PLAYING DETROIT: Moon King Adopts Detroit Dance Music on Voice of Lovers

COLUMNS|Playing Detroit

Originally from Toronto, Daniel Benjamin has been hopping from city to city for the past ten years. The longest time he’s stayed in one place were the three years he spent in Hamtramck, Michigan – a multicultural haven tucked within Detroit’s city limits – and that period ended up having a heavy hand in shaping the sound for his electronic dance project, Moon King. His latest record, Voice of Lovers, was released last week and is a testament to the imprint Detroit’s DJ scene has had on his creative process.

The record sashays between decades and genres, all unified by its undeniable head-bopping feel. A far skip from his first release, Secret Life, Benjamin explains that something clicked when he set foot in Detroit. “I was going out a lot and listening to really great DJs and seeing the way the music affects people,” says Benjamin. It’s no secret (to most) that Detroit is home to some incredible DJs and electronic musicians, and Benjamin took full advantage of all the city has to offer; Mondays at Motor City Wine, Freakish Pleasures parties, and dancing to a particularly influential DJ for him, Scott Zacharias.

“I think he’s inspiring for making music and collecting records and stuff,” says Benjamin. “He can play synth-pop and disco and music from South America and Pakistan or Turkey all in the same set and have it aesthetically fit together and get people dancing – that to me is amazing. I didn’t realize until I came to Detroit that that was a thing.” Benjamin’s adoration for mesmerizing dance music is evident throughout the record. Lyricism takes a backseat to rhythm but still strings together a narrative of Benjamin’s nomadic lifestyle and trials of trying to live in the US as a Canadian Citizen.

“USA Today” can be read as an ironic title for an interpretive dance track, but the urgency in both the beat and the repetitive lyrics feel like Benjamin is trying to manifest his own destiny. After multiple failed attempts at getting a green card, Benjamin was forced to leave Detroit, one of the only places he’s ever felt a true sense of community. “I felt at home there. The community of people that I found myself surrounded by, I feel like they really want me there,” Benjamin explains. “I don’t really feel that way anywhere else. Life’s a bitch.”

But Benjamin didn’t leave Detroit without making lasting creative friendships along the way. In fact, Detroit’s own Vespre (Kaylan Waterman) makes an appearance on VOL and will join Benjamin for his Detroit show on June 22nd. For now, it’s back on the road for Benjamin until July, doing what he does best – making the world dance.

Listen to Voice of Lovers in full below.

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