Monty Luke and Black Catalogue

Monty Luke and Black Catalogue

Recently we got together with Monty Luke, owner and curator of Detroit-based electronic music label Black Catalogue. Originally from San Francisco, Monty moved here several years ago to work with Carl Craig and Planet E Communications.

We talked weather for a minute, winter’s like this can easily make someone think about goin’ back to Cali’. As I asked Monty if this was the most eff’d up winter he’s seen out here, he laughingly asked me (Michigander my whole life) the same question.
Yes. Yes it is.

Let’s get to the music.


How do you try to get your sound and message to the people? Does the music curation and artistic duties take up most of your time, or is it the marketing and everyday responsibilities of a running business?

“It could be a general music industry thing, it’s tough man. The whole game of PR and trying to get that publicity and awareness. There are so many other labels, and so many people making music, you got to get above the fold. It can be really tough, especially when so much of your day is trying to run the label, doing day-to-day stuff and talking to artists, especially when you’re an artist yourself, it’s a grind…”

“I have to set time aside for each aspect, otherwise it’ll never get done. If I have a remix that’s due, I have to focus on that. If I have a deadline for a release, I have to schedule studio time and finish that track. I have to set separate office hours aside to meet with designers, and production related stuff. If I don’t do that, something is going to fall by the wayside. It’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever done but also some of the most gratifying.”

Monty Luke

What’s going to be happening for you and Black Catalogue in the next couple years?

“As an artist myself, I want to push myself beyond my current boundaries. I want to help push the boundaries of Detroit electronic music. I’m really happy with what I’m doing with the label right now, but I want to focus on finding underground artists, not only from Detroit, but from all over the place. Finding someone really dope that you’ve never heard of before and makes you say “Damn! Who the fuck is this?” is something I want to continue to do. But in general, I really want to push myself to get better at music production, push what is known as Detroit techno, and house, further.

To me it’s all about progress. I think the history is amazing and great, and really rich, but it’s time to push this to the next level. I think the time to rely on the history of Detroit techno is over, it’s time to push this shit forward.

That’s what I like to focus on. If you come to my house, I have all the Detroit classics, all the hot shit, and I love all that stuff to death. But, it’s time to make some new classics.”


You recently released some tracks vinyl only, and digital releases weren’t released for several months. Was that by design?

“Yes. I believe in that format really strongly. From a practical standpoint it’s more expensive, so I have to focus more on selling that more. The bottom line is I’m dedicated to that format, it’s a labor of love. They’re both beneficial; I’m not one of these people that don’t believe in the digital realm. Tangible art to me is real important.”


By the sound of your music, I can tell your heavily inspired by science-fiction. Just how deep does that run?

“This is gonna sound crazy. There is this Dutch organization called Mars 1. They want to send 4 people to Mars in 2022. Last year they had an open application process, you had to submit a 70 second video. I entered this, and out of 200,000 applicants I made it to the second cut of about 1,058 people. At the end of this year they select the next round, then it’s a seven-year training process. “I want to be the first brother to go to another planet” I actually put that in the video haha. It’s not a trip, it’s like a one way ticket, which is kinda wild. I haven’t told my mom yet, I don’t know how that conversation is going to go.”

Yea, Detroit was probably hard enough…


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DSLT: Best of 2013

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Since we are new in town, we decided not to do a traditional list, that being #1 is the best and #25 being the bottom.  Instead we have compiled a list of 20 Artists/Bands that really made their mark in 2013, within in the city and our ears.

Our list will include electronic artists, indie bands, punk music, jazz, psycho billy and many other artists you may recognize and others you may have never heard of before.

Lets begin:

1. KYLE HALL – 2013 Release: The Boat Party

In electronic music, this was the year of Kyle Hall.  I recently had the pleasure of sharing breakfast with him and our Media Director, Roger Castillo.  Kyle Hall is a well spoken, intelligent, down to earth guy who shared with us stories about his travels, his influences, and even had a laugh as Roger and I attempted to guess samples he used in “Crushed.”  The Boat Party was definitely a favorite among many in 2013, with Kyle Halls dirty r&b samples with a blend of Detroit style electronic, this LP was unstoppable.  You can find this LP among many lists such as NPR, Resident Advisor, and XLR8R.  At the start of 2014, please check back for an exclusive Detroit Sounds Like This interview with Kyle Hall.

2. THE GUTTER GHOULS – 2013 Release: Motor City Murderbilly 

The Gutter Ghouls had a wonderful year in 2013, playing shows throughout Metro-Detroit, even being the highlight of the Motor City Nightmares horror movie convention.  I have never met a band that works as hard as these guys do, even with a lineup change mid year, they still show that they are capable of giving you a great show.  These psychobilly maniacs even released a brand new video for their track “Corpse Bride,” in early 2013.  Recently being signed the Splatterhouse Wreckords in Washington, we at Detroit Sounds Like This cannot wait to hear what is in store for The Gutter Ghouls in 2014.

