Introducing: Steven Rutter's Firescope
Steven Rutter is one of the most understated names in dance music. Alongside Mike Golding as one half of B12, his seminal Electro Soma LP became one of Warp Records most definitive releases, with 12”s on the pair's eponymous imprint also trading hands for big bucks on Discogs.
Fast forward to now, and Rutter’s been focusing his time on a new solo LP, BrainFog, recently released on his thriving FireScope Records. Established in 2015, the label promotes ‘thoughtful music; with depth, clarity and longevity… real songs with real music.’
Rutter has curated the label’s first ever London showcase on April 13th at Pickle, featuring Rutter and John Shima playing live sets, plus a DJ sets from Pickle Factory favorites Derek Carr and Kirk Degiorgio. Ahead of the showcase, he sat down with us to pick out some FireScope cuts that define the label’s sound and ethos, plus some choice cuts from the other artists on the bill.
Hey Steven. We’re very excited to see what’s in store for your live set next weekend! You’ll be performing with Bryonii, a live vocalist. How did this come about, and what does it add to the dynamic of the live set?
We met in the classifieds! We started working very quickly and fused our two styles together to form quite a unique sound. It is still Steven Rutter techno, but Bryonii adds a totally different vibe to the tracks. She is an amazing singer-songwriter and for me, she lifts each of the tracks we work on to a whole new level. I love this collaboration.
FireScope has developed into one of the UK’s finest techno labels of recent times. What lessons would you pass down to younger versions of yourself and Mike Golding whilst at the helm of B12 records given your experiences since running FireScope?
Good question, I’m not sure I could pass any lessons down - some of the ethos is the same as B12 Records and some very different. For FireScope I pay such close attention to the whole package. I am not just content with the music, I also commission bespoke artwork for every release and package things in a way that has no interest or discrimination based on cost. It costs what it costs, the end result must be stunning and without compromise. I have an odd attitude to the music too… In the old days, it would always make sense to include a DJ friendly track on an EP - for me today this is no concern of mine at all. Nothing is done with a focus towards profitability or money making.
We loved listening to your NTS influences show last week, especially the anecdotes about a young Steven Rutter in the mirror! Did picking out tracks that have played a significant role in your past make you rediscover any forgotten gems? I guess playing these tracks must evoke strong memories of certain times and places?
Oh yeah! I loved picking out old influence tracks. The memories come flooding in and if I wasn’t so nervous in the studio, I probably would have shared more stories, of which I have many... I can talk until the cows come home! Music has always been such a big part of my life and my music tastes span Punk, Ska, Electro, Techno, Acid, Pop, Jazz etc! I feel all sorts of emotions from music, it can make me laugh, cry, feel happy, sad - it runs through my veins for sure.
Your new BrainFog LP is an exciting blend of forward-thinking dance-music that still maintains the integrity of the 90’s ‘B12 sound’. Has your approach to writing music drastically changed over the past few decades?
My approach to writing music is totally different. I can’t explain properly how different it is, but night and day, chalk and cheese are both expressions that fit. Back in the day I would really concentrate hard and have some pre-formed ideas, and get very, very stressed about writing music. Time constraints and objectives always got in the way I believe. Today, I don’t have any agenda. I sit down, I connect with the universe, and the music just happens. I totally believe that I am merely a conduit for something far, far bigger than me. I don’t even try to write tracks, they just are given to me. As strange as it sounds, this is the truth and it’s totally real for me.
Can you pick out a few tracks from the FireScope back-catalogue that really blew you away when you first heard them?
B12 (Rutter) – Last Man Standing (FS004) –
It still amazes me that I wrote this track - it’s a proper piece of music fit for cinema!
Darren Nye – Disconnected Reality (FS010) –
I really get Darren and his music. This track of his I totally relate to and he knows it. Proper emotional techno.
Bryonii – Sympathy (FS006) –
I love this Bryonii track; one of the first that we worked on together. It is such a perfect track and Bryonii shows her amazing vocal talent and songwriting skills.
Finally, could you pick out a couple of your favorite tracks from each of the artists playing the showcase?
Kirk Degiorgio/As One – Amalia (Ubiquity) –
This Kirk tune is so so so good. Perhaps an obvious selection but greatness cannot be ignored. Kirk really presses all the right buttons for me on this track.
John Shima – Implant (FS005) –
John really has got it going on in this track. Proper melodic and right up my street.
Derek Carr – East is East (FS008) –
Derek is on fire at the moment and this track is one that I wish I had made. So perfect in its melodic structure and drum track.
Steven's Firescope showcase takes place this Friday at the Pickle Factory. Tickets are close to selling out, so don't sleep on the opportunity to witness some of the UK's most vital and exemplary talents in action.