Kevin Saunderson. Carl Craig. Matthew Dear. Moodymann. These are just some of the artists who have carved the musical landscapes of Detroit, past and present. Constantly innovating their sound and pushing the boundaries of expectations are just a few things these artists have in common, but more importantly, they’re all inextricably linked with the city of Detroit.
While its undeniable that the city itself influenced these musicians during the nascent stages of their careers, it’s also clear that without the hard work they and other like minded artists have put in over the last 25+ years Detroit wouldn’t be the beneficiary of a large scale electronic music festival that’s now known the world over as Movement.
But there’s much more to the musical story that’s constantly being told in Wayne County and it’s one that thrives even in the 362 days after the festival stages have been taken down. In Pulse Radio’s "Spotlight on Detroit" series we've handpicked some amazing talent from this fair city. Whether their name is already written in the books of history or their careers are being forged as we speak, everyone within the series has their own perspective on how the city has shaped them as artists and who they are as people. Find out from these guys who are in the know, about the hidden gems of Detroit. Also, they each select a few of their favorite places to take friends from out of town, hang out, and grab a bite to eat in the D.
Ted Krisko and Eric Hanna comprise Ataxia. Both of whom were born and raised in the city of Detroit. They have played across the city at various venues and parties, in addition to Movement Festival in previous years. The hard work and dedication to music has come to fruition in their recent signing with Culprit Records in LA. This year at Movement, they will be rocking the Made In Detroit Stage at 2:00pm on Saturday. We sit down with Ted Krisko as he tells us about the growing deep house scene in Detroit and a whole list of great places to eat.
How would you characterize your musical upbringing? What about this do you think led to where you find yourself these days? Ultimately, I grew up as a punk rocker. That was what really defined my upbringing. However, I was heavily exposed to bands like The Beatles & The Kinks, Motown, and Folk/Americana through my Mom & Dad’s vinyl LP collection. It was also my parents tape drawer that got me exposed to Punk and New Wave music, via my favorite grab “Never Mind The Bollocks…Here’s The Sex Pistols” cassette and various tapes by Talking Heads.
My mom really liked Lords of Acid when I was young, and my Aunt got me into NIN at a ripe age of 10…that kind of paved the way for my passion for electronic music. By age 15 I was collecting dance music vinyl that was handed down from friends during the late 90’s rave era in Detroit. It was never with the intention of “being a DJ”, I just had vinyl around.
Also, my parents were fond of dub, and reggae, so I had access to some cool stuff like Jimmy Cliff, Lee Perry, Desmond Dekker, and of Bob Marley of course. Stemming from that influence, I was and still am a huge 1st wave and 2 tone ska fan. I truly feel a lot of the dubby house that we play has many elements that reflect that era of music with heavy reverberated sounds, emphasis on the “and” (off beat), and simple delays on vocals.
Who did you look up to either within music or in another area of life while you were growing up, that still have an impact on you today? Richie Hawtin. I’ve been seeing him continue to revamp and elevate his personal technology platform to perform dance music through an ever evolving process over half of my life, since first discovering him and his parties at age 15. I’ve probably seen him play nearly 100 times, and I continue to make it a priority to be in attendance for his performances.
As an artist hailing from the undisputed birthplace of techno, do you feel this limits your ability to explore work in other genres? There is certainly a militant, iconoclastic mentality that exists in our city about keeping things within certain boundaries. Eric and I really don’t subscribe to that train of thought anymore, but we’ve been there too! I remember what it was like feeling like “Detroit is the home of TECHNO, so that’s what it’s ALL about”…
There is something to be said for waving the flag for the blood sweat and tears of our forefathers. We could continue in their tradition to write and play the kind of music that is derivative of the original “Detroit Techno” sound, but ultimately, that will limit the musical experience for ourselves, and our audiences. The idea behind “techno” is that it’s technology music, which should encourage all of us to embrace whatever mediums are available and any forms of expression we can use convey electronic music ideas.
Our love of music stretches far beyond the broad reaches of purely electronic dance music. We love metal, hip hop, funk, rap, soul, jazz, classical…there is no way to pigeon hole ourselves by saying we are techno…techno is a lifestyle in addition to just a specific sound. You can be “techno” without having to be TECHNO.
Tell us something about the D our readers might not already know. Despite the global perception of Detroit being engulfed in the techno sounds it will always be famous for, there is really a wonderful house music scene here. While techno pioneers like the Belleville 3, Underground Resistance, and Hawtin receive much of the public accolades for their efforts in paving the way, artists like Kenny Dixon Jr. (Moodyman), Rick Wilhite, Earl Mixxin McKinney, Bruce Bailey & Dave Shettler are all playing and making beautiful inspirational house music and the parties they play at are a totally different world than the dark spooky warehouse vibe or afterhours experience most would anticipate in our city.
Being from Detroit also brings on a sense of pride, which has sprouted sayings like “Detroit hustles harder” and so on. What does being from this city evoke from you personally? The biggest take away is that there is no one here that will do anything for you. There is no golden ticket or lucky break. Everything is a result of endless hard work and the results speak for themselves. It’s a very organic, DIY culture. People are known for their self-made everything here.
What are some of your favorite memories of Movement/DEMF in years past? Let’s get the obvious out of the way, playing at Movement Festival in 2011 was the biggest thrill as a Detroit musician that I was able to enjoy. Past musical highlights aside from being a performer would be Richie Hawtin (2000, 2007, 2010), Binary Star (2001), Derrick May (2001) Guti (2011), Voorn/Fanciulli (2012), Marco Carola (2007 & 2009).
Another highlight to give credit to was Chuck Flask (Movement’s booker) asking us to play the Movement 2012 Official Closing Party w/ Marco Carola upstairs at Elysium, with Ataxia in the lower level of the club with Soul Clap and Bill Patrick b2b. The party was rammed, and the spirit of raving was totally alive.
The club turned the house lights on at 4am upstairs as if they were ready to close, and of course, Marco played till nearly 8am, with the house lights on the entire time! After the party, we walked into the street, and Mikey Tello started a dance party in the streets in the rain. This was an extremely proper close to the weekend.
What's your favorite place to:
A: Show out of towners Belle Isle
B: Check out local artists (of any genre or art medium) TV Lounge, Red Bull House of Art, The Bankle
C: Get some good grub Please eat at Slows BBQ, Mudgies Deli, Greendot Stables, CK Grill, Supino Pizzeria, Sala Thai, Shangri La, Lafayette Coney Island and Seva.
If you could do one thing to enhance the state of Detroit’s electronic scene, what would it be? Throw more underground parties.