Music Related

Electronic music pioneers of the USA III.

(Part 3.)

I started working on this blog post years ago. Originally, it was meant to be an interview with a Chicago-born DJ and producer. Unfortunately, it never got finalized due to personal circumstances.

During this interview, I realized that while I was quite familiar with some of the most important European electronic music pioneers, I knew way too little about the American pioneers of electronic music.

The interview took place just a few months before I started experimenting with electronic music production. Getting into producing also meant that I wanted to learn the roots, and I wanted to know more than just some names and some tracks. I wanted to know the entire story. I wanted to know how it all happened…

There are many artists around the globe and many sources that wrote about them extensively, but I wanted to do a blog post that summarizes the most known ones in one place. This is Part 3. – because even though there was a selection that had to be made, the list got too long for my computer’s CPU.

As said before, I am not inventing anything new here – simply attempting to summarise what has already been written.

The primary sources used for this blog piece were the biographies of the artists from Discogs, Wikipedia, some other journals and blog articles, and sometimes the artists’ websites. These sources are always mentioned or linked throughout the blog.

This piece is for everyone who is not yet familiar with how the electronic music scene started and developed overseas in the United States.

Part 1 about ‘The early pioneers’ you will find here, and Part 2 about ‘The House and Acid pioneers’ under this link.

PIONEERS IN THE FIELD OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC IN THE USA [Part 3]

The Detroit techno & electro pioneers

The first wave – The Belleville Three

Juan Atkins

“The 1982 electro track Clear“, recorded by Atkins and¬†Rick Davis¬†as¬†Cybotron, is often considered the first ‘proto-techno’ track. Continuing to experiment by fusing the extra-terrestrial funk of¬†ParliamentFunkadelic¬†with the futuristic rhythms and hard math of¬†Kraftwerk¬†and the progressive dance theorems proposed by¬†Giorgio Moroder, the Model 500 12″s on his own label¬†Metroplex¬†laid the blueprint for Detroit techno.

Along with the tracks made by two schoolmates from the grade below, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, Detroit techno quickly made its way across the atlantic and immediately sparked the emerging rave culture and soon after the entire global dance community.

Moving through the later 1980s as Model 500, Atkins continued as one of the most prolific and sought after producers of electronic music throughout the 1990s.” (Source: Discogs)

Kevin Saunderson

Kevin Maurice Saunderson was born in Brooklyn, New York. He spent the early years of his life in Brooklyn before moving at around age 10 to Belleville, Michigan, a rural town 30 miles from Detroit.

Saunderson first met Derrick May when the two were fourteen and both were attending the same school. May had decided not to pay Saunderson after losing a bet and, one day at school, Saunderson punched May in the face, knocking him out cold and giving him a concussion. After the altercation, the two became best friends.

During high school, Saunderson and Belleville High School classmate Juan Atkins became fans of DJ Charles “The Electrifying Mojo” Johnson. Atkins and May soon became serious about mixing others’ music and creating their own, but Saunderson pursued other goals first, studying telecommunications and playing American football at Eastern Michigan University. Atkins had begun recording with Cybotron in 1981, but it was not until 1987 that May followed suit and made a record. Initially concentrating on becoming a DJ, Saunderson was inspired to create his own music after watching the six-month-long process as Atkins and May completed “Let’s Go.”

Derrick May

While May’s musical influence on other producers and DJs cannot be doubted, due to an article published by DJ Mag in November 2020, this blog piece does not cover his legacy. May was accused of sexual misconduct (dating back 2 decades) committed against four women. (A number that later increased to seven.) Several publications covered this topic thoroughly: The Guardian, Selector, MixMag, Resident Advisor, Dancing Astronaut, VICE, Pitchfork, and EDM.

The second wave

The Underground Resistance Collective

There were two major collectives of American artists who are the most closely associated with the birth of Detroit techno as a genre, and one of them is the movement of the musical collective ‘Underground Resistance‘. UR was founded by Jeff Mills and Mike Banks in 1989, later joined by Robert Hood. (Source: Wikipedia)

Their style was reflecting “a synthesis of the type of dance music they have encountered in Chicago, combined with the mechanical sounds of groups like the above already mentioned Kraftwerk, with elements of political and social commentary on the economic recession of the post-Reagan era, “producing uncompromising music geared toward promoting awareness and facilitating political change. UR wanted to establish a means of identification beyond traditional lines of race and ethnicity.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Jeff Mills

Jeff was definitely a key figure to the Detroit scene as it was known that he would often drive as far as Toronto or Chicago in order to purchase newly released music for his sets that took place in empty, suburban warehouses around Detroit.

He also had a nightly radio show called The Wizard at¬†WDRQ¬†(hence his alias), where he would highlight local techno artists, giving light to the first wave of artists, the so called¬†Belleville Three:¬†Juan Atkins,¬†Kevin Saunderson¬†and¬†Derrick May.¬† These three individuals were high-school friends who started producing electronic music in their basements. Just like Mills, the Belleville trio, too, “often made trips to¬†Chicago¬†to investigate the¬†house music¬†scene which¬†was a natural progression from the disco music genre.”

Mike Banks

Michael Anthony Banks, better known as “Mad” Mike Banks, is an American record producer. As mentioned earlier, he is the co-founder, along with Jeff Mills, of the record label Underground Resistance and was a key player in the “second generation” of Detroit techno. (Source: Discogs)

Banks is a former studio musician (bass/guitar), having played with Parliament/Funkadelic among others. He worked in the second half of the 1980s with the collective Members of the House, releasing several 12″ singles. Banks and Mills, along with Robert Hood produced most of the label’s early releases. After Hood and Mills‘s departure from UR, Banks headed the label himself, releasing material from acts such as Drexciya and Sean Deason in addition to his own productions.

He is also co-founder and co-owner of Submerge Distribution with Christa Robinson since 1992. Submerge, along with Underground Resistance, is an independent record label that distributes Detroit-based techno worldwide.

Among Banks’s early influences were¬†Juan Atkins¬†and¬†Marshall Jefferson; his later work shows his increasing interest in¬†acid house¬†and¬†industrial.¬†Banks has hewn strictly to an ethic of the¬†underground¬†and refuses to be¬†photographed¬†in public as part of this ethic.¬†His releases often deal with elements of political and social commentary, which have made him a controversial figure within the Detroit electronic music scene.¬†Banks quit playing live shows in the late 1990s due to continuing problems with bringing electronic equipment through¬†customs¬†agencies but began doing live shows again in the mid-2000s.

After Hood‘s and Mills’s departure from Underground Resistance, Banks headed the label himself, releasing material from acts such as Drexciya and Sean Deason in addition to his own productions. (Source: Wikipedia)

Robert Hood

Robert Artis Hood is known to be committed to minimal Detroit techno with an emphasis on soul and experimentation over flash and popularity. Hood started Hardwax in 1991 (Robert Hood’s first label prior to forming M-Plant) and he owns and operates the M-Plant imprint (including the two sub-labels Drama and Duet) through which he has released the bulk of his solo material. Next to his own labels, he also released on labels such as Metroplex, the Austrian Cheap label and Jeff Mills‘ Axis label.

Hood was a founding member, along with Jeff Mills and Mike Banks, of the Underground Resistance label, whose influential releases throughout the early and mid-’90s helped change the face of modern Detroit techno and sparked a creative renaissance. Infusing elements of acid and industrial into a potent blend of Chicago house and Detroit techno, UR‘s aesthetic project and militant business philosophy were (and remain) singular commitments in underground techno.

Hood left Detroit (and UR) with Jeff Mills in 1992, setting up a shop in New York and recording a series of 12″ EPs. Through the mid-’90s, Hood focused on his solo work, setting up M-Plant in 1994 and releasing singles such as “Internal Empire”, “Music Data” and “Moveable Parts”.

Although his desire to remain underground has been replaced by an urge to reach a wider audience, Hood remains fiercely critical of artistic and economic movements destructive to inner-city communities and has combined his musical enterprises with outreach and social activist ends. His debut album “Point Blank” took Hood‘s hypnotic minimalism to entirely new depths and territories, whilst his latest album “Wire To Wire” takes his productions onto new levels of musicality and sophistication within the world of electronic music. (Source: Discogs)

The collective that included two labels (Underground Resistance and Somewhere In Detroit) was supported by Milton Baldwin, aka DJ Skurge, or James Pennington, aka Suburban Knight, two crucial figures on the outskirts of Detroit techno since the mid-’80s. Pennington became a mentor for Mike Banks and the Underground Resistance crew with the rise of Detroit’s second wave in the early ’90s.

Electro pioneers

Drexciya

“For long time, Drexciya was considered a mysterious electro unit from Detroit, Michigan that combined a faceless, underground, anti-mainstream media stance with mythological, sci-fi narratives, to help heighten the dramatic effect of their music.

In this respect they were similar to artists within and close to the Detroit collective Underground Resistance. After the tragic passing of one half of the duo, James Stinson was identified posthumously in 2002. Officially, he is the only identified member of Drexciya, but it was considered an open secret that his partner was Gerald Donald, who is until today active in the scene.” (Source: Last.fm)

“The duo’s name referred to a myth comparable to Plato‘s myth of Atlantis, which the group revealed in the sleeve notes to their 1997 album “The Quest”. Drexciya was an underwater reign populated by the unborn children of pregnant African women thrown off of slave ships that had adapted to breathe underwater in their mother’s wombs.” (Source: Last.fm)

The beginning of 2019, the Drexciyan mythology was expanded upon in ‘The Book of Drexciya Vol 1.’ – an anthology in the form of a graphic novel that told further the story through original imagery drawn by Abdullah Haqq.

