Detroit’s Movement Electronic Music Festival is one of the most important techno festivals in the world. Each year luminaries from the genre descend upon the city to celebrate techno’s past, present and future during an amazing weekend.
Not only did Demianczuk and Taranczuk succinctly capture the essence of their visit — hanging with Midland and Eats Everything to playing an after-hours party with Soul Clap — the duo snapped gorgeous black-and-white photos that are truly a sight to behold.
Soak it all up below and be sure to keep on eye out for their upcoming full-length album, Basic Colour Theory, due out shortly.
Started in Washington, D.C. full of energy! We’ve played at U Street Music Hall many times already and it’s definietly one of the most professional clubs in the US. We already have a good relationship with everybody that works there and the cool thing about the club is there is always a lot of professional dancers so we always play some broken beats and then some hip-hop at the end. If our flight from NYC hadn’t been delayed for three hours it would have been even more fun!
After pre-party in D.C. on the way to Detroit, it was perfect weather for DEMF weekend. On the plane we decided that we were going to play a lot of classics, so since it’s our first time and it’s always been a dream to play there we thought this is the right way to do it! Pulled out a mashup of The Prodigy and our tune “They Frontin’.”
Movement Electronic Music Festival has announced the first phase of artists playing its annual event at Detroit’s Hart Plaza taking place over Memorial Day weekend on May 25-27. While the first group of artists includes many of the usual suspects (Richie Hawtin, Carl Craig, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson), the bill features plenty of interesting bookings including producer/saxophonist Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salker (Big Gigantic), John Digweed, Andy C, Luke Slater/Planetary Assault System (live) and bass acts Noisia, Mala and Hatcha.
Obligatory press gush from Chuck Flask, artist coordinator for the Movement Electronic Music Festival: “This year’s lineup is a reflection of artists that have been redefining electronic music for decades and those that continue to push the boundaries of the genre.”
Tickets for Movement are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting Movement’s website. The cost for a three-day weekend pass is just $79 and grants fans general admission access to the festival grounds with in-and-out privileges. The cost for a three-day VIP pass is just $199 and includes many extras that can be found on the website.
Check the trailer and full lineup below.
Phase 1 Lineup
A Tribe Called Red
Ben Klock b2b Marcel Dettmann
Brendon Moeller aka Ecologist
Derrick May & Kevin Saunderson
Luke Slater / P.A.S. Live
The M Machine
Tommy Four Seven
Kevin Saunderson and his childhood friends Derrick May and Juan Atkins — better known as the Belleville Three — took dance music into the future in the ’80s, using technology to create, define and popularize techno around the world. Little did they realize that their sonic experiments would launch one of the greatest and longest lasting youth movements the world has ever seen. To say that today’s beatmakers owe a debt of gratitude is perhaps too great of an understatement.
Where Atkins and May hovered close to the underground, Saunderson’s scope went wider thanks to crafting crossover classics like Inner City’s “Big Love” and “Good Life” in addition to producing tracks created under a slew of monikers (E-Dancer, Reese Project, The Elevator, etc.). Having weathered countless musical fads and trends, Saunderson, like his Detroit peers, has stayed true to his sound, never compromising and always thinking about how to push his sounds forward.
This year Saunderson’s KMS Records is turning 25, and The Elevator taking a rare victory lap with The Creators of Techno: KMS 25 – Tribute to Detroit, a massive party going taking place on Ma7 27 at St. Andrews Hall in Detroit featuring Saunderson, Kenny Larkin, Stacey Pullen, Blake Baxter, Terrence Parker, M.K., Kyle Hall, D-Wynn, Allan Ester, Buzz Goree, DJ Minx, Mike Huckaby & Mike Clark. Plus exclusive live performances from Kevin Saunderson’s own Inner City and Carl Craig presents 69 Live.
And if you can’t make the party, well, don’t worry. KMS will release a digital and physical box set next month featuring some of the label’s greatest moments.
We caught up with Saunderson in France on his way to Italy to find out about the early days of KMS and how his Detroit blowout came about.
Let’s get right to it and talk about the big KMS 25th anniversary party coming up in Detroit. Does it really feel like 25 years to you?
Kevin Saunderson. [Pauses] Man, it went so quick. I wish I could start it all over again! [breaks up laughing] People say that time goes quick, but I don’t think you really get it until you go through that period of time.
Looking back on 25 years, which releases stand out for you? What were some of the best moments for you?
