Steve Bug On The A&R Process Behind His New Compilation 'Under One Roof'

Sitting Down With The Poker Flat founder

5 min
Steve Bug 0517 by Marie Staggat 16x9
Jul 10, 2024

Under One Roof marks the kick off to a new series of releases dedicated to new artists on Poker Flat, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024.

Poker Flat head Steve Bug took part as a coach in the Mixmasters Retreat on Ibiza last year alongside veteran producer colleagues Huxley and Denney as well as singer & songwriter Jade PraiZe.

The output of last year's students was so exciting that most of the tracks have been signed for Under One Roof and the coaches Huxley, Denney and Steve Bug each contributed a remix.

With the compilation out now, we caught up with Steve to discuss his approach to selecting tracks for the release.

What qualities did you look for in the students' tracks that made you decide to sign them for the "Under One Roof" series?

Denney, Huxley, and I worked with the students for four days at the Mixmasters villa. Early on, we realized all their tracks had something special. Rather than let them go unreleased, I suggested releasing them on a compilation, as signing everyone individually would’ve been tough since many hadn’t released anything before or built a strong following.

How did your coaching experience at the Mixmasters Retreat influence your approach to A&R and discovering new talent?

It didn’t change my approach to A&R generally, but it made me consider new ways to promote unknown talent.

Can you share some insights into the collaboration process with Huxley, Denney, and Jade PraiZe during the retreat? How did their contributions shape the final outputs?

On the first day, students recorded vocals with Jade, who was brilliant at adapting and coming up with diverse ideas. The students didn’t have to use the vocals, but especially this time, many of them did. From day two, the coaches worked with the students from 10 to 6, giving feedback and helping them finish their tracks. Before the release, I offered them to mix down their tracks in my studio to ensure the best possible result, ending up doing eight of them.

What was your creative approach when contributing your remix to the "Under One Roof" series? How did you balance your style with the original tracks?

With such a variety of styles, I went with what felt right for the track. I chose this track knowing where I wanted to take it but ended up with a completely different remix. I believe that Huxley and Denney did the same, picking their favourites and making the best versions they could without focusing on balancing things.

How do you envision the "Under One Roof" series evolving beyond the Mixmasters Retreat? What goals do you have for future releases in this series?

We want to continue to feature new, unknown artists, probably alongside well-known ones to attract attention. It’s tough to release music from unknowns today. But it did work out this time, and it’s great to see the artists involved supporting each other’s releases, which is rare in today’s electronic music scene.

What strategies do you employ to stay ahead of trends in electronic music, and how do you incorporate these trends when scouting new artists for Poker Flat?

We tend to avoid trends unless we accidentally part of them or starting them. Haha

We’ve always had a clear vision for the label’s sound, and that hasn’t changed. Many of our releases are timeless classics. Most tracks that we release nowadays come from respected artists who value the label, and who had simply send us a demo. Sometimes, when scouting new talent, I reach out to artists I admire and invite them to send demos, keeping things open and welcoming.

In your opinion, what are the most critical skills and attributes an A&R professional needs to successfully identify and nurture new talent in the current music industry landscape?

I can’t emphasise enough: artists need to be active on social media and platforms like SoundCloud. They don’t need to be social media stars, but they can’t expect the label to do all the work. Labels need to see artists promoting themselves. So A&R professionals should probably seek artists who produce great music and on top of that are willing to put in the effort to make it, and survive in the music business.

Get The "Under One Roof" Compilation Now On Beatport