Steve Huerta, who now goes solely by Huerta (soundcloud), is a producer and DJ originally from California now residing in Berlin. Rising to prominence with a big release on Dirt Crew Recordings with friend, roommate and fellow Golden State native Urulu several years ago, he has since become a household name in underground circles. Releasing mainly on Amadeus Records, he has also continued to release various bits on the aforementioned Dirt Crew and more recently an EP on Let’s Play House. His approach has definitely matured over the years, evolving into a crisp, polished sound taking shape from various influences while still being able to explore different avenues of house music.
Not only is Huerta an adept producer, but he’s also a skilled curator behind the decks. Living in Berlin he’s had plenty of opportunities to play to audiences in his current hometown as well as abroad, honing his skills and crafting his sound. Today, he’s kindly provided us with a fluid selection of tunes while also answering some questions for the latest instalment in our MIXED BY/ series.
Thanks for taking the time to chat! Originally from L.A., you’re now located in Berlin. Do you bounce back and forth when you can or do you mostly spend your time in the German capital?
I spend most of my time in Berlin, which I kind of see as home now. But every winter I make moves back to California. It works out really well to go then because of the holidays, but mostly because it’s a perfect break from the icy bleakness that is Berlin winter. I always set up a little tour for the states so it works out nice doing a some gigs and also just chillin, enjoying the sunshine.
Anything in particular you miss about being back home?
It’s a few main points really: the sun, the ocean, my dog, Mexican food, and my family and friends of course! haha.
The scene is definitely a bit unbalanced between Europe and North America. Do you ever foresee yourself moving back to the USA full time while still managing to make a living off of music?
The scene in LA has become really cool since I left, and at times I imagine how my music stuff would be going if I had stayed. When I see the homies doing dope projects like the Faraway parties and seeing institutions like Dublab, and now NTS, really prospering there it makes me miss it a bit. Buts it’s also nice to be able participate in this kind of stuff during my visits. I think I will eventually move back to LA, but for now I really love Berlin and the community I’ve found here. There are totally different advantages in each place. But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and right now my system allows me to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Why did you recently decide to drop “Steve” from your artist name?
The short truth of it is I thought it would look cooler on a record, ha. But also, I had a bit of a hiatus from releasing tunes for about a year and I kind of wanted to a have little reset. I felt like my music had matured quite a bit from my first records back in 2012, and yeah I duno I guess just to have little fresh start, but not a complete overhaul.
Growing up you played some drums and guitar in bands. How did you make the transition to house music and was there any particular reason or influence for the shift?
I played guitar a lot in high school, but in “bands” is kind of an exaggeration. It was my brother and my friend Andrew playing loud blues in my garage with pretty shitty instruments. Great memories nonetheless. But ya as I went into university my tastes just went further and further into electronic stuff. These were the glory days of the blogs and free downloads and shit like that. So I got into collecting loads of music and inevitably DJing at college house parties. By way of DJing I got back into creating my own music with cracked version of Ableton. Sampling and using Ableton really just opened the floodgates for me. I never really turned back.
You were primarily an ‘in the box’ producer in the past. Have you loaded up on some hardware more recently?
Yeah I still do a lot in the box, but I’ve found a few pieces of kit to be super useful recently. The Korg Minilogue is such an intuitive synth. It’s got a built-in sequencer and really nice delay. Been using it on pretty much every track from the last year. I’ve also got the small but surprisingly big sounding Volca bass, and I’ve been borrowing a couple things, a Novation Bass Station and Roland JV1010 module.
Urulu seems to be a pretty good friend of yours and even your musical styles are quite similar. How did that friendship start and do you find that you two influence each other, perhaps more than others?
Yeah Taylor and I are good buds. We met in LA years ago when we were both starting to release music. There weren’t so many people that we knew making house tunes at the time so we became friends pretty quick out of our mutual interest. Yeah we’ve definitely influenced each other a lot, I guess mainly because we’ve been working on music together on and off for the last 4 years. Our process is very similar, and we do a lot of show and tell when working on our solo stuff. I mean he’s my flat mate in Berlin so I can actually hear what he’s working on all the time, and vice versa, haha.
You’ve had a few collaborations with fellow Berlin resident Youandewan recently on Amadeus and on his latest album. How did those come about? Was it a natural course of events considering you two hang around in the same circles?
Yeah it happened very naturally after we met and became friends in Berlin. Somewhere along the line we realized we had freakishly similar musical influences from growing up. Just as much into Led Zeppelin as Broken Social Scene and Radiohead. So I guess our similar musical sensibility led to our collaboration.
Are you still as involved with the day-to-day operations of Amadeus Records as you were in the past?
Well Amadeus has always been Urulu’s label, but since I’ve released the bulk of my music on the label I’ve come to identify with it strongly and invest some time in it with him. I guess a right hand man type situation. A&R isn’t really a thing so much with Amadeus since it’s really just us and a few close friends like Cromie and Chaos in the CBD doing the releases.
Can you name some artists that you’re currently really enjoying, possibly some that we should keep an ear out for?
Hmm that’s a tough one, to be honest most of the “new” stuff I’m listening to is old stuff that I’m discovering. There are so many places to find amazing second hand records in Berlin. Shout out to The Ghost, where I’ve been making lots of great discoveries as of late. Other than that I gotta plug some of the mates. Got some lush new Cromie coming at some point on Amadeus. In the Berlin circle, Mculo and his Roots by the Oder project. Also a mysterious character known as Gene on Earth got some spicy tunes coming up.
Finally, as always we’d like to know if you’re willing to share any information on forthcoming material, gigs, etc. We love to be in the know!
My next record is coming up on a new outlet for me called Three Fingerz Musique. The 4-tracker should be out in the next month n half. You’ll see previews pop up not to long from now. Also preparing another record for Amadeus for later in the year. Gigs are gonna pick up for me end of May with dates in Berlin, Oslo, then onto Love International Festival in Croatia in June. July I’ll be in Copenhagen and Secret Garden Party in the UK.