Releasing my first record, “Triangle of Love,” on my own label and telling my brother about what I was doing. You know I’m making music now. He’s like, sure you are! So I go back to visit my family in New York where I am originally from and I’m hanging out at their place. Tony Humphries, who was mixing at the time on the radio, is on and “Triangle of Love” comes on in the mix. We were all excited, jumping up and down. That’s my record! That’s my record! That was so inspirational. It’s one thing to make a record but it’s a different level of excitement to hear it played on the radio. Especially at that tie when it was the beginning for me. I had this vision I was going to send my record to every popular DJ and get them to play it. I used to hear Tony at [Club] Zanzibar so that was a pivotal moment.
“Chez Damier, Mark Kinchen, Stacy Pullen, Carl Craig….they all started out releasing records on KMS.”
In 1988 when I did my deal with Virgin for “Big Fun.” You know I had this record on my label and it was selling like hot cakes. I couldn’t keep up with demand. It got so bad I went to the pressing plant….they were pressing my records and selling them to distributors. I had no way of knowing. So I learned an early lesson in the beginning. I wanted to build my label, but I couldn’t check the pressing plant everyday. When I signed I got more exposure, and I was able to travel back to England with my techno/house sound. I soon saw Paul Oakenfold on a Monday night at Spectrum in London and he played “Big Love.” I had never seen such a reaction to a record. It was the biggest day of my life and even at the Paradise Garage I hasn’t seen something like that. That record just touched people; it was a heavenly experience and it was magical. I was so touched by that experience and it give me a lot of confidence and belief in what I was going. I was no longer the kid who played football who wanted to make records.
Have there been any moments when you wanted to give up on running a label and pack it in?
Yeah, I’ve started and stopped and started and stopped [KMS] a few times. It’s hard running a label when you’re traveling the world and learning the business at the same time. When we started we were all naïve. Nobody told us how the music business worked. We learned from our mistakes, asked questions and made moves that we learned from. For instance, we did a Virgin compilation. They paid me and I paid an artist like Blake Baxter who was on my label some money. I didn’t know anything about royalties…we had some problems businesswise but we cleaned it up and learned about how the numbers worked. It was frustrating because some artists thought they were owed money when they weren’t. I had an artist’s wife show up at my house asking when I was going to release her husband’s album. Moments like that aren’t so great.
What about all the great names that came out of KMS?
Chez Damier, Mark Kinchen, Stacy Pullen, Carl Craig….they all started out releasing records on KMS.
How does that make you feel that you helped start their careers?
I’m proud. I still have good relationships with all of them, and we help each other out when we can. I feel great about that….I was in a position and I helped inspire and gave opportunities with my label and studio. It was all about the music back then — a true niche of artists who came together to be creative. Sometimes I left my studio open too much! But out of it came a lot of classics.
How did the idea for an anniversary party during DEMF come about?
I thought it would be nice to do a tour but then I thought it would be too hard and expensive. I thought the way to be most effective would to be to do it at home during the festival weekend. It wasn’t as hard as I thought but the only problem is massaging egos because everyone wants to play in prime time! Everyone has been very cooperative and we’re all excited. It should be a great event.
The party is at St. Andrew’s Hall.
Right. I wanted to do the party at someplace that was safe, close to the festival and wouldn’t have any problems with the law. I’ve done events there before so I know the building.
Tell me about the 25th anniversary box set dropping in June.
It’s going to be four or maybe five discs. We’re trying to decide if we should add one more. There’s some stuff I want to put on and take off. There’s also going to be a six-album vinyl sampler….and there will be stuff online. We’re pulling it together through master tapes, some of which had to be remastered.
We’ve talked a lot about the past, so I have to ask you the obvious question: what’s next?
My summer is pretty much full between doing Inner City shows and my DJing. I’m doing Bestival and lots of great festivals. It’s busy. I’m trying to get the next Inner City album done and work on E-Dancer. It’s all systems go.
It’s been more than two days since I’ve eased myself back into life in New York after Detroit’s tenth annual Movement Festival, formerly known as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. I’m not sure what it is about the experience that makes writing about it so hard. Maybe it’s my lack of distance from the event — the fact that I came of age in the Detroit techno scene in the late ’90s, the festival the culminating event of every summer for the past ten years. Maybe it’s the joy of revisiting the cultural space that once provided the only meaningful context for my young life I could find. Or maybe it’s the bittersweet satisfaction of seeing, no, hearing and feeling the violent outcry of a city that never seems to get a break ringing out from its damaged core, the specter of recent blows to its already ailing automotive industry casting an uneasy shadow over the festival’s vibrant lights (The General Motors building is, after all, adjacent to Hart Plaza. It figures as a vague reminder of the once great city’s ongoing struggle.)
