Bless this acid house… 909originals catches up with Steve Mac
DJ, producer and record label boss Steve Mac has been a figurehead in house music since its earliest days, having released tracks on label such as Nervous, Ministry of Sound, Toolroom, Underwater, Ovum and more over a 25-year plus career, not to mention countless remixes.
Recently, he teamed up with longstanding pals Irvine Welsh and Carl Loben to launch Jack Said What Records, on which he has just released his latest long player, Bless This Acid House.
Featuring collaborations with Marshall Jefferson, the late Sleezy D, Robert Owens and more, the album pays tribute to the legendary days of rave and acid house, when house music was in its formative years and we were truly one nation under a groove. You can check out the album here.
909originals caught up with him, to chat about the new album, his career to date, and a forthcoming project that fans of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting won’t want to miss.
Hi Steve, thanks for talking to us. For those that aren’t familiar with your career to date, tell us about your biggest releases and career moments?
I have had many moments over the years – I have done some huge remixes, Amy Winehouse Back to Black, Jamiroquai Seven Days, plus two other Jamiroquai tracks. I have also remixed artists like Cee-Lo Green, Rihanna, Estelle, Barry White, Charlotte Church, Michael Jackson, Armand van Helden, Todd Terry – the list goes on. I have remixed over 300 records, which is crazy when you think about it.
Speaking of Todd Terry, I remixed Keep On Jumpin back in 1996, which ended up going to number 7 in the pop charts – quite unheard of for a banging house record. I would probably say this was one of the biggest. Also, my track with Steve Smith from Dirty Vegas, Loving You More, and the controversial Paddy’s Revenge, which was also a top 10 hit .
Tell us about your new label, Jack Said What. What does it stand for?
We started the label last summer, in July – a year of planning went into it before we started. Basically, I was working with Carl Loben (DJ MagUK editor) and Irvine Welsh (author) on a music project . We were signed to a label, but we had to part ways when the pandemic hit .
We had to push pause on the project, then we realised we didn’t have a home for the music, so we thought, ‘lets start a label and do it ourselves’. When we spent the year setting up the business, I started to realise that I was sitting on so much music of my own and also many collaborations, so it just made sense and everything fell into place.
We are now running three labels – Jack Said What, Out Yer Box and KAB Records. The reason for setting up the sub labels was so we can put out all types of music, as Jack Said What was basically techno and house. Now we are putting out leftfield, breaks and even pop music – with an edge.
What is the story behind teaming up with Irvine Welsh – not the first person I would have thought of to run a record label?
Carl Loben and Irvine Welsh are my best friends – we spend so much time together going to gigs, festivals, etc. We are just having a lot of fun, and creating some amazing art at the same time.
What new artists are you championing?
We have signed some amazing artists: Marshall Jefferson, Serge Santiago (Waze & Odyssey) Jon Carter, Luca LeBleu, Lisa Moorish, ITHURTZ, Martin Badder, EVL Tom, Third Bloom, Mutiny, Cousn, Chad Jackson, Scott Booth, Zoe Devlin and many others lined up.
As someone who came of age during the first wave of acid house and rave, what do you make of the revival of those old school sounds these days – it seems like every second producer has rave stabs in their tracks?
I think every genre of music goes round in circles, and it seems that this particular sound has come back into fashion. I mean, it is getting a bit overkill.
The best way to stand out from the crowd is take this sound/idea and turn it into something new. That’s never an easy thing to do but by experimenting and spending a bit of time, it will come. I mean, can the Nitro Deluxe stab be used many more times? Probably.
Tell me about your album, Bless This Acid House – what’s the story and inspiration behind it? What artists have you collaborated with on it?
Well, its kinda funny. One day I just woke up and went ‘ok, I’m going to write an acid house album‘, so I just started programming the 303 with lots of acid lines, programming the drum machines – 909 , 808 , 606 – and an MPC, and just started working it.
Along the line I had my friends and all-round legends come to the studio: Robert Owens, Marshall Jefferson, Sleezy D (RIP), Raze, Alana. They were all at my studio at different times working on other projects, but for instance, I played Robert a couple of these tracks I had and he was like ‘wow, I’ve got something for this’ – so we recorded the songs there and then.
I wanted to make an album that paid homage to the original Chicago sound, where this music came from, and these guys invented this sound. All I can say is that I am very lucky to call these people my friends. It has been an honour to work with them all.
There’s a track on the album called The 313, which is all about Detroit. What influence did the Motor City have on your career?
Detroit‘s electronic scene has always impacted my music. I grew up listening to the likes of Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson – too many names to mention.
I did The 313 with Detroit artist and singer Alana Maria. Alana is well known for singing on MK’s Burning from back in the early 90’s. She just started doing some adlibs and this is what came of the track . She left me with the vocal, then I just fired up the machines and we had The 313.
Can you tell me about your next big project?
I’m working on many projects at the moment. As well as co-producing a couple of artists albums, I am also producing these two projects.
I’ve just got back from West Africa – Sierra Leone – working with charity organisation Last Night A DJ Saved My Life and Way Out. I am now back in my studio in Brighton, producing an album which I recorded while I was over there with young street artists.
This is a very exciting project as we are helping to change lives and give these talented people a chance in the world. I’m hoping to have the project finished by the end of May. It’s going very well and sounding great.
As soon as this is finished, I’ll start working on recording the Trainspotting – The Musical album. Yes, it’s happening, and going into the West End early next year.
I have been working very closely with Irvine on this. We have written all the songs, and Irvine has finished the script. All the music has been scored. We have already done two workshops with the cast, which has been amazing. Now, the big job for me is to record the album. It’s a huge project as it has 17 original tracks and three covers. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into this very soon.
Thanks Steve for talking to us. You can download/stream Bless This Acid House here.