We were lucky enough to meet and chat with the first man of Techno, Juan Atkins ahead of tonight’s Detroit Series launch at Netil House! The interview took place at Submerge Detroit and Juan speaks of the origins of electronic dance music and the UK’s impact on this, vinyl vs MP3′s and what you can expect at tonight’s show.
‘The public really wasn’t ready for it until about ’85 or ’86. It just so happened that Detroit was there when people really got into it…’
These are the reflective meditations of Juan Atkins – also referred to as The Originator. All modesty aside, even in this closing speculation, he seemingly captures the provenance of a sound that would consequently devour dance for decades to come. With the accompaniment of two equally significant producers, Kevin Saunderson (aka The Elevator) and Derrick May (aka The Innovator), Atkins et al ignited from electronica’s embers a genre of such profound importance to the history of music, it would define a generation. Separately, and under their group alias, The Belleville Three, the trio were conjuring the future. Techno may have been founded on the airwaves of Detroit, but has since become an international, bilingual harbinger for innovation, elevation and, of course, the true origin of modern club culture.
Ironically, while Detroit is credited by the three as the source of techno, the group grew up together on the outskirts of Detroit’s Metro area. In the rural town of Belleville, some 30 miles from Detroit, the trio observed their inner-city scene from afar. Their influences leaked from the hub of a budding urban landscape as their ears fell to the accessibility of local radio. The high school friends would regularly tune in to WGPR to hear DJ Charles Johnson’s crucial show ‘The Electrifying Mojo‘. It was here they heard the synthesizer for the first time (Atkins described the sound as like a ‘UFO landing’). In their own Suburbia they listened to their sonic ancestors from the likes of Parliament, Kraftwerk, Mojo, Bootsy and Yellow Magic Orchestra. Derrick May regarded their early years listening to music as not just for sheer entertainment but as ‘a serious philosophy’.
Following Detroit’s economic downturn and the departure of the city’s aggrandised Mowtown label in the late 80s, the club scene became increasingly integrated. Perfect timing for The Belleville Three to discharge their tirade of success, which they did with veracious prolificacy. Individually, Atkins, May and Saunderson were churning out seminal classics by the BPM. Atkins, performing under one of his many titles, Channel One, released Technicolour – a harsh blitzkrieg of snares and blips fighting over strident synth lines. The tune assisted in permitting underground techno to see the light of mainstream prosperity. Saunderson’s Inner City project was a commercial sandstorm of club-centric records – Good Life being one of the most definitive dance tracks ever conceived. May as Rhythm is Rhythm kick-started Detroit Techno’s endeavour to reach ‘archetypal’ status. Nude Photo championed the clubs from ’87 onwards, combining Chicago’s psyche-disco with his hometown’s trademark tech. Yet, it was together as the unrestrained amalgam, The Belleville Three, that their solo efforts were truly acknowledged as visionary.
Now, with over twenty years of techno’s unlimited sub-genres blossoming from one radio station to the next, Dollop have accumulated The Belleville Three again for a succession of weekends (spanning over the next month) to celebrate the inception of Detroit Techno and all of its universal influences. The group are set to play at an unannounced East London warehouse between Friday 29 June, Friday 13 July and Friday 27 July. The Originator will be first up, next Friday, and will be joined by analogue powerhouse, Simian Mobile Disco, acid-house bigwig, Dave Congreve and other tech hungry acts. Friday 13 will see The Elevator headline with a solid backup from Boddika and the highly praised Factory Floor. Finally, Friday 27 will witness the closing chapter with The Innovator singing off after a deep serving of electronic noise from Optimo cofounder JD Twitch and house duo Waifs & Strays.
Back at the start of June we celebrated the 8th Birthday of dollop Nottingham with a sold out party at Stealth & The Rescue Rooms featuring Julio Bashmore, Jackmaster, Huxley, Oneman, Amirali, Dusky, Charlie Banks, ASBO and lots more.
Here is the video of the night, produced by Michael Holyk and featuring Julio Bashmore’s track ‘Au Seve’ (forthcoming on his new label Broadwalk Records).
dollop Nottingham returns in October, and to be in with a chance of winning tickets to all of our upcoming events check out the post below:
Also those you you in London over the summer months make sure you check out THE DETROIT SERIES.
‘Funk,’ to me, isn’t a genre. Being told a piece of music has a ‘funk’ aspect to it, doesn’t tell you a single thing about the type of music in question or any of its technical attributes, only the style. In DāM-FunK‘s words, ‘funk.. is a way of life.’
To have worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Etta James, Moodymann, Hudson Mohawke, Snoop Dogg and Flying Lotus, you cannot possibly be tied down by the restraints of genre. ‘Modern funk’ is Damon Riddick’s style, and it’s in this mould of soulful, cultured music that he has, so consistently, produced and performed for over two decades.
With four LPs and slew of singles on the legendary Stones Throw Records, amongst others, DāM-FunK is one of the few active artists with a legitimate claim to have shaped dance music globally. His productions blend characteristics common to hip-hop, soul and jazz with those of house and techno; creating a sound completely detached from any of these individual influences. It is for this reason that his work is labelled ‘funk,’ a tag that refers as much to the feeling created in a listener as it does to the original idea of its producer.
His live show is as impressive as his discography. Combining his own vocals and keyboard skills with tracks selected from a rich background in dance music; he delivers a show unique to ‘funk’ culture. One which has rocked events such as Texas’ SXSW and Benji B’s Deviation alike.
As well as the headliner, is Kwes. A London-based artist quickly picking up recognition in a range of circles. Already signed to Warp, associated with XL and Young Turks, and artists like Ghostpoet and The XX, Kwes has as much in promise as DāM-FunK has in experience.
His’ recent ‘Bashful’ EP, as well as previous mixtapes and solo work, have placed him among an exciting wave of young vocalists and songwriters. A tone somewhere in between rap and spoken-word lends an undeniable elegance to Kwes’ lyrics and performance. This night will balance two very different artists, but two with perfectly compatible styles.
On June 13, at East London club Xoyo, Dollop will proudly present the master of boogie, DāM-FunK, alongside Kwes, and the Dollop DJs. This is definitely not one to miss out on. Tickets from Resident Advisor.