3. MEXICAN KNIVES – 2013 Release: Other Tramps & Nightmare b/w Down To Hell

Mexican Knives were without a doubt becoming one of Detroits most looked at and talked about band.  Mexican Knives achieved so much this year not only at shows but gaining a wider audience.  Just by attending other shows around the Detroit area, we always hear the name Mexican Knives being talked about and how they opened for touring indie bands such as Best Coast, and The Fresh and Onlys.  Mexican Knives not only wowed us with killer unforgettable performances but they released not one but two amazing EP’s in 2013.  With Nightmares/Down To Hell and Other Tramps being released in 2013, Mexican Knives are definitely a serious Detroit band.  Lead vocalist Ruth the Truth, lead by lead guitarist Zach Weedon are a duo on stage not to be toyed with.  Lets not forget their amazing bass player John Salvage, and their amazing drummer Blair, who are the perfect additions to Zach and Ruth.  Enjoy their new music video for “Killer Snake,” from their 2013 release “Other Tramps.”

Mexican Knives-Killer Snake from Mexican Knives on Vimeo.

4. ROGUE SATELLITES – 2013 Release: Other Angels

Rogue Satellites never disappoint.  Their style, rhythm, and production is something so elegant, most ears are probably not even ready for it.   Rogue satellites provide you with dark synths, electric guitars and beautiful lyrics with support from soft yet deep driven vocals.  Playing a daytime show at this years Dally in the Alley, Rogue Satellites really stood out with their hour long set and amazing sound.  Enjoy and purchase their album “Other Angels” below, and make sure to follow their facebook page and check out one of their shows!

5. OMAR S – 2013 Release: Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself

A release that went almost under the radar unless you are a huge Omar S fan is one to have for your library.  This is a MUST listen to if you have any respect for Detroit Electronic Music.  Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself is a deep house master piece which displays influences of early Detroit electronic music.  This album also made many lists across many blogs and news outlets around the country.

6. BRANDON WILLIAMS – 2013 Release: Stronger & Godsend

If you have been to MotorCity Wine more then once, then you have definitely seen Brandon Williams or the B.Williams Experiment.  Brandon Williams is one guy who definitely loves his fans, he is one to always thank and give the love back to his fans.  You can see him at various spots around downtown, and make sure to check out his upcoming album XII (coming soon).  In addition to his playing he has worked with many major recording artists and he has a 2009 Grammy nomination under his belt, this is one jazz cat not to be messed with.

7. SAXAPPEAL – 2013 Release: Singles: It’s You, Time Flies, Catch the Rhythm & I Can Be

Detroit Sounds Like This had the honor of sitting with SaxAppeal (LaDarrel Johnson) to really get to know how he creates, and how much Jazz music means to him.  Johnson handles his alto saxophone in the same fashion in which he plays his music — with attention, pride, and a graceful passion.

8. Dustin Alexander (Dayda, Sexual Tension Detroit)  – 2013 Release: Bootlegs V.1

The name Dustin Alexander can be heard in two realms of electronic and house music in Detroit.  Dustin is a man with two hats, one being that of Bass heavy ghetto tech playing loudly and unmistakably from The Works.   He is also 1/2 of Sexual Tension Detroit with friend Jerry Downey Jr..  With the Bootlegs V.1 release, Dustin clearly showed the city what he is capable of and how knowledgeable he is in the bass scene and with his disco grooves.  Dustin Alexander was a name to watch in 2013, look out 2014, I’m sure this DJ/Producer has way more in store for Detroit as he is making a name for himself.

9. COSMIC HANDSHAKES – 2013 Release: 2 Delicate Details

One part Todd Modes, one part Blair French (Dial.81) and you have Cosmic Handshakes.  Maybe house and most forms of electronic don’t fit your style.  Cosmic Handshakes have elements of electronic, but infuse parts of jazz, skilled drums, and very high end production.  The very chill EP release 2 Delicate Details really takes the listener on a journey on the joyous parts of life, the album makes you want to hang out, see old friends, and of course makes you hope for Detroit.  Cosmic Handshakes have never performed together, but maybe if were lucky in 2014 we can see something amazing happen at a local venue.

10. MONTY LUKE – 2013 Release: Lonely is the Night

Lonely is the Night is probably one of the strongest deep house releases of 2013.  Monty Luke and his label Black Catalogue are putting out some of the heaviest and hard hitting grooves that are getting around the world.  Seeing him this year on my birthday at MotorCity Wine was definitely a treat, he is a vinyl only professional, dont expect to see a laptop at his show.  Monty Luke will spin the night with the rarest grooves and get everyone dancing.  Make sure to check him out for NYE at MotorCity Wine for only five bucks!

