313 Acid Queen and SickBoy Create Soundscapes from Skyscrapers on Buildings EP

Over the last ten years, Rebecca Goldberg – a.k.a 313 Acid Queen – has completely immersed herself in the city of Detroit. Unlike some transplants who come to the city to take, Goldberg, born and raised just outside of Detroit, came to learn, appreciate and contribute when the time felt right. Starting out as a student of Detroit house under the tutelage of legendary DJ Bruce Bailey, Goldberg cut her teeth spinning all around the city and slowly training her ear as a producer. Nearly a decade and five albums later, Goldberg pays homage to the city that has shaped her on her collaborative EP with Sardinia-based producer SickBoy (Stefano Piseddu), Buildings, out June 20 on limited-edition vinyl pressed at Archer Record Pressing. The record serves as a sonic map of the structures that portray Detroit’s beauty, oppression and resilience.

Today, Audiofemme premieres a video for EP opener “Guardian,” a bold and expansive track encapsulating the depth and complexity of the stunning, hundred-year old Art Deco-inspired skyscraper for which it is named, with its vast vaulted ceilings and tediously crafted mosaics. Goldberg and Piseddu use booming percussion to reflect the sturdy stone foundation and tie a rainbow of synth textures to symbolize the kaleidoscopic designs that gawkers can get lost in for hours. 

The project began to take shape when Goldberg responded to a call from Detroit Underground label founder Kero for producers to work on a “Detroit Map Series.” The series includes three other parts – highways, roadblocks and rivers – and prompts producers to make sonic representations of these staples in the form of Detroit house music. As a member of Detroit Underground, someone who spends a good amount of time sneaking into abandoned buildings to take photographs, and regularly takes friends on tours of the Guardian Building, Goldberg already had an intimate connection with the sights and sounds that accompany Detroit architecture. She says when she was assigned “buildings,” it was a no-brainer.

“There’s just something about Detroit and the creativity that comes out of here and it’s either in the water or the landscape or the people or all of it together,” says Goldberg. The main challenge was to communicate this magic across space and time to her Italy-based collaborator. Goldberg spent hours taking photos and videos of buildings that inspire her and sending them to Piseddu, who was deeply moved by the imagery. Though the two never met in person, they bonded over a shared obsession with Detroit techno. While the language barrier was considerable, the producers were able to communicate through Google-translate and an innate, shared sense for beats and textures. 

This wasn’t the first time that Goldberg made an unlikely connection through her passion for music. She explains that her foray into DJing was based solely on a love for the music and a desire to be around it as much as possible. “Like many people who are into stuff like this, I’m just a fan of this music. I’m a fan of dancing,” says Goldberg. She got her foot in the door by using her graphic design chops to create flyers and merch for Bruce Bailey, then later took matters into her own hands. “I was like, ‘Listen, if I’m gonna keep doing your flyers, I wanna be on the flyer. I also wanna play and I think you should put me on and give me a chance.’”

Then began what Goldberg describes as an apprenticeship of sorts, learning from Bailey and other well established Detroit DJs. “It would be me and all these house heads that had been in the game forever, and they loved me,” says Goldberg. “We loved each other, those people are my family. They wanted to teach me about the music and the culture of it and the history.” After years of collecting records, Goldberg decided it was time to contribute her own soundprint. “Eventually, you start hearing things that don’t exist yet, and that’s how music production started for me,” explains Goldberg. “I’ve tuned my ears now so well with DJing that I think I can play things that I would want to DJ and dance too, and that’s a whole ‘nother wormhole of obsession.” 

Buildings speaks to Goldberg’s years of soaking in sounds and stories from Detroit techno legends, while adding her own inspirations into the mix. After cascading through a series of dreamy soundscapes, the EP ends on “Renaissance,” a track that distills the futuristic aura that surrounds Detroit’s architectural centerpiece. “The Ren Cen is so crazy if you look at it,” says Goldberg. “It looks like a spaceship from the ’80s that’s supposed to be the future about to just take off.” The building’s corresponding track is full of laser-sharp synth sounds and swells of air, making it easy to imagine the entire structure blasting into space. 

