Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Detroit: Myth Hating, Myth Creating [Part I of III]

Today the SSGs crew and one respected guest are beginning a 'conversation' (of sorts) about Detroit: the techno, the myth, the love, the hate. The immediate beginning of this back and forth began in the wake of this year's DEMF, but Chris and I have been flinging around all kinds of ideas and sentiments for a while now. What we did was this: both of us decided we'd write a piece explaining the position and function of myth in Detroit, and how it's affected people's perception of place, music and innovator. Chris then went off and wrote his, and sent it to me as a word document. Then, without reading Chris' piece, I sat down and wrote my version (the first reason for my bracketing of the word conversation), partly so I we could get my thoughts out and down, and partly as a pseudo-scientific experiment... and, indeed, the results were surprising, as you'll see.
Having done that, we then sent both our docs to Thomas 'Pipecock' Cox, who read and responded. Here's where you come in... there's a lot of text to get through here, which is why we've split the post up into three. What follows today is Chris' post. Tomorrow I will post my (Pete's) response. And the day after, Thomas' response to both of us. As we feel these are kind of the three necessary pieces of the puzzle, we'd prefer if you commented once all three are up. I for one won't be engaging in the comments section until that time. Anyway, 'no more words' - on with the show!

Chris's piece (Part I of III)

I have long been deeply ambivalent about Detroit techno and the myth that surrounds it. Like presumably most people reading this, I was strongly influenced by Detroit sounds, but at the same stage, this was generally towards the harder side of things. Jeff Mills was my man in Motown. I quickly gravitated towards the sounds emerging from Berlin (Tresor), Birmingham (Downwards) and New York (Synewave). Detroit undoubtedly had its place, but it was not as determinative or central as these other sounds. Over the years, I have found myself feeling increasingly frustrated, if not negative, towards Detroit and the never-ending claims that this is where techno was invented. For me, this statement has always sounded incredibly facile and ridiculous, and if anything, the constant chest beating and myth repeating was to cover up for the fact that Detroit simply isn’t the same creative force or centre that it used to be.

Over the last few months a number of things have forced me to question these increasingly entrenched prejudices of mine. First, fellow ssg Pete strongly encouraged me to go back to Juan. And for the first time in ages, I did. And Juan is indeed the man. He may now be a shadow of his former self, but that former self did some pretty amazing stuff. Second, I got hold of Subculture’s fantastic mix CD, which has some serious Detroit cuts (including Mayday’s insanely good ‘Wiggin’). While listening to these classics it really hit me that I had got so caught up in hating the Detroit myth, I had started to forget how good the original music that started the myth actually was. So basically, this made me start to think more about this myth of origin and how it functions.

When people tell me that Detroit ‘invented’ techno, the question I ask myself (as a pseudo-social scientist) is: ‘Would there be techno today if there was no Detroit?’ My answer is most definitely: ‘Yes’. There were clearly enough influences, ideas and sounds coming out of Germany, the UK, other parts of Europe, Japan and even Australia (thank you Severed Heads) for something like what we now call ‘techno’ to emerge. Would it have developed in the same manner and shape as it actually did? Of course not. Clearly Detroit played an incredibly strong and influential role in how the music emerged and changed over the last couple of decades. But this is not the same thing as Detroit ‘inventing’ techno. No one – not Juan, or the Belleville 3 or whoever – and no place – not Detroit, Berlin or wherever – could ‘invent’ techno. It is too diverse and multifaceted a phenomenon.

So the question is: why the myth? Why must people keep on shouting and shouting ‘put your hands up for Detroit?’. Well, I can understand why people in Detroit may need the legacy. With no disrespect to the city or to the sound, Detroit ain’t what it used to be. Detroit simply isn’t the same creative force that it was in the 80s and 90s. The centre of gravity has shifted. So in this sense perhaps the myth operates to make sure Detroit stays central and stays relevant. But I am not sure that even this explains it. Because those that hold onto and propagate the Detroit myth most strongly tend not to be those from Detroit, but are – for lack of a better term – outsiders: people from all parts of the world who build Detroit up as the epicentre, the only place where soul and feel in techno is possible. And it is this part of the myth that I really don’t understand.