“The majority of Drexciya‘s releases were in the style of dance-floor oriented electro, punctuated with elements of Detroit Techno, with occasional excursions into some other genres (industrial or ambient).” (Source: Last.fm)

Gerald Donald until today releases under several aliases (Heinrich Mueller, Arpanet) and is active in different formations such as Dopplereffekt (which has several different members, amongst them his wife, To Nhan Le Thi.

When Gerald Donald was asked about his involvement in the Drexciya project in an interview, he only replied:

“Well, I will not directly indicate my involvement in any project. I will leave this question open to the observer’s interpretation. The most important thing has always been the music and concept itself. I adhere to this philosophy. People spend way too much time engaging personalities rather than the music that‚Äôs accompanying that personality. Thus, a proportionally inverse relationship is established, and in most cases, the personality acquires the larger value.”

– GERALD DONALD

Dj Stingray

Sherard Ingram, aka DJ Stingray, is the founder of Urban Tribe and is an associate of mythical Detroit electro duo Drexciya. Urban Tribe was started in 1991 by Ingram, with productions released on compilations from Retroactive and Planet E, and a debut album released on Mo Wax in 1998. (Source: Discogs)

As a DJ and producer, Ingram specializes in futuristic electro, preferring fast tempos and inventive beat patterns to more accessible, club-friendly rhythms. When asked to describe his style of electronic music, he prefers to classify it as techno. Taught how to DJ by Kenny Dixon, Jr. (Moodymann) in the mid-80s, he gradually developed and perfected his dense, high-speed mixing style, DJing at biker bars such as The Outcast in Detroit. Slipping bits of techno tracks in with Miami booty bass and West Coast electro and hip-hop. (Source: Wikipedia)

In the late 80s, while working in the record shop Buy Rite Music, he met the late James Stinson of Drexciya and eventually became friends. Shortly thereafter, Stinson asked Ingram to be the opening DJ for Drexciya‘s tour. This is when the name DJ Stingray was given to Ingram.

“Did I feel like a stingray? Never. But I wasn’t going to argue with James Stinson. I felt it and I understood what he wanted, because I understood the Drexciya legacy. I was Stingray from that day on.”

– Sherard Ingram

This is also when he started to use his signature balaclava, which at first was supposed to be the same Underground Resistance mask used by the rest of the crew. Ingram quickly switched it out for a SWAT mask since it was more comfortable.

Unfortunately, the tour never happened due to founding member James Stinson‚Äôs untimely death. When Ingram was asked by Hyponik about his impression of Stinson, he said: 

“James was a no-nonsense, hard-working man who was always pushing the envelope and had a vision and meaning behind his music. The brief time we spent working together had a strong influence on me and opened doors creatively and on a professional level.”

– Sherard Ingram

More artists of the second wave

Octave One

The group ‘Octave One’ was formed by brothers Lenny Burden and Lawrence Burden from Detroit, Michigan. Siblings Lance BurdenLorne Burden and Lynell Burden also contribute to the group’s productions. (Source: Discogs)

Their first single, I Believe,’ was released on Derrick May‘s Transmat in 1990. In the same year, together with their brother, Lynell, they formed the record label 430 West Records to release the EP ‘Octivation’. In the year of 2000, they released their most commercially successful recording, Black Water, on their own 430 West label. It stayed their biggest hit, selling over one million copies. Octave One have remixed recordings for Massive AttackDavid Russell Lee, DJ Rolando, Steve Bug (label owner of German minimal house and techno label, Raw Elements, Poker Flat Recordings and Hamburg-based Dessous Recordings), Johnatan ‘John’ Thomas (French techno producer, owner of Ethique Recordings), The Trammps, and Inner City (a Detroit house and techno group formed in 1988, composed of producer Kevin Saunderson and Chicago native Shanna Jackson aka Paris Grey). 

In 2002, ‘Blackwater’ was remixed by the band with a reworked live string arrangement performed by the Urban Soul Orchestra in London, England. The single was re-released by Concept Music (UK), Ministry of Sound/Voidcom (Germany), Vendetta Records (Spain), and Tinted Records (Australia) in the same year. It peaked at #47 (February 2002) and #69 (September 2002) on the UK Singles Chart. (Source: Wikipedia)

Octave One is still active (2022) and tours the world regularly, doing LIVE electronic music performances. They belong to the second generation of Detroit Techno artists.

Mike Huckaby

Michael Hucakby (1966 Р2020) was an American DJ, producer, and sound recording teacher from Detroit, Michigan, USA. Huckaby was widely respected in Detroit’s electronic music landscape, known for his distinct, deep and soulful house music and impeccable selections. He devoted his life to music, beginning to collect records as a child and buying his first studio and DJ gear as a teenager. (Source: Attackmagazine)

‚ÄúTons of the music we sold was made right down the street; we were the epicenter of a lot that was happening during the most formative and busiest years for Detroit electronic music.‚ÄĚ

Michael Himes (Record Time’s founder)

“Between 1992 and 2005, he worked at the well renowned store, Record Time (Roseville, Mich.) alongside Rick Wade and others where a separate space within the shop was dedicated solely to House, Techno and Hip-hop 12-inch singles.” (Source: The NY Times)

“According to Alan Oldham, a.k.a. DJ T-1000, a Detroit-born DJ, the store was doing a lot of mail orders, too and Hucakby was dealing with foreign buyers and fans as well ‚ÄĒ he was an ambassador and tastemaker all over the world, particularly influenced the club scenes in London and Berlin. He was a library of house and techno knowledge, always eager to share.” (Source: The NY Times)

‚ÄúPeople would come to the store and Huckaby already had records in a bag, their name on the bag. They wouldn‚Äôt even listen to the records. They‚Äôd pick up the bag and head to the register. If Huck pulled it, they bought it.‚ÄĚ

– Rick Wade, co-worker and close friend of Huckaby

From the mid-90s onwards, he toured extensively around the world, spending much of his busy schedule setting up lecturing camps around the globe offering basic and advanced synthesis, sound design, and production skills in software such as Native Instruments (Reaktor, Maschine) and Ableton. An influential figure for young, aspiring producers and DJs, Huckaby led production workshops at YouthVille Detroit and beyond, with innumerable DJs and electronic artists counting him as a mentor. One of Huckaby’s YouthVille students, Kyle Hall, has gone on to an international DJ career as well. (Source: The NY Times)

‚ÄúHe‚Äôd even give me rides home afterward. He was like an uncle figure, a real kind dude.‚ÄĚ

Kyle Hall

Kelli Hand aka K-HAND

Kelley Maria Hand (1964-2021) was a musician and DJ from Detroit, Michigan (US), known professionally as Kelli Hand. She was widely credited with opening the door for Black women’s participation in the previously male-dominated techno and electronic music communities during the 1990s and was known as the “First Lady of Detroit techno” – a prolific DJ with an “impossibly deep catalog”. (Source: Discogs)

Hand immersed herself in New York’s club scene during her youth in the 1980s, especially frequenting the legendary Paradise Garage when Larry Levan was playing as well as Club Area. She purchased her own equipment and began teaching herself to produce and DJ in her bedroom before eventually starting to play in clubs and landing a residency at Detroit’s Zipper’s Nightclub.

In 1990, Hand founded her own label, initially named UK House Records, but quickly renamed to Acacia Records after a Detroit street she had previously lived on. Her debut release was an EP under her Etat Solide alias, Think About It.

In 1994, her single, Global Warning, was released on the British label Warp Records. In 1995, her debut studio album, On A Journey, was released on Studio !K7. By the year 2000, seven further albums were released on the labels such as the Berlin-based !K7 Records, the French label founded by Jean Karakos called Distance, Tresor, and Ausfahrt.

Hand’s imprint Acacia Records continues to release new vinyl records and re-releases of Hand’s back catalog. She continued to produce and perform music up until her death in 2021.

Her track ‘Flashback’ released in 1993, bears some similarities to Joey Beltram‘s ‘Energy Flash’ released in 1990. Beltram himself took other samples, too, when making ‘Energy Flash’, for example, from ‘Rock To The Beat‘ by 101 – a Belgian New Beat act – released in 1988. This was done a lot at the time.

Kenny Larkin

Kenny Larkin, Detroit techno producer, DJ, and remixer since 1990. He is considered to be part of the second wave of Detroit techno, along with people like Carl Craig. Larkin (who also releases as Dark Comedy) has been described by AllMusic as “massively influential” on American, British, and German techno. (Source: Discogs)

Larkin was born in 1968 and raised in Detroit, but did not participate in the early years of Detroit techno because he was serving in the military. Upon his return, he began producing, influenced by Juan Atkins and Derrick May, as well as the Chicago house music scene. His early single releases, “We Shall Overcome” and “Integration”, were issued on Plus 8, a label overseen by Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva; later releases appeared on Buzz and Warp as well as other labels. His records have seen more success in continental Europe than in the U.S. (Source: Wikipedia)

In 2021, he reissued via his own Art of Dance imprint his Metaphor album. Originally released in 1995, Metaphor is described as an extension of Larkin‚Äôs ‚Äútechno soul agenda,‚ÄĚ imbuing Detroit techno with futuristic synthesizers. (Source: The Vinyl Factory)

Alan Oldham

Alan Oldham Рthe Detroit’s Renaissance Man, a true Motor City original.

“Jeff Mills is quintessential. He’s the gold-plated standard of what we all want to be. I had known Jeff since high school. One day he told me that he had hooked up with this guy and combined his studio with him. And that they were making some new shit. That guy was Mike Banks. I ended up working for them for a while too. I was doing PR for UR. I got to see how Jeff was able to formulate things, how he came up with concepts and ideas. He was always trying to reach above himself.”