11. NIGHTMERICA – 2013 Release: The Waiting Room

Those seeking hip hop refuge from the current ramblings and nonsense of the current trend of hip hop, Nightmerica is the answer.  In addition to these 6 amazing artists, they each display a very strong solo presense with their solo projects all over soundcloud, as a group though…perfection.  This is definitely one of the best Detroit hip hop albums to be released in a long time, and they definitely need the love.

12. CLEAR SOUL FORCES – 2013 Release: Gold PP7’s

Finally a group to fill my void of A Tribe Called Quest era style hip hop with an additional 2013 production.  These guys have an unmatched flow and unreal production.  Clear Soul Forces have definitely made a dent in the hip hop circuit having recently toured Europe and getting their name out there.  With the release of Gold PP7’s, put your copy of Yeezus down and listen to hip hop the way it was supposed to be listened to.  Make sure to check them at their Ugly Christmas Sweater Concert at The Shelter.

13. JERRY DOWNEY JR. (Sexual Tension Detroit) – 2013 Release: Bad Motor Folk (Jerry Downeys Motor City Dub)

Having interviewed Jerry Downey Jr. earlier this year was a great experience not only getting to know him, but he shared his knowledge of anything disco in Detroit.  2013 was a big year for Jerry Downey as he played many Sexual Tension parties, including his North End Studios Two Year Party, with Secrets and Dr. Disko Dust.  He has slowly been releasing his own edits and they are definitely being noticed.

14. SECRETS (Gary Springs Hunting Club) – 2013 Release: Real Life – Send Me An Angel (Super Trance Edit)

Matt Abbott aka Secrets is one man who is always playing at every sleezy bar and wharehouse in the city.  His fans/party goers know him for his wild parties with Gary Springs Hunting Club and as one of the best disco edit DJ’s in our city.  He performs many live edits during his sets and always awes the crowd or gets them singing.  While his edits range from disco, to soul, and some 80’s new wave you can always find a way to get sleezy when you hear a Secrets Edit.

15. SHIGETO – 2013 Release: No Better Time Than Now

Our first Shigeto show was at the Laneway Music Festival this past September.  Shigeto did nothing but awe his crowd and played a show which showed his precision and how he treats electronic music like a craft.  His album No Better Time Than Now became a hit across the world after its release on Ghostly.  Listen below on his track “Detroit Part 1,” for his mind blowing drum sequences, eerie sounds while it takes a walk with an unimposing bass.

16. JAMES LINCK – 2013 Release: Fortress of Solitude

The first time we encountered James Linck was when the office staff and I went to check out Mexican Knives at St. Andrews, and James Linck was one of the opening acts, our ears were blown away.  James Linck and Doc Waffles took over the stage and made sure they were heard.  James Linck has worked with many other Detroit musicians such as Dial.81, Doc Waffles, Eddie Logix, and Christopher Jarvis (Phantasmagoria).   With his 2013 release Fortress of Solitude, James Linck pop vocal skills really add to the production of his tracks, whether it be electronic, hip hop or any other sub genre.

17. PASSALACQUA – 2013 Release: Eagles Fly

I really hope in 2014 Detroit Sounds Like This can sit down with them and really get to know them.  We have extensively listened to their albums and they leave us wanting more.  Their beats are beautifully done, their style reminds us of Brother Ali, and early Dilated Peoples.  A lot of their tracks are just great to sit and relax to, by relax I mean light up of course.

18. ZOOS OF BERLIN – 2013 Release: Lucifer in the Rain

Zoos of Berlin had a quiet yet tremendous release with Lucifer in the Rain.  If you enjoy the styles of bands like Beach House and Wild Nothing, we would definitely recommend this album.  With beautiful melodies, soft vocals echoing throughout the album you couldn’t ask for a more relaxing and engaging album.

19. THE VONNEGUTS – 2013 Release: Automobile
The Vonneguts lured us in pretty early on this year with their funkadelic rock ‘n roll. From snatching sets at nearly every musical event to just rocking on the street in Eastern Market, this group stole our attention and vowed not to return it. They have a very promising future ahead of them in 2014, but don’t take your eyes off of them even for a second, because these men move quickly!

20. EDDIE LOGIX – 2013 Release: Eddie Logix Plays Lykke Li

Who hasnt Eddie Logix been working with these days?  It seems that I havent heard a remix without Eddie Logixs name attached to it, whether its for Dial.81, James Linck, Doc Waffles, Phantasmagoria, and many more, hip hop and indie musicians of Detroit want Eddie Logix on their projects.