The EP is as much of a love letter to the city as it is a testament to music’s power to transcend across oceans and bring people together. Just as techno has brought the people of Detroit together for years, it allowed Goldberg and Piseddu to make an entire EP together, even separated by an ocean.

Follow 313 Acid Queen on Instagram for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: decliner Set Expectations Ablaze on Debut EP Remember

Photo Credit: Sidd Finch

The members of brand-new Detroit trio decliner can’t decide if they’re a punk band or not. “I don’t consider decliner punk,” says bassist and beat-maker Steve Stravropoulous. “I think there’s a difference between Tim and I because Tim thinks it’s a punk band and I don’t… the more he thinks it’s punk the more I try to make it not that.” Genre label aside, the group – made up of Stavropoulous, Rob Luzynski (vocals), and Tim Barret (guitar) – certainly embodied the punk lifestyle whilst making their debut EP, Remember, out today on FXHE records.

The recording process, which is generally known to be long and arduous, took decliner about four hours and was produced and engineered by notable Detroit producer and techno artist Omar S, aka Alexander Omar Smith. The experience boiled down to two distinct lenses for the members of decliner. “I was drunk and having fun so I wasn’t stressed,” says Luzynski. “I was drunk and stressed,” adds Stavropoulous. The stress element was mostly due to the shock of the fact that the band was actually recording. They went into the session with the idea that they were going to show Smith a couple songs, see if he liked them, and leave. Instead, they went in, recorded one track of each song live to a Tascam 16-track recorder, and had an EP. “I was like, ‘damn, I’m not sure how I feel about this,’ because it’s just not how Steve and I usually work,” says Barret.

Without the ability to add overdubs or edit the tracks after the fact, the band had one shot to get it right, and they laid everything on the line. “You can hear in some of the tracks that my voice is giving out basically,” says Luzynski. “Like, in ‘Know,’ that’s me almost passed out…like I almost passed out from doing that.” For someone whose entire musical career up to this point has been making rap music, it makes sense that Luzynski felt winded after a few hours straight of deep, guttural singing. But despite that it was his first time dabbling in this uncharted vocal register, Luzynski’s disquieting vocals sound like they’ve been brewing in the depths of his soul all along, waiting for the right time to come out. 

On “Burn,” the first and only single from the EP, decliner encapsulates the isolation of dead winter and the destructive paths we can go down to try and escape it. Barret’s whirring guitar and Stavropoulous’s unabating bass-line paint a vivid picture of quotidian mundanity. January in Detroit, when this EP was recorded, is always one of the most desolate months, especially during a pandemic. Plagued with iced over streets and sparse sunlight, a stillness sweeps over the city, making it easy for loneliness to make its bed in your home. Luzynski captures this bleakness with his blunt lyricism: “Man this weather’s really something/I can barely feel my face/I keep falling, someone catch me/Before I go up in flames.” 

Luzynski explains that the song is a capsule for how he was feeling at the time they recorded, and also serves as a vague warning for the things that lure us in at times of darkness. “It’s thinking about the moth to the flame… things that can save you but also be your demise,” says Luzynski.

The video for “burn,” out exclusively via Playground Detroit last Friday, personifies this sentiment without allowing the band to fall too deep into despair. It starts by introducing the band hanging out in an attic, getting ready to record. Luzynski drinks a mysterious liquid and is transported into another realm, presumably by the UFO that makes frequent appearances. In this barren realm, Luzynski is found alone and desperate, climbing to nowhere and constantly being set ablaze. It honestly just kind of seems like an acid trip gone terribly wrong. But we find moments of levity when the camera pans back to the attic, watching the band play while Luzynski sits in a trance state, or finding the friends clinking beers on a sunny day. These brief moments of reprieve serve as a reminder that the dark times don’t last forever. 