– ALAN OLDHAM (IN AN INTERVIEW FOR RESIDENT ADVISOR)

From his beginnings as a member of Underground Resistance (replacing Jeff Mills), to seminal releases on Tresor Berlin, BPitch Control, Third Ear, Suspected, Elypsia Records (under his Detroit Rocket Science alias), his own Pure Sonik and Generator Records label (and many others), to his legendary artwork for such labels as Transmat, Djax-Up-Beats, New Religion, Houndstooth, Dark Entries, and more, Oldham does it all.

Under his stage name of DJ T-1000, Oldham has crisscrossed the globe rocking dancefloors from Amsterdam to London to Rome to Tokyo to Shanghai to Mexico City to his native Detroit and back to his current home in Berlin, where he holds down residencies at Tresor Berlin and Suicide Circus.

As an illustrator who started out in the indie comics scene of the mid-1980s, Oldham leveled up to canvases and has had successful international gallery shows in Amsterdam, Vienna, Paris, Stettin (Poland), Detroit, and Berlin, with more to come. Over 25 years in the game, and Oldham remains at the forefront of both art and music.” (Source: BPitch)

I doubted whether to feature Carl Craig after I came across this article published by Annabel Ross, an award-winning investigative journalist who wrote numerous articles for Mixmag, Resident Advisor, The Guardian Australia/New Zealand, and NME - just to name a few.

Carl Craig

Ross wrote the following:

“Carl Craig banned me from reviewing Movement Festival this year, held in Detroit nearly three weeks ago. I wasn‚Äôt sure if I was going to go public with this information, but after what happened this past weekend, I felt I had to.

I was supposed to be writing about Movement Festival for¬†Mixmag¬†but a few days ahead of the festival I got a call from my editor. Movement had told him I could no longer review the festival. Craig had given the festival an ultimatum ‚ÄĒ him or me.

If I was allowed to review the festival, he wouldn’t perform. Craig had a headline slot on Saturday night on the Detroit Love stage he hosted at the festival that day and another slot on Sunday night playing a B2B set with James Murphy.

Craig has been intimately involved with Movement Festival since its inception back in 2000, when it was known as Detroit Electronic Music Festival. He is one of the most celebrated figures in Detroit techno. 
Craig banned me from reviewing Movement because of the two investigations I wrote for¬†Resident Advisor¬†in¬†November 2020¬†and¬†January 2021¬†detailing the allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment against his friend and mentor, Detroit techno pioneer Derrick May.”

– ANNABEL ROSS

This is, of course, a huge dilemma, given Craig‘s legacy.

While it is understandable that when someone hears such news about his long-time friend and mentor of 40 years, it must be shocking and many just want to ignore it, as it sounds almost impossible for them to believe. Even Ross acknowledged this in her article:

“I can understand Craig wanting to support May, especially given the impact he has had on Craig‚Äôs career and life trajectory and in trying to defend the Detroit techno legacy they are both integral to, a legacy that has historically been obscured by the rise of an overwhelmingly white electronic music industry. I can understand why fans would want to believe that May is innocent, or to downplay the allegations. Ignorance literally is bliss when it comes to our musical heroes and being able to dance freely to the tracks that have brought us so much joy.”

– ANNABEL ROSS

However, she goes further:

“But I can tell you that the women who claim to have been abused by May can‚Äôt hear ‚ÄúStrings of Life‚ÄĚ without being reminded of their trauma. I can‚Äôt enjoy his music anymore either, and Carl Craig lost me as a fan after our Twitter spat nearly two years ago, just a fortnight after I‚Äôd visited his¬†Party/After Party¬†sound installation at Dia Beacon museum in upstate New York.

It’s not surprising that Craig and Smith would want to support May, a trailblazing Black musical icon whose success paved the way for their own, but to do it so publicly and mockingly is a slap in the face to survivors of abuse everywhere. It’s a damning display of toxic male solidarity in a scene where women, trans and non-binary people are used to coming last.

a sincere apology from May would have gone a long, long way, coupled with genuine contrition and a commitment to seek therapy for his behaviour. But we’ve seen nothing of the sort; just denial, offensive attempts by May to cast the allegations as racism and a defiant campaign to try and resurrect his tanking career.

It is possible to celebrate Detroit techno and at the same time to demand accountability from the figures in the scene who have abused their power. Without it, their legacy¬†is¬†threatened, but that‚Äôs not my fault, nor the fault of the women who bravely chose to share their stories. The only people they can blame for that is themselves.”

– ANNABEL ROSS

The reason why I decided not to delete the part already written about Craig is so that people can see what a life trajectory he had and how many artists he has collaborated with, and yet, he decided to act with such a careless and toxic attitude as Ross described in her article. I personally found the Instagram posts and reposts by him and Omar S the most shocking and disappointing. It is truly nothing else but toxic male solidarity. That is the reason why I introduce him at the end of this blog piece.

    Born in Detroit in 1969, Craig was first exposed to the Detroit techno scene in the late 80s via a cousin that ran the lighting for Jeff Mills. After early collaborations with his “first wave” mentor Derrick May, Craig struck out on his own in the early 90s. (Source: The Wire UK)

    Recording as 69, BFC, Psyche, Paperclip People, Tres Demented, and under his own name ‚ÄĒ as well as a slew of other aliases and collaborations ‚ÄĒ Craig developed an instantly recognizable (and oft-imitated, if rarely matched) style, at once lush and economical, bursting and streamlined.

    While known principally as a Techno artist, Craig‘s musical journey hasn’t stopped there. The 1992 track Bug in the Bassbin‘, recorded by his Innerzone Orchestra, is widely credited as sparking a revolution in breakbeat-based music, while his Detroit Experiment brought together artists from Detroit’s jazz and hip-hop scenes; more recently, Craig recorded with Wendell Harrison, Phil Ranelin, and other members of Detroit’s fabled jazz label Tribe for an upcoming Techno-jazz fusion project.

    He also had a hand in Urban Tribe‘s The Collapse of Modern Culture, a groundbreaking downtempo collaboration between Sherard Ingram (aka DJ Stingray), Kenny Dixon, Jr. (aka Moodymann) and Anthony “Shake” Shakir, and his one-off projects range from participating in Ricardo Villalobos’ improvising laptop collective Narod Niki to performing on industrial designer Harry Bertoia’s sound sculptures.

    In 2020, before the pandemic hit, Craig had planned a few days downtime after his live set with Moritz von Oswald at New York‚Äôs Dia Beacon; the opening celebration of Craig‚Äôs sound installation Party/Afterparty, a commission that developed over the course of five years. As Hannah Ongley wrote for Document Journal, “The installation is unnervingly prescient. In Dia‚Äôs post-industrial basement level, the darkness glows neon green, and modular synths steadily build up to a euphoric club beat‚ÄĒthe sound of collective fervor right before the inevitable comedown.”

    When talking to the German ‘Kaput’ magazine, Craig described Detroit the following way:

    ‚ÄúI see these buildings every day. For me they represent the history of Detroit, the history of a place once a blooming industrial city ‚Äď and now no longer is. Such ruins are monoliths, but to me they mean the same as the debris in Rome or Greece: it is all about the process of remembering of what has been a culture. Those fabrics tell us from their former greatness ‚Äď and now they are just framework. No other city on this planet is like Detroit. It was here where Henry Ford invented the assembly line ‚Äď and where Berry Gordy took the concept and came up with Motown from there. Gordy wanted to produce and publish music in an ongoing process, just to have enough to offer for the demand out there. And once the car industry changed over from humans to robots, that affected Juan Atkins. You see, both were inspired by the system of Ford. I deeply believe that there is no other place on this planet as Detroit this all could arise. I talk bout the idea to recharge something that cold with soul.‚ÄĚ

    – Carl Craig

    To be added: Milton Baldwin aka DJ Skurge, Kenneth D. Dixon Jr. aka Moodymann, James Pennington aka Suburban Knight, Terrence Dixon

    Electronic music pioneers of the USA II.

    (Part 2.)

    I started working on this blog post years ago. Originally, it was supposed to be an interview with a Chicago-born DJ and producer. Unfortunately, it never got finalized due to personal circumstances.

    During this interview, I realized that while I was pretty familiar with some of the most important European electronic music pioneers, I knew way too little about the American pioneers of electronic music – known for their groundbreaking work.

    The interview took place just a few months before I started experimenting with electronic music production. I found it important to learn the roots, and I wanted to know more than just some names and some tracks. I wanted to know the entire story. I wanted to know how it all happened…

    There are many artists around the globe and many sources that wrote about these pioneers extensively, but I wanted to do a blog post that summarizes the most known ones in one place.

    This is Part 2. – because even though there was a selection that had to be made, the list got too long for my computer’s CPU.

    As said before, I am not inventing anything new – simply attempting to summarise what has already been written.

    The primary sources used for this blog piece were the biographies of the artists from¬†Discogs, Wikipedia, some other journals and blog articles, and sometimes the artists’ websites. These sources are always mentioned or linked throughout the blog.

    Moreover, I have also added SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and YouTube links to the artists when they are mentioned in the text so that you can listen to their sets and productions right away.

    This piece is for everyone who is not yet familiar with how the electronic music scene started and developed overseas in the United States. Part 1, which is about ‘The early pioneers of electronic music’ you can find here.