In addition to our top 25, we included a “KEEP ON YOUR RADAR 2014” List

Feral Ground
SIAS
Dutch Pink
Jay Daniel
Golf Clap
Phantasmagoria
Codine

 


Education Sounds Like This

I sit here in this brightly-colored classroom, as my teacher pulls up a file on his computer screen and suddenly he asks, “Do you see that big phallic thing at 200?”  My eyes focus on the projected image before me. “Yeah, we gotta get everything out of its way.”

That’s when I realized this was no ordinary classroom.  This was what the guys at FyouNK Collective in Royal Oak call a “Meat & Produce” session: an event in which musically-minded people come together to discuss the production process.  As the Facebook page says, “Producers of any genre are welcome – electronic, hip hop, pop, rock, etc., as long as you are open-minded.  Musicians, singers, and rappers who are looking to collaborate are also very welcome to join in on the fun.”  Essentially, as the men in charge state, “Anyone with a dedicated interest in music production is welcome to join.”  Such a vast invitation can properly explain the fact that when I walked through the doors at FyouNK Collective, the place was pretty nearly packed.  And rightly so.

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The professors on the eve of the twenty-first day of October were some of my favorite musicians in Detroit, so I simply could not miss my chance to explore this learning opportunity for myself.  This faculty included Detroit’s very own guitar-driven-bass master, OCTiV, the Detroit-raised beat manipulator, Freddy Todd, and the electronic mastermind/party-starter, ill.so.naj.  I was a little late for class and I dropped my pencil twice, but my teachers made me feel right at home and worthy of their profound lessons.

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First, OCTiV came up to the desk at the front of the classroom and told us all about the importance of equalization, or balancing sounds in music.  He summarized much of this tweaking mechanism, saying that what was most important was “getting unnecessary things out of the way of stuff you want.”

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He then explained that, though some sounds need to be made less powerful for the sake of more important ones, all is not lost in doing so.  In fact, often times those sounds that are diminished for the sake of others can still be felt in the song and have an enormous presence in the overall vibe of the piece. Thus, OCTiV showed the importance of knowing the difference between hearing sounds and feeling them.  As OCTiV revealed, however, extra sounds can sometimes be distracting.  “You need to make sure people can pay attention,” he declared, reminding composers to make cuts whenever necessary for the listener’s benefit.  Of course, it is okay to be sad about these cuts for a bit.  I mean, we are all still mourning for those sounds which were demolished by the aforementioned “phallic thing.”

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After OCTiV offered a new perspective on making positive changes to songs, Freddy Todd took the reigns.  The musician began by highlighting his philosophical approach to music, a quality which separates him from many of his composing counterparts.  Todd told his students that when you are creating music, “step one is your brain.”

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For Todd, focusing on one’s mindset is an essential part of what he called, “starting right and starting proper,” and it is a step in the music production process which simply cannot be skipped.  Todd then detailed what that meant for his own music, telling us that he needs to be inspired and in a clean room when he begins to create his sounds.  He encouraged students to develop their own rules for getting in the correct music-making mindset.

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Todd admitted that producing quality music, however, ultimately requires more than just a positive mental state.  “You can get inspired and write a whole track on your headphones, but typically if you want to put out an album you need a good pair of studio monitors.”  Thus, while the mind is the strongest tool at a musician’s disposal, it is also critical that he or she has the necessary tools available to them and knows how to use them properly.

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After explaining the process for beginning a song, Todd left the floor open for ill.so.naj to give some technical advice for the later parts of production.  The electronic artist focused his lesson on the idea of personalizing the musical experience.  He did this by showing students how to use programs, such as Ableton Live, to make improvised edits to tracks.  He encouraged everyone to take their iPods, iPads, or other beloved gadgets and “then assign them customized ‘MIDI mappings’ and touch screen layouts, creating unique ways to trigger effects or blend sounds.”

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This process allows performers to create their own unique set-ups, which cater to their individual needs and styles.  Ill.so.naj told us that, with these tools, he was even able to use a Guitar Hero controller to perform his songs on stage at one point.  The musician proceeded to play many of his own clips for the students to give them an idea of where improvisational tools might be applied.  Though he emphasized using the computer programs to be prepared for any show, he declared that:

Most importantly you gotta leave room for those happy accidents to happen. That’s where the magic is.

Here, the artist’s technical approach highlights both the immense dedication required to produce such music, and the importance of allowing for freedom in its performance.  Ill.so.naj showed us that even this freedom, however, requires much focus and effort beforehand.

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The three musician/producers took their students behind the scenes into many aspects of their artistic processes, and it was truly an educational experience for all involved.  The teachers were able to reach both the dedicated producers in the crowd as well as the beginners who had just fiddled with their friends’ computers during study hour.  In fact, each speaker made the intricacies of his musical processes seem approachable and comprehensible, even for any woefully ignorant music journalists in the building.

