that works great for the label, as we always seem to be on the same musical page. We’ve been delighted with the success of the label, and have had big releases from Robert Babicz, AFFKT, Melokolektiv, Samu.l, Dave Seaman and many more and some huge remixes from artists I love like Gabriel Ananda, Just Be, Nicolas Massyeff, well the list goes on… I’m a happy bunny with all things Selador!
I also (of course) have my monthly frisky radio show The Selador Sessions. I’ve always had a passion for radio, and after my Red Zone radio show hit the decade mark, I was delighted when frisky took me on board so I could try something new. It helps me get my music heard Globally, which is amazing, and I love frisky, it has so many great radio shows, DJ’s and cool musical vibe.
What is the most significant change you have seen in the last 10 years?
I suppose its the digital age and the demise of vinyl really. I worked in 3 Beat Records for 10 years, so I was at the forefront of all things vinyl, and I was a bit late getting on the whole CD thing, but you’ve got to move with the times, or you get left on the shelf. I must admit, I did prefer the old musical highearchy, so the top tier had acetates, then the next few had the test pressings, the resident DJs and trainspotters grabbed the promo, and then by the time the hype was huge, it was finally released… I miss that really.. from a DJ, a punter and as a former record shop assistant.. I loved the idea of desperately searching for a track too, old or new…The digital age has made everything so instant for everybody, which in turn makes music more throwaway unfortunately… music doesn’t seem to stick around as long as it used to do, where certain tracks were played for months on end.
What musical trend to you see happening that you’d like to see more of? Any that you wish would just disappear?
I keep hearing a fair bit of good old fashioned acid / 303 creeping back in to tracks.. and for me (as long as every track doesn’t start doing it!) then thats cool with me, I’ve been a bit of an acidic lover since i first heard it back in 1988.. although i’m quite fussy about the acid vibes that i like! Its got to be ‘proper’! Well, even Danny Howells nickname for me was ‘Parry acid’… says it all really…
Styles to disappear – well, I don’t actually hate any styles of music. Doesn’t mean I particularly like them, but I do try and appreciate whatever style it is. Although I love the more underground sounds of things, I don’t think I’m a musical snob, people are in to what they are in to, and so I don’t believe people should look down on people just because of what music they like. take for example… EDM, ok, it ain’t for me at all, and I’d never play it.. ever.. some say its the devil’s music (haha) but in a way, I’m kind of glad it happened, its going to get a whole lot of people introduced to dance music that may never have found it, and now with ‘deep house’ (as they call it) being big, and crossing over in to the pop charts, then this again it’s like an introduction to all things house/techno, and so hopefully will get people slowly discovering other DJ’s, producers, clubs etc which may fuel the future of clubland, and who knows what they may find over the next few weeks, days and months and realise that they love it?
Is there anything that makes the UK/Liverpool scene uniquely challenging or advantageous?
Liverpool goes through waves of growing huge, and we are currently riding the wave of one of those right now – It’s always happened, from the 60’s with the Beatles and Merseybeat, the early 90s with Cream becoming one of the Worlds most famous super clubs selling out 35000 weekly to the worlds biggest DJs, and it really feels like now is another, so many great club nights, big and small, so many great DJ’s and great producers coming from Liverpool it’s really quite crazy (in a very good way).. I was going to mention some, but there are so many its daft!!
Which DJs or clubs should locals and travelers check out?
Haha, well I was about to say I was going to list any, but I better had to answer that question I suppose! Well the big club night in Liverpool is Yousef’s Circus (monthly event) massive line ups, theres ‘Luna’ that I’m resident at thats pretty tasty (but i would say that!), Jemmy is a great DJ and plays for Freeze (another excellent night), CDC DJ’s from Carpe Diem Muzika are making waves, CamelPhat are doing some great stuff, a young lady called Adele is gonna be huge soon and is a great DJ, Company Is Family are cool, Hussle is a great house night, do you know what I wish I hadn’t have started as I’ve got about another 20 or 30 names of DJs, producers, labels, club nights I could mention here that are hot from Liverpool making waves! So I apologise to those I haven’t mentioned, but if you’re reading this fellow scousers, then you know who you are!
It looks like Liverpool isn’t going away any time soon, as a powerhouse in the music industry from pop to EDM, but with underground house music always driving at its core. With a wide variety of DJs and clubs to discover, the city has something to offer for everyone. There is always a new rhythm to flow with and new avenue to explore.