Exquisite odds and ends from the Oz Waves master.
One of the deepest diggers to come out of Australia in recent times, Sydney-born DJ and graphic designer Steele Bonus’s eclectic stylings recently landed him in Amsterdam, where he’s quickly become a Red Light Radio favourite and found himself sharing stages with the some of the finest selector types throughout Europe. With his Odd Waves mix series a long time haven for fans of early left field electronics – inspired by the Euro punks, disco weirdos, and synth wizards of the day – Bonus was called upon last year to compile music for Noise In My Head’s retrospective imprint Efficient Space, with his brilliant collection of Oz Waves uncovering some criminally rare and unreleased 80s DIY recordings from the private archives of Sydney based artists like Itch-E & Scratch-E’s Andy Rantzen, Ironing Music and Moral Fibro. In typical form, here he manoeuvres between the strange and the sublime with total ease – blending emotional synth pop with Italian house, new-beat, electro and techno with odds and ends of the highest order.
Hey mate, how’s things? What have you been up to?
Things are good. So far this year I’ve been taking it pretty easy. Doing a lot of cooking, listening to music, reading and generally just spending time indoors – winter type things.
You made the move from Sydney to Amsterdam a couple of years ago now, what was behind the move, and how did you find the transition?
There was no single definitive reason for moving over here. Sometimes I still have moments where I’m riding my bike through the city and it all feels a bit surreal. I definitely miss Australia and it can be hard being so damn far away from the place but I’m pretty settled in here now and I’m enjoying the city.
As a DJ you’re probably best known for your deep digging and the eclectic selections that result from it. With Amsterdam establishing itself more and more as a hotspot for diggers, do you feel like there’s a solid community emerging, and who or what have been some of your best resources while over there?
Yes there’s a nice crew of people here and it can feel a bit like a community sometimes, although I’d say it’s probably less about digging for records and more just a mutual appreciation and love of music (that and maybe and drinking beers). There’s too many names to call out, but a lot of the like minded crew here are involved in some way to the Red Light complex (Redlight Records, Red Light Radio etc.) and Rush Hour.
You compiled a great a selection of Australian minimal wave, post punk and experimental music for Efficient Space last year titled Oz Waves, what can you tell us about that project? How did it all come about?
It was an attempt to highlight and resurrect some of the overlooked and forgotten Australian music that I love. Everything on there was either never officially released or only ever came out in very limited quantity on cassette. It came about after I was sending a lot of the music to Michael (my good friend who runs the label), in-fact I think the idea of turning it into a compilation may have even been his idea initially. All the artists included were very supportive too so that helped.
In addition to your musical pursuits, your unique design work has appeared on record sleeves for labels like Music From Memory, Safe Trip, Lullabies For Insomniacs, Efficient Space and Body Language to name just a few. What have been some of your favourite records to design for in recent times, and what do you most enjoy about that process?
Yeah I have been keeping busy with that. Over the past couple of years I especially I’ve really worked on a lot of different sleeves, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint just one. I’m satisfied when the job is done and I can hold the finished product in my hands and be happy with how it turned out.
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us? Any music in there you would like to give a special mention?
I recorded the mix at the Red Light Radio studio on a Sunday when they are closed. I just went in there with a tote bag filled with some of the stuff I’ve been listening to and playing out plus a few new records I’d picked up that particular weekend. 90s techno, electro, emotional synth pop, records played on the wrong speed, Italian house, new-beat and various other odds and ends. The opening track is by an old New Zealand band Headless Chickens, thanks Michael K for showing me that one.
What else do you have coming up?
In the coming months I’ll be doing quite a lot of traveling around Europe. I’ve got some nice trips planned out plus I’ve been invited to play in some places that I’ve never been to before, including a couple of small outdoor summer festivals, so thats always exciting.