Low Steppa needs little introduction. Since the early years of this millennium he’s been producing some of the finest bass music around under various guises, whilst touring the globe and rocking some of the world’s best parties – from EDC in Los Angeles to Womb in Tokyo.
His own imprint Simma Black Records is going from strength to strength, with Simma Black releases becoming a staple in many a DJs crate, and with his own Simma parties packing clubbers in.
As well as his solo productions, through several aliases and collab projects like Twocker, Rudi Stakker, Bass Weazal, Dreadstemz, Punk Rolla, Will Bailey, Low Steppa remains very much at the forefront of the bass music scene, with his productions gaining support from some of the industry’s biggest names including Amine Edge, Fake Blood, Roska, Huxley, Martin Ikin, Grant Nelson, Shadow Child and Kry Wolf. On top of which, recent radio support has come from the likes of Mista Jam, B Traits, Huxley, Toddla T, Zane Lowe, Kissy Sellout and the Wideboys.
Our resident house head Grant Richards caught up with Will recently out of his hectic tour schedule
Hey Will, good to have a chat with you. Festival and Ibiza season is amongst us, so where have you come back from recently that’s genuinely stuck with you?
Yeah Sankeys has been really good, the Redlight party I’ve been playing at most weeks. Dubai was great too, did that a few weeks back. Really all the shows are good now, it’s taken a while to get to this stage but so happy with where we are now.
You’ve had a fantastic last year or so, with your profile gradually rising bit by bit across that time. What’s been the highlight for you so far?
Boardmasters was actually maybe the standout gigwise. I was even sober but it was incredible, one of those magical moments when the crowd is with you, like really with you! Track wise ‘So Real’!
Having ‘So Real’ crossover in such a way would’ve been another proud moment. Do you think the track may have another wind like ‘Look Right Through’ and have a full on national chart hit? Or are you on to the next one?
Its funny actually, I made ‘So Real’ and I had a strange feeling it had something. I showed it to a few people and they felt it too but it was my manager who really believed in that one. We joke about that I actually suggested we just gave it away on Soundcloud. I’m now actually in the final stages on the next single which I’m really excited about, won’t say anymore yet though!
It’s pretty safe to say there’s quite a bit of pressure on artists if they do have that next level of hit. Are you feeling any pressure in that department?
I do sometimes feel a bit of pressure. It;s much easier to be an underdog or warm up DJ or newcomer. But at the same time I feel I’ve built a good fan base and have a great connection with my fans and I feel they are open minded to what I do next and if that’s another single or an underground EP it’s all good.
Your musical output really is quite relentless, whether it be a classic track edit, a free album or full release. Is this something you’re conscious of or is it just a natural work ethic of yours?
I simply love making music. Some weeks I’m producing every day/night. Always got a new idea in my head, sometimes I think I will go crazy with it all!
Talking of your edits, I think it’s safe to say they have helped your star rise. I’ve been critical of artists that focus the majority of their career on unlimited edits and cover versions of House Classics in the past. It can be quite a contrived way of getting a quick and easy bit of attention. What’s your take on that?
I agree, but if you were to look at how many edits I’ve done to the amount of tracks I’ve done its a very low number, I’ts just that I make a lot of music. I think as well it’s whether your edit or mix has any point in even existing. My ‘Deep Inside’ Remix brought back a classic the kids might have never heard and for me I do things like that because I love them, not because it’s a quick way to be heard. I never realised that would ever be popular. I think people should credit the artist though like I do. I think all these covers where it’s suddenly someone else’s record is kinda lame and that’s definitely a quick way up the ladder.
You’ve given away your ‘Troubles’ album recently. Do you have an eye on doing a full on artist album in the future with some tasty collaborations? If so who’d be top of your list to work with?
100% would love to do an album. Always wanted to work with Yasmin actually, oh and Prince…
Annie Mac’s recent Radio One interview with Calvin Harris had him saying that Duke Dumont isn’t really that interested in the artist album and that he is more focused on EPs where you can keep things fresher and without disappearing in the studio for the best part of a year. What’s your take on that?