In that same vein, decliner don’t aim to take themselves too seriously. As musicians with multiple projects, the artists started decliner more or less on a whim, prompted by a few texts from Omar S. “Omar was texting me like, ‘I wanna record your band,’” says Stavropoulous, “and was simultaneously texting Rob, ‘I wanna record your band.’” Luzynski adds, “We didn’t have a band yet.” So, the two thought it was the perfect opportunity to join creative forces, because when Omar S. says he wants to record your band, you show up with a band. The preparation for the actual session was minimal. Stavropoulous and Barret had skeletons for the tracks and thought that Luzynski’s energetic stage presence would be a good match. Again, having only used his voice for rapping previously, it was a bit of a process for Luzynski to finalize his vocal style. But he had Smith to guide him in the right direction. “He said ‘I want you to sing like you’re watching your house burn down or someone just put out a cigarette in your eye,’” remembers Luzynski.  

Up to the challenge, Luzynski said he used his trademark method of “kush and push” – smoking a joint and doing some push ups – before recording, and it more or less worked out. “I totally did push ups in Conant Gardens party store to get ready as I was relatively inebriated on PBRs,” says Luzynski. His straining vocals make a novel pair to the undulating instrumentation and four on the floor techno beats, marrying the sensation of dissociating at a basement rave with the relentless energy of moshing at a hardcore show. The group describes the project as an “exploration of sound” that pulls from their varied musical backgrounds. Put simply, Stavropoulous adds, “We’re just dumb boys doing our thing. We’re doing our best and we’re gonna try.” Sounds pretty punk to me. 

Follow decliner on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

Vespre Breathes Life into Spring on New Single “Back to Me”

Photo Credit: Abigail Lynch

For some artists, the last year of increased solitude offered an opportunity to step into their craft and be more prolific and creative than ever before. For others, it presented a debilitating pit of emotional and physical quicksand, making it nearly impossible to get through the day, much less create anything. Kaylan Waterman, aka Vespre, landed somewhere in between the two. Her latest single and first solo release in almost three years comes after a long period of collaborating, resting, reflecting and rediscovering her muse. “Back to Me” is a buoyant reunion with Spring, self and love lost and found; and one that Waterman worked damn hard to get to.

“I know a lot of people who are like, ‘I made my magnum opus during COVID!’ That was not me, at all,” says Waterman. “I tried a couple of times and my body, my spirit just told me: Don’t even stress about it, but this isn’t it for you… focus on other stuff.” So, that’s what she did. Waterman, who works full time at local label, artist management and sync company Assemble Sound, already has enough on her plate to tire anyone out. But, on top of working full time and collaborating with her brother Kaleb the Intern, Moon King, and others in 2020, she started a sharing table in her neighborhood to provide food and other necessities to folks in the community. 

While Waterman devoted her time and energy to filling other people’s plates, her’s was running low. “I just did not have it in me to create. I was too stressed, I was too sad, I was grieving, I was just like in survival mode,” Waterman explains. “I felt very depleted and music was the only thing I knew that would help fill me up.” So she started writing for herself, meeting at the cross-section of heartbreak and healing. 

Waterman explains that the idea for “Back to Me” started almost as a clapback to peoples’ responses to her breakup. She says that although she’s the one who walked away from her relationship, everyone assumed she was dumped. “I would tell people, and they’d be like, ‘I’m so sorry, he’s the worst!’” Waterman says. “And I’m like, ‘umm, maybe I’m the worst…What are you talking about? I ended this.’” 

The song allowed Waterman to reclaim her narrative and communicate the complex array of emotions that can accompany a breakup. She wanted to portray the duality of being resolute in her decision but still feeling loss and grief. “I just wanted people to know that women – especially independent, very self aware women – can make difficult decisions and still be soft and longing and wanting. We hold both of those things at the same.”

Waterman embodies this duality in “Back to Me.” Though her poetic lyrics focus on nostalgia and longing for a former lover, the music that accompanies them is upbeat, driven by shiny synths and ebullient percussion. The video (co-directed by herself and Andrew Miller) mixes the ethereal and the mundane, showing Waterman as both a serene nature goddess and a forlorn bodega shopper. Though she’s feeling the ripple effects of heartbreak, Waterman refuses to hide from her complicated emotions, and is determined to dance through it all. 

