Steven Weston: you need to have something to show you are proactive

We are happy to present to you our next guest - Steven Weston!

Grammy nominated engineer, producer and songwriter Steven Weston has engineered for the likes of Rudimental and Chronixx as well as having toured the world playing keyboards for the likes of Ladyhawke, Charli XCX and Mikky Ekko. His label Blank Dust is borne out of a love of electronic music and the hours he's put in over the years collaborating with other artists.

Following the release of his critically acclaimed debut EP, Steven Weston has turned the tracks over to some of his favourite producers to remix for a new release, Dust Blank. The release features music from The Orb, Jon Gurd, Aparde, Polymod and Mikky Ekko EP and sees the originals totally reimagined.

Read his interview with Radio Intense right now!
Hi Steven! It is a pleasure to have you with us today, how are things with you and where are you based at the moment?
—I'm good thank you, been super busy in the studio working on new music. My studio is in N4 but I'm actually about to move. I'm moving to Forest Gate snd going to put the studio in my new house.
Despite the difficulties that the music scene has faced in recent times, this year marked a special moment for you as you launched your own label, 'Blank Dust'. Our congrats to you on this! What is the story behind the label and what inspired its launch?
— Thank you! So it was started for an outlet for me to put out my own music. I got a great distribution deal with Above Board who take care of that side. At the moment it's just my hone really, but if all goes well I will hopefully put out some music by other artists I love.
The first release on the label, also titled 'Blank Dust', was a very impressive EP from yourself. Was this EP created with the launch of the label in mind or was it afterwards that you decided it would be the label's first release?
— So I had already written about 15 tracks, and one of the tracks was called Blank Dust. I decided that I wanted to put out an EP first, and I loved the name Blank Dust so I decided to call my first EP and label that. That track has since changed names, but it's not out yet.
The label's second release, 'Dust Blank', arrives this October and sees you hand the tracks over to a number of artists (Polymod, Jon Gurd, Aparde, Mikky Ekko and The Orb) to remix - resulting in an eclectic and powerful listening experience. We'd love to hear about how you selected the remixing artists for this EP?
— It's definitely eclectic, which is what I really wanted.

The Orb… I've always been a massive massive fan, I grew up with The Orb and KLF, my dad would always be playing these in the house. Me and Alex Patterson had a mutual friend so I reached out originally to ask to do a remix for him. It ended up him making an absolute Orb classic of a remix of my track which is amazing.

When I was under age I had a fake ID and I would occasionally go to Slinky in Bournemouth. Jon Gurd was a DJ there and would play in the breaks room, he was so good! We are both from Portsmouth and we also had a mutual friend growing up. He went off my radar the last 10 years or so as I moved to London, but then I heard his Lion LP on Anjuna. It's an incredible album so I reached out to him on Instagram, and asked him to do a remix of one of my tracks. He chose Dalsto and I love his interpretation of it.

Polymod (Simon Neale / Shadow Child / Dave Spoon) was my tutor when I went to college to study Music Technology when I was 16. He has absolutely smashed it and had a great career. We have always loosely stayed in touch all this time. Me and James Lavelle (who I work with in UNKLE) are massive fans of his Polymod moniker. I reached out Simon to remix UNKLE, and then also asked if he would remix my project too, and here we are.

I have worked with Mikky Ekko since 2013 as his music director. I have toured the world with him, wrote tracks, been in the studio and also had lots of life memories together. He is one of my best friends in the whole world. I knew we would work together in some way on this project and im so happy he wanted to do a remix. His voice is clearly insanely good, but his productions are also next level. So for him to remix and also add some vocals to Everything Is Beautiful turns it into a very 'Mikky' track that I know him for (years in the back of a van together and hearing him making beats all day every day).

I've been a fan of Aparde since I heard his track Shiver. His productions sound amazing, his tone/colour is so recognisable to me and I'm so glad he did that with my track Angel Saint Claire. It's a real journey and I'm definitely going to be playing some of this remix in my live shows.
What was the process of deciding which artist would remix which track?
— The Orb I was hoping for an ambient version of The Solent and they delivered.
Jon Gurd I let him pick a track.
I wanted a heavy remix of The Solent, so naturally that went to Polymod.
Aparde is great with vocal textures so I wanted to give him a vocal track.
Everything Is Beautiful is my most 'pop' track and Mikky is the master of that so I wanted him to make it weird.
In addition to your own production work and the running of Blank Dust, you are also an accomplished studio engineer, live performer, artist music director and more. I'm sure we could talk for hours about all of these things, but with all this in mind we would love to know what first inspired you to follow your passion for music - how did it all begin for you?
— My Dad is a massive music fan, he has a huge record collection. In the 90s he mostly listened to electronic music which is where I got that from. I also shared a bedroom with my older brother and he was into Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim and the Renaissance label. I learnt how to play an Organ at the age of 11 to 14, and then I got a set of decks and gave up playing my instrument (the organ was the most uncool instrument at that age). Then I went to college to study Music Technology, lived in Spain as a DJ at 18 and then came back to the UK and joined a band. Moved to London and then it all just kinda happened.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced as you've navigated through your career to date?
— I think in the early days just getting started. Weirdly all my biggest turning points have come from cold emailing though, so if you have a good email, and some examples of your work then people do look, read and listen. You need to have something to show you are proactive, so do your thing and then ask around.
Who or what styles have had the biggest musical influence on you in your life?
— I would say the KLF, Orb, Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, John Digweed and my Dad.
Having worked in various avenues of the music scene, what would be your main piece of advice to an artist looking to develop their own career in music?
— This is a tough one. I feel the main thing that a lot of artists are unsure of is image and artistic direction. They make amazing music but they don't really know who they are, or what art they like, or what fonts they like. They just kinda hand it over to someone at a label and they design all this stuff and most artists never really like it. You can and should take control of all of it.
Thank you very much for chatting with us today Steven, it was great to hear your insights. To round things off, what can we expect to see from Blank Dust in the future? And if there is anything else you would wish to share with us, please feel free!
— More releases and a live show. I have lots of tracks nearly done, remixes ready but I want to get the live show going.

Thanks for having me :)