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All of that, of course, is to say that the environment at this Meat & Produce event was ideal for many different people with vast ranges of experience and interests.  Obviously October’s teachers brought a great deal of information to the table, and for that we were sincerely grateful.  But I know for sure that all other producers who take the time to share their wisdom in the future will do so just as admirably.  For my part, I know that I will be back at the FyouNK Collective often for more music education, and I am certain that the seats will fill just as quickly with musicians who are eager to learn.

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Mike Huckaby Teaching Detroit’s Youth Beats

Mike Huckaby

Thump continues its excellent series on Detroit’s music and underground scene. It’s important to note the importance of youth programs in the city. With all the cuts that have happened, situations like this are more valuable than ever. This video specifically hones in on Youthville in Detroit’s New Center.

Some notable quotables from Mike Huckaby, remixer, producer, sound designer and educator:

“In Detroit, The Music Found You, Rather Than You Found It.”

You couldn’t walk down the street without being influenced by something.. you can hear the climate of Detroit in the music.

“I find myself in a fortunate position around a lot of chaos. The economy isn’t doing so well in Detroit, but the underground is taking us around the world.”

“It’s not always about reinventing the wheel. It’s about doing what you do very well to begin with.”

“Detroit Techno was the way out, and continues to be the way out.”

From Thump:

Mainstream media always makes it seem like only bad things come from Detroit: urban decay, crime, bankruptcy, D12. But as any electronic music fan knows, Detroit is also a hotbed of creativity, passion, and promise. From the 1980s—when fellows like Juan Atkins and Derrick May ingested New Wave and Kraftwerk and spit out a template for what we know today as techno—to the present day, with new blood producers like Kyle Hall, Mark Flash, and Monty Luke creating forward-thinking tracks, Detroit continues to be a source of inspiration and power in the worldwide dance arena.


STAYING IN THE D: “IN DETROIT, WE’RE KEEPING IT GOING” SAYS DJ RICK WILHITE

STAYING IN THE D: “IN DETROIT, WE’RE KEEPING IT GOING” SAYS DJ RICK WILHITE

Rick Wilhite, talented House DJ/Producer and native Detroiter, has the world to choose from as far as where to be based but decided to stay in Detroit.

And, it’s always good to see the D get a little respect in regional ink, especially one based in Chicago.

Detroit’s music scene is one of the reasons he has stayed.

“There was one, Soul Night on a Tuesday once a month, that got between 2,000 and 3,000 people,” said Wilhite (also known as “The Godson”) in the interview which ranges across topics like the difference between vinyl and digital DJs, his warm reception in Japan, and how things have changed over the years.

In Detroit, we’re keeping it going. I know I’ve put my own time, effort and money into doing something and doing it consistently. I’m not talking about setting up one speaker in a room and charging $20 for people to dance around it. You can do that anywhere. We’re talking about good sound, good music, and something worth your time. Rick Wilhite: ‘There’s Too Much In Detroit For Me’ on 5Chicago.com

It’s amazing the amount of music that still comes from Detroit, even to this day. A recent Crain’s Detroit Business study by the Anderson Economic Group showed that music was a billion-dollar industry in Metro Detroit. We (and they) are pretty sure they’re undercounting.

Here’s a link to the full piece in 5Magazine and below you’ll find a Soundcloud player of a recent remix Wilhite did. If you like the beats, support the artist.


Forward, Deep + Sleaze: An Introduction to Disco in Detroit Part 1

When Detroit Sounds Like This sat down with DJ Jerry Downey Jr. (Sexual Tension Detroit & Bathroom Culture) we asked him to describe his parties and the music he spins in three words. His response:

Forward, Deep & Sleaze

Ever since my favorite monthly DJ party has come to a halt (Funk Night) I have been looking and keeping my ears open to any scene or party to fill my monthly party void. This is when I stumbled upon the parties that have been happening on a monthly basis at Temple Bar. Are they playing more funk? Is it a hip hop scene? Is a Detroit DJ playing free parties that no one knows about?

Wrong! It’s DISCO! Yes Detroit, we may have our roots in Motown, we have punk-rock, and our hip hop and electronic music are at the forefront of their scenes, but what about Disco? You can now put a check mark next to that genre too.  From its early rumblings in dimly-lit cretin-filled warehouses, Detroit Disco Collectives and their parties have been forming and moving from warehouses to residencies at local venues.

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The Beginnings of Sexual Tension Detroit

(CP – Carlos Padilla, J – Jerry)

CP: Where did the idea of “Sexual Tension Detroit” come from?

