My Life’s Playlist: Warp’s Steve Beckett

There aren’t many labels who can rival Warp for sheer eclecticism, ingenuity and creative open-mindedness.

From its early floor-fillers like LFO and Forgemasters’ Track With No Name, the UK-based indie has consistently brought through bold and thought-provoking artists from a wide range of backgrounds and genres – including Aphex Twin, Grizzly Bear, Nightmares On Wax, Maximo Park, Battles, Jamie Lidell, Hudson Mohawke and Flying Lotus.

Steve Beckett co-founded Warp 27 years ago in Sheffield with his late colleague Rob Mitchell.

As Beckett told The Independent Echo last year: “I see it as all part of the same thing: putting great, beautiful art out into the world and making things that last.”

Beckett is now back on our pages to undertake our taxing My Life’s Playlist challenge, in which independent music types hand over a list of the 15 tracks that have meant the most to them throughout their lives. (You can listen to Steve’s playlist on Spotify, Deezer and YouTube at the bottom of this article.)

While you take a listen to Steve’s selections, why not read his explanation of the why five of these extra-special songs mean so much to him…


Steve Reich – Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ (1973)

This piece of music has been a true soundtrack for my life. For maybe the last 15 Years, I’ve played it over and over again.

I played it at the funeral of my partner in Warp, Rob Mitchell, and its ethereal simplicity it still touches my heart every time I hear it.


Mr Fingers – Washing Machine (1986)

This was an anthem in Sheffield (and everywhere).

I have so many memories of this being played at six in the morning, the sun coming up through some broken warehouse window. There always used to be a shift in the energy in the room and a rare sense of hope.


Miles Davis – Directions (From Isle Of Wight Live) (1970)

Everybody loves Miles but this piece just blows me away when I hear it.

I think it’s the level of listening that’s going on between the musicians – they are in a higher state where the music morphs and rests and moves again through them. It’s just incredible.


Ryuichi Sakamoto – Riot in Lagos (1980)

I heard this song in a nightclub in Sheffield in the ’80s. It was one of the ‘anthems’ that got mixed in with the Detroit and Chicago house as well as our own Northern ‘Bleep’ songs.

I remember it doing something to me – and me realising electronic music could be so much more than ‘just’ dance music.


David Bowie – Heroes (1977)

I had to put a Bowie song in here considering his recent death. I probably would have anyway – Aladdin Sane was the first LP I ‘owned’ versus just listening to my sister’s records.

I remember the cassette cover so clearly – waking up on my birthday to my own Cassette player and my own LP, just listening to it over and over again on headphones.

Heroes, the whole LP, as well as Heroes, the song, sums up to me how an artist can live (and die).

All of these plastic artists who try and associate themselves with him just needed to hang their heads whilst this true artist left the planet.