I am now firmly of the feeling, based partly on my own experience, that the Detroit myth of origin actually detracts from, and ultimately is a great disservice to, the music that has come from Detroit. If you go back to much of the early stuff, Juan Atkins and Jeff Mills especially, what you see is an almost obsession with the future, with looking beyond, with pushing and expanding boundaries. The Detroit myth, however, is completely antithetical to this kind of thinking, as it is totally backward looking and regressive. It creates a past that never existed and wants the future to replicate and revisit this nonexistent past.

Where does this leave us? I think what we need is a break from the myth making and myth hating; moving beyond the polemics and trying to appreciate Detroit in perspective. As Pete recently observed elsewhere (and I really think he is on point here) is that so much of the discussion in techno is binary. The Detroit myth is the perfect example of that. If you don’t worship Detroit as the origin of our music, you are a techno infidel! (Ok, well that is a bit extreme.). And I think trying to move beyond this myth would also be good for Detroit. Why keep highfiving Derrick May, who hasn’t done anything for 20 years, when you’ve got guys like Omar S and Luke Hess making amazing music right now?

34 comments:

  1. I am a first time commentor on this site and i would like to say that i have JUST discovered mnml ssgs(wich i find absolutely interesting and informative...kudos guys!) and am not all that into blogging...i dont use myspace and i see no use for it unless you are an artist in which it does actually come in handy...i am an electronic musician and i still am apprehensive to using it. Sorry for going off on a tangent. This subject on the myth of Detroit has inspired me to give my two cents. I personally have at one point held up the Detroit myth but at the same time i never used the phrase "Birth Place of Techno" while holding up said myth. I do believe,however, that Detroit Techno is in itself a single form of electronic music. By that i mean (and i hate to pigeon-hole) it isnt Minimal in general and it isnt House in general and it isnt Techno...in general. Its Detroit Techno. It is its own form which has been copied and posed on by numerous other people which is why i think Detroit musicians feel so militant about it being a birth place. I do agree that it is not the end all place in which Techno was created but im sure you could all agree that there is no other form of Techno like "Detroit Techno".

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  2. you are a muppet

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  3. the poster by the way, not jon (above)

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  4. @ john: agreed, detroit is no doubt a distinctive form of techno, i certainly wouldn't deny that.

    and to mr/ms anonymous, would you like to enlighten me a bit as to why exactly i am a muppet? the point of this series of posts on detroit is to think about and challenge the way detroit is understood, so if you dont agree, at least say why...

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  5. I really envy the history you guys have with this music, Detroit myth or no. I'm a pretty young gal who only came across most of this stuff by the sheer accident of working at a great radio station and taking a magical trip to Berlin, but I'm constantly aching for the library of knowledge that is expressed in the knowledge of ppl like you. I'm excited for this little series because I feel like I still have a lot to learn.

    So, uh, thanks. (And don't worry, PC, I'll comment again post-third-post)

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  6. sarah, nothing to feel that jealous about - it means we are all much older than you...

    the beauty of the net is it is possible to go back, explore, learn, re-learn and so on. i only really discovered italo disco a few years ago, and that was completely through CBS and those magic IF mixed up in the hague recordings. still plenty to learn and discover.

    saying that, i also feel a sense of loss - that perhaps there was a certain creativity/energy and fresh-ness existing in detroit, berlin and elsewhere in the 80s and much of the 90s which has largely disappeared and can never quite be replicated. but i don't know whether that is me just painting a false image of what it really was like back then...

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  7. i would like to add that once the gang mentality is attached to a "scene" it perpetuates the attitude that a lot of older Detroit musicians carry on to the younger musicians...Detroit historically has been looked upon (not musically) as a sort of crime zone or a "high crime-rate area" and since that sort of census exists its easy for natives to "slip on a uniform and slip on an attitude" so to speak. It wasnt easy in terms of musicality to succeed they say...but what about Motown and all the great acts that came WAAAAYYY before(in Detroit) Techno? They may have worked hard but they succeeded and there aint nothin' wrong with working hard to get where you want to be...it generally makes you a well rounded and humble person. Its unfair to bring that sort of attitude and marry it to the music...but i suppose the whole stigma with Detroit Techno wouldnt be what it is if that weren't the case.