    PIONEERS IN THE FIELD OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC IN THE USA [Part 2]

    The Acid and House music pioneers

    Larry Levan

    Larry Levan (born Laurence Philpot, Brooklyn, NY) was an American¬†DJ best known for his decade-long residency at the¬†New York City¬†nightclub¬†Paradise Garage, which has been described as the prototype of the modern dance club. He developed a¬†cult of followers¬†who referred to his sets as “Saturday¬†Mass”. Influential¬†post-disco¬†DJ¬†Fran√ßois Kevorkian¬†credits Levan with introducing the¬†dub¬†aesthetic into dance music. (Interesting fact: Robert Hood used the alias, Dr. Kevorkian, for his ‘Suicide Machine’ EP.) Along with Kevorkian, Levan experimented with¬†drum machines¬†and¬†synthesizers¬†in his productions and live sets, ushering in an electronic, post-disco sound that presaged the ascendence of¬†house music. (Source: Wikipedia)

    In the 1980s, he also DJ’d at Club Zanzibar in New Jersey, home to the “Jersey Sound” brand of deep house or garage house (with residents like DJ Tony Humphries best known for his shows on Kiss FM, and Kerri Chandler mostly known as the founder of Madhouse Records, Inc. and Kaoz Theory.)

    Before his residency at the Paradise Garage, Levan used to attend the parties at David Mancuso‘s Loft in Manhattan. The crowd invited by Mancuso and the music both had a mixed nature (ethnicities and sexual orientations) – an aspect that Levan welcomed.” (Source: Socialdiscoclub)

    “It was also the New York City black gay bar scene where Levan was introduced to Frankie Knuckles by a drag queen who went by the name of Gerald. The two became well known on the club circuit and by 1972 had worked their way into helping out DJ Nicky Siano with setup at The Gallery. (Source: Socialdiscoclub)

    Larry Levan also began to hang out at Continental Baths and had managed to obtain a regular DJ gig for the Baths‘ small dancefloor. In 1974 the Continental Baths shut down, and Frankie received a resident gig at SoHo Place, a new club modeled after David Mancuso’s Loft parties.” (Source: Socialdiscoclub)

    The Stonewall Inn and David Mancuso’s Loft

    According to Dan Freeman, who wrote two articles for the Brooklyn Digital Conservatory about the origin of Disco and House music – Part 1 about Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards and Part 2 about Larry Levan, “modern DJ culture was born”¬†in clubs like Manusco’s Loft and the Paradise Garage during Levans residency. But before The Loft and the Paradise Garage opened their doors, there was The Stonewall Inn

    The¬†Stonewall Inn (often shortened to¬†Stonewall) is a¬†still operating gay bar, a recreational¬†tavern, and a historical landmark¬†in the¬†Greenwich Village¬†neighbourhood of¬†Lower Manhattan,¬†New York City, as it was the site of the¬†Stonewall riots¬†of 1969, which is widely considered to be the single most important event leading to the¬†gay liberation¬†movement and the modern fight for¬†LGBT rights¬†in the United States.” (Source: Wikipedia)

    The Stonewall Riots

    “On June 28, 1969 a social revolution began in Greenwich Village that would profoundly effect the city‚Äôs cultural life, among other things.  The Village in the late 60‚Äôs was a hotbed of the social and political movements that had emerged over the past decade ‚Äď African-American civil rights, the counter-culture and the anti-Vietnam movement.  It was also the heart of New York‚Äôs gay and lesbian community. In 1969, New York had strict laws prohibiting homosexuality in public and private businesses and the New York Police Department used undercover cops to entrap gay men in bars, parks, restrooms etc.  The few gay bars in the city were ‘owned’ by the Mafia who were able to pay off the police ‚Äď and who made money by blackmailing wealthy patrons who didn‚Äôt want to be publicly outed.” (Source: Dan Freeman, BDC)

    “On that fateful night in June, the NYPD decided to raid the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-owned gay club on Christopher St in the West Village.  Except this time as they arrested the patrons of the bar and brought them out, a crowd gathered outside the bar.  When the police began to violently abuse some of those arrested, the crowd rioted and for several days afterwards violent confrontations took place between crowds of gay, lesbian, bisexuals and trans people and the police. The Stonewall Riots sparked the birth of the gay liberation movement in the United States and within six months, two gay activist organisations and three newspapers were formed to promote gay rights in NYC.  The first gay pride marches were held a year later on June 28, 1970 to commemorate the anniversary of the riots.” (Source: Dan Freeman, BDC)

    One of the first demands of New York‚Äôs gay community after Stonewall was to establish spaces where they could celebrate and be free from the oppression of the NYPD and the Mafia owners of gay bars.  In 1970, David Mancuso then a hippie audiophile obsessed with high-end sound systems who who loved playing records for his friends began throwing regular private parties at his huge loft at 647 Broadway, right north of NYC‚Äôs Houston St.  The parties were by invitation only and mainly catered to a gay crowd and there at the Loft, they could dance together without fear of police harassment.  In his loft, Mancuso built one of the best soundsystems in the world and he DJ‚Äôd the parties, playing everything from jazz to rock to classical, and built an integrated light show as well.” (Source: Dan Freeman, BDC)

    Frankie Knuckles

    Francis Nicholls aka Frankie Knuckles was an American DJ and producer from South Bronx, New York City. Due to his importance in the development of House, Knuckles is often remembered as “The Godfather of House Music”. His accomplishments earned him a Grammy Award in 1997. Knuckles had been long time friends with¬†Larry Levan, they had had their musical upbringing together from going to clubs like the above already mentioned Loft and The Gallery.

    Knuckles was the DJ at the Warehouse nightclub in Chicago from 1977 to 1982. It is widely accepted that his style of Dj-ing and his selection and the appeal of the Warehouse gave house music its name, although, in the beginning, the word ‘house’ was used only in Chicago to denote something ‘cool, hip, or fresh’.

    In 2000, the city of Chicago got a notorious reputation in the dance community around the world for passing the so-called ‘anti-rave¬†ordinance’ that made property owners, promoters, and deejays subject to $10,000 fines for being involved in unlicensed dance parties. In 2004, with the help of then Illinois state senator Barack Obama, a stretch of street in downtown Chicago was named after Knuckles, where the old Warehouse once stood, on Jefferson Street between Jackson Boulevard and Madison Street in Chicago’s¬†West Loop.¬†On August 25, 2004, the city renamed the block “Frankie Knuckles Way” and declared August 25 to be Frankie Knuckles Day. (Source: Wikipedia)

    The Warehouse

    The Warehouse was a hub for the people of Chicago, specifically for the gay community. It was often compared to a religious and spiritual experience. At the time, many gay black men felt excluded from the religious communities that they had been raised in. This contributed to the culture created at The Warehouse. It was a place where people could be open and this sexual openness enabled the club to be unusually free of aggression.

    The Warehouse was a place that allowed house music to flourish as a continuation of disco under Frankie Knuckles. According to Simon Reynolds, an English journalist, Chicago house was a specifically black gay genre in many ways for many years, and The Warehouse was a specific space that safely cultivated that scene. (Source: Wikipedia)

    “Black music was at the heart of the disco era, and it is impossible to separate the roots of disco from the disenfranchised queer people of color that flocked to it. House is connected to disco in that “it mutated the form, intensifying the very aspects of the music that most offended white rockers: the machinic repetition, the synthetic and electronic textures, the rootlessness, the ‚Äėdepraved‚Äô hypersexuality and ‚Äėdecadent‚Äô hedonism.”

    Simon Reynolds

    It continued the tradition of making music for the club, for people to truly feel and to create a holy dance atmosphere and experience over just trying to make something that could get hits on the radio or top 40 charts. The stomping four-to-the-floor kick-drum would become the defining mark of house music. Knuckles also used to alter songs by adding synthetic handclaps, special hi-hat patterns and bass loops. This way, he pushed the boundaries of how a track is supposed to sound and how it could be manipulated to fit a club setting. (Source: Wikipedia)

    After the Warehouse doubled its admission fee in late 1982, it grew more commercial. Knuckles decided to leave and start his own club, Power House – a place to which his devoted followers followed him. In response, The Warehouse‘s owners renamed it to ‘The Music Box‘, hiring a new DJ named¬†Ron Hardy,¬†who became quite influential in the development of house music himself (Source: Wikipedia)

    Ron Hardy

    Ron Hardy was an American, Chicago, Illinois-based DJ and record producer of early house music. He is well known for playing records at The Music Box, a Chicago house music club. Decades after his death, he is still highly recognised for his edits and mixes of disco, soul music, funk, and early house music.

    While Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse (and later the Power Plant) had a smooth style of playing, Hardy was different. He had less regard for sound quality and would play with manic energy, mixing everything from classic Philadelphia disco classics, Italo disco imports to New wave, Disco and Rock tracks. Hardy also pitched records up way more than Knuckles. One Detroit pioneer of The Belleville Three remembered having heard Hardy playing a Stevie Wonder cut with the speed at +8!

    “Ron Hardy got up there like, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm the king of this b*tch!‚ÄĚ All of those mixes he did were done on the fly, with no edits. He moved faders up and down, using all f*cking ten fingers on ‘Move Your Body’. Did the whole thing straight through, four f*cking passes.”

    Marshall Jefferson

    Hardy opened his nights with Welcome to the Pleasuredome by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and used to play electronic body music acts like the British EBM project, Nitzer Ebb.

    Midway through the 1980s, many Chicago DJs and club-goers started experimenting with creating their own rhythm tracks. DJs would play these homemade tracks, and (in short) this is how House music was born. Hardy was no exception, often getting the hottest¬†acetates¬†and tapes. Chicago producers including Marshall Jefferson, Larry Heard, Adonis, Phuture’s DJ Pierre, and¬†Chip E.¬†all debuted many of their compositions at The Music Box.

    Hardy played many of the same tracks his DJ peers in Chicago played. However, his combative DJ style, loud volume, experimentation with new music and the general atmosphere of The Music Box makes him to be considered a pioneer within the house music genre. (Source: Wikipedia)

    Phuture

    Phuture – a Chicago-based ’80s group, founded in 1985 by Nathaniel Pierre Jones aka DJ Pierre, Earl ‘Spanky’ Smith (1965-2016) aka DJ Spank Spank, and Herbert ‘Herb J’ Jackson. Their love for House music started back in the early ’80s when friends Pierre, Spanky, and Herbert Jackson got to hear the innovative DJ Ron Hardy play at the infamous Music Box in Chicago and would get lost for hours on end in Hardy‘s sound.