“I think I did accidentally write a pop song but I don’t really gravitate towards pop in that way,” she says. The songwriter, pianist and producer grew up listening to Detroit house and attending the jazz festival as early as age 9. She says that she feels most inspired by female artists like Patrice Rushen – whom she lovingly named her Subaru after – who sit somewhere in between house music and jazz, disco and R&B. “I want people to be able to dance to the music I make, because Detroit is such a dancing town,” says Waterman. “I wanna speak to that culture more. I wanna write for us more. For my friends that go out dancing like me.”

Dancing in the middle seems to be where Waterman finds her stride. In the middle of heartbreak and happiness, rest and resilience, triumph and tears. Her music finds its strength in vulnerability and suggests that the listener do the same. “I feel like I’m coming back to life and I wanted people to hear it in that way,” she says. “Maybe it’s your creativity coming back or maybe it’s a person or maybe it’s just spring. Maybe you’re happy that this horrible winter is over… I wanted people to listen to it and hear however they wanted to hear it.”

Follow Vespre on Facebook and Instagram for ongoing updates.

A Virtual Panel Explores Techno’s Role in Climate Change

Ariel Zetina DJs at Hideout Inn in 2019. Photo Credit: @ColectivoMultipolar

Can techno music be a site for climate activism? That was the big question posed by a virtual panel held on Friday, May 22, where Chicago DJs Ariel Zetina and Club Chow (Kevin Chow) as well as British musician and activist Kimwei McCarthy were happy to weigh in. The discussion was organized by Grant Tyler, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and Mika Tosca, a climate scientist and assistant professor at SAIC.

Full disclosure: I’m an SAIC alum and occasional freelancer for their marketing department. But I’m intrigued by music’s potential and limitations for activating political imagination, and what can I say? This was the most interesting Zoom event I attended last week – and trust me, I went to many. Who’s that culture writer sneaking in to take the temperature of your e-parties and never turning on their camera? It’s me, guys. It’s me.

I know what you’re thinking: Techno’s place in climate action is a pretty big question for one panel. But Chicago seems a natural place to ask. This city has given so much to electronic music, benefiting from its proximity to Detroit techno and pioneering acid house. Hell, we gave you Wax Trax! Afrofuturism is also threaded into the fabric of Black Chicago culture, most audibly in the work of jazz musician Sun Ra, who used science fiction’s escapism and technological critiques to create speculative audio worlds.

Plus, music history is always political history. Techno is no exception. During the talk, Zetina mentioned higher profile techno artists whose work has intersected with social justice politics and especially environmental organizing. Of particular note was the EP Acid Rain by the group Underground Resistance, who were ideologically influenced by the Black Panthers and whose music developed partially as a response to the environmental and economic reality of Black Detroiters in the late ’80s. By Underground Resistance’s own words, techno is “the music for the future of the human race.” Without it: no peace, no love, no vision. But shared modes of expression don’t always point to a shared politics.

“I think there’s a tendency within techno to superimpose a … Utopian discourse,” Chow pointed out, “and [impose an idea of] radical political action on top of raves. But I would argue, most of time, none of that is actually happening.” Got me there, Chow. Happens all the time in punk, too. While he casually noted there are collectives that do meaningful work — mutual aid, building community, and so on — the music is largely apolitical. In his estimate, creating significant change through techno would require a big cultural shift — one that begins with open, frank discussions about who is participating and how, and applying pressure on show promoters to change priorities.

One point the discussion kept circling back to was how well DJ sets have adapted to the constraints of COVID-19. Since they rely on individuals over groups and often incorporate technology-based audio-visual elements, club grooves are thriving (clubs, on the other hand…). Zetina emphasized her work has her flying often, that high-ranking DJs fly in private jets even more, and that there’s a global techno/rave culture that encourages bouncing between countries for events. While not a uniquely carbon intensive culture, high carbon emissions seem part of techno’s modern DNA. Does coronavirus present an opportunity to reimagine the rave as a carbon-neutral space?

Tyler said celebrating DJs successfully connecting with audiences during quarantine ignores why people go to raves: to physically connect with one another. McCarthy responded, “Not to say that we should completely replace live music with virtual reality, but if there’s a genre that could push forward virtual reality concerts, I would imagine it to be techno.” It’s a prescient insight. Creative work rooted in digital technology has long presented world-building opportunities. Alternate realities can be escapes, but they can also pose questions about the worlds we’re trying to escape from and even offer new visions for those worlds.