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  8. Chris, i hope im not regurgitating what you said in the post. id like to think im providing at least a little insight to the problem as it were.

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  9. you're a muppet - because of the shit you say
    is that simple enough for you to understand? in fact you're such a muppet i don't even feel like explaining myself as you're so far from reality (or sense, whichever it may be) you would not understand (as shown in your original "post")

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  10. Anonymous needs this t-shirt – it's got his mum and dad on it:

    http://www.yesdiggity.com/products/original-haters-tee

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  11. dude if you want to find out what detroit is all about, get your hands on this mix.

    http://www.discogs.com/release/265118

    if you haven't already...

    listen in good health,
    m.

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  12. oh regarding the post above, the mix is in two parts, concentrate in particular, the Dave Clarke Mix.

    m.

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  13. But Anon, Dave Clarke isnt even from Detroit, surely suggesting a Detroit DJ or Producer would be of worth...

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  14. but what dave played in the mix is detroit all day long. and that's is what I'm refering to.

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  15. Same goes for this mix:

    http://www.residentadvisor.net/news.aspx?id=9217

    Chris mentioned this one in his post: a great Detroit mix by a Scot (or so I presume).

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  16. a comment i have about Derrick May: in my opinion, he never has to release another record ever again for the rest of his life. juan brought the electro influence into techno, kevin had alot of disco/garage from his time in NYC, while derrick showed a more soul and jazz influenced approach. each was absolutely required for techno to be what it is, and any could have rested on their laurels after that. but what derrick has done for the past 20 years is to be one of the best and most prototypical techno deejays on the planet. and that is in addition to the artists he signed to Transmat and Fragile. to act as if these were not important to the further development of techno over that time period is silly. he is just as important today as Carl Craig is.

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  17. in regards to derrick may, i think one big difference between my musical progression compared with what you and pete both outlined is that derrick may never really figured much for me. by the time i saw may dj, and heard a much fuller selection of his catalogue, i was already fully converted to techno.

    fair point about the role may has played as a prototype and with his label, but i still feel the focus needs to be more on the future than the past. but this is a personal bias, and one i presume you'll disagree with.

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  18. You position is all over the map. Detroit is the birth place of techno. In the 80's. From Kevin, Juan, Derrick, Carl. All the scenes/labels/artists you mention (Germany, NY, Jeff Mills) are from the second and third waves. They were all heavily influenced by the first wave. And dude, wtf, NOTHING NOTHING AT ALL sounded like Detroit in the mid 80's. Without Detroit injecting soul into the machine, non of those scenes would have existed.

    As to whether Detroit is still relevant and continues to function at the "center" of it all, I would say no, things have spread out a bit. UR stuff seems very stale, Carl is milking a decade old formula, Derrick has done nothing in years, etc, etc..

    But there are some new artists doing good work. Reggie Dokes, Omar-S, Kevin Reynolds and their records all have that distinct Detroit sound that I can recognize a mile away and one that I know will stand the test of time (unlike my Synwave records and 75% of German and European "techno").

    The question should not be about the whether Detroit is the birthplace of techno (it is and you have not offered up any evidence to the contrary) but whether the old guard is still relevant with the original sound having evolved so much.

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  19. "in regards to derrick may, i think one big difference between my musical progression compared with what you and pete both outlined is that derrick may never really figured much for me. by the time i saw may dj, and heard a much fuller selection of his catalogue, i was already fully converted to techno."

    i think that personal progression is important for each individual, but it is not defining for any given "scene" around a genre.

    "fair point about the role may has played as a prototype and with his label, but i still feel the focus needs to be more on the future than the past. but this is a personal bias, and one i presume you'll disagree with."

    there is no future without a past.

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  20. "their records all have that distinct Detroit sound that I can recognize a mile away"

    ...bullshit alert!

