TF Archives

Steve Mac on The Rhythm Masters, Success and Surviving Maltese Ultra-violence

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Sunday, December 14, 2003
"I got jumped outside a club in Malta several years ago and got seriously beaten up, I've still got a broken nose from it. I had to get on the plane back to London with two black eyes, a broken nose and cuts everywhere."

With his shaven head, Anglo-Saxon features and broad, heavyset frame, superstar house producer Steve Mac could perhaps be mistaken for the fighting type himself, though, in person he's a friendly, charming, thoughtful character. Chatting to Jonty Skrufff in a snug bar of a backstreet Notting Hill pub last week, he revealed the attack was as unexpected as it was vicious.

"What happened was, we were DJing at a new club and had done four hours DJing in the main room. Rob, the guy I was working with then (fomer fellow Rhythm Master Rob Chetcutti), said he was going off to bed, so I said I'd go in the VIP room and play there for a couple of extra hours.

The club's owner apparently didn't like that, he was a bit of a hooligan type character and as soon as I'd finished playing two of his mates kicked the living shit out of me."

"He apparently didn't like the music I'd played there, the club went bankrupt soon after. That was a mad experience. I live in Brighton, so when I got back to Gatwick my friend picked me up and took me straight to the hospital where I had to wait and stay up all night to get sorted out. I wasn't going to go to a hospital in Malta, I thought, 'Fuck it, I'll suffer the pain and get sorted out at home'."

Fighting talk aside though, Steve remains one of house culture's most prolific and successful DJs and producers, putting out well over 200 remixes during his 10 year career with his old Rhythm Master sparring partner Rob Chetcutti as well as regularly touring the world as a top rank, highly skilled DJ. Recently going solo, he's just set up his own studio and label Variations, teaming up with DJ Yousef to release the delightfully titled single 'Drum Bums-Circus Parade. While his production career took off after he remixed Todd Terry's Jumping and JayDee's Plastic Dreams in 1996, he first started DJing in the late 80s, ironically, in Malta.

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): You started your DJing career in Malta, did you grow up there-

Steve Mac: "My parents moved out there when I was a teenager though I stayed in England at first. Then when I was 17 I went out there for a holiday when it was the middle of the summer with the island was packed with tourists and nightclubs and I got offered a job in a nightclub. I thought I might as well do it and stay there; it seemed better living in the sun instead old dreary old England where everyone was on the dole and there was a massive recession. So I stayed for a couple of years. The way I started DJing was, I walked into a club called Axis, one of the main clubs there, with two copies of Afrika Bambataa's Planet Rock and asked them for a job. At the time I used to do scratch DJing, so I put the two discs on the turntables and blew their heads off. I ended up working there six nights a week."

Skrufff: I believe you used to rehearse your DJing for 8 hours a day, were you on mission to become a professional DJ-

Steve Mac: "No, but I was totally addicted to DJing, I used to go and watch the DMC mixing championships and I was really into hip hop then too; I used to love watching people stand on their heads and scratch with their feet. But DJing at that point was a hobby for me and being able to scratch DJ doesn't usually land you gigs in nightclubs. But I was also into house music then as well."

Skrufff: How did you make the leap from DJing in Malta to cracking the UK-

Steve Mac: "When I met Rob, the other Rhythm Master, he was a keyboard player and I'd started making records by then while he was playing in piano bars around Malta, he was a really talented classically trained pianist. We became mates and started making tracks in my bedroom then when I got to about 20 years old, I reached the point where I<