Long before Steve Bug became a master of the deep, sleek, techno-infused realms of house music, he was popping, locking and maybe even doing the Robot. "The first time I recognized feeling music as something special," Bug remembers, "was when the street-style breakdance stuff got big.
"But I may have been a little too young to become a part of that scene," he admits. "I just did a little breakdancing instead of trying to make my own music." Not long afterward, though, he was buying records and learning how to mix, working his way from funk and '80s synth pop to house music. He got his first big break during an extended visit to dance-music mecca Ibiza in 1991.
"I was a really big clubber at the time," he offers. "I stayed in Ibiza for three months, and I don't recall any three nights that I stayed at home during the entire period. I got the gig through a friend of mine who knew the guys that had just opened this bar, and so I got to play there for the opening party. It was a bar around the corner from Space. At this time, Space was closing midday, and it was thought of as an after-party of Space. It was a fun night, even though I spent my time deejaying from the kitchen without a window, playing for a crowd that I couldn't even see!"
With Modeselektor, 9 p.m. Saturday, March 22, Beta, 1909 Blake Street, $15-$18, www.groovetickets.com.
Although that may sound like an inauspicious start, Bug made the most of it. Just a few years later, he began releasing records on the Superstition and Risin' High labels before launching the Raw Elements imprint with Tobias Lampe in 1996. "I felt I didn't really fit into existing labels at that point," he explains. "I also wanted to give a platform to other people who were doing similar sounds."
Raw Elements eventually folded, and Bug has since gone on to found and run other labels such as Poker Flat and Dessous. At the same time, he's helped popularize a sound that incorporates minimal techno atmospheres and pulsing house spiked with abstract shards of noise that tease at oblique melodies. The funky blend is a good reflection of the current minimal scene.
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"I'm really happy that the deeper house stuff and the Detroit-ish techno sound is coming back again," says Bug. "Luckily, most of the tracks have something new to them, so it's not just a revival. This sound gives you the opportunity to create a better atmosphere on the dance floor than just playing minimal drum-loop house and techno. I think that minimal got a little overrated. A lot of people just play linear minimal nowadays and nothing else, and I think it can be a little boring after a while."