Detroit - the myth

blissblogger

Well-known member
https://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2017/05/interview-derrick-may

I didn't realise before I read it just how much the early days of techno was a upper middle class trendy scene. Hipster kids with a lot of money, mashing together these new dance styles from across the globe...if dissensus had been around then we'd have hated it!;)


It’s important to keep in mind that Juan, Kevin and myself come from middle class, upper middle class families. Most of the people we associated with were upper middle class to very rich black people"
all this stuff is in the chapter on Detroit in Energy Flash - but it wasn't particularly uncommon knowledge even then (late 90s)

that interview with May is a goldmine of from-the-horses-mouth data in support of my take on the city and the sound
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
Europhilia:

What kind of records were you playing at the high school parties?

We were playing anything from the Thompson Twins “In the Name of Love” and Answering Machine’s “Call Me Mr. Telephone,” to “Capricorn” by Capricorn. We played that and more Italian music, things like [Doctor’s Cat] “Feel the Drive.”

When we first heard Manuel Göttsching, we just listened to that shit for hours, man: days and weeks trying to figure out what he was thinking.

[up in Chicago] You paid 15 bucks to get in and you’d hear Frankie Knuckles. He was nothing like he is now. He was unbelievable. He played Front 242 and he played Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

The Italian music was also very good: Klein + M.B.O., all the Capricorn stuff. I was the one who brought it back to Detroit. Nobody had it.

I thought Ultravox were very important. There was also a record called “Transdance” from a group called Night Moves. I’m sure to this day it was David Bowie just fuckin’ around on a little bullshit, no-name label. It was like this 808 with a synth line, these chords and just this gaunt sounding haunting vocal. Around the time when the Italian stuff was happening big, it was considered one of those records, even though it was from England. There were a couple of English imports that came along like that. But Italy was where it was at.

We lived off those records for years. See that was one of the biggest problems in Detroit: people played records too long.

There was a period when the Italian thing dried up. That was a bad time and that was when we got really serious about music. It was, I think, right between the point where Italy dried up and Farley and those guys made their first records…
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
on elitism:

The Music Institute

It was 25 bucks to get in, and we’re talking 1988.,, We had membership. If you had membership, you stood in the left line. If you didn’t have membership, you got in the right line and paid 25 bucks. With membership you paid 15 bucks, but you paid 200 bucks to get the membership
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
Anglophilia / Europhilia:

We used to read NME. We learned about European records from their reviews. I remember saying it would be a dream to be in this magazine one day.
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
on aesthetic self-limitation:

I hated sampling. The only sample that I ever used was the laugh from Yazoo, on “Nude Photo” – and I let Tom Barnett do that.

Sampling is the ultimate sin for me.
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
this one going out to the Jazz is the Teacher bods:

Q: Where does jazz fit in?

May: It doesn’t. I didn’t like jazz until five years ago. I didn’t even listen to it.
what's derrick got to do with something juan titled a track? juan speaks for every detroit artist? what's more, derrick's stuff is full of jazz chord voicings... lolz
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
on not really understanding the very processes of migration and mutation that led to Detroit techno in the first place:

May: Now Cologne has its own techno version, Munich has its own techno, Toronto, London, Cornwall, wherever the fuck it is. Every single community has their own version of what techno music is, which has probably not done the music any favors. It’s not helped define it at all. So we’ve come to the point where the music cannot be defined.

Every single community has their own version of what techno music is.
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
Well strings of life wasn't even him playing the keys. It was his mate, Michael James https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strings_of_Life

Bit of contention there too, because he didn't pay James, or even credit him afaik.

And that's not the only time May did something like that.

But still, just because you're playing jazz, or more accurately in May's case, gospel voicing, doesn't mean he had to listen to those musics to include them in his own productions. By that logic you can only make music that sounds like a direct lift from the music you listen to. Plus, the ratio of electronic musicians who didn't know what they were doing and just pressed some keys until they found something that sounded good to actually trained guys is probably pretty skewed.

Also, loads of keyboards from back then had chord memory. You'd play a chord and then save it. Then when you press a single key the whole chord would be played with the lowest note starting at the note you're pressing. These are sometimes known as block chords and that can sometimes lead to an insta jazz feel. Similar stuff happens when you sample a single chord as they would do with the old sampling workstations.
 

pattycakes_

Well-known member
Oh, and in May's rbma lecture he talks about how he and Juan used to have sleepovers when they were kids and listen to Mojo, who famously played a broad range of music inc
 

thirdform

Well-known member
huge elephant in the room here is that people don't want to admit that British synthpop owed more to soulboyism than the outer edges of post-punk.

Like the stuff that the belleville lot were listening to wasn't esplendor geometrico or Maurizio Bianchi or all that weird as fuck anti-blues spanish synth music was it.

It wasn't even Cabaret Voltaire's early antimusical tape loop experiments.

There are ways to problematise detroit but only i can do it.
 

thirdform

Well-known member
in the meantime listen to the mix we did. i recorded the master take for part II on Monday evening with a load of glitching out and skipping virtual decks. we will use the errors to our advantage and it should be ready come October. But the secrets were partially revealed in part I.
 
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