As a DJ, label manager, and radio host, Steve Parry has been a critical part of the house music industry for over 20 years. He began DJing at Liverpool’s club Fallows at the age of 18, an opportunity given to him by Dave Ralph, where he spun alongside many of those who would go on to represent the future of the industry. Here he began forming relationships with DJs such as Sasha, Larent Garnier, and Dave Seaman, which would continue for many years to come. In 1997, Steve started the club Aldreraan as an alternative to the current Liverpool scene, a place where he and other like minded DJs including Danny Howells, James Zabiella, Lee Burridge, and Quivver could play their own sound… a sound that would go on to change the musical landscape of the city and beyond.
Steve’s influence as an industry game changer would continue as the manager for 3 Beat Records, where for over 10 years he was able to put the best new tracks in the hands of the biggest globetrotting DJs, and help spread quality electronic music around the world. His respect from his peers and endless passion for the music has given Steve continued success in his many current ventures as well, including hosting the popular “The Red Zone” radio show, running the multi-faceted SMP3 Management, doing A&R consulting for several labels and artists, as well as co-running Selador Recordings with Dave Seaman. Not to mention DJing around the world!
With over 20 years of dedication to house music from all sides of the industry, Steve Parry carries with him an unrivaled knowledge, amazing set of experiences, and dedication that will last for decades to come. FRISKY Radio is excited to feature him as Artist of the Week, airing Tuesday March 25 at 2PM EST [convert timezone]. We just had to hear more from this staple of the electronic music industry, and caught up for a few questions about his past experiences and ideas for the future.
FRISKY: Can you tell us a favorite story (or two) from the days of Alderaan and your residency at Cream?
Steve Parry: Alderaan was in a tin room above a pub, on paper it shouldn’t have worked, but it really did. With its 100 capacity, it often filled up and went crazy on the dance floor by 10 mins of opening. The first time we did a Tilt night, Quivver was playing to 100 people going crazy by about 9.30pm, it was wild… all of the Danny Howells’ Alderaan birthday parties were pretty special, he was the king of that little room! He also played at my 30th birthday party at Alderaan, I was having a great time when the power in the venue tripped and we were plunged into darkness and with no sound, so Danny gets everybody to sing ‘happy birthday to me’ haha, was very funny and random! The sound came on almost on cue as the singing stopped!
Cream was great, I had some brilliant nights in there. I used to go clubbing there for many years before I started playing there, so I saw the club from both sides. I used to love to party in the courtyard, and so when I was asked to play before Sasha, who was my favourite DJ at the time, before him, in my favourite room of my favourite club, well I enjoyed that gig. It was absolutely rammed in there and was going crazy, and I was actually very happy that he was 30 mins late so I got to keep on playing! haha
Another time was a nice moment, when I was playing in the main room, and Yousef was in the annexe. We’ve been friends for a long time, And as DJ friends do, we used to play together for many years, from small clubs and bars to many a house party at silly o’clock in the morning DJing peoples’ kitchens… and we used to say… one day we will both be playing Cream, one of us each playing in a different room (I think was rated as one of worlds best clubs then)… and then the day that it happened, and we realized that our dream had come true, well that felt pretty special.
FRISKY: How do you think the label business has changed from when you started to how it is now?
SP: From a record label point of view, I’m still certainly a novice, as our label ‘Selador’ hasn’t been running for a year as yet, however I have been working in the music industry for 25 years, so I’ve seen everything change a real lot. When I started DJing, house music was a new thing, some classed as a fad that would fizzle away (how wrong were they?!) and it was all vinyl.
I liked the way the vinyl structuring system worked. If you were Joe Bloggs, you waited until the track was released and then rushed to your record store to buy it. If you were a working DJ you may be lucky enough to get a promo a few weeks before release. If you were doing really well you may have a test pressing a few weeks ahead of the promo and be über upfront, or if you were a big dog or very well connected you could cut an acetate and be stupidly upfront of the crowd. I loved that tiered system. It gave you something to strive for, to keep getting better. You had to wait for music to arrive to you, it wasn’t so instant as nowadays. It was more valued, it was also a lot more expensive to purchase, and so because of that, record labels really had to have quality control. You couldn’t just release anything, as there were pressing costs etc… and if you were a record buyer, you were fussy with what you purchased, which means you only bought music that you really liked. This has all changed. It’s now very easy to quickly get music (legally or illegally), it’s cheap, which devalues the music, it’s more throwaway, tunes don’t stay around for months like they used to.
