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Steve Bug: Bleeps That Burrow

You know when you've got roaches in your apartment and you just can't get rid of them? Producer, DJ, and label boss Steve Bug is a bit like that–always lurking around the edges of dance music, popping up to drop a bomb from his Poker Flat label (like the dark, crispy distortion of "Shick," a recent collaboration with Matthias Tanzmann), lay down a DJ set full of devastatingly long fades at Cocoon in Ibiza, or deliver the latest installment of his Bugnology series, software-enabled compilations of minimal- and tech-house. Bug is much more welcome than his six-legged counterparts, but he's just as indestructible–and impervious to current trends.

That's not to say the Berliner doesn't appreciate the finer things in life–got to love a DJ who cites avant-garde Spanish restaurant El Bullí as an inspiration for his music. He also recently moved to a quiet street in Berlin's upscale Mitte neighborhood and his favorite tipple while working on tunes is... green tea. It's a bit hard to reconcile this staid existence with his burbling, menacing tracks (like "Smackman," which anchors the middle portion of Bugnology 2).

Perhaps a bit of quiet is just Bug's key to holding things down. After getting his start behind the decks at a small Ibiza bar in 1991, he built his reputation in hometown Bremen before releasing his first tracks in 1993; three years later, he started his Raw Elements label. Today, in addition to a constant flurry of DJ gigs and producing his own recordings, Bug runs three successful imprints–minimal/tech-house outpost Audiomatique, deep house label Dessous, and Poker Flat, Bug's best-known label, with over 70 singles and nearly 20 albums in its catalog.

Witness to the massive changes that have occurred in German dance music in the past dozen years, Bug has the somewhat jaded outlook of a survivor. "After the big trance and hard techno years in the '90s, clubs got smaller again and people finally opened up to other music again–it was possible to play deep house, house, electro, and Detroit techno in the same set. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not as open-minded anymore; they only want to listen to minimal stuff and everything apart from that is not cool enough for them." A victim of his own sound's success? Hardly. Bug may scuttle undercover for a moment or two, but he's sure to resurface. Get your shoe(s) ready.

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