    You know they're Detroit records before the fact, dude. How is it different to Newworldaquarium's 'Dead Bears', for example?

    It seems *very* important to Detroit believers that records come from Detroit... why? This is something quite peculiar to Detroit techno.

    @ Sasha K:

    "Without Detroit injecting soul into the machine, non of those scenes would have existed."

    How, precisely, is 'soul' injected into a machine... by a city, at that? Or is this something only an innovator from Detroit can understand...?

    ...and can you honestly say that *none* of the other scenes would have emerged without the moment of injection? What evidence is there, beyond rumours of a postcode-sized syringe...?

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  21. why is it so hard for some people to accept that people might be influenced by the environments, the cities, the circumstances, the histories which define the place they inhabit?

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  22. ok, being from detroit i have a few things to say about this little sindig you've got going on here...

    1st i would like to say that detroit isn't as relevent as it once was as far as techno (or anything else for that matter)is concerned however, as stated above it does still have SOME relivence with the likes of carl craig (who by the way IS NOT by any means "milking a decade old formula"! have you even lISTENED to anything he's done over the past 4 or 5 years?? it's FAR from a decade old formula or sound!), Kevin Reynolds, keith kemp, the blank artists crew, seth troxler, lee curtiss ryan crosson etc... and the music they are all producing today. and i feel the reason WHY they are not as relivent is simply because the electronic music scene in general has grown so big and has spred so much that no one place can possibly be THAT relivent anymore.

    second i would like to say that to compare the atmosphere of the motown days to that of the early detroit techno days is not even close to being accurate or far. in the motown days detroit was a booming city at the top of the music, art and buisenss world. it was a place to go. a place of opportunity. it had life. but the riots changed all that. they took all the life & opportunity out of the city. techno was "invented" in the post riot detroit. a desolet, run down, destroyed shadow of a city that once was great. motown was gone and the infulence and atmosphere that spawned it was gone to. so to compare motown detroit with techno detroit is WAY off base. the feeling and view points of the city and the people there in were COMPLETELY different.

    now, as to detroit being the birth place of techno. that is a tricky thing. detroit was NOT the birth place of the components of techno. there were bands all over the world who were using components of techno (or maybe i should say electronic music) in their music long before juan atkins came along. for example, skinny puppy, kraftwerk, new order, depeche mode, front 242 and most of the other industrial bands of the 80's just to name a few... what detroit did was take all those electronic components, put them all together and made something new that hadn't been heard yet. thus 'techno' was born. everything else 'techno' around the world came as a direct result. up till this point the UK didn't have a techno scene. they were all northern soul, funk and the like in one part and indie, rock and industreal in the other part. they didn't even have a house scene till the summer of love. the germans had kraftwerk but as far as pure techno went they had nothing. the first to bring techno to germany were the tresor guys and they got there ideas from detroit. so in that way detroit WAS the inventer of techno as we know it.

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  23. as far as comparing modern Detroit music and Motown...it isnt far or innacurate at all...it has directly influenced(the soul)a good part of Detroit Techno...that being the main artery in which Techno BECOMES Detroit Techno. TECHNO WAS NOT INVENTED IN DETROIT! The only thing that Detroit invented as far as techno was its "own" brand of that particular form of music...thats why,in Detroit, its called Detroit Techno, not Techno.

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  24. letherebenodoubtJune 25, 2008 at 4:38 PM

    Techno only became "Detroit Techno" way after the fact brought on by the spawning of other sub-genres and the audience compartmentalizing the music.

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  25. zak aka theDEVIOUSoneJune 27, 2008 at 10:37 AM

    From a detroit FAN and music lover from Minneapolis...

    I have many opinions and views on detroit, mostly admiration for what it has given to me musically and emotionally. In recent years, just as everywhere else in America, the music scene is changing...

    I used to write for a local zine in minneapolis. Below is an excerpt from an article after DEMF the year Saunderson did the festival. there are a couple points about what was changing all over and what Detroit was giving me on that specific trip...
    _____________________________

    This is a magazine I write the Electronic section for every 2 months. Industry Magazine www.industrympls.com is a local Zine for Minneapolis, MN.



