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Steve Lawler's archive images of the UK music scene
1990Courtesy of Steve Lawler

See the beginning of an underground 90s music scene

From lounge rooms in Birmingham to illegal raves in London and mega clubs in Ibiza, these rarely seen photos chart the evolution of English DJs into rockstars

Birmingham-born Steve Lawler’s two decade career as one of the UK’s most influential house and techno DJs has, without a doubt, played a strong hand in shaping the underground dance music scene through the 90s to the present day. From his parent’s lounge room in Birmingham to illegal raves in London and mega clubs in Ibiza, Lawler’s seen, partied and played it all.

To mark the upcoming tenth anniversary of his VIVa Music record label – originally launched as an outlet for Lawler to release the music he was coming across as he travelled the world – the five time DJ Awards winner is releasing The Art of The DJ, a documentary charting his rise from tween Depeche Mode enthusiast to Liverpool club CREAM resident. Having (like all of us) visited his first club night at 16-years-old and decided it was the most exciting thing in the entire world, the then-underage Lawler decided to hold his own – and actually did it well.

These illegal raves, held in tunnels beneath the M42, came to define the club scene of the early 90s and proved so successful that Lawler later turned down careers in both accountancy and butchery (expect this to be the most dramatic scene in the doc). The crowds kept getting bigger, club execs turned up – and, well, you know the rest. There may be some requisite drugs-almost-ruined-my-life scenes, but pay attention to this candid portrayal of the original underground dance music scene and a look at the way that Lawler shaped it into what it is today. Here, he shares some archive, never-before-seen photos from the 90s underground in honour of the film’s release.

See the trailer here or watch the film in full here