    “Not that I didn‚Äôt like Frankie Knuckles ‚Äď I was just a Ron Hardy guy. It‚Äôs almost like a gang. When it came down to talking DJs, people would knuckle up if you said the wrong DJ in the wrong part of town.”

    DJ Pierre

    Deeply inspired by Hardy‘s style of Dj-ing, they decided to start their own group and founded Phuture. In 1985, Spanky came across a Roland TB-303, which was at the time written off. Unaware that they would go on to make history when they created a new type of sound that came out of the 303 bassline synthesizer. Tweaking the knobs at the same time the patterns were playing they used the 303 for something different than what it was originally made for. This was the beginning of a new era, creating first the sub-genre “Acid House” and more…

    “The first night Ron Hardy played our acid track at the Music Box, he played it at least four times. Hardy had the heart and the guts to play something like that and to play it first. He trained the people in the club that night to like that song, and it worked. The fourth time he played it, they lost their minds. I actually saw a guy doing a handstand, dancing upside-down in a corner. It‚Äôs like, ‚ÄėI want to do more than just dance. I want to do something crazy.‚ÄĚ

    Earl Spanky Smith

    Tony Humphries

    Tony Humphries – American electronic musician and DJ, born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1957. His father, Rene, a Colombian immigrant, was also deeply into music, being a salsa performer himself, and encouraged his son’s involvement with music from a very early age. So it comes as no surprise that Tony began collecting records at the age of ten.

    Humphries began DJing at college and got his first professional gig in 1981 at the then new, New York station KISS-FM following a chance encounter with¬†Shep Pettibone. His big break was in 1982, when he was asked by¬†Pettibone¬†to fill in for a mix show on WRKS 98.7 Kiss-FM in New York and soon afterward, he became a regular contributor of the station‚Äôs master-mixes ‚ÄĒ extended and remixed versions of popular tracks ‚ÄĒ a process that had been pioneered on the station earlier by Pettibone. In the same year, Humphries got a residency at the already mentioned¬†Club Zanzibar in¬†Newark, New Jersey. Humphries and Club Zanzibar, alongside the Paradise Garage and its resident DJ¬†Larry Levan, are considered to be the main driving forces behind the creation of¬†Garage house¬†music.” (Source: Wikipedia)

    He is considered, together with Levan, as one of the earliest proponents of¬†House music¬†and has been instrumental in spreading the genre on both sides of the Atlantic. He also has two established record labels, Yellorange¬†and¬†Tony Records. Humphries‘ work encompasses studio production and remixes, radio slots on¬†WRKS 98.7 Kiss FM¬†and¬†Hot 97, and DJ residencies at clubs including¬†Club Zanzibar¬†(Newark, New Jersey) and¬†Ministry of Sound¬†in¬†London, UK.

    Kerrie Chandler

    Kerri Chandler – American electronic music producer and DJ known best for his contribution to House Music as the founder of Madhouse Records, Inc. and Kaoz Theory. Kerri‘s father, Joseph, was a DJ himself in New York.

    ‚ÄúAll we had was music, pretty much. We made a lot of something out of nothing growing up.‚ÄĚ

    Kerrie Chandler

    He is also well-known for his House EP, ‘Super Lover’, on which the track ‘Get it off’ was dedicated to his girlfriend at the time, Tracy, who he lost under tragic circumstances near the club he resided at.

    As already mentioned earlier, Club Zanzibar was a place in Newark, New Jersey, “that was noted for its influence on house music and garage house genres and scene. Club Zanzibar, along with other gay and straight clubs in the era, was both a straight and LGBT black and Latino nightlife destination.” (Source: Wikipedia)

    In an interview in 2019 for XLR8R, Chandler described himself as being innovative and technical as he had modified almost all of his analog equipment in the past to get them the way that suited best for his sets – from his TR-808 and TR909 drum computers to his turntables, etc., and until today, for the very same reason, companies like Native Instruments and Pioneer ask for his expertise and involvement when designing products.

    Next to that, he also feels responsible to do an extensive sound check before every gig he performs, according to the XLR8R article.

    “I‚Äôll go through each speaker in the room, and I‚Äôll listen. I‚Äôll listen to all the crossover points. I‚Äôll listen to the range of the room. I‚Äôll listen to the noise of the ceiling vibrating. I like to know the room very intimately ‚ÄĒ and then I try to get the best sound I can out of that place.”

    – Kerrie Chandler

    “If he sees that a rented mixer or turntable has an issue, he tries to bring it back and have it changed, or sometimes he takes them apart and fixes what he can. If he finds blown-out speakers, he tries to re-EQ the room by changing the drivers or fixing one of the amplifiers in the venue. He is very dedicated to finding a solution and ensuring the best sound possible for the night.” (Source: XLR8R)

    “It‚Äôs not just for me‚Ķ I might be one of the DJs there, but I want to see everyone do well. I don’t want people to just say: ‚ÄėKerri was great,‚Äô I want everyone to say: ‚ÄėThat night was wonderful.’

    – Kerrie Chandler

    Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk

    Farley Keith Williams (Chicago, IL) first become known as a DJ when he started broadcasting on Chicago’s WBMX-FM as a member of the Hot Mix 5 DJ team (together with Mickey “Mixin” OliverRalphi RosarioKenny “Jammin” Jason, and Scott “Smokin” Silz).

    Farley also appeared at the Warehouse club and then began a residency at the Playground. Known as Farley Keith or Farley Funkin’ Keith until 1984. He then adopted the name Farley “Jackmaster” Funk and together with¬†Jesse Saunders, created the first house single to reach the UK charts. His anthem¬†Love Can’t Turn Around¬†(cover of¬†Isaac Hayes‘¬†I Can’t Turn Around) made the Top Ten in mid-1986. By the late ’80s, he had lost his DJ residency. His recorded output during the ’90s was relatively small, preferring to concentrate on performing on the global DJ circuit. (Source: Wikipedia)

    Jesse Saunders

    Jesse Saunders, a House music pioneer, wrote and recorded the 1983 single (released in March 1984) “Fantasy” for¬†Mitchbal Records as an addition to the band¬†Z-Factor.

    Next, he founded his own record label¬†Jes Say Records,¬†and released “On And On” (in January 1984), which is said to be the first House record ever. Many years prior to this, Jesse had been editing and recording on reel-to-reel tape machines. He was also founder of Chicago’s¬†Dance Mania¬†before handing it over to¬†Raymond Barney¬†in 1986. He maintained his legend status in Chicago despite leaving for the West Coast where he closed a major-label production deal with¬†Geffen Records¬†by 1986. In 1996, with the release of “Take Me Higher“, he formed¬†Broken Records. Through Broken Records he has released the timely hits “What’s This FX”, “On & On 2003“, “I Hear House Music“, and “Now That We Found Love“.

    Marshall Jefferson

    Marshall Julius Jefferson, too, from Chicago, Illinois. Jefferson started first as a producer. Together with  David Dee and Chauncey Alexander, he is one of the founders of Open House Recordings – a Chicago-based label. Jefferson gained global recognition as a deep house DJ with his song “Move Your Body”, an anthem which, more than 30 years later is still played in clubs. He also contributed to the increasing popularity of the acid genre by working with Sleezy D on the track “I’ve Lost Control”.

    His sets are a mix of house, funk, and due to the fact that he was inspired by rock, glam rock and scythe pop, his is known for featuring classical instruments in his sets, too, such as the piano, trumpets and heavy drums. Jefferson also worked together with KennethCece” Rogers and Sterling Void and is known to be one of Mike Bank‘s early influences. In 2015, Jefferson started a Kickstarter campaign to press his new, 23-track on a triple / quadriple vinyl album – with guest appearances from Full Intention, David Torte, Tyree Cooper, Rhythm Masters etc. (Source: The vinylfactory)

    Curtis Jones 

    Curtis Alan Jones, is an American singer, producer, and DJ from Chicago, Illinois, also known as Cajmere or Green Velvet, was raised by a father who was an amateur DJ himself.

    Curtis had plans to become an engineer, but life got in the way. Inspired by the early house tracks from Chicago, his sound often features monotonous, or sometimes humorous (from an answering machine to monologues) lyrics on a mid-tempo house track, music created for late-night, hardcore party-goers. (Source: Wikipedia)

    In 2001, his music faced major change with the release of his second album, Whatever, in which he ditched the repetitive lyrics to talk about political themes such as racism, fighting against the system, and drug use. His mixes became more industrial and punk-leaning. (Source: Wikipedia)

    Derrick L. Carter

    Derrick L. Carter – one of the most important pioneers of House music in the 1990s. Carter used to work in the famous¬†Gramophone Records store in Chicago and until today, he is considered as one of the best House music DJs in the world. Carter‘s sets are firmly rooted in¬†Afro-American music¬†of the 1970s with some hints to old-school¬†disco,¬†soul,¬†and¬†jazz. In 1989, together with¬†Mark Farina¬†and¬†Chris Nazuka¬†as the group¬†Symbols & Instruments, they released the Mood EP, which¬†had a strong influence on the flourishing ambient techno movement in England.

    Even though the record wasn’t a big commercial success, it established Carter as an international artist in the underground House scene. In 2006, according to a survey by a free weekly newspaper,¬†Newcity, Carter was named #53 in the 100 Most Famous Chicagoans.¬†(Some other well-known people on the list were Felix da Housecat¬†#21 and ¬†Frankie Knuckles #41).