Because Detroit has always been a place where one can experience, in a deeply visceral way, the sharpest of contrasts between life, death, anomie, and post-apocalyptic decay. When I first heard the sound of techno 12 years ago, stepping into a rave at the infamous Packard Plant, I discovered in those pounding, anarchic beats a startling palimpsest of soul and warmth — a warmth Derrick May brought back during the festival’s closing set this past Monday when he dropped Aril Brikha’s 1998 breakout record “Groove La Chord.” But yes! About the festival…
This year’s personal highlights include:
– Steve Bug rocking the main stage with his trademark funky grooves
– Derrick May’s closing set, which would have blown off the roof, had there been one.
– The crowd a spasm of fever and arms during Loco Dice vs. Luciano
– Ryan Elliott rocking the Red Bull Music Academy Saturday
– Octave One: ’nuff said
– Ghostly’s Todd Osborn and friends tearing shit up with a brutal mix of minimal, electro and acid house at the Blank Artists showcase (Saturday night festival afterparty)
– Los Hermanos rocking the main stage with a sublime live performance of Detroit’s own DJ Rolando’s classic “Knights of the Jaguar”
– Ghostly’s Mike Servito and Derek Plaslaiko along with New York’s own Bryan Kasenic (aka Spinoza) of Beyond Booking throwing down mad beats at No Way Back (Sunday night afterparty)
– And, of course, Audion dropping dark, wicked grooves Monday evening at the underground (or Made In Detroit) stage.
All in all, it was an amazing weekend. Techno-philes, if you didn’t make the trip to the D this year, be sure to book plans for next year now. Hotels are reasonably priced and there’s nothing quite like experiencing the spirit of techno brought back to its roots. And when you hear the pounding rhythms of Jeff Mills’ “Steps to Enchantment” filling all the Motor City’s majestic and tragic evacuated spaces, you’ll know that your recession dollars were dollars well spent.
Techno festivals may be commonplace in Europe, where Sonar, Love Parade and the like rule the summer circuit, but they’re a rare breed here in North America; but what America lacks in variety is more than made up for with quality. Detroit Electronic Music Festival – dubbed Movement in recent years – is an annual throwdown that has been taking place every Memorial Day weekend since 2000, bringing legends like Richie Hawtin and Carl Craig shoulder to shoulder with up-and-coming artists in an effort to pay homage to the Motor City’s pivotal role in the genre’s creation. This year featured the highest production quality of any edition of the festival yet, and generated the event’s highest turnout as well, passing well beyond the 75,000 mark.
Barring a solitary rain shower on Monday, the three-day weekend was blessed with gorgeous weather, a welcome relief for those who were met with thunderstorms and stifling humidity in 2007, and it set the festivities off on the right foot. Saturday morning started slowly, as Tycho delivered a blessed-out set of IDM at the Beatport tent and a crowd of ravers basked in Echospace’s echo-laden dub techno at the Vitamin Water stage. After that, it was full throttle straight through Monday night, as throbbing minimal techno – complete with an ace M_nus showcase featuring Richie Hawtin (below, left), Magda (below, right) and Heartthrob – sleek house and bumping hip-hop grooves pounded eardrums to a pulp and left many a pair of dancing feet bruised and broken.
Of course, the weekend wasn’t all blue skies and good times. Paxahau, the Detroit-based promoter primarily responsible for piecing Movement together, managed to pull in their record numbers this year with a less techno-centric line-up than usual that included acts like Girl Talk, Peanut Butter Wolf and Moby. The result: occasionally awkward vibes and a smattering of confused looking people who had come along expecting the low-slung hip-hop of the Cool Kids but were met with driving 4/4 techno blaring from every direction.
The promoters also went full-tilt with corporate sponsorship, fully embracing product placement from longtime sponsors like Beatport and Vitamin Water, while bringing fresh blood to the table like MySpace. Considering Paxahau’s penchant for plastering banners on every available surface, there was little room to turn without being smacked in the face with another advert; even the stages were rechristened with the monikers of the highest bidders. It created an atmosphere that lacked the soul of past events, while hopefully offering the benefit of allowing the festival to grow and ensure its future.
These are minor grievances, to be sure. At its core, the festival was yet another in an unbroken string of great successes for Paxahau, and proof positive why so many people return, year after year, to the bombed out shell of a city that is Detroit to spend their Memorial Day weekend partying in the Birthplace of Techno. Long live Movement!