One other major thing that has changed is the demise of the record shop, it has caused a lack of sense of community for the DJs, a meeting place of DJs of all genres to chat and discuss music. I think this was very important. A place to meet your local heroes, a chance to discuss other musical possibilities, collaborations etc… this has disappeared now, and it’s sad, as it was an important musical hub.
FRISKY: Is there something about the electronic music industry today that surprises you?
SP: Yes I’m constantly surprised at how much really good music there is every week! And that is obviously a very good thing! It means that the whole scene is alive and well!
FRISKY: What do you see as the future of record labels in this industry?
SP: I think it is important for record labels to keep pushing music forward and not to be safe musically. To believe and push musical boundaries. Also it’s important to nurture artists and make them part of the label, so it’s almost like a family. I see over the last few years of the digital era that many labels’ artists releases have been musically fragmented with who they release for. It would be good for the labels to help really bring the artist’s sound on, and move things forward. People will always swap and change labels, and I don’t think it will ever get back to the older days when people only signed to one label (but this is different for major labels of course). I can see in the future that labels will do more in the way of selling their own product directly to the fans. The way that social media has changed everybody’s life (what did some people do before Facebook with their time haha, they seem to spend their life on it!) has made it much easier for groups or labels to sell directly rather than through a store, which in turn makes more money for the artist and the label…
FRISKY: Is there an era, or style, of music that you find you connect most with?
SP: I am a musical geek. I love all sorts. From underground disco and Larry Levan to early house and Graeme Park at the Hacienda, to Sasha at Shelly’s to everything newer via house, progressive’s golden era and techno and then back to the Beatles and 60’s soul. I can bore most people to tears talking about music. However I’m most happy when listening and playing brand new music, house and techno and all of its various shades and colours. I’ve never tried to be stuck by one sound, I think it’s important to keep it fresh, but always know where you’ve musically come from at the same time.
FRISKY: Are there any current or upcoming projects you are excited about working on?
SP: Studio-wise I’m working on a track at the moment, just need to finish that off, it’s pretty old style acid house! (I’m a sucker for acid house!). Next up I’ll making a remix for Selador Reloads Vol 2 for later in the year. I would like to be doing more stuff in the studio, it’s just a time thing with me, juggling work, label, DJing, radio, studio and family… I’m not complaining though, I love it!
FRISKY: Where do you see the industry heading next?
SP: I see Kickstarter and crowd funding being a dominant force though – Selador launched the World’s first Crowd funded CD DJ Mix… and it felt good… I think a lot of people didn’t understand the thought process of how it all worked, and people thought we were just out to make money off others, and I had a lot of people asking me questions galore until the product was finished, and then I think it kind of clicked with people. It’s a different way of doing things, and for us as a new label, we certainly didn’t have the funds to do it, so we were very happy that Selador Reloads was pretty much done by people power!
Hmm… apart from that… I’m not sure if I’ve really thought about that really… things move very quickly in all aspects of the industry… from the shelf life of a track, to the new technology… I love the way it keeps moving… every day is different, and has been since I started working in it, maybe that’s why its so exciting, there is always stuff to do, there’s always that new tune that you want, there’s always somebody rising through the ranks, there is always new technology, there’s always great music and of course you can always have a great club night to let your hair down!
I suppose thinking about it… one day people will be able to DJ from their phones or watches with virtual music steamed and automixed in key for them… all sounds like something that Paris Hilton would love rather than me though haha!
FRISKY: Now that the dust has settled, what impact do you feel the Selador Sessions Kickstarter project has made, and what’s next for Selador Recordings?
SP: Hopefully it has opened the floodgates for other DJs and labels to try things, not just CD mixes. I mean its great to see Nick Warren using the idea… if Nick’s works (which I’m sure it will), then I think people will jump on the idea. We would like to do a Vol 2 as well, not too sure when as yet, but it’s been discussed between us…
Coming on Selador we have a few EPs that we are lining up from great artists with really great remixes too – if we land these EPs that we are putting together we will be very happy, as it’s a lot of people that we love musically!
A few things I can tell you about – next is our ‘Selador Showcase – First Edition’ which is a collection of great tracks from some people that have been on the label before and a few new editions… it’s musically ranging from deep to peak time stuff, almost like a DJ set in one collection…
We also have coming soon remixes of Chris Fortier – Music Makes The Body – which are lining up to be rather hot!
Thank you to Steve Parry for the fantastic interview, we are really looking forward to this Artist of the Week show!