Yeah that makes perfect sense to me; albums can be a bad thing too. Mentioning no names, but there have been some albums lately that I found disappointing and may have done more harm than good. Not exactly Daft Punk – ‘Homework’!
I interviewed Leftwing & Kody for Decoded and like yourself Kody has a family and is on the road a lot and I asked him about how he feels about juggling it all. How do you find it?
It’s very very hard. I actually have anxiety lately because I have a child now. Nothing ever really mattered before. My fear of flying is a lot worse now too it’s strange. I really miss my daughter when I go away too, lots to deal with but I also love music so I keep going.
Most DJs would admit that they’d love to have some real friends or family travelling with them when they are travelling, but the reality is you’re often doing it all on your own. Do you feel quite isolated at times? Clubbers may say ‘Boo hoo’ but it is a reality of a DJ with a busy schedule.
Very true. I always say this, you go thru amazing experiences but they aren’t experienced with your real friends etc. Boardmasters as I mentioned before was maybe even more special because I took my brother. I find things like touring Australia or USA can sometimes be very lonely and very depressing. It’s very up and down basically. I remember a time in Australia I was awake all night with jetlag and there was a storm and TV broke and the internet went off and I was close to ending it all haha.
You took your little brother to Ibiza for his first trip recently. I bet he loved it going with you and the fact that you could give him a more educated slice of Ibizan life? Do you think he’ll go back with his pals and do his own thing in the future?
We had an amazing time, he loved it and I knew he would. I think I was more excited than him. We had it right off at Sankeys, was incredible, then we woke up in the morning, the fun ended, my head… He will be going back though! I would like to take him again. Maybe he could be my tour manager!
Hope you don’t mind me mentioning your previous guise under your own name back in the electro days? You had some relative success back then, you obviously don’t have a crystal ball to foresee where you are at now but were there times when you thought you’d knock it on the head?
I basically did knock it on the head. I’ve never really talked about it but I decided to get a job at one point, a few years back, obviously it didn’t work out and Low Steppa took off thank the lord! That slice of reality was invaluable though. It’s important to stay grounded and to appreciate how special it is to be able to do this.
You are a great example of someone that has continued to graft away and young producers could look to you for inspiration, so any pearls of wisdom for the next wave of talent?
I’m a workaholic and I find my weaknesses and I build on them. Nowadays it’s not just music it’s the whole package, your DJing, your social presence, your branding. If you don’t want to work hard then this game probably isn’t for you. The wife hates how hard I work!
Let’s talk about your labels Simma Black and Simma Red, what’s the differentiation between the labels?
Simma Red is basically for newer or smaller artists. It’s as simple as that really plus we had too much quality music for just 1 label.
You run the labels alongside Defected’s Wez Saunders, how did that all come about and how does the dynamic work when signing tracks?
I met Wez through doing a EP for one of his other labels. Wez is awesome and another workaholic. We both have to like a track to sign it. We are much more picky now too as the standard is rising and rising with Simma Black.
You’ve got a huge track coming soon on Simma Black with Robosonic featuring KRS ONE, that’s one to get excited about, genuinely. It’s not just another release when you have KRS ONE on a track. What’s the story with that one?
Yeah it hasn’t even really sunk in yet! Wez was behind that one but it goes to show how people perceive the label. Robosonic have had some big Beatport success and they wanted to be on Simma Black, and they brought KRS-ONE too! Happy days!
I saw that you’ve started buying vinyl again, what’s your been your fav new pick up? I assume with you being from Birmingham you used to get your records from legendary record shop Hard To Find? What’s the most you got ripped off for a dodgy white label?
I’m actually about to start again, waiting for my turntables first, else I wont be able to handle it!! I actually never shopped there on the regular; I think I spent 24 quid on a record once!! So when kids moan about Beatport prices I get a little annoyed. Three Shades in Birmingham was my spot.
Looking at your socials, it would appear you’ve been blessed with being sent some goodies. If Low Steppa was to be sponsored by a brand who would it be and you can’t say Aston Martin?
Be nice to get a free BMW M4…!!
Unfortunately we can’t really offer you much goodies but I would like to thank you very much for your time and look forward to hearing more of that Low Steppa bassy business in the future.
Thanks for talking to me!!