J: STD came to life when I had the opportunity to have a party at a warehouse (Warehouse 1018) in the Islandview neighborhood that I would shortly after help manage.  My idea was to provide the party crowd an atmosphere unrivaled to that which clubs/bars can contain, give the community an opportunity to release all the tension they’ve built up all week by cutting loose in a laid back; anything goes type of environment.

CP: What was your inspiration to even throw warehouse parties?  As most Detroiters have experienced, our police seem to care a bit to much for no reason.

J: My inspiration came heavily from the way Funk Night parties were thrown. They were in warehouses, BYOB and thousands of people would show up and you just danced. I wanted everything about that experience to be part of Sexual Tension Detroit.

CP: It seems easy to most, but I know myself that warehouse parties take a lot of planning and strategy, what was your draw to even get people to come downtown for Sexual Tension?

J:  These parties were late night free-for-all’s with myself and friends DJing. Ladies would also be free with a minimal cover for the fellas to cover whatever sound system we had rented.  For the most part I was organizing these events without a steady team, but I really loved the idea of always working with a rotating cast of people which really helped me understand the logistics of how things work with events.

CP: Warehouse parties dont last forever? What was your next step?

J: Around the time the warehouse space fizzled out I was offered a monthly residency at the Temple Bar in Cass Corridor and Sexual Tension Detroit eventually found its new home here. About 4 months ago I started playing back to back with Dustin Alexander (Dayda) and took him on board as a resident DJ.  A lot of things are about to change with Sexual Tension Detroit as we grow; the next move is going to be my 2 year anniversary party this November – keep your ear to the ground.

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Moving the party out of the bathroom: The beginnings of Bathroom Culture

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(Photographs from Facebook Page of Bathroom Culture)

CP: The name alone draws a lot of responses, Bathroom Culture?

J: Bathroom Culture itself is a nod to what goes down in the bathroom (wink) at parties and even though the bathroom of a club makes people feel secure, people need to spend less time in it and more time on the dance floor. So the idea of the name was to get people out of the bathroom and to the dance floor.

CP: Who are the DJ’s that make Bathroom Culture?

J: My main crew consisted of John Ryan (Dr. Disko Dust) and Griffin Scillian (Carlo Rambaldi). John was the first person to actually book me to play a club and we all eventually got together and established ourselves as Bathroom Culture along with Griffin’s roommate James Droze who would be paramount in helping expose our aesthetics visually.

CP: Besides warehouses where else can someone in Detroit catch Bathroom Culture?

J: Our parties are at some pretty random locations, we’ve played huge packed nightclubs/warehouses and even tiny restaurants like Small Plates on Broadway.  Every part of our aesthetic is rebellious and provocative; we don’t fit in with the other party crews and use some really over the top imagery.  Look out soon for our forthcoming series of web videos.

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At the end of our interview I asked Jerry to play some vinyl to give us at Detroit Sounds Like This a taste of what he plays during his sets.   Jerry concluded the interview by telling us about an upcoming Sexual Tension Detroit party at Temple Bar…THIS FRIDAY!

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Thats right Detroit, Friday night, September 6, 2013 come on down to Temple Bar for “BAD PARTY NAME: LUV BOXX,” which should be a great party to start off the weekend.

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Well Detroit, because we have so much to offer I will have to end here.  But dont worry there will be a part 2 in the coming weeks!  Yes, we actually have another group of disco aficionados who go by Gary Springs Hunting Club, but they are an article all in their own, and you will see why very soon.   Until then, find out where the GSHC party is this weekend.  I heard their is free coffee at midnight.
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Below article is a soundcloud set by Jerry Downey Jr.  Enjoy.

 


Detroit Input at Brooklyn’s Output

Output is a new dance club in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood that fortunately focuses more on the “Dance” than “Club”. The exterior is nothing to look at, it reminds me of many unused buildings in Detroit, and which is probably why I love it. Set in the old industrial neighborhood, new signs of life, social-gatherings and business are sprouting up every where. As Output proudly states:

Output is open to anyone, but is not for everyone. Output welcomes individuals who value the communal experience of music over cameras and bottle service.

Is very true. Impeccable attention was giving to the sound. The audio was bright, crisp, bass heavy and creamy and left just the right amount of space to hold a quick conversation. Lights? Yea, they got em. Luckily Output was asked to keep them toned down a bit, so when the club started flexing, it actually complemented the music. On Thursday, August 15th, 3 DJ’s from Detroit we’re flown out to headline the Input monthly at Output. Fit, Big Strick and Omar S. performed after the night was opened up by Brooklyn local Turtle Bugg. The night maneuvered like any promoter or DJ would gladly pay for. Music started about 10pm, Fit started playing around 11pm for a few dozen patrons, scattered throughout the two floor space. By 11:30pm, the dance floor was pretty much packed by a sea of house and techno lovers who were getting down and embracing the gritty, yet soulful music we bring to the party.