Zetina used the chat to link an article about Finland holding a virtual concert to celebrate May Day. Seven-hundred thousand people tuned in, and of them, 150,000 created avatars to move through and interact with the concert space. While not techno specific, it certainly sets a precedence for audiences’ willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. And it’s not inappropriate to treat global warming with the same urgency as COVID-19.

As a researcher noted during a recent panel discussion on COVID-19 and climate change at UC-Berkley, “The public health and climate debates are inextricably linked. In our highly connected world, a disease that originated 3,000 or 6,000 miles away can be at our doorsteps in a day or less. So, the way that we mobilize against COVID-19 needs to be reflected in the way that we mobilize against that other big global affliction called climate change.”

Spoiler: the techno panel did not reach a tidy conclusion about what techno should do about climate change. In fact, it maybe posed more questions than it answered. But one sign of a fruitful discussion is identifying some key stakes and possibilities, no? It definitely did — and offered a sick playlist to boot.

If you’re interested to learn more, the hour-and-a-half discussion (and subsequent one hour DJ sets from Zetina and Chow) are available on YouTube.

INTERVIEW: Chicago Synth-Punks Pixel Grip on their Debut LP Heavy Handed

band photos by Alexa Viscius

With “band interests” listed as “fresh cut flowers & cum” on their Facebook page, it’s no surprise that Pixel Grip’s debut LP, Heavy Handed, is about as sweet as a goth-disco record can be. Bandmates Rita Lukea, Jonathan Freund and Tyler Ommen grew up in Chicago suburb, Crystal Lake, but found themselves drawn to the house and electronic sounds that their neighboring city has to offer. After taking two years to fine-tune the record, the result is a lush, dark-wave wonderland, filled with catchy hooks and cutting lyrics.

Imagine if Aphex Twin, Lorde, LCD Soundsystem and SURVIVE  got together to make a supergroup. Entré Heavy Handed. Made primarily from three different analog synths, Pixel Grip definitely leans into the vintage synth realm without sounding derivative. The clarity and range of Lukea’s voice differentiate the group from archetypal “synth-pop” acts and guides the listener through the record’s peaks and valleys – of which there are many.

There’s a little bit of everything thematically on the record, from fun, lovestruck bangers like “Tell Him Off” to dark murder fantasies in “Body Like That.” Resounding themes of freedom, escapism and acceptance reverberate throughout the record. That being said, the band doesn’t seem to take themselves too seriously – it’s a delicate balance of blending life’s absurdity with brutal honesty and a whole lot of dirty synths.

AF: I read that you recorded this record over the last two years — how did you all start playing together? When and how did the first song on the record come together?

Jonathan Freund: We all met in high school. Rita and I had been making music together since then and Tyler joined about two years ago. “Golden Moses” is the oldest song, that one came about as an improvisation we later developed into a pop song.

AF: What type of synths do you use? How do you all normally start working on a track?

Rita Lukea: A few songs on the album start with a really crude demo. I would record a little demo on my phone using a $10 Yamaha that I found at a thrift store and my loop station. Jon would then go in and use more sophisticated equipment and sounds to produce a track.

JF: We also like to improvise all together and record what we come up on the spot, then stitch together the best moments into a song. We use a core group of three analog synthesizers, one vintage and two recent ones.

AF: What are some of the artists you grew up listening to? Did you all grow up in Chicago? How has being in Chicago now affected your sound as a band?

RL:  We grew up in Crystal Lake, a northwest suburb in a Red County.

JF: We shared a love for groups such as Daft Punk, Boards of Canada, Little Dragon, Trust, the list goes on! Chicago has an exciting music scene – we’re definitely noticing the club and techno influence starting to creep in.

AF: Your music feels very escapist — is this purposeful? How do you hope listeners feel when they hear your music?

RL: It’s not intentional but I welcome that.

JF: I want listeners to be taken on a ride when listening to Heavy Handed, as we embraced a variety of sounds and moods throughout the album.

