Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ethnomusicology & Academics

Of course I post a message to SEM-L, the Society for Ethnomusicology email listserv, when I have the Institutional Review Board, Researchers Beware, skull and pirate swords post up as the first post. An ethnomusicologist sent a message to the listserv asking for people to notify her of ethnomusicology blogs so that she can compile a review of the blogs. I'm not sure what the intended outcome of her review will be, but if it enables more communication amongst ethnomusicologists and other scholars, then I'm all for it. The only replies that went to the full SEM-L list of recipients were mine and that of well known, published, established, has had his Ph.D. for a long time and I don't even have one yet, ethnomusicologist Jeff Todd Titon. Here is his blog about music and sustainability:
Maybe I could have made sure to have a bit more sophisticated post up, or something that doesn't have the potential to make me out to be a shoddy researcher or a wanky academic. But whatever, it will really be alright. The whole point of this blog is to help me engage in a dialog with other interested people, be they other bloggers/people who write about music, DJs and producers that I am working with in Detroit, other musicians who are interested, and maybe even a few academic folks, fellow ethnomusicologists/ethnographers/anthropologists/whatevers who are interested in conversing about the things I am experiencing while conducting this field research, and conversing about broader issues in ethnomusicology and ethnographic research. And on top of all that nobility, I get to write something that is a bit goofy, a bit silly at times. When I'm writing, and some phrase or idea or word order causes me some giggles, I feel the need to put that in here. Because I'm not interested in taking things so seriously that it's no longer fun, and a blog is the perfect genre of communication for me to try and include some humor. And if my words cause occasional laughter in my readers, then great, and if not, then it's a good thing I'm still working on it! By the time I'm actually fully engaged in writing my dissertation (hopefully September!), maybe I'll be so good at humorous writing that I can actually do it well in the midst of serious analysis of Detroit techno and house. Just imagine the glory that I will feel.

I appreciate all the positive responses/comments I have recieved over the past week. Clearly catastrophe and whining get attention! Oh, just kidding! In response to the "Anonymous" comment on the IRB post below, which I first read as being from friend and active reader, and producer, Anonym - in that moment the criticism of the comment was a bit shocking, but then I realized that it was from someone anonymous...and criticism is fine, it can be helpful, but I just had a moment of "what??...wait...oh."

Anyway, in response to the anonymous comment, I write clearly in the IRB post that this is the result of submitting an annual renewal of my previously approved study, the proposal for which I submitted and was granted approval well before commencing any interviews. And to David Float, I appreciate the solidarity, however, I certainly cannot ignore these rules on the basis of my competency because the IRB review and approval process is closely tied to support and continued approval of my research in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. Any unethical breach of these relationships could have potentially damaging effects on my research, future publications, and the conferring of my doctoral degree.

I debated whether or not to respond to these criticisms and first thought that I would just have the critical comments up with that post and just leave it as it stood. I assumed that readers would understand that there is proof in the pudding and that answers to the critiques could be found in the original post. But then, in looking through my sitemeter, I saw someone had linked from the message board of a site called Waxidermy. So I explored and found a single, brief critique of my entire blog, basically claiming that it was bullshit that I had posted this to the SEM listserv because serious dudes like Steven Feld would be subjected to this shit. Steven Feld is a fabulous ethnomusicologist and anthropologist, is a central scholar in the development of the field of ethnomusicology, is also important to other related disciplines, and his writing has been extremely influential to my education as an ethnomusicologist. Here's another link about him:

I have a few things to say about this criticism: first of all, so we really think Steven Feld and other busy ethnomusicologists read every single SEM-L email? We all have the capacity to delete, you know. Second, is there really such a disconnect between older, tenured, extensively published scholars and younger, less published, untenured, maybe even un-Ph.D.'d scholars that I should automatically be ignored and have my writing labeled as shit because I am at this stage in my life and my academic career?

Youth is good, turnover is good, freshness and newness in approach, thought, and action will keep ethnomusicology relevant! So, regardless of the fact that Steven Feld may or may not read my blog, or any other scholar for that matter, I will continue to do what I do with pride and confidence - although it gets shaken from time to time - in the relevancy of my contributions.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Institutional Review Boards and Human Subjects

Fellow researchers, BEWARE!!

