Minneapolis DJ/promoter Steve "Centrific" Seuling has had quite the summer. His summertime party series Communion celebrated it's tenth anniversary, and it did so with a bang. Bigger and bigger crowds have turned out in the run up to the finale this coming Sunday 9/4 at The Pourhouse. On top of that, the first ever Communion Mobile took place at the Even Furthur festival as part of his crew Intellephunk's DIY stage called "Stairway To Headphones", welcoming crowds from other cities who have never had a chance to experience the party.
His involvement in Even Furthur (the already legendary 3 day techno campout/electric festival that took place August 19-22 in Somewhere, Wisconsin) went beyond running a stage, though. He was enlisted to serve on Even Furthur mastermind and Drop Bass Network chief Kurt Eckes' well-oiled support squad, or SS for short. The SS helped ensure the festival went off without a hitch, or at least as few of them as possible. That and get a lot of people un-stuck from the mud.
I spoke with Steve to ask about his experience with Even Furthur - both past and present, and Communion this year. As he had a lot to say on both, the interview will be split into two parts: the Even Furthur piece you are currently reading, and the Communion piece, which will be posted tomorrow.
When did you first experience the Furthur parties?
'96. I graduated high school in '93 and was an angry, punk rock, skateboard kid at the time. After I moved to the Twin Cities, all the kids I knew wanted me to go to raves. I was afraid to go in a lot of ways, but when I did finally get coerced into going it was the best thing ever. Actually the first few parties I couldn’t even tell you what they were because I acted like I didn’t want to be there. Closer (a party thrown by Woody McBride under the Roy Wilkins) in '95 started the interest, but Even Furthur in '96 was so much bigger than that one little experience of being in a dark room with a bunch of people. It was this valley full of a couple thousand kids.
What kind of impact did Even Furthur have on you?
I came back from Furthur and that summer I tried to do anything I could to get a turntable. I found Let It Be records. [DJs] Gabber Girl and Easyrider and E-tones all worked there. They all pointed me in the direction of records they thought I would like. With E-tones I could go in there and badly hum something and get it vaguely wrong and he’d say "Oh yeah, that’s so and so on this label from 199-whatever"
I worked at Keys Café right next to the record store. I was a delivery guy and I would get tips. I would go and spend a lot of my tip money every day. I’d be down there waiting for the lists, picking out the new stuff and having them pick it out for me. I really went head over heels into it. I think there was a lot of energy going on at the time.
What was the scene like in general in Minneapolis back then?
Over the next couple months a lot of it trickled down from Even Furthur to the Stairway to Headphones party in the Spring of 97. It was one of the biggest, craziest promoted shows here, put on by Woody and Ben Rost. Unfortunately the cops were tipped off and they had the hugest sound system of all time but they couldn’t turn it up. They had Richie Hawtin , Josh Wink, and this huge line up, but the music was super quiet.
Shortly after that was Zak’s (DVS1) 420 party, which to me was the changing of the guard in the Twin Cities. We went from rave party to all night techno warehouse party, and that’s where I came in as a promoter. I didn’t feel like I had any sort of handle on the multi-genre, big rave-y thing. I hadn’t experienced enough of it really, I got the entry level experience with all that. I didn’t really know what I was doing, I just took the things I liked from other parties and went with it.
Especially the Drop Bass Network’s aesthetic of being bad ass and tough, not some bullshit. It’s a huge inspiration on how I throw parties, and if you ask Kurt, he’ll tell you he took a lot of ideas from Richie Hawtin and the Storm Raves. I think that’s the best part about this culture, we are not afraid to take from each other and expand on it. Your idea becomes our idea, and it becomes a different thing.
What was the first year you ran a DIYss at a Furthur?
2000. I was sort of involved with helping the Solus crew, Dave Olson and Scott Radke and those guys. They would always do the system from Minneapolis for Kurt. Then they decided one year they didn’t want to do it, so Kurt asked me. I had played for him by then, he knew that up here we were a little geeky about keeping a good techno beat going all night, at least more so than a lot of guys down that way. Everyone was in to break core and shock rock type shit. Zak and I got a bad ass sound system and took it out there. We got lucky with the rig that we brought and it was perfect. That was really when we first made a name for ourselves outside of Minneapolis.
I had played the Furthur the year before, booked by Kurt to play the main stage. I was at Soundburnt under Roy Wilkins. Kurt was there flyering. It was the first time I ever made a mixtape and I gave him one. I didn’t think much about it after that. About 5-6 months later, my phone rings and I answered by saying “Who the fuck is it?!” and Kurt was on the other end of the line really confused and asks "Is this Centrific?" He asked me to play Furthur that year. I didn’t really know him before that.
Was this your first time serving as a member of the SS?
Yes, being on the SS was more about getting to know Kurt better and hanging out with the family at Kurt’s farm. Mostly from 2011 or so on. Before that I would make dive bomb appearances, show up during the afternoon, hang out for a few hours, play until the next day, and then drive home. I was a little anti-social. At one point I decided that I had been doing this for several years and wanted to get to know these people better, so I made an effort to get to know them. Over the past several years, my wife Jasmine and I have really gotten to know everyone really well and we feel accepted as part of the family.
2 or 3 years ago, Kurt said "You’re part of the SS now", I thought it was more of an honorary thing because no one was thinking we’d have another party. But then as this became a thing, it was really exciting because I’ve always really enjoyed hanging out with these people, and now I get a chance to be a part of doing this with them.
When someone else has a vision worth getting behind, I’ll soldier through. On the SS, I was just doing whatever they told me to do. That’s part of why I was excited to be on the SS, I’m used to getting my way. I say things and people jump. I maybe even abuse it a little sometimes. It’s good to get your dick knocked in the dirt. It’s good to prove to people that you are not above soldiering they way they soldiered for you. If one of my friends has that good of an idea, I’m there to put in every ounce if they ask me to.
What do you think the legacy of Even Furthur '16 will be?
I cornered Kurt on the dance floor on Monday morning while Miles Maeda was playing and told him that even if we do this again next year, it won’t have the same sort of impact. This party has the impact of inspiration for the next 20 years in to the future. We’re not just a bunch of kids any more. We are families. We have kids that are growing up with this as their bread and butter. This is the Midwest. People, especially when they are young, are looking for the next big thing and are trying to get the fuck out of here. A lot of that has made it a challenge to develop generational type shit here. I think now it’s finally taking hold.