AF: In “Body Like That,” the music is so fun but clouded with a terrifying theme. What inspired this song? Is it difficult to write/perform this kind of material?

RL: “Body Like That” was written during a very stressful time for me when a guy I had fling with over the summer started stalking me during the fall. I wrote the song as a form of catharsis and a warning. The girl I “met in Texas” is fictional. It’s just one long “don’t fuck with me” in the form of a narrative.

AF: What are some of the Chicago house bands that you’re inspired by?

JF: We love the classics, especially Mr. Fingers. We have the same synthesizer he used to make his first dance hits, the Roland Alpha Juno, and it feels like that instrument allows us to channel his spirit more closely.

AF: How did you all learn your instruments?

Tyler Ommen: I bought a drum pad and would play along with the radio. Once I purchased my first drum kit, I started playing along with my favorite records as best as I could and played in rock bands with some friends in middle school. I became really obsessed with drumming and started working with local instructors and entering myself into drum solo contests. Eventually, I moved to Chicago to study music performance and music business at Columbia.

JF: I learned saxophone and piano growing up, but switched to electronics the minute I heard Aphex Twin for the very first time.

AF: Death metal or k-pop?

RL: K-Pop.

TO: Death metal.

PLAYING DETROIT: Whateverfest Brings Detroit’s Disparate Music Scenes Together

When you think about music festivals, it’s easy to picture giant stages, overcrowded drink lines, and teenagers in various species of headwear. Whateverfest – an all-genre, all-ages DIY festival based in Detroit – is pretty much the opposite of that. Born from a “what if” conversation between friends in 2011, Whateverfest has grown from a few bands occupying every apartment in the Hyesta building to over 40 bands, spanning nearly every genre, playing at the Tangent Gallery. This Saturday, May 12th, the fest is returning for its eighth year and is set to go from 12 pm to 6 am the next day.

The fest’s lineup includes a vast array of Michigan bands as well as acts from Toronto (Rooftop Love Club), Chicago (Aathee Records), and Indianapolis (Gwendolyn Dot). One of the original festival organizers, Soph Sapounas, says that the event’s musical diversity comes from the laissez-faire ethos indicated by its moniker. “Whoever wants to play plays,” says Sapounas. “We’re all just trying to have a good time – it’s whatever. That [word] starts getting thrown around a little too much on the day of but it’s okay.”

Though the organizers strive to be as inclusive as possible, the festival’s popularity attracts a slew of submissions every year, which the team reviews in a democratic fashion. They host listening parties and make sure that the roster of artists performing represents the city as a whole. “We want to be a platform for artists and musicians in Detroit in general. Not just for rock, not just for techno – we want to include all of it,” says Sapounas. “That’s one of the things that keeps recurring, is people telling me that they think it’s really cool to see all the different scenes here and everyone having a good time together and not having that cool kid standoff.”

With groups like Spaceband (a nine-piece experimental funk collective), Ex American (new age electronic), and a handful of techno artists holding down the late-night sessions, the festival undoubtedly reps staple genres Detroit is known for and everything in between. If you’re in or around Detroit, this fest is more than worth checking out. If not, check out some of the amazing under-the-radar artists below – I’m betting they’re more eclectic than your Discover Weekly playlist.

PLAYING DETROIT: When The Party Ends/Begins: A Detroit Techno Playlist

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In the 80s, Detroit took on Chicago House and European electronica and quickly became pioneers in the creation of techno and the myriad of sub genres that followed. As an adverse counterpart to popular music, techno challenged radio ready hits and the contradictory exclusivity of punk while maintaining a sonic political retaliation against inner-city struggle. In doing so the city created a sphere in which bass lines and drum beats invited the world to move both inward and outward.

This past weekend marked what most of Detroit consider to be more holy than Christmas. The  Movement Festival honors the birthplace of techno and electronic music by throwing the most playfully outrageous three-day party where freaks can be freaks and non-freaks can unearth their spiritual resonance. Whether you’re finding yourself, losing yourself or just curious enough to feel something new, there is no better opportunity than Movement. Yes, like any festival you can anticipate $4 bottles of water and over policing and under-supplying of toilet paper, but what Movement offers the techno community is a true celebration of one of the most unexpectedly poetic musical revolutions in the history of the city and quite honestly, the world. A culture was born. People found home. And while our pillowcases may feel abandoned as we collectively remove glitter out of our tear ducts,  we are still coming down from the trip. Below are some of my favorite sedated, ambient tracks for the end of the after-after party (or just as suitably for the beginning).