    Industry Article #7





    Rhythm Section



    It feels like we have suddenly lost a lot of good electronic music outlets in the last month or so: First Ave dumped Saturdays (Ba-Sik) for a Top-40 format; attendance at the Quest has seen an all time low on Fridays for Plush; and for the most part, summer has been kind of slow. It felt like we had a strong beginning, but now it seems pretty vacant around town for our music. What happened to the dance music revolution?



    By definition, a revolution is described as a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving. The dictionary calls it an activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation. I choose to reinterpret revolution: It is caused by a need or desire for change, an upheaval of sorts intended to displace trends created in the surrounding environment.



    Keeping all this in mind, I ended up having a discussion with some folks about the state of music and what's happening to it now. As far back as my knowledge goes, musical revolutions have been happening every 5-8 years on average; this includes everything from the early swing era to rock, blues, jazz, disco, punk, hip-hop, and more. Take, for example, our parents (most in their 50s or 60s now): They had a chance to witness and be a part of the hippie era. I had a chance to grow up in the electronic music era. If I were ten years older, I probably would have been a part of the disco era, or maybe the real beginning of the hip-hop era. If the time line is correct and electronic music had its revolutionary period in the mid-'90s, then the time for the next musical revolution has already passed. Do you think it already happened? Did we miss it? Is it about to happen?



    Is the next revolution a re-visit of sorts to the roots? It's definitely time to search for the soul again. In a recent trip to Detroit during the electronic music festival, I decided to search out a DJ/producer, whom I had heard a few times in the past and whose records I had been buying for a few years, named Theo Parrish. In the process I came across another artist named Omar S. After hear-ing of a loft party where these guys were supposed to play, I ventured out with a few friends away from the bigger parties and ended up spending the night observing these guys and waiting to hear the music they were presenting. After seeking out Omar S. and sneaking in a short conversation with him, I continued my ascent up the stairs into the party. The atmosphere was so thick and raw that I could feel my excitement gaining momentum every couple of minutes. Watching these guys, the way they carried themselves and the energy that they put off, was refreshing. I felt like their world still had that struggle and definitely had the soul that I had been searching for. Although some technical difficulties at the party hindered the delivery of the music, the feeling that I walked away with was inspiring. During the cab ride home, the three of us didn't have anything to say each other—we were stunned. What I realized was that these artists were not the older generation of Detroit icons that I had been listening to for years that came up in the time of revolution: These guys were my peers. They were around my age, maybe three to five years older. What was it about their lives or their environment that produced that raw soul that I was feeling?



    I have written about this before, about where the passion and attitude has gone in our music. Are we out of new things to create? Are the music skeptics right in assuming that every musical note has already been played and that everything created from here on in is just a regurgitation of what we have already heard? The thing that was so great to me about electronic music was that it used the raw elements of beats and rhythms to get the attention of the listener. It allowed the listener to create his or her own mental image, thought, feeling, and sensations based on the vibration and soul of the music.



    Taking this nostalgia to heart, I thought back to my conversation with friends about the state of electronic music. We were all feeling that the passion and the attitude was not there anymore for many people. The need for change had been stifled. It seemed the problem was we have everything: food, water, shelter, and too many options in our lives with different paths to choose. People are way too accepting of what's out there and are either being complacent or just simply lazy or tired and too comfortable in their lives to want change. So here we are with many choices in front of us for music, entertainment, places where we hang out, things we support, and what challenges us as people. How do we decipher what is garbage and what is real? We can sit around all day thinking about change, but how many of us are willing to sacrifice something for that change? Are you truly happy with what you are experiencing? Do you want change? Is there a need for revolution?



    Till next time…theDEVIOUSone

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  26. Whoever wrote this is A TOTAL DOUCHEBAG.

    What a bunch of TOTAL FUCKING BULLSHIT.

    Eat a dick.

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  27. hey...save yourself the trouble of bitching as an anon and stuff your own mouth with a veiny cock...lame ass.

