TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
Steve Lawler Steve Lawler is a British dance music DJ and producer famed for pioneering his ‘twisted house’ sound.  Following a late nineties residency at Cream in Ibiza Lawler built a reputation for his drum heavy tribal sound, showcased in the landmark albums ‘Dark Drums’ and ‘Lights Out’.  By the mid 2000’s Lawler began to shift his sound more towards the progressive and minimal end of the house music spectrum.  Despite receiving criticism for doing so Lawler remains one of the leading figures on the dance music scene. Lawler runs his own record Viva and previously ran Herlem Records.
Steve Lawler scales of success
Steve Lawler timeline
'Lost' (Subversive 2004)
'Lights Out' (Global Underground 2002)
Deep South @ Home, London

Early Years: 1993-2004

Steve Lawler was born in Birmingham his first involvement in dance music was hosting illegal raves in the early 90’s, initially in a field and then in disused tunnel under the M42 motorway.  Many of Lawler’s DJ friends who played would later become big names in the UK dance scene in the nineties, including Renaissance stalwart Anthony Pappa, hard house godfather Tony de Vit and Gatecrasher promoter and resident Scott Bond.   After half a dozen or so parties Lawler was pulling in 700 people but the popularity also got the local police’s attention and he was forced to pull the plug on his first venture into promotion.

By 1995 Lawler was holding down both a daily 8 hour residency at Café Mambo and a three times a week residency on Pacha’s roof terrace.  It was during his Ibiza residencies that he was spotted by Darren Hughes, who was at that time the promoter of Liverpool-based super club Cream.  Hughes signed Lawler up to the Cream DJ agency and gave him a residency at the club.  By just his second gig he was following trance super star Paul Oakenfold at the 1997 New Years Eve party. 

By 1999 Lawler had another Ibiza residency, this time at the legendary Space. It was here that his reputation really began to take off.  Up until this stage Lawler’s style was closest to the more progressive and house tinged edge of trance championed by the likes of Sasha, Digweed, Dave Seaman and Pappa at the legendary Renaissance.  But by 1999 Lawler was forging a new, more unique path and he used his Space sets to pioneer the dirty, twisted progressive house sets that he would soon become renowned for.  His sets gained the plaudits of critics and partygoers alike, resulting in the acclaim of ‘The King Of Space’.

Armed with his newly honed style in 199 he started a weekly Friday night residency at Paul Oaknefold’s then new superclub venue Home in London’s Leicester square. Although his first forays into production the same year (‘Strength’ as Chameleon and ‘Rainmaker’ as Novocaine) were still progressive trance, his first compilation album in 2000 ‘Dark Drums’ was like a manifesto for Lawler’s new dark, tribal and heavily percussive sound.  Two other Lawler compilations from the same year (‘Home’ and ‘Global Underground: Nubreed 003’) further embedded his sound in the dance music scene’s consciousness.

‘Deep South’ finished in 2001, with Lawler increasing his international performances and starting a new monthly night in Birmingham’s Code, the Midweek Session.

'Courses For Horses' (Rennaisance 2007)
'Lights Out 3' (Global Underground 2005)
Residency @ Cream, Ibiza

Later Years: 2005 to present

Although Lawler released a number of tracks throughout this period (including the acid drenched, tech-tinged powerhouse ‘Lost’) he continued to use his compilation releases as his main vehicle for capturing his creative output.  Building on the critical success of ‘Dark Drums’ he released a sequel in 2001 and then started a new series entitled ‘Lights Out’.  ‘Lights Out’ was released on Global Underground, the same label that had given him mainstream exposure through the ‘Nubreed’ release.

The 3rd edition of the ‘Lights Out’ compilation series saw Steve Lawler make another musical statement of intent.  The sound of ‘Lights Out 3’ in 2005, and also ‘Viva’ the following year, was a departure from the drum heavy tribal sound he had forged his reputation for.  Although the sound was unmistakably still firmly progressive house with a strong techno influence, some critics and fans felt that he had jumped on the mainstream bandwagon, incorporating elements of minimal and electro and mainstream house.  Lawler responded to his critics with the statement that he’d have given up DJing out of boredom if he hadn’t evolved his sound. 

As part of the transition Lawler closed down his Harlem Records label that he had used to champion tribal house artists.  His new label, Viva, echoes his new musical direction but is also digital only, due both to the current online trend of music sales but also because of problems with physical distributors he had experienced in the US with Harlem.

Content to leave his critics behind Lawler continued to pursue his new musical direction and in addition to a continually steady flow of compilation albums his own production output began to accelerate.  Ironically many of Lawler’s earlier productions lacked a distinct sound and identity at exactly the time his DJing was perceived as being most defined.  By contrast his productions from 2007 are much more cohesive and also show the signs of greater production maturity.  Tracks like ‘Horses For Courses’ ‘Kalimba’ and ‘Carnival’ are piled high with the drums Lawler has always been associated with but they are framed in a more accessible sound.

But the releases also see Lawler spreading his creative wings incorporating elements of tech-house (‘Sleepwalking’, 2008) and minimal (‘21st Century Ketchup’, also 2008). ’21st Century Ketchup’ was released on Dubfire’s SCI + TEC digital label.  Lawler and Dubfire have become mutual admirers of each other’s sound and there is clearly an area of overlap in their styles.

2009’s ‘Hocus Pocus’ and 2010’s ‘Almerina’ saw Lawler experiment with a more techno influenced up-beat house sound.

Steve Lawler has successfully reinvented himself a number of times yet his style has always been unmistakably progressive.  Longstanding residencies and own promotions, coupled with global appearance and a prolific output of compilation mixes have secured his status as one of the big names in the progressive scene.  His production output may have lacked in his earlier years but more recently his creative output has started to deliver at the same level as his DJing and compilations.  Though he faced strong criticism for apparently abandoning the tribal sound he had helped pioneer Steve Lawler remains an influential figure with a strong following.