    Steve “Silk” Hurley

    Steve W. “Silk” Hurley is an American club DJ, pioneering house-music producer, songwriter, and four time Grammy Award-nominee.

    Hurley gained worldwide fame as a DJ on the Saturday Night Live Ain’t No Jive Dance Party on WBMX in Chicago in the mid 1980s. Hurley stood out because his mixing style differed from most radio‚Äďnightclub DJ who played house music on WRKS in the early 1990s, since his style of club mixing incorporated (and involves until today) advanced DJ tricks only done by hip hop DJs such as scratching, cutting, drop outs, back spins, and beat juggling.

    He released songs under the stage name of Steve “Silk” Hurley and, with vocalist Keith Nunnally, had many hits on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart as J.M. Silk, including I Can’t Turn Around” which hit Number one in 1986. His song Jack Your Body was the UK’s first house-music chart topper, reaching number one for two weeks in January and February 1987.

    Larry Heard aka Mr. Fingers

    Aliases: 2nd AvenewAce “Smokin” AmyBlakk SocietyDisco-DFingers Inc.Gherkin JerksLarry HeardLoosefingersThe HousefactorsTrio Zero

    The DJ and producer Larry Heard, widely known as Mr. Fingers, was another important figure in the 1980s Chicago house music scene. Born on the South Side of Chicago (Illinois), Heard grew up hearing jazz and Motown at home, and just like some other pioneers, he could also play several instruments from a young age on. Before beginning his solo musical career in 1983, the 17-year-old Larry was the drummer in the band Infinity (a jazz fusion cover group that included Adonis). He began producing music in 1984 after purchasing a synthesizer and a drum machine. He recorded solo under various names, but most notably under the name Mr. Fingers. Only into a few days with his new gear, he had recorded three tracks that would later be regarded as some landmark tracks of house music: Can You Feel It?“, “Mystery of Love”, and “Washing Machine”. He is also regarded as a pioneer of deep house music – bridging the gap between the futurism and “posthuman tendencies” of house and the lush, soulful sound of disco.

    Despite initially not having a connection to Chicago’s club scene, he eventually met singer and DJ Robert Owens at a party and the two formed the group Fingers Inc. along with Ron Wilson and released in 1988 the album Another Side which was the first long-form house LP. Heard also began releasing solo singles as Mr. Fingers on Trax Records and DJ International. At the end of the decade, Trax released Amnesia, which compiled Heard‘s early tracks – unfortunately, without Heard‘s permission. In 1989, Heard contributed to the debut album by producer Lil’ Louis.

    Lil’ Louis

    Born in Chicago, Louis was the son of guitarist Bobby Sims (Rotary Connection) and grew up with nine siblings, played both drums and the bass guitar as a child, then began DJing in the mid-1970s. He earned his nickname after appearances at the club River’s Edge while still in middle school).

    By the end of the decade, he had his own club called The Future, where he began working on his editing techniques, thanks to a cassette deck and later a reel-to-reel recorder. By the 1980s, Lil’ Louis was hosting the biggest house parties in Chicago, and he began recording his productions around that time as well. His first single “How I Feel” appeared on his own label, and he began collaborating with Marshall Jefferson on several tracks, including “Seven Ways To Jack” by  ‘s “I Can’t Stay Away”.

    In 1987, his new single “French Kiss” became a local hit, then a platinum-selling international classic after being licensed to CBS and FFRR. The success triggered a major label contract through Epic, and the release of his debut album “From The Mind Of Lil’ Louis” (1989).

    Roy Davis Jr.

    Roy Davis Jr. started Dj-ing and began producing after being turned on by legendary acid-house pioneers like DJ Pierre, DJ Spank Spank, Herb J and Lil’ Louis.

    Before setting up his own record label, Undaground Therapy Muzik and becoming an A&R scout for the Strictly Rhythm imprint in NYC, Roy Davis Jr got known in the house scene after joining for a shorter time the above already mentioned acid house group, Phuture.

    Davis rose to fame when he teamed up with Peven Everett and together they produced the single Gabriel. The single sold over 200,000 copies and was played in nightclubs all around the world.”

     Celeste Alexander

    DJ Celeste began her career in 1982 as one of the first female DJs in the Chicago scene which was heavily male-dominated, debunking the myth that mixing was gender specific.

    She has collaborated amongst many other DJs with the above already mentioned Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, Steve Hurley, but also many other artists part of the Chicago scene, such as Andre Hatchett, Craig Loftus, Boo Williams, Farley ‚ÄúJackmaster Funk‚ÄĚ, Terry Hunter, Gene Hunt, Ron Carroll, Mike Dunn, Chip E, Tyree Cooper, Glenn Underground or Pharris Thomas.

    In this Industry as a DJ, I would just like to think that I have and will continue to inspire other women in this field, to continue to shoot for it and understand that if you love this, you don‚Äôt have to compromise because you are a woman. Fall in love with the craft for yourself, not for what you want it to do for you. There are NOT many things more I LOVE to do than play music. It‚Äôs one of the things in life that brings me the most joy.”

    Celeste Alexander

    She was also part of the 1980s all-female collective, The Fantastic Four, which was created to empower women in the industry. Celeste was the first female to play the world’s largest one-day event in house music, known as “The Chosen Few Picnic“. In 2009 she joined forces with Vick Lavender and Steven Stewart to become co-owner of Sophisticado Recordings, which is now one of today’s most known quality labels in the industry. Her currently ongoing podcast called “The Celestial Odyssey” is still one of the top ranked shows on Cyberjamz Internet Radio.

    To read the last, third part of this blog piece that is about the Detroit techno and electro pioneers, click here.

    Special note: While writing an update for this blog article in 2019, on the streets of the United States of America, the #BlackLivesMatter movement started. To many of us in Europe, seeing the news felt like the USA was on the verge of a civil war, because the acting (racist) president decided to use federal agents against unarmed civilians, protecting the status quo and his own interests.
     While the #BLM protesters were silenced with teargas and bullets, the movement that started during those days will never stop: "Until we all are free and equal".
    american woman electronic music pioneer wendy carlos

    Electronic music pioneers of the USA I.

    (Part 1)

    I started working on this blog post years ago. It was meant to be an interview with a Chicago-born DJ and producer, but unfortunately, it never got finalized due to personal circumstances.

    During this interview, I realized that while I was very much familiar with some of the most important European electronic music pioneers like Daphne Oram (UK) Рthe inventor of a drawn sound technique, the Oramics, Eliane Radigue (FR), Delia Derbyshire (UK), Dick Raaijmakers (NL) (aka Kid Baltan) and Tom Dissevelt (NL) from the Philips Laboratories (Natlab), or Mika Vainio, I knew way too little about the American pioneers of electronic music who should be widely admired for their groundbreaking inventions and work.

    The interview took place just a few months before I started experimenting with electronic music production. As a fresh producer, I found it very important to learn the roots. I wanted to know more than just some names and some tracks. I wanted to know the entire story. I wanted to know how it all happened…

    There are many artists around the globe and many sources that wrote about them extensively, but I wanted to do a blog post that summarizes the most known ones in one place. Of course, it is not possible to mention every one of them in this column, so there was a selection that had to be made, but the list is long enough.

    I started my research with some of the inspirations mentioned by my interviewee (Juana). By following that path, each name I researched led to many others.

    The primary sources used for this article were the biographies of the artists from¬†Discogs, Wikipedia, some other journals and blog articles, and sometimes the artists’ websites. These sources are always mentioned or linked throughout the blog. I am not inventing anything new here – simply attempting to summarise what has already been written.

    This blog piece is for everyone who is yet unfamiliar with how the electronic music scene started and developed overseas.

    PIONEERS IN THE FIELD OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC IN THE USA [Part 1]

    The early pioneers

    Louis en Bebe Barron

    Let’s start this journey with a couple – husband and wife, Louis en Bebe Barron – who are credited with writing the first electronic music for magnetic tapeand the first entirely electronic film score for the movie Forbidden Planet (1956). 

    Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic storage, made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic film. It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on magnetic wire recording.

    Devices that record and playback audio and video using magnetic tape are tape recorders and video tape recorders respectively. Magnetic tape revolutionized sound recording and reproduction and broadcasting. It allowed radio, which had always been broadcast live, to be recorded for later or repeated airing. Magnetic tape begins to degrade after 10 – 20 years, and therefore is not an ideal medium for long-term archival storage. Source: Wikipedia

    Clara Rockmore

    Clara Rockmore (together with Robert Moog) were the pioneers of a very unusual electronic musical instrument, that was controlled without physical contact, the ‘etherphone’ or as later named, the Theremin. Clara Rockmore was one of the most famous ‘thereminists’ touring around the USA.

    Lev Sergeyevich Termen

    The instrument (which was originally known as the etherphone) was invented in 1920 and it was named after its inventor, the Russian Lev Sergeyevich Termen (known in the West as L√©on Theremin). After a lengthy tour in Europe, Termen moved from the Soviet Union to the United States, where he patented his invention in 1928.

    However, after the Second World War, the theremin fell into disuse as newer electronic instruments were introduced that were easier to play. Nonetheless, a niche interest in the theremin persisted. 

    Robert Moog

    Robert Moog, who began building theremins in the 1950s, while he was a high-school student, stayed enthusiastic about the instrument and he credited the theremin experience as leading directly to his groundbreaking synthesizer, the Moog.

    Wendy Carlos

    Wendy Carlos, best known for her electronic music and film scores in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, was one of those overseeing the development of the Moog synthesizer.

    Annette Peacock

    Once the Moog was on the market, the experimenting had begun. The very first person who tried to combine her own voice with one of the first Moog synthesizers in the late 1960s was artist Annette Peacock.

    Laurie Spiegel

    The Chicago-born Laurie Spiegel, who worked for the Bell Laboratories in computer graphics, is known primarily for her electronic-music compositions and her algorithmic composition software called Music Mouse.

    Pauline Oliveros

    Another internationally acclaimed American composer, performer who has explored sound for four entire decades was Pauline Oliveros – forging new ground for herself and others through improvisation and combining electronic music with rituals and meditation.”

    By clicking the following link, you can navigate to read Part 2, which summarises the American House and Acid pioneers of Chicago and New York.

    Stu Crosbie electronic music producer, DJ and label owner of Dark Arts

    Introducing: S. Crosbie

    Electronic music producer, DJ & label owner: Stu Crosbie (UK)

    The first time I connected with¬†Stuart¬†was after purchasing a record from him that was released on his label,¬†‘Dark Arts’. The DA08 EP¬†showcases¬†tracks that are continuously balancing on the verge of different genres and sub-genres:¬†‘Radius’, for instance, is on the verge of techno & electro, while tracks like¬†‘Blueshift’,¬†‘Final Orbit’, and ‘Further Out’ are like balancing acts between dub-techno, deep house and downtempo.

    It’s been one and a half years since our first interview. Since then, Stu has released another EP (Dark Arts 09)¬†reviewed by Matt Sever, while some other tracks of his, like¬†‘transmission 9’, were supported by artists like¬†Jane Fitz¬†in¬†Rinse FM podcasts.

    I have never met Stu in person, but every time I talk to him, he comes across as a down-to-earth, polite, and kind guy who keeps releasing deep, experimental music that touches the soul – and he does that without trying to force himself into the spotlight. His humbleness is another reason why I respect him so much.

    I usually like to start personal stories ‘ab ovo usque ad mala’ as the Latin says, thus, from the beginning till the end – as I am genuinely interested in the different paths everyone walks, together with its joys and struggles to become the person they are today. However, this journal will also be like a journey back in time with a quick dive into the UK’s electronic music scene through the memories of Stu.

    GF: How did you get in touch with electronic music? Which city has nurtured your artistic tendencies?

    S. Crosbie: “I studied just outside London and I went to lots of gigs. I was always more into guitar music when growing up. First heavy metal then more indie type material, but I was getting interested in bands like Ministry and NIN, so I guess an electronic element started creeping in. Also towards the end of my studies, I met a new group of friends who were heavily into clubbing. I have to admit I was cynical at first. I went to a couple of house nights, but the night that changed things for me was a party some friends of friends were putting on called ‘Boo’. They had booked Evil Eddie Richards¬†as the guest and it was amazing ‚Äď probably the first time I heard techno and house music – I was hooked.”

    [GF: Ed Richards or Eddy Richards,¬†aka Acidman¬†/ Jolly Roger / Key Largo / Kode, etc. was one of the very first people to play house and techno in the UK back in the mid-eighties. Under his many different aliases, he has done several remixes, amongst them multiple ones for ‘The Shamen’ in 1991, f.e. ‘Love Sex Intelligence’ or ‘Oxygen restriction’.]

    S. Crosbie: “For me, the timing was absolutely the key. This was in London in the mid 90’s which was the most amazing time for the scene. It was such a fertile period. It felt like you could go out and hear the best of any given scene 7 nights a week. But for some reason I was instinctively drawn to techno and to clubs like Club UK and The Complex. Lost in particular was something I’d never come across before – it was just so single-minded. For music so intense and uncompromising to bring so many people together was very inspiring.”

    [GF: ‘LOST’ has been going on since 1991 and the mastermind behind the record label (Lost Recordings) and the event series was Steve Bicknell himself, throwing notoriously dark and sweaty parties in the best bunkers London had to offer at the time, influencing everyone who‚Äôs anyone in the UK underground scene and beyond.]

    S. Crosbie: “And bookings like Mills, Hood, Young etc ‚Äď this was where I really found the Detroit sound of the time. One I particularly remember was Suburban Knight¬†playing! It was so stripped back yet filled with so much funk.”

    [GF: Steve was one of the first people ever to bring Jeff Mills,¬†Robert Hood¬†or¬†Richie Hawtin overseas to London. Without him, the UK techno scene would not have been what it became. As described by Arthur Smith, “LOST was a real gateway club and its atmosphere was incomparable with any other UK clubs. Every single person was zoned in to exactly what was going on: no-one was talking to each other, no-one was distracted, everybody was hanging on every single moment of the music that was being played”. Bicknell¬†is still actively present in today’s scene. He is also known as one of the members of the formation LSD – Luke Slater, David S. aka Function¬†and himself. They have been performing in the Netherlands at last year’s Reaktor Events during ADE. In 2018, they were performing at¬†Dekmantel festival¬†in Amsterdam and at Draaimolen festival in Tilburg which is a big deal considering the fact that LSD for a long time was a¬†“Berghain-exclusive act”.]

    S. Crosbie: “There was definitely something unique about the Detroit artists approach to futuristic music, though I never underestimate the importance of the UK artists either. For me some of the most enduring music of that period was coming from artists like Stasis and labels like Ifach. I’m not really sure if the word ‘underground’ is the correct term but at that time, even though the scene was huge, you felt as part of something that was taking place away from the spotlight. It didn’t need (nor crave) attention to justify its existence, and Lost was the perfect example of that. The opening of¬† The End was pivotal – I think that was very important for clubbing in general.”

    TheEndoftheEnd2009

    THE ENTRANCE OF ‘THE END’ IN LONDON

    [GF:¬†‘The End’¬†was a¬†nightclub¬†in the¬†West End¬†of¬†London, UK. Started in December 1995 by DJs¬†Layo Paskin¬†and¬†Mr C, it was also responsible for the label End Recordings. Musical genres played there included¬†techno¬†and¬†house,¬†drum and bass, breakbeat and¬†dubstep. Throughout its nearly 14 year history, it was regarded as one of London’s most popular mid-sized venues for electronic music of all kinds.]

    S. Crosbie: “Again, just quality music, whatever night you went to, and yet such attention to detail in terms of the venue, sound etc. That dance floor is undoubtedly the one I’ve spent most time on – I went the weekend after it opened and was still going when it closed. I admire the risks they took with programming. I was getting into drum and bass around this time, too, as there were definitely links between the deeper end of d’n’b and Detroit. I remember a Promised Land night at The End and being blown away: a) by the depth of the music on show and b) by the atmosphere (it was so friendly at a time when d’n’b had a reputation for moodiness). I always felt you could trust The End to be presenting the quality end of any scene. Fabric opening was also important for the scene¬† – underground sensibilities but in a beautifully designed space.”

    GF: Did you get to visit some clubs outside the UK, too?

    S. Crosbie: “I went to Berlin’s Tresor for new year’s eve 2000 – 2001 – the atmosphere in the Globus room that night was something very special. It actually felt much more like a party than I expected. The Tresor room was, of course, so intense but the venue as a whole felt very open and welcoming. There’s definitely a thread running through these nights – Lost, Tresor etc – it feels very inclusive, you feel part of something but they make no compromises on the music which, let‚Äôs be honest, is the beating heart of the scene.

    GF: Any memorable festival visits?

    S. Crosbie: “Yes, ‘Tribal Gathering’ 1997. I have to mention this – anybody that was there will know why. An entire tent dedicated to Detroit artists. And Kraftwerk in another tent. The whole thing was a blur – a lost weekend – but I genuinely get goosebumps thinking back – took me a long time to recover!”

    Tribal gathering 1997 poster

    LINE-UP OF THE TRIBAL GATHERING FESTIVAL¬†’97

    GF: So after attending all these nights and parties, how did you get started with DJing?

    S. Crosbie:¬†“Around 1996 I bought a pair of Technics 1200s – and I’ve still got them today. After that, record buying becomes a sort of compulsion. You start to view money in terms of how many 12 inches you can buy with it. But again the timing was vital.¬† London was packed with amazing record shops, tucked away in back alleys.”

    11082308_871166672942415_1672106194763103349_o

    RECORD SHOPS OF SOHO 1946-1996

    S. Crosbie: “I always tried to take a few risks when buying – picking something up without listening to it. Maybe buying just from the description on the shop’s label or something. It’s funny how specific moments stick in your mind. I remember buying my first Robert Hood solo record in Soho’s Tag. It was ‘Apartment Zero’ – I can genuinely remember seeing it on the racks and taking a chance on it blind. Got it home and to this day it is one of my favourite records. I have to mention Glasgow also – I’m Scottish and my parents still live there so whenever I was visiting I would go record shopping¬†to¬†Rubadub¬†or to¬†Rat Records. It was these trips, in particular, that got me hooked on electro. I remember buying on labels like ‘Interdimensional Transmissions’¬†(TA:¬†Detroit based electro label run by¬†Ectomorph.)¬†and picking up Drexciya 12″s. That was next level stuff for me – in fact it still is.”

    S. Crosbie:¬†“I had played at a few house parties, but a friend I knew from work who was putting on a mid-week drum ‘n’ bass night asked if I wanted to play in a bar. Unbelievably this bar turned out to be the Blue Note in Hoxton. So yeah – crazily my first proper gig was in one of London’s most iconic venues. It was packed and I was so nervous but it went down a treat and I was asked by one of the guest DJs to come and play at his night. It kind of snowballed from there but the sound I was playing at these nights wasn’t my real love. I was supporting artists like Faze Action and playing jazzy beats, deep drum n bass etc. I love the buzz of DJing but my real passion was always techno / electro. After a while I realised that I wanted to focus on something that felt a bit more honest. So myself and two mates started our own night – Shady Brain Farm. There was still a wide musical range played across the night but at last I felt I could play what I wanted and take a few risks. It ran at various small venues for a couple of years and we had some great nights but eventually after a fall-out with the owner of the last venue, we wound it up.

    I still love DJing and I’ve been involved with several nights since then (at spaces such as London’s Corsica Studios), but for a few years now I’ve definitely focused more on the production side of things. But DJing is another great way of expressing yourself and I have re-discovered the passion for it recently.”

    GF: I guess this is time to ask how you started producing and what led you to establish your label…

    S. Crosbie:¬†“I got a second hand computer from one of the guys I eventually ran the night with and he had put a couple of basic programmes on there – Acid Pro and Soundforge – so I started messing around with loops etc. I loved it and started to obsess about it. It immediately changed how I listened to music, starting to try and work out how things had been put together. I guess if I think back, I’ve probably been doing it for around 15 years or so. It’s a strange one for me – I have a daily battle with self-confidence. I think it stems from questioning what my role is – I don’t really consider myself a musician, don’t know a great deal about the technical sound engineering side of things.

    When I’m producing I’m just looking for something that provokes a gut feeling. And often that is achieved (to these ears anyway) with a relatively small number of components. Hence my material often being referred to as stripped back. I’m endlessly fascinated by how some producers can get so much swing out of so few elements. I tend to find the groove I‚Äôm looking for and then remove different elements to make sure it all still works. At times, by doing this I find that the idea is stronger with a reduced number of elements.”

    “Life is just so busy with work, my amazing family – these are all extremely important to me, so finding the time to get into the studio can be tough. And of course there are some studio sessions where you can create something strong very quickly, and others where you toil away for hours and end up with nothing of value. But I’ve learnt something recently – if an idea is good enough, whenever you go back to it, it will still sound good. My battle is learning to trust my instincts. The last EP took a year to get finished. I can be quite scattergun in the studio with ideas flying around all over the place. With releases on DA¬† there’s not really a pattern –¬† I just know when I’ve got there and am happy with the tracks. I always try and put out an EP that, even if it contains disparate styles, stands up as a cohesive whole. That’s always felt important to me.

    In 2005, myself (under the dubious name ‘marbles’) and a very good friend, Spencer (under the marginally less dubious name ‘shockt’) put out a 12″.

    It didn’t set the world alight but Spencer’s tracks in particular did get some support from people like Swayzak. After that I was still producing in the studio but was lacking vision – enjoying learning about it but not really with any focus. Then my wife, daughter and I moved from London to Brighton and I set up a much better studio space and more cohesive ideas started to take shape.

    In 2012 I decided to take the plunge and launched Dark Arts. One story sticks in my mind. I had used up all my savings to press up DA01 myself. So when it arrived I took a few copies down to my favourite London record store to see if they would stock it. “You’re in luck – the buyer is here at the moment” said the bloke behind the counter. So I stood at the counter whilst I heard them flick through the tracks in a back room… only to come back out: “Sorry mate – not really for us”. I was gutted. I thought I’d wasted my time and money and the self-doubt kicked in. It took me quite a while to build up the confidence to let anybody else hear it – but I got in touch with Diamonds & Pearls in Berlin to see if they would possibly take on the distribution as they looked after some of my favourite labels at the time. They turned everything around for me and I can never thank them enough. They took a chance on me, took on the record, it was stocked across the world and within weeks it had sold out (even in the London record shop that had initially rejected it). Some very strange things started happening – I got an email from a guy called Zak saying he’d ordered his copy but it wasn’t going to arrive on time for a gig and he was desperate for it so could I send him the wavs. He was so genuine and polite that I sent him the files – ‘Zak’ turned out to be DVS1! Tracks started being charted and turning up on mixes / radio etc.”

    “So of course this gave me the confidence to persevere and DA02 and DA03 continued to do really well. People like Answer Code Request, nd_baumecker, Dario Zenker, Stenny, Roger 23¬† and Resom were supporting the label. And as someone who loved The End so much, it felt very special when Mr C put a track from DA02 in one of his Superfreq mixes.

    I never thought that I’d be here over six years later, having just released DA09. I think if you listen to all the Dark Arts back catalogue, it’s quite varied but there is a link running through everything – maybe there’s a little bit of myself in there holding it all together. It is such a labour of love, there’s no money to be made in production but that’s just never been the point.”

    GF: It is always an interesting question for me: what are your sources of inspiration – which artists do you follow, either from a DJ’s or a producer’s perspective?

    S. Crosbie:¬†“I tend to be inspired by people’s attitudes towards their craft, be it DJing or production. People who have a clear vision – it’s that singular idea running through everything. I have so much respect for so many producers that I don‚Äôt really like mentioning specific names (and of course it can change from day to day) but at the moment, people like Terrence Dixon, Marcellus Pittmann, Jamal Moss, Shake are up there – they are proper artists with a totally unique sound. They‚Äôre not trying to fit into any scene.

    I watched a recent interview with Shed which I‚Äėve re-watched several times ‘cos I just love his attitude – he just makes music he likes, doesn’t compromise and trusts his own instincts.

    But it‚Äôs not just big names I take inspiration from – some of the most inspiring DJs and producers are the lesser known ones. At a recent Night Moves event in London, the Until My Heart Stops crew of Duckett, Leif and Joe Ellis played. I reckon it was the best night of music I’ve heard in several years ‚Äď within a house and techno framework but doing something very different rhythmically. It seemed so fresh. And I can’t mention Night Moves without talking about residents Jane Fitz and Jade Seatle. They have been so supportive of me. Jane got in touch about the label on Soundcloud and we met up for a few beers. I went along to Night Moves and immediately felt part of something very special. Then they invited me to play their Field Moves tent at Field Maneuvers festival last year.”

    fm-003

    FIELD MANEUVERS FESTIVAL @ PHOTO CREDITS: Resident Advisor

    “It was one of the best DJing experiences I’ve ever had – everyone was so open-minded. And the music in their tent was next level all weekend – mostly played by DJs you’ve probably never heard of – just so inspiring. But what sums up people like Jane and Jade for me is also what sums up the best parts of the scene in general – they are totally ego-free and they do things for the right reasons. They made me feel totally accepted. Oh and they are absolutely flawless DJs.

    I really admire labels that are brave and just put out what they believe in. I guess people who have a purity in their vision, and the confidence to follow that path – be it producing, running labels or putting on nights – that’s what I admire and take inspiration from.”

    GF: … and here we jump in time and I will sum up the things that were about the happen in 2017… In August 2017 you got to play in Brighton (with local legend)¬†Donga and Forest Drive West¬†at one of the awesome Well Rounded parties.¬†Then your¬† split EP¬†with Frazer Campbell came out in September 2017 which got some great feedback and support.

    S. Crosbie:¬†“Through a shared appreciation of our productions, I hooked up with Frazer Campbell (Open / Mosaic) and he asked me to send him some material for his own label – Elliot Project. Frazer is such a good guy, supremely talented and just goes to show that one of the greatest parts of our scene is being able to meet up with likeminded souls.”

    “I’ve also been lucky enough to release some material on other labels – the Venice based¬†Where We Met¬†label is quite rightly building an excellent reputation with music from the likes of Mihail P, Reedale Rise (aka¬†Fernando The Lobster¬†– another alias of the artist,¬†Simon Keat), Derek Carr and some excellent new talent, so I was blown away to be asked to contribute. And also keep an eye out for the London-based EYA Records who have released 3 excellent records in 2018.¬† I’m delighted to be working on certain projects with other labels.”

    [GF: Mihail Petrovski¬†aka Mihail P is hailing from Vinica, Macedonia. An artist with passion for the deeper sides of techno & house. Simone Keat aka Reedale Rise’s biography on Resident Advisor writes: “His teenage years were spent listening obsessively to techno and drum and bass mixes taped from the radio, with the likes of LTJ Bukem and Jeff Mills being pivotal influences in terms of his current sound design and musical moods. Liverpool’s Bugged Out! parties led him deeper into the world of house and techno, with¬†Carl Craig and some others becoming ongoing influences and inspirations. Reedale Rise’s debut vinyl release was a deep techno cut on Edinburgh based label Common Dreams which was followed up on the Rotterdam based label¬†Frustrated Funk.”]

    [GF: Derek Carr’s biography on Discogs reveals that Derek perhaps might not be the most-known figure in the scene, yet he has been producing and releasing Detroit-tinged electronic music for almost two decades. Derek got an early taste for finely crafted melodic techno through compilations like f.e. Warp Records‚Äô¬†‚ÄėPioneers of the Hypnotic Groove‚Äô. According to Discogs, once recognising the home made ‚Äėpunk‚Äô ethos of early ‚ÄėBleep techno‚Äô, he began to pick up second hand instruments including a cheetah sampler and boss drum machine and he started working on his own sound – influenced by techno pioneers like B12, the Black Dog, As One¬†(aka Kirk Degiorgio), the duo of Nexus 21 and Rhythmatic¬†just to name a few. In 2001 Derek launched his own label ‚ÄėTrident Recordings‚Äô and released the ‚ÄėCopper Beech EP‚Äô which has since become more of a collector‚Äôs item.]

    GF: What are your plans for the rest of 2018 and 2019?

    S. Crosbie: “I want to keep developing the label. I‚Äôm always toying with the idea of a side project / sub label to put out some of the more off-beat material I‚Äôm working on and I think 2019 will be the year that happens. I’ve also got a couple of releases for other labels lined up, which I’m really excited about. And I’d love to say that DA10 will hit the tracks but I can’t make any promises. I just want to keep meeting new people – there’s always something to learn about our scene.”

    All images used in this article are courtesy of the artist and the promoters / owners of the mentioned clubs, festivals & events.