In actuality, Detroit artists play here frequently. Peeps hanging at Output this past weekend just got turned on to Stacey Pullen.

 


Secrets “Night Mapping”

This weeks track of the week goes to one of the cities most expert when it comes to disco. Enjoy a track from Secrets (Gary Springs Hunting Club) and maybe catch his party on Sept 7. Where is it? No one knows, but if you are in Detroit on September 7th, I’m sure you’ll find your way.

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Check his event info here.

Oh here, maybe you can decode their party promo video from last week…enjoy!

Want more of Secrets, check out his Soundcloud!


Notes from D Underground

whatever fest

We can all recall a time when we wore our best beer-stained fangirl t-shirt and heard that one phenomenal band for the first time in that cramped living room with chipped-paint walls. Maybe it was in April of 2008, when Lenny Stoofy freed your mind and your body at the Scrummage Toy Factory on Van Dyke and Davison. Perhaps it was that time you brought the year 2011 to a close by skanking raucously at “Detroit’s sexiest anarchist collective,” the Trumbullplex. Or maybe it was that time Dr. Handsome covered “She’s Not There,” by the Zombies two months ago at Whatever Fest in Midtown and you cried yourself to sleep because it was better than the original.

Whatever the case, these unique and beloved experiences exist solely in the smaller, more intimate musical venues that make up Detroit’s underground music culture.  But why is it that these smaller DIY hotspots have been gaining such enormous ground as the venues of choice for young people in Detroit?

I just tend to have more fun when I’m shoulder-to-shoulder with people who are sweaty

…says Eric Schmeling, an eternal supporter of Detroit’s small local music venues and a guitarist for the now disbanded Detroit group, Cave System. After attending shows in the city since he was in high school, Schmeling says that when choosing a venue, he would almost always prefer “some dude’s basement over the Crofoot.” In other words, the smaller, the better. Underground venues and house parties are cropping up all over Detroit, filling quickly with Detroit’s youth and inspiring kids from the suburbs to make the trek to see their favorite local bands.

Brittany Badenoch, who has been involved with smaller music venues in Detroit since she was seventeen, praises their incredible presence in the city’s musical community, and not just on account of sweaty bodies. “The great thing about Detroit,” she says, “is that there’s so much space to have a venue and just kind of set up shop.” She also points out that underground venues offer a “way more laid-back and real way to enjoy music, rather than going to a venue and having to pay for parking or tickets, etc.”

What makes the underground music scene in Detroit any different than that of other American cities? “Initiative,” Badenoch says. “If you go to any other major city, you don’t really meet people who are ‘creating something out of nothing.’” In those places, “there are so many night clubs and venues… we [also] have really cheesy night clubs, and no one I know wants to go to those. So if we don’t create something ourselves that’s going to be more up our alley, we don’t have anything.” These smaller venues, as Badenoch confirms, “really force people to show initiative where they maybe wouldn’t [otherwise].”
Rising from the ashes, as they say.

Badenoch says that the significance of underground venues, however, stretches beyond just those kids who want to dance around, inebriated, for hours. “Detroit is a place where people are really anxious to create new good things in the city and DIY venues are a really good outlet for that. They really appeal to a lot of different types of people, like someone who’s interested in public relations or someone who is interested in business, etc.” Furthermore, Badenoch reveals that as a musician, she’s found that “DIY spaces always make an effort to promote a lot because they want people to come and they want to have a good reputation for their venue.”

Taking on the role of one of Detroit’s most lauded female rappers, Breezee One, Badenoch says that she has a huge spot in her heart for the house shows and underground venues that hosted her when she first started. “Me… I don’t play instruments, I’m not a really phenomenal singer (she’s terribly wrong about this), but I still make music and I still play shows.” Artists across the globe agree that it’s incredibly difficult to make a name for oneself in the music industry, and Badenoch confirms this fact. “If there weren’t DIY places, I would have never started to play because I wouldn’t have known how to approach it. The great thing about the DIY spaces is that you can be a no-name band and get a show there and then start your foundation with a fan base that way.”
Clearly it was these “dudes’ basements” that gave Badenoch and many others their start in the Detroit music culture.
But is playing at these smaller, lesser-known venues ideal for musicians in the long term?

