Really excited to announce that Steve Mizek is our next guest DJ for the show. Founder of the excellent Chicago-based music tome Little White Earbuds Steve has been instrumental in introducing me to many of the artists and styles I love today. He’s also the founder of 2 record labels, Stolen Kisses and Argot, the latter of which will soon have its debut release. Along with submitting an hour-and-change of proper house grooves, he was kind enough to submit to a short interview as well:
Interview with Steve Mizek
To start with the basics, what was your first exposure to electronic music?
As a young boy I always loved disco, so dance music was something that seemed natural to my brain. I worked my way from Sasha & Digweed to Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx to various types of “indie dance” before focusing on techno and house around 2005-6.
How did Little White Earbuds get its start? Did you ever expect it to become what it is today?
I started LWE out of boredom, to create an outlet where I could write about what I was listening to at that very moment. I’d had blogs before but they were largely just syndicating my print reviews and features. LWE was a real-time document of me falling back in love with dance music, one which received a very positive response, so I decided to take it more seriously. I didn’t really have any notions for what it would end up like, but when I saw potential in it I knew I wanted to push it as far as I could. I hope to make a full-time living from it in the nearish future.
What drove you to start your record labels Stolen Kisses and Argot? What are the differences between them?
Running the site has put me in touch with a lot of interesting producers, many of them artists/producers. It felt like an extension of what I already do, curating music I view as interesting and worthy of discussion and listeners’ time. Stolen Kisses records are products of chance: random music that falls into my hands, or music that’s unexpected from a certain artist. Those tunes are paired with similarly unexpected remixers to yield an unusual and pleasurable juxtaposition. Stolen Kisses is a limited series of releases, though, because making each one is very time consuming and well, chance can only land in my favor so many times.
My new label, Argot, has a more specific focus and is something I want to build up over years. I aim to showcase some of the American producers I’ve gotten to know, many of whom are in the ascendant rather than established names. All original material — no remixes. I didn’t want to be another American label that puts out international talent; there’s nothing wrong with that, but I want to support my compatriots.
Do you have any producers or DJs that you admire, or feel are under-rated?
Oh my, there are so many. I think Amir Alexander, who is the first artist being released on Argot, is a spectacular producer who has not yet gotten his due. With any luck that will change this year. Also, my friends Hakim Murphy and Ike Release are working together as Innerspace Halflife, and I get the sense their music will be well received once more people hear it.
Two random DJs I admire: Ron Morelli (founder of L.I.E.S.) and Savile, a friend of mine in Chicago who slays every room he plays and is a burgeoning producer as well. You’ll probably see something from the latter on Argot at some point.
How do you feel Chicago is represented in dance music today? Is there a new image being presented or is it still relying on nostalgic tropes from the Chicago House scene?
I think a very specific point in Chicago’s house music history (the 80s) is well represented at present, and that’s because it was so foundational for all that came after. These days, though, most of it is cheap imitation of the basic sounds of Chicago house rather than its spirit or the intricacies of its production. It’s a bit tiring, to be honest. Most contemporary producers here aren’t as wrapped up in that sound as the rest of the world is, so it would be nice if everyone else tuned in to the cool stuff we’re doing that goes beyond the Trax Records template.
Are there any other future plans on the horizon?
I really look forward to getting Argot up and running. The first record should be in stores by the end of May, if all goes well, with hopefully two more Argot releases this year. I plan to release a couple more Stolen Kisses 12″s as well in 2012. And with any luck, LWE will see some major changes later this fall. It’s going to be an exhausting, expensive, and glorious year.
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve made?
This is a mix I’ve been toying with for a while, made up of old favorites, new favorites, and stuff I think sounds nice together. It’s not my cleanest mix to date, but I had fun making the final recording in a single take. Hope you and your listeners enjoy!