I had an interesting and momentarily devastating experience this week. I have since gotten over it and am doing whatever I can to turn things around, but it’s not all in my hands. It has to do with the important matter of my research. In order for me to conduct this research with other human beings in which I am interacting with people, learning from them, and recording their words during interviews with plans to quote them in future publications, my plans for study must undergo the scrutiny of my university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). I am doing research involving “human subjects.” And I represent Indiana University and the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology in IU’s College of Arts and Sciences; so in order to successfully complete my Ph.D. and be granted that degree, I must conduct my research in a way that has been approved to be ethical and in accordance with IU’s IRB research policies. Are you bored yet? No, sorry, it is actually important, because A LOT of academic research is done by graduate students all over the world from American universities (I’m not knowledgeable about IRB related activities at colleges and universities outside of the US), and it is important in the broad scheme of things to make sure that there are guidelines for ethical research practices, ones that we are all expected to understand and abide by. IRB and Human Subjects review processes stem from primarily medical and health related studies involving research on diseases, pharmaceuticals, and medical procedures. This is a tiny little bit of background. For more info on IU’s IRB, here is the link:

There are applications to fill out, different types of review depending on the degree of impact the study will have on the subjects involved, or the people involved. Since there is no risk to anyone that I am working with (i.e. no one will have an allergic reaction to my interview questions), my study fit within the guidelines for “exempt” review. This is a quicker and less involved review process than the “full” review process. Another important document that I am required to use is my Informed Consent Form. I present this at every interview asking for their permission to quote them in any future publications that I write based on that interview. The consent form is a double sided piece of paper with information about my study, about the involvement of the research subject, contact information, and also asks for permission to deposit each interview recording into the Archives of African American Music & Culture at IU upon completion of my study.

Some people in the humanities/ethnographic disciplines like ethnomusicology, anthropology, folklore, etc. complain about being required to participate in a research ethics and methods review process that is primarily directed at medical research and the protection of human subjects in that realm. Up until this past week, I have had no trouble with my IRB applications and have tried to maintain a positive viewpoint on the whole process. It is necessary, we all have to do it, and there have been great strides made over the past five years or so by university IRB’s to expand their policies and perspectives beyond healthcare and medicine, and to account for research in the humanities.

Well now, this week, my confidence was dramatically shaken. I have been working on submitting revised forms for the required annual IRB review of my study. Here’s the official title of my study:

Detroit Electronic Music: Eclecticism and Diversity in Performance, Production, and Identity.

No promises that it will remain that for my final dissertation, but that’s what it is for now. In the email correspondence I was having with a person at the IU IRB office, I explained that one of my many means for “recruitment” for my study was through social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. Not knowing that that was a method that was against university policy, I was surprised to learn that it was a problem. Here is what I wrote in part of my “Noncompliance Report” that I am required to submit in order to address this problem:

I had no idea that these methods of recruitment were against university policy. I realize that this information was made available on the IRB website at the time of my original application to the IRB in January 2008, but I was not aware of this policy until April 21, 2009. I now realize that I was misinterpreting the use of social networking sites for recruitment. I originally interpreted the use of these social networking sites as a form of email. I understood Facebook or Myspace to be like a personal website on which the individual made his or her email address public. I did not send out mass messages to potential subjects on either of these networking sites. I identified potential subjects through other research methods like informal face-to-face interaction with other research subjects, interviews with other subjects who I had already met prior to using Facebook or Myspace, or reading magazine articles and books about important figures in Detroit electrnoic music. These subjects who I already knew prior to using Facebook and Myspace suggested other individuals who they imagined would be interested in participating in my study. Typically, they would suggest individuals' names to me and point me to Facebook or Myspace to get in touch with them. Unfortunately, I did not know that this was not an approved recruitment method.  Had I known this, I would have actively sought out other methods for contacting these particular subjects. I could have asked subjects that I was already working with to introduce me. I could have also found ways to contact subjects through their own personal websites or the websites of their record label. All of the subjects that I contacted through Facebook and Myspace also have their own websites or are noted as being artists on their record label's website. They all already have public contact information available online outside of Facebook and Myspace.  

I understand that social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace explicitly state that their sites are not for research, but for social networking only. Before knowing about this policy, I interpreted my use of Facebook and Myspace as social networking.  I did not interpret my actions as "information mining." The phrase "information mining" does not characterize the way in which I intended to recruit research subjects.