Lead singer and guitarist for beloved local band The Hounds Below, Jason Stollsteimer isn’t so sure. “House shows are the most crucial point in a band’s life,” Stollsteimer says, “and when you first cut your teeth playing those shows, it’s pivotal.” The singer started performing at and attending smaller venues religiously in 1994, where the scene was prevalent in various suburbs of Wayne County. Now the local music mastermind says he would choose almost anything over the basement. “They have a time and a place,” Stollsteimer says. “I don’t feel I’ve gotten old, I just want to hear the band the best they can sound. And the best sound is very much not underground.” As a musician, Stollsteimer says, “I haven’t actually played a house show since 2000.” He explains, “the last time I threw one or went to one, there would be maybe ten bands there, and maybe one out of the ten would do anything more than that house party.” Stollsteimer, in fact, declares the entire idea of underground music an odd paradox: “the unsaid goal of underground bands is to become not underground, because if you wanted to be underground, you wouldn’t play shows.”

“I never wanted to be famous,” he explains, “I just wanted the songs I was writing to be heard. And why do people at the Trumbullplex make a Facebook event page? Because they want people to be there.” So, while putting one’s band out there at those small shows is definitely a key point in one’s musical career, Stollsteimer believes that the reality of underground venues is that the goal for musicians playing them is almost always to be done playing at underground venues. “If you play house shows for fucking 10 years that’s not good.”
So, perhaps spending ages thrashing on a stage in your friend’s living room isn’t going to pay your rent or get you a spot on MTV’s “Wake and Shake,” but everyone can agree that those shows are a step in the right direction.

The underground music scene “is as popular as it always has been,” Schmeling says. “It’s more cyclical, than anything else.” He explains that when “real life catches up” with the people in charge of a specific venue, there is seemingly always someone there to take over the others’ musical role in the community.

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Recloose

DJ Recloose playing at Detroit Contemporary circa 2003 – During the Broken Beat/Nu Jazz scene


Alas, Bankrupt or not, Detroit is still going to give us as many chances to experience underground music as we could ever ask for. Those paint chips are ours, ladies and gentlemen.  And don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

By setting aside what may be more lucrative opportunities in exchange for the chance to perform for those fans who supported them at the very beginning, these bands are showing immeasurable passion for their art and devotion to their homes. They see something in Detroit that other musicians don’t: a need for music in and of itself (sans societal bells and whistles). And as Badenoch says, she is very proud of kids these days because, “the new generation is seeing this need and deciding to do something about it.” And that is what Detroit sounds like.


Tony Ollivierra

Tony Ollivierra

Tony Ollivierra is a Detroit area electronic musician and dj who got started in the late eighties. He was influenced by the Detroit club scene in the 80’s and 90’s in venues like The Shelter with Richie Hawtin, The Music Institute with Derrick May and Alton Miller, and The Majestic with Blake Baxter. He’s currently producing music under his label “Northside District”. We recently asked him a few questions:

I usually start with choosing the right kick drum. If I choose the wrong kick or eq it wrong it seems the track is destined to fail miserably.

  • You’ve been making music for quite some time. How has your style changed throughout your career? What about production and tools, has the way you start and compose tracks undergone any changes?
  • I started producing in the late 80’s with Alesis and Yamaha drum machines, an Akai s-900 sampler and a Yamaha DX-100 keyboard. I continued using hardware until 2006 when I went fully in the box with Propellerhead Reason which I used until last year. Since then I’ve been a Logic user recently upgrading to version X. I usually start with choosing the right kick drum. If I choose the wrong kick or eq it wrong it seems the track is destined to fail miserably. It many times can be the driving force in techno and house.
  • You have been on a roll lately and seem to have a new EP every month, what’s your inspirational secret?
  • My inspiration comes from God through Jesus Christ. I owe it all to him.
  • Recently you kicked off your record label Northside District. What were some hurdles you overcame and what was learned in this process?
  • I had to start a new label when others started using the Ibex name. It took months of pondering a label name as pretty much everything is being used. One day someone came into my job wearing a company shirt with Northside something or other on it and something clicked. It seemed marketable so I went with it. I think I learned that branding is crucial in this business.
  • What was your main reason and focus on starting the label?
  • I needed a platform to release my music pretty much. It started off with two vinyl releases which didn’t do well at all. So it was disappointing realizing vinyl may no longer be conducive to getting the material out there. I had to figure out how to market digital releases which is even more challenging.
  • What’s on the horizon for you and what can we expect musically?
  • I’m currently at work on the next release with one track finished. The track is called Good vs Evil and it really summarizes the theme. It starts out like a Detroit techno track and then gets full on angry progressive about three minutes in. You can really hear that there is a battle taking place which is just what I wanted to exemplify. I’m excited to get working on the other tracks, I think this ep will make some noise for sure. It will be called The Regeneration.
  • How would you describe your sound?
  • My sound is constantly changing based on what I’m feeling. I try to keep it as real as possible by only releasing what truly sounds good and provocative to my ears. It’s not easy because your ears can fool you! The tracks that stand the test of time, when you can come back three weeks later and still appreciate the track you know you have something.

http://www.tonyollivierra.com/