THE BETTER QUESTION WOULD BE TO ASK WHAT ISN’T STEVE WARD DOING AT THE MOMENT.
The producer, DJ, label owner, radio host, journalist, philanthropist (just to name a few) wears many hats. From collaborations with techno gods like Carl Cox to throwing wild parties for his own record label Chameleon Recordings, to speaking with university graduates about how to make it in the lucrative yet churn and burn music world, to hosting a radio show that is broadcast on practically every populated continent in the world.
That full stop is there so that you can take a breath. Steve Ward on the other hand doesn’t have the time to. Even over the invisible lines of the Interweb Steve’s excitement is tangible and his energy infectious. He sounds as though he’s running a million miles an hour. “I’ve been doing a lot! I’ll give you everything” he draws his breath in deeply and rambles off every single thing in detail that has and is about to happen all in one foul swoop.
“This is a high energy, high excitement, up & down, roller coaster of a life and it’s really difficult to keep a balance. I can honestly say I haven’t done that yet. Unfortunately I haven’t got to where I need to be personally for my life to be "perfect" as there’s too much crazy shit happening for me to understand how to deal with it all."
"But at the end of the day I’d rather be living the life i've created for myself whist being behind on it all, than chasing the white dragon so to speak, sitting on my ass watching TV and not doing anything with my life, you know.”
For those of you into techno and electronic music, Steve Ward is likely a household name. He hit the Melbourne music scene nearly two decades ago and is a regular DJ at Australia's coolest nightclub destinations Tramp, One Six One, Pawn and Co and our most renowned Aussie bush doof Rainbow Serpent. He also shoots off on yearly internationally tours which has seen his fan base grow on a global scale over recent years in destinations like Germany & Netherlands to name a few.
“I’ve been playing at Rainbow Serpent for many years now and i absolutely love it more and more each year. Having the opportunity to perform around the globe has meant I have witnessed many killer events, but I really feel like Rainbow is by far the best festival in the world. It just has that culture, diversity of music and the people are brilliant, its a really inspiring experience, I absolutely love it” he says.
Rainbow Serpent in 2015 was different from most for Steve Ward. Not only did he kick off the party on the opening Friday night with an big room house & techno set, but he also got the chance to deliver festival goers a new type of music he’s been working on for a while now.
“It was absolutely crazy on Friday night! I was booked in a really great time slot, ended up being blind drunk by the end of my set so you could imagine how mad it all turned out. Cats were spraying champagne & crazy Czech vodka in my face, I was pulled over the rail into the crowd and I was even told that I pashed some randoms.. So you could imagine how i felt the next morning after... pain city” Steve recalled.
“Then it came to sunset on the Sunday night and obviously everyone had pretty much written themselves off over the last couple of days, so I really didn’t know what the crowd's reaction to some super down tempo tunes would be, especially when one of the main headliners was playing the same time as me. As you can imagine, I was surprised to see such a big crowd there to see me play. I starting off with about 30mins of brand new completely beat-less ambient and as I moved into more of the epic symphonic stuff I started watching people start hugging, crying and making out, it was so crazy.”
“It actually feels a little weird saying this, but I actually felt like crying at one point. The combination of the epic orchestral layers, and the live keys alongside live vocals from my friend Joy Sparks really took the tension so high, was really emotional. I don’t know what the hell was happening at that moment, but yeah it was electricity.”
“This Cartesian Spheres project has been in my heart for a really long time so its great to see so many people enjoying it. I studied classical piano when I was a kid, so this is a project that I’ve always wanted to do. So its pretty exciting that i'm now at a level where I have the skill to translate what has actually been in my head ever since the mid 90's” he explains.
“I’m still really as passionate as ever performing at my house & techno shows, but i've never felt more empowered by those around me over this Cartesian project. I’ve really had to work hard to get where I am with my Steve Ward stuff, so seeing such a huge response to Cartesian really makes me wish i had done it sooner. The thing is, there is no boundaries, I'm literally doing whatever I want and everyone I play it to is completely freaking out over it. So I know it’s really something special. This project is without a doubt going to change my life.”
From classical to techno, the most apparent thing is that music is Steve’s life. Every breath, every step, every moment is tied to it.
“I’ve wanted to write my house & techno music since I was like six years old. For some reason I had this crazy affinity for it at such an early age. When I was like seven or eight I was forcing my parents to get me vinyl’s from dudes like S-express, KLF and a couple of years later I was crazy on all the melodic Detroit techno, I was a pretty weird freak of a kid” he laughs.
“When I started going out, I was also quite young. My mum would take my sister and I to a lot of legal rave parties when I was like thirteen. She used to sit in the car and wait for us to party and then we’d get in the car and she’d take us home.”
Not your average existence for a thirteen year old. But it also makes sense. Steve Ward donates a lot of his time to young kids who weren't as fortunate as Steve growing up, by using music as a vehicle to help mentor them into finding their way in life. After spending time in this arena is the main reason he founded his music academy four years ago called 'Electronic Music Academy'.
“The more I thought about it, was the more I realised how passionate I am about understanding the power of music from a self esteem and creative point of view and what it can add toward an individuals life journey. It excites me that i'm in a position that I can help people that might have lost their way by utilising a passion i've had my whole life.”
“One of the things that really upsets me about the music industry or these “famous celebrity heads” is a lot of them are promoting this whole, ‘I’m a mad dog, I’ve got heaps of cash, I do whatever the fuck I want’ idea and how that narrative is negatively effecting society as a whole. I believe that the whole nature of being a public figure, is your ability to reach out to people and empower them to be the best they can be to others around them and to society as a whole ” he says.
“It is very humbling to be able to tell my story and have people really listen to me. Especially these kids that have come from neglectful families, I can see what it can do on an individual level. That’s why early on I said to myself that once I was in a position that people would give a shit about my voice, then I would use it to inspire and empower others in their journey. I just wish a lot more people had the same mentality because if that was the case I think the world would be a bit of a different place.”