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  28. "the germans had kraftwerk but as far as pure techno went they had nothing. the first to bring techno to germany were the tresor guys and they got there ideas from detroit."

    A lot of what makes Detroit the techno birth place has to do with the way futurism and comic book culture where parts of the belleville three their lives (see http://www.avclub.com/content/interview/carl_craig
    The (at least in my parts of the woods) current European musical vector that seems to point towards Kraut Rock, pointed my attention to the 'Berlin School' (wikipedia has entry on it). While not influenced by comic book futurism, the focus on man-machine symbiosis, interfacing and sheer sci-fi space exploration where very present. This together with Kraftwerk and UK industrial (or Common Wealth Industrial) makes up for a very very fertile ground for any form of technology, future, forward geared aesthetics to flourish.

    On the subject of myth creating (the original issue), I think a certain part of the Detroit militant has to do with how heroics are presented and perceived in US culture. While Europe has difficulties to separate our own for US influences in culture, it seems very clear to me that without Detroit, even without Tresor, Europe would still be banging 4/4, 'motorik', "boofta-boofta-boofta" and 'techno pop'.

    What the US citizens here need to understand is that techno in Germany is very much a counter movement to anything to much imposed by Anglo-American culture. Techno, is some ways, is more of a communist thing then anything remotely influenced by Henry Ford. See Dopplereffekt's Mythology (coming from 'that D').

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  29. There is really not much to discuss or anything compelling here. No one really shouts out "Detroit created Techno." I think the people are just concious that a form or a movement of Techno came from Detroit, not that techno itself was born and perfected in Detroit. We all know Techno was happening in many places around the same time. Derrick May does deserve his credit for however long because he brought Techno from Detroit to the masses in America and overtime to the world. I dont think anyone needs to worship him, but credit is due.

    I think you are overplaying the "Detroit = Techno" theme, its not anywhere near what you say, Detroit's relation to techno is seen more as how we see a sub-genre more than anything.

    ::goes back to creating techno::

    /discussion

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  30. The truth is laid down in WAX and nothing can change that. Do your homework homeboy.

    Shit like this is bad for Detroit. We got enough trouble here as it is. Please stop with this garbage.

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  31. I think that there is obviously only one possible motivation for all the Detroit hate, and that is jealousy. Even when the history is analyzed from an anti Detroit standpoint, the resulting commentary can't fail to include the recognition of the giant impact early Detroit had on techno. I'm from Chicago, and many of the artists in the Midwest are really a result of the Chicago/Detroit vibe and influence. Sometimes I'm upset that a lot of the older Chicago guys don't really get their due, or that guys who are just as much Chicago as they are Detroit are classified as simply Detroit. BUT, I don't bitch and moan, I just try to educate, and make something that advances the history of WHAT I KNOW.

    We all have our own experiences and environments.

    ANYONE WHO FEELS CONFIDENT AND SECURE WITH THEIR OWN HISTORY IS READY TO CELEBRATE SOMEONE ELSES. THOSE WHO ARE INSECURE AND JEALOUS WILL ALWAYS WANT TO CHALLENGE AND PULL DOWN SOMEONE ELSE...

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  32. PC said:
    "It seems *very* important to Detroit believers that records come from Detroit... why? This is something quite peculiar to Detroit techno."

    No one is ever disconnected from their environment. The environs they live in, the music around them, the local culture, their musical heritage. All of that produces in musicians a slightly different take on music. It's the reason the US had regional music scenes before the rise of corporate radio. It's the reason italo developed in Italy, it's the reason Acid came from Chicago, Dub from Jamaica, etc... Do you really not see that something unique could not come from the rich cultural milieu that is Detroit?

    It has it's own unique sound that is easily discernible by anyone without a tin ear. As sure as the sun comes up, as sure as someone who hears any other genre can say "that's rock" or "that's garage". I can say "That's Detroit Techno". I don't need to see the album cover, I don't need to know the artist. I can go to the store, grab 200 records off the wall and easily pick out Detroit artists.