  1. Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale “The PeeKs” (2016)
    [fusion_soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/255276600″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]The Godmother of Detroit House, Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale has stood her ground and made waves with her distinct thrashing funk. But in her track “The PeeKs” she finds an ambient softness that is the ideal soundscape for post-party come down.
  2. Jon Zott “Make Plans” ft. Yellokake (2015)
    [fusion_soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/205112511″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
    Most notably one of the busiest most desirable producers in Detroit, Jon Zott has a remarkable ear for bass line heartbeats. “Make Plans” flirts with pop vocals and muffled beat subtlety that feels sexy and sad.
  3. Carl Craig “At Les” (1997)

    Carl Craig is one of the most influential producers and DJ’s in Detroit’s rich techno history. His catalog swells and deflates with a subversive consciousness that gives the aural illusion of time travel; sounds bouncing back and forth off of one another like a psychedelic paradox. “At Les” is a prime example of this restraint vs. release vibe while still remaining stoned and ambient.

    4. Cybotron “Techno City” (1984)

    Formed in 1980 by Juan Atkins and Richard “3070” Davis, Cybotron paved the way for the echoing, intergalactic seduction that has been a cornerstone of Techno for years. “Techno City” feels grimy and sludgy yet invites you into their underground with a sexual pulse.

    5. Kevin Saunderson “E-Dancer” (1996)

    One cannot mention techno without recognizing one of the most detrimental founding fathers of the genre, Kevin Saunderson. Having reshaped electronic music with his insatiable knack for channeling both the past and future through trance-like grooves and dizzying tremors, Saunderson’s “E-Dancer” is a great example of his distorted snake funk.

    6. BLKSHRK “Arm Floatties (Night Swim)” (2015)

    Eddie Logix and Blair French teamed up to form BLKSHRK, an underwater groove that pulses and pumps with a delicacy suited for a tangled dance of sea amoeba and space-age mer-folk.

    7. Stone Owl “Chemtrails” (2013)

    An elusive twosome, Stone Owl is a local techno cult favorite. Although dance-able, Stone Owl latched onto an underlying sinister playfulness that pokes and prods the darkness out of the light. “CHEMTRAILS” is calming with bursts of anxious energy that sizzles like electricity in water, creating a chasm that shakes you from your hiding place.




LIVE REVIEW: The Juan MacLean @ Union Pool


I’ll be honest: when I hear the genres “house,” “techno,” or “dance” being used to describe a band, I picture a couple of dudes posturing behind laptops. But when The Juan MacLean took the stage at Union Pool on Thursday, I knew this show would be different. John MacLean, the core of the project, immediately put to use a theremin attached to his keyboard stand. Nancy Whang, of LCD Soundsystem, gripped the mic and sang brooding vocals, over endless synths and a beat by a drummer, who, though seriously overworked, never seemed to tire.

Apparently, MacLean decided after the first song that we weren’t dancing enough. “It’s very Thursday night in here,” he taunted the crowd, who countered with whistles and shouts. “It’s a very thirsty night in here,” Whang shot back, chugging a water bottle. The group had recently played three nights at the Cameo gallery, and on their first of three shows at Union Pool, they weren’t satisfied with just easing into their set, or letting the audience do so either.

Whang played percussion with a serious, stony look on her face. It never wavered, even when hitting a springy, rattling instrument earned her cheers. “That was a vibraslap,” she deadpanned, to more cheers. When she and Maclean began to trade vocal lines on “One Day,” it felt like at any minute the band was going to break into “Don’t You Want Me Baby”– they had all of the epic synths and a tense, emotional performance that had the whole room dancing as hard as they could, but none of the song’s cheesiness. And, no laptops.

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBGs8JkVkFY[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]