I had an awesome interview recently with Cornelius Harris of Submerge, Underground Resistance, and Interstellar Fugitives 2. He spoke pointedly about race and being Black in Detroit, about Detroit music - beyond misconceptions about what techno is all about from the world outside Detroit. More to come about that after I transcribe this interview, and after I transcribe two other interviews that have been waiting on my desktop for me to listen to for way too long!
The primary things that I want to learn in my interviews with DJs are as follows: Background/Bio in Detroit electronic music; historical information about this music in Detroit; details about performing a set - planning for it, choosing records/other pieces of music, how things come together in club, what influences set in the midst of performing, and other important things that come up in a show.
So was that last post about geography a little random? Sure, but I am in a new place even though it is still the midwest. (I'm from Indiana.) Every little detail about being in this new location is important because it impacts what I am learning and my perspective of things, and it affects Detroit folks' perspectives and culture in general as well. I really am fascinated with the everyday details of living in Michigan and comparing those experiences with my preconceptions of Detroit before living here. Last night I was listening to a radio show from BBC Radio One by Mary Ann Hobbs that took place in May 2005 during the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Hobbs was interviewing Dan Bean, another British radio DJ. She asked him to describe what things looked like in Detroit. He described the city as being desolate, lifeless, empty, and strange. He explained that you can drive for miles and not see a single person, buildings are empty, even skyscrapers are abandoned. These comments led into a discussion about how inspiring the landscape of Detroit is and how amazing the music created there can be. So the intentions were positive, but the observations were extremely short sighted and, for the most part, untrue. I have been living in Detroit for 3 months now, and I have not had this experience once while driving within Detroit's city limits. I don't actually live in the city of Detroit, I live just outside in Ferndale. But I have spent a lot of time in Detroit, and it is a hard city. There is definitely a lot of poverty, many abandoned buildings, and some areas that are clearly desolate and impoverished. However, this city is full of life, full of people. There is so much beauty, so much art, such a vibrant grouping of cultures and communities, that it just seems unfortunate that most people from outside Detroit perceive of the city as being a wasteland.