You think that will do me some good? I sure hope so. I took a very close look at both sites' Terms of Use, Privacy Policies, and Facebook’s Code of User Conduct, and found nothing specific about research and these sites. Regardless, I learned, it is institutional policy and will not be changing any time soon. This is my attempt at being transparent about my experiences with human subjects and sharing information for fellow researchers doing ethnographic research. So, for now, I’m waiting for my Noncompliance Report to be reviewed and see if there will be any retroactive effect on research I have done over the past year. I also cannot go forward with any more interviews until I receive my renewed Informed Consent Form since my previous form has expired. This issue of noncompliance will not affect every single interview or research relationship that I have formed over the past year and four months that I have been here. Many of my relationships were started without the use of social networking sites. But there are a few people with whom my first contact was through Facebook or Myspace. Will that pose an ethical problem with the resultant interviews? I do not yet know. I got all my swearing out the first day this all happened, so now I will just wait and stay calm and positive.

Archer Record Pressing Plant

Theo Parrish and Archer Record Pressing Plant in Detroit

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vinyl and Mojo

I have spent the past two weeks getting rejected by multiple funding agencies to help fund my research and dissertation writing, again…, getting stoked about DEMF, buying records and receiving some more records, and compiling an xls file cataloging my modest vinyl collection. I actually have more than a milk crate now!! I would like to keep track of what records I got where, whether they were donations or gifts, or where I bought them in Detroit. I doubt I’ll do this forever, probably just while I’m “collecting data” and documenting Detroit electronic music for my dissertation research. I’ve also been taking photos of my vinyl so that I can throw up the super cool vinyl flung on the floor shot that music writers must publish at some point!

In the above photo is Frampton Comes Alive! The dude at Melodies and Memories asked me what that was doing in with my Basic Channel, Scott Grooves, and Anonymous Release, but then agreed that it actually was "the shit." Also in the photo, Members of the House "These Are My People" / "Feel the Fire" 1992 on Shockwave Records; it actually says Mad Mike Music on the label! Love that. And $1 record that my 7 year old son found at Street Corner; everything is in Russian except the words "Russian Balalaika." And he loves it! I have been getting more adept at using James’ very lovely digital camera to take actual real lasting photos rather than my crap camera that I can’t do shit with. Take a look at these skills, and lovely pieces of vinyl:

In the above photos:
Freddie Roach, 'Good Move!' 2000(1963), Blue Note 4158.
Earth, Wind, & Fire, The Best of Vol 1. 1978 Columbia.
The All American Pop Collection, Vol. 3 - another score by my 7 year old.
Anonym, Anonymous Release 3 2005, Anonymous Release - totally hot, love it love it.
Craig T. Cooper - haven't listened to this one yet, my 5 year old picked it out.

I fully enjoyed the entire weekend of National Record Store Day! It was such a nice weekend; super intense and busy, and really great. Friday night after work, I came home and we all got ready to go out for pizza and then down to the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in the museum campus/Wayne State area of Detroit for a free outdoor show that WhoDat played at and then the Insomnia hip hop crew played. It was in the central courtyard of the school. There were all kinds of sculptures out on the front lawn donated by the Detroit Institute of the Arts. The boys were playing around them chasing each other and giggling. WhoDat played a lot of old Detroit classics like Sharivari and some Cybotron, and then some tracks important to Detroit techno’s history like New Order’s “Blue Monday.” We hung out there and watched the college kids skateboard and draw with chalk. The hip hop was great too. It was such a beautiful spring night. We parked a little bit far away and got to walk through a few neighborhoods around there. Really beautiful old brick buildings, a few magnolia trees, and a clear blue sky with purples and oranges in the sunset.

The next day was pretty busy. It was National Record Store Day. I remember last year going to Record Time in Roseville to see WhoDat spin and picked up an O’Jays CD – before I had turntables! Saturday we went to Melodies and Memories in Eastpointe and I got a few good records. Found a Scan 7, Scott Grooves, Basic Channel, Peter Frampton, and a few others. We also went to Street Corner Records in Beverly Hills. It is a nice store; I’d never been there – lots of cheap records, like under $3. Very small techno and house selection, which is fine, but lots of r&b, jazz, and old rock vinyl. Good place to start expanding my tiny collection beyond techno and house music. Saw WhoDat there, she was playing later in the day. It was really busy in there already and it was about 3pm. Then we headed down to the John K King Bookstore in downtown Detroit – it’s near the Cobo center, and the Lodge Freeway. James was looking for a photo book there. It’s a four story used book store FULL of books. And the shelves are all arranged like a library, not like a spacious book store. It was glorious! I don’t know how many books they have there, but it’s an amazing place. The children’s section was really fun to look through. Lots of old books that I remember from when I was a kid – Hardy Boys, Little House on the Prairie, Babysitter’s Club, etc. It reminded me of what libraries held when I was a kid. Old hard cover books with faded images, yellowing pages, and that old book smell. 1950s and 1960s designs, illustrations, and themes. They had milk crates to sit on and small, plastic flip top desks with books inside and little wooden chairs set up at those. We found some old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles books, a mini Transformers comic, a Return of the Jedi story book with photos from the film, and an old chapter book called Robots on Saturn. It’s about the adventures of some kind of young space explorer. I can’t wait to read it with the boys.

The next day after a full afternoon of flying kites, starting a sugar crystals experiment, making vortexes that model the formation of the Great Red spot of Jupiter, and major planning for building shelves to hold turntables, mixer, amp, speakers, 1 CDJ, and records, James and I headed out to Bert’s Motown Room in Eastern Market for the 3rd annual Mojo Era Tribute Party. We got to the party in the middle of Rick Wilhite’s set. They had a projector for visuals which was different from last year; no visuals or decorations last year. There was some humorous video clips of a Richard Simmons aerobics class in there, some kind of animation involving brains, melting colorful liquid, and some footage of a traditional west African drumming and dancing ensemble. And, get this, this is the first time I have gone out to a club where I recognized a majority of the tracks played. Major breakthrough for Denise Dalphond!! Some things I already knew before beginning this research – like Kraftwerk, Cybotron, B-52s (but not Mesopotamia), Prince (of course!), Tom Tom Club. And a lot of the songs I now recognize thanks to WhoDat’s tutelage. Older 80’s songs that Mojo used to play and that were popular in Detroit during the 1980’s and early 1990’s, roller skating songs, funk like the O’Jays, Earth, Wind, and Fire, some really great break beats and funky hip hop that Carl Craig played that was so good. Oh yeah, Carl Craig freaking played and it was awesome. Carl Craig was there when we arrived and he was setting up for a while. Marc Duncan was there helping with the set up. Unfortunately I missed his set. I also missed The Butcher and Scott Grooves – the party started at 7pm. But I did catch them all last year at the party. Carl Craig had CDJs set up (I don’t think these were there last year, and I’m pretty sure all the other DJs listed above are very devoted to playing only vinyl). Carl also had a hard drive and a Mac laptop. He used ALL the equipment and played a great set – he used everything including the turntables for vinyl, and it wasn’t for Serato or Scratch or something because he was really flipping through his vinyl and looking for songs, playing actual records. He was really into it all too, really lively. So there you go, a great, moving set using a variety of analog and digital equipment to create a performance. I wanted to introduce myself to him and thought that I would because it seemed like he was finishing up around 1:30, but then he got back on the decks and kept playing. We hung out a bit longer and then I just couldn’t keep going. James and I were both exhausted. So I didn’t get to meet him, but I’ll try and get in touch with him.

And now I have to pause from this story to tell you this bit of disturbing news, for me at least:

I chatted with Pirahnahead the next day about the Mojo party and he said that Carl stopped playing right after James and I walked out the door to head home…what a nerd, I can’t believe I left when I did. I actually knew multiple people at the club who could have introduced me to Carl – like Pirahnahead, and little nerdo me didn’t stick around long enough to take care of my business! What a nerd!

Anyway, I talked to Mike Clarke at the party, and he said he just got the Archives of African American Music & Culture (AAAMC) newsletter, Linernotes, from Indiana University. This issue that I have linked to is not the most current mailed issue, but it is the most current that they have online. The AAAMC is the organization that I worked with to organize and fund the Roots of Techno conference back in October 2006 at Indiana University. I’m so glad he is receiving this newsletter and I hope that everyone from the conference is getting those. It seems like a nice way to keep in touch. Mike Clarke was actually on the cover of a previous AAAMC newsletter. The photo was taken by my husband, James Rotz. And yes, that is Cornelius Harris in the background. I also talked to Brian Gillespie at the Mojo party – he told me about the Red Bull Music Academy event coming up right before DEMF weekend (that's a Facebook link - so far that's all I got). He said that he had Juan Atkins all set to do it and now he’s going to be out of town and can’t do it. I think he said he’s trying to set it up with a producer and with a DJ. Should be good! I went last year when it was held at Submerge and Dennis Coffey, Funk Brother and studio musician for Motown when it was housed in Detroit, spoke about music and Detroit and Motown.

And now look at my Prince and Michael Jackson and miscelaneous collections:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


This Saturday, April 18th, is National Record Store Day. Hopefully I'll be able to get out to a few stores in town. Here's an ambitious list of places to find vinyl in the Detroit area:

Detroit Threads
10238 Joseph Campau St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 872-1777

Melodies and Memories
23013 Gratiot Ave
Eastpointe, MI 48021
(586) 774-8480

Record Time
27360 Gratiot Ave
Roseville, MI

(586) 775-1550

Street Corner Music
17620 W 13 Mile Rd
Beverly Hills, MI 48025
(248) 644-4777

Stormy Records
13210 Michigan Ave
Dearborn, MI 48126
(313) 581-9322

Encore Recordings of Ann Arbor
417 E. Liberty St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 662-6776

Record Graveyard
10201 Joseph Campau St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 870-9647

Record Collector
327 W 9 Mile Rd
Ferndale, MI 48220
(248) 548-9888

And only open during the DEMF/Movement festival in May, and where I plan to be Friday of that weekend, RIGHT after work:

Somewhere in Detroit
3000 East Grand Blvd
Detroit, MI 48202-3134

Monday, April 13, 2009

Carlos Souffront, i.e. I love my interviews!!!!

Cataloging, classification, and labeling are major forces at work for many techno and house producers and DJs in Detroit. Some of them might even secretly wish for a degree in library science, I know I do! Calling up seemingly endless lists of producers, DJs, events, places, labels, track/song titles, and other facts; referencing and cross-referencing just short of oblivion while maintaining a thriving, vibrant relevance to the past, present and future all in the same sentence, or DJ set; these are things that I continually experience here in Detroit when I interview someone or go out to listen and dance.

Every time I finish an interview with a musician, DJ, or event promoter, I usually come home and exclaim, “That was the best interview ever!!” And always with two exclamation points, just ask my husband! This gigantic ethnographic project that I am doing has been so intense and satisfying, and I often develop a strong affection for each interview. This affection is all summed up in the interview participant(s), the experience of the 1, 2, or 3+ hour span of time, the location and time of day/year giving me a particular context for the conversation, and then the recordings of all these interviews that I get to cherish forever. I interviewed Carlos Souffront over the weekend. We communicated via email for a few weeks, he asked me to email him my interview questions and then sent me his thoughtful responses to them and let me know that if I wanted to get together to talk further, then that would be fine. I started reading his responses and felt immediately certain that I wanted to meet with him. It’s great to get written responses from people because people express things in such different ways when writing as opposed to speaking. And, I am so happy that we got together in person to talk because it really was fabulous. He spoke of genre, race, history, identity, and contextualization. During the whole interview, on the outside I was trying to keep it together, stay composed, but on the inside I felt like a little girl jumping up and down and clapping my hands and giggling from time to time – there were so many moments of extreme brilliance and listening to it and transcribing it right now is just knocking my socks off.

Talk about brilliant fucking interpretations and elegant descriptions of techno and house music in Detroit, while simultaneously embracing the eclecticism and complexity that is characteristic of electronic music in Detroit. Carlos’ thoughts on music, genre classifications, collective and individual identity, time and space, and the centrality of the music event in techno and house are so exciting to me and so profoundly developed. Believe me, I’m going to spend a lot of time with this in my dissertation. Oh, I’m gushing again…I love doing interviews and meeting all these people and learning all this STUFF!

We talked about Jive Turkey, Zoots Coffeehouse, his Crush Collision radio show on WCBN, Raving for