A lord of new technology, legendary producer and musician, Steve Spacek, is constantly evolving as an artist. As a thriving member of UK electronic group, Spacek, Steve has always been a listener of music that speaks from no known era. With a new project under the name of Beat Spacek, Steve released Modern Streets earlier this year, highlighting the blend of genres that was present during his early days in London. He has worked with the ever-humble J Dilla, and created some fine tracks with Aussie producer, Katalyst on his Space Invadas album, with a follow-up currently in the works. Steve effortlessly uses new and expanding technology to create music that is timeless. Experimenting entirely with iOS apps on a recent mixtape, Beat Spacek will be showcasing his exquisite talents as a producer at the Oxford Art Factory on Friday November 20.
We chat to Beat Spacek about his appreciation of blended genres, working with J Dilla and his take on the Australian music scene. Ayla Dhyani writes.
You released Modern Streets earlier this year. Tell us a bit about the concept of the album in comparison to your previous works.
The concept of this album is just about a time that I remember when I was really young. So it would’ve been about the late 70s or early 80s in the UK. There was this club in the area that I grew up in called Flim-Flams. I remember I went down there one night and was freaked out because there was just a mix of styles, cultures and music in the one club. Before then I’d never really seen that. You would go to a Soul Club or a Rock Club and it would just focus on one genre, but it was really cool to see skin heads, rude boys, dreads, punks, and new romantics playing all of their music in the one place. So this album is a representation of that if you like. So it’s representing three main elements that stood out for me, which was Dub, obviously being of Jamaican background, then New-Wave and New-Romantics because that was a new sound that was coming in at the time and was really pricking my ears up because I was quite into the new technology, and quite intrigued by the things that were making these sounds. I was just hearing this music and just couldn’t imagine what they were. So there was that, and then there was obviously the soulful side as well, because growing up I listened to a lot of Soul music, Mo-Town and Gospel as well. So that’s really the album as a whole.
Have there been any significant changes for you under the new image of 'Beat Spacek'?
Not really. For me it’s all about the progression. I’ve always been into the things that are either timeless or new. Not for fashions sake or fads sake, but I like listening to things when you hear it, you’re like "wow, I can’t even imagine when that would be made." For instance when I was a kid, one of the first tunes that pricked up my ears was Donna Summer’s, ‘I Feel Love.’ I was five years old and heard it on a big sound system and it sounded amazing. To me, it just clicked and made sense and there was definitely not a lot that sounded like at that time. It was like something from out of space. So the new project is just the next progression for me.
And do you still work with the band at all?
Yeah, in various entities. The Beat Spacek is just a new project. This project was just a way to showcase the production side of what I do. Because I realise that over the years when I interact with people in a business sense, they don’t realise that most of the work I’ve done, I’ve actually produced. Especially if I’m in a duo or I’m in a crew, most people just see me as the singer, which is fair enough, but then they see the other people as the producers. So I found that quite interesting and this album has really been pushing forward my love of new technology with iOS apps a lot and show people the way that I produce and always have done. Everything that I’ve worked on, I produced. Except for the first Space Invadas album, which I did with Katalyst, who is really cool Aussie producer. But all the other projects still exist, it’s just finding the time to get it happening.
Yeah of course, and how has it been for you moving out here to Australia?
It’s been harder, just because I’m further away from a lot of the main action. But in saying that, there’s still a really cool scene going on over here. Even as far as the mainstream, you’ve got really cool acts like Chet Faker and even Daniel Johns. What he’s been doing recently has been amazing from what I’ve heard. Then you’ve got the whole underground scene, which, for all intensive purposes, is right up to date. The Future Classic guys as well. I did work with them when I first came here, and those guys were bang on right up to date. In Sydney it’s not necessarily across the board like it is in the UK, but there are a few hidden pockets. As soon as you go into places like Newtown or Marrickville, it seems like it’s buzzing and everyone is supporting their own little vibe. They know about their music and are deep into their music. So there’s definitely stuff going on here, it just manifests itself in a different way. And because of the Internet as well, even if it’s a small pocket, you’re still getting the same thing mirrored from everywhere else. People are ahead of the game.
You also did some work with J Dilla back in the day. Tell us about that experience.
Yeah it was brilliant. He was probably one of the most humble guys that I’ve ever met in the industry. Originally when he did the ‘Eve’ remix with the whole Spacek group, it was a real surprise how he flipped the elements of that track. Then when I did the ‘Dollar’ track with him as well, that was amazing. It was surreal when I recorded the album Space Shift in L.A. at his place. There was a big crew of us there, it was me and him and Leon Were, who is a legend as well and Mr. French, who is an amazing DJ. He was great, man. Just really humble and it was a real honour for him to have me in his place, which was confusing for me. But he just knew what level I was on and picked out the music and it was done. I didn’t even have to do anything to the music, to be honest, he smashed it. There’s just no effort involved because the music is pure.
You’re playing at Oxford Art Factory this week, what can we expect from the gig?
To be honest, it’s more of a low-key event. I did this mixtape for Benji B on his show on BBC Radio 6 and then we decided to put a physical mixtape together from that. There are a small amount of copies, so we’ll be promoting that on the night, and basically get the gallery hopping. Myself and a couple of other guys will be coming together that represent the Beat Spacek album, and some surprise guests will be along on the night as well.
Are the any new projects that you’re working on?
Always really. At the moment I’m really trying to get this label up and running. I’ve got this thing called SPA, which is just short for my name really. I’ve just been putting the odd thing up on BandCamp. It’s quite low-key right now, just because I haven’t really had the time to push it up, but I have a new manager now, who’s really good with social media. As much as it really freaks me out, I just need to get on it now in that respect, because that’s how people hear about you these days. But in terms of new music, there’s new stuff all the time. We’re just putting the finishing touches to the new Space Invadas album with Katalyst, and I’m really happy with that. Me and Ash [Katalyst] had a great time recording that as well. We had about three amazing guests who have just come on and smashed it. One of them is a female Sydney singer, and when she layed her first verse on this track, I was thinking “wow, I gotta step up” (laughs), which is always a nice feeling to keep me motivated. But I've been working on some more beats for Spacek as well, and brining out the whole iOS thing. I’ve been doing tracks just recorded on iPad and iPhone apps, which has been really interesting to work with that new technology. The new album out might be a house album as well, which will be interesting for me
What moves you?
The feel of music. More than the melody or anything. It’s the bass that move me.
Tickets for Oxford Art Factory available through Moshtix