    You asked how New World Acquarium is different from Detroit. Well, to my ears it's a great record, but it lacks the unique stamp of Detroit soul and melancholy that I still find attractive. I have that NWA record and enjoy it, but I consider it to be an echo, the response to the original call. The Dutch have been doing it for years, this musical dialogue with Detroit.

    If you can't figure out why cat's like Reggie Dokes, Omar-S, Theo, KDJ and the rest of the Detroit crew sound so unique, go ahead and believe your own myth.

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  33. I grew up attending events of what would be called Detroit's second/third wave of artists. Beginning in the winter of 92 I began to attend the earlier predecessors (Hard, Harder, Hardest) of Hawtin's now famous series of events (Jak, Jak2, all the way up to Spastik). I also attended tons of anonymous deep house and techno parties happening around the city at 1515 and 1315 broadway and numerous other random disheveled locations. I found myself having some of the best times of my life at the Submerge building exploring deep, dark, techno from Jeff Mills, members of UR, and other early techno pioneers.

    Those memories, those events, are so firmly etched in my psyche that I can hardly see them, like trying to see ones own eyes, but they are a part of my constitution as a person, for better and worse.

    There was an energy back then, I think of it kindly as the cosmic energy that accompanies the birth of something new. Something emergent that hadn't existed before. The interesting thing was that, although Detroit became known for a particular sound spawned by its predecessors, the music that dj's and artists in Detroit were playing throughout those years was the music of the globe. The styles were so much less hem'd in then they are today.

    Rich Hawtin was a great example. Back when you attended one of his early events you only really knew two things. 1) you were going to hear the unexpected, and 2) you were going to get your mind blown. This all-over-the-place style, while still rooted in techno, is in stark contrast to the very specific and focused minimal styles we hear from him today.

    When you would go to Underground Resistance parties people were always chatting about obscure ass techno and electro records from belgium or rotterdam, by artists that UR members had met along their travels.

    It's interesting to note that while Detroit is known for a specific style of techno, the actual styles that were being played here at that time were completely eclectic, and I believe that this was fundamentally important to the universal energy that was experienced during those years.

    Of course the scene is still underground here, but the crowds, the energy and excitement, has largely died down, only to come out when marquee names visit town. The faithful and hardcore Detroit techno fans support the local scene and bring new energy to it, but they play largely to an audience of themselves. In the early 90's, if there wasn't a major party happening on a weekend night (rare), people would collectively flock to spots like 1217 griswold, where you might randomly find a floor or three filled with 500 people dancing to an impromtu last minute event. Thousands would gather every weekend to attend a myriad of shows. But it's been so long since that era that to even talk about "back in the day" in Detroit, has become somewhat taboo. There were years where it was fun to talk about, years where it was painful to talk about, and finally years that it's almost impossible to talk about it anymore.

    I guess I could ramble on about it forever, but I really do believe that there was a cosmic energy of creation that united people in a beautiful experience here in Detroit in it's formative years of electronic music development, and to deny that is almost sacrilege, but one things for certain, Detroiters will always disagree about such things, and hell, if you were there you're completely entitled to your perspective on it.

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  34. why high five D. May? because he's still one of the finest DJ's in the world and out of that group, he's one of the few who actually had Ron Hardy play his tracks. how many DJ's can say that? and have that kind of history behind them?

    as far as Techno goes, the term was coined for the LP "Techno: The New Dance Sound of Detroit" and was partly brought on by picking up ideas from Alvin Toffler's book Future Shock.

    People want to label music because it makes them feel safe. Usually the original feeling or meaning in genres gets lost over the years - just like in grade school when you sat in a big circle and someone whispered a story to the person next to them and that person whispers it to the next person and so on - till it gets to the end and ends up being watered down or distorted.

    Techno originally meant something different in the 80's versus the late 90's and on... just like House music originally meant something a lot different in the early 80's than it did by the early to mid 90's.

    At any rate, there is still something special about Detroit - no doubt about that. Personally I feel like techno died there years ago (as a local scene and a true subculture), but the fact remains that Detroit is still a city like no other and will continue to be a place where really good music comes out of.

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Say something constructive, bitte. Or if you're gonna take a swipe, at least sharpen your nails.

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