Steve Rachmad (Life and Death // Amsterdam)

Mentioning releases, remixes, or labels on which Steve Rachmad has shown his craftsmanship is pointless and time-consuming. So is boasting about the clubs and festivals on which he has left his mark. It would just make for another list of names, places, and brands…. Let’s not do that. Feel free to visit the usual channels (Discogs, Soundcloud, Beatport) and take your pick from numerous productions and DJ sets. They all come from three decades of dedication, sweat, and polishing a one of a kind talent.

Because as Miles had his horn and Pablo took to canvas, Steve has an unequalled gift for (almost physically) connecting with every thinkable drum machine and synthesizer out there. If the man had kids, boys would listen to Roland or Robert (Moog), and a girl would surely be named Linn, after the machine made famous by Prince and others in the 80’s. Some claim it’s analogue machine telepathy, others say he was born with all the right connectors and inputs hidden somewhere underneath his trademark curly hairdo.

This ability has established Steve as one of those artists that simply last because of quality. New generations of artists from different genres recognizes his signature and therefore play his work.

As a DJ he is constantly reinventing himself. Set firmly in the best that techno and house have to offer at the moment, Rachmad draws inspiration from his love for high quality disco and electro from the past. As words can never truly describe music, we’ll end with advising you to go check him out and hear for yourself what Steve is all about.

STERAC (Klockworks, Delsin // Amsterdam)

Since his earliest days in the scene, Amsterdam’s electronic music pioneer Steve Rachmad has created a legion of monikers to cover the variety and broadness of his compositions. Black Scorpion, Tons of Tones, Rachmad Project, Scorp, Parallel 9, Ignacio, Dreg, Sterac Electronics; they all represent a different facet of Rachmad’s music.

One of the main creatures living on Planet Rachmad has always been STERAC, a side of Steve’s musical personality that’s not easily described. Let’s say that where other aliases are used for excursions to more dub-, disco-, or house- oriented records, STERAC’s focus has always been on the no-nonsense, darker, and deeper side of techno.

The STERAC discography consists of signature cuts, spread out over genre-defining labels such as M-Plant, Tresor, Klockworks, Afterlife, Mote Evolver, Indigo Aera and Delsin. Over the years it’s been reinterpreted, remixed, and reworked by peers such as Ricardo Villalobos, Vince Watson and Marc Romboy.

The work rarely fits current trends or pushes through to the absolute top of subjective charts. Rather it simmers, always ready to spark the rise of new generations, parties, and artists’ careers within the musical biotope we all love.

His effort and independent attitude have made STERAC a regular on many a stage. From his hometown’s Awakenings, to Berghain in Berlin, Movement festival in Detroit, Fabric London, Loft Barcelona, D-Edge in Sao Paulo, and more.

Parallel 9 (art.less // Amsterdam)

‘Extremely versatile and blessed with a childlike curiosity for music and its machines, yet always self-critical, modest, and soft spoken’. When asked, that’s probably more or less how most colleagues and friends will describe Steve Rachmad. Over the years, Holland’s undefeated heavyweight champ has been creating numerous alter egos to reflect the diversity in both his interests and his output.

However, so far only a few of these characters have made it into the DJ booth. As Sterac, Steve delivers straight forward, stripped down techno. This has earned him a loyal following among the heads in clubs as Berghain. If you catch him playing as Steve Rachmad, the widely interested musical hippie takes usually over. On those nights, you’ll hear the best tracks from various genres, skilfully blended with many of his own originals, edits, and reworks. Thirdly, Sterac Electronics allows for a musical excursion to the 80’s disco era, when synths produced sounds fatter than a butter and cream sandwich, and gear only came in 3-D. This of course still is the dominant format in Rachmad’s studio today.

Now it seems the time is right to add a fourth permanent protagonist to Steve’s story: Parallel 9. This guy prefers to take the listener on a ride along the hypnotizing cliffs of the underground. A P9 set pays homage to timeless deepness. Tracks come from vintage deep house imprints, legendary dub (techno) producers, or befriended craftsmen with a similar attraction to the musical abyss.

Parallel 9 allows Rachmad to show a different side of himself onstage. It’s another way of speaking with the crowd through the four to the floor framework. And, whether it’s a 20-year-old classic or a recent release, Parallel 9 productions seem to always speak this same language. A vocabulary that lies at the heart of Rachmad’s personality: pure, profound, honest, and loving.

Speedy & Steve (Mote-Evolver // Amsterdam/Rotterdam)

What happens when two undisputed legends of Dutch techno join forces on stage? In the case of Speedy J and Steve Rachmad, no one knows before the lights go down and the music starts – not even the artists themselves.

After some 30 years passing each other on the nonstop gig circuit, it was only when the pandemic hit that Jochem Paap and Steve ‘Sterac’ Rachmad found an opportunity to connect via a live streamed, improvised jam for Paap’s Stay Home Soundsystem project. It was the first time Rachmad had taken his studio craft into a ‘live’ setting, but with a few intuitive tools the distinctive Sterac sound gelled with Paap’s approach and a new musical collaboration was born.

There are no set rules or roles when Paap and Rachmad fire up their machines – they’re drawing on their decades of experience making and playing this music, recognizing the effect different sounds and patterns have on a crowd, and most importantly having fun with the process. Rachmad often brings his signature chords, pads and melodic arps into the mix, while Paap is more than comfortable tweaking rhythms and textures, but their sonic duties are fluid. They just as easily trade their roles within the mix, if the jam steers them that way.

Rachmad featured on the first STOOR live session at Paradiso in Amsterdam in 2021 – a celebrated feast of improvised techno featuring five artists feeding into the mix. In these settings, the dialogue between performer and crowd become incredibly dynamic, with the fluctuations in energy and those nail-biting moments of unpredictability bringing about moments that might never be possible in a traditional club-minded DJ set. That spirit resides in Speedy & Steve as well, already manifested beyond the dancefloor in varied releases for labels like Luke Slater’s Mote-Evolver and Paap’s own in-house STOOR imprint, demonstrating the range of possibilities from these two techno totems coming together.

Whether in a cavernous arena space or a tightly-packed club, there’s a certain intimacy around Speedy & Steve which comes from the relaxed, intuitive air of two seasoned pros discovering their common ground and having fun stretching their skills for an audience. As any live performer will attest, everything hangs on a thread and the tower could topple at any given moment, but the real magic lies in witnessing such accomplished artists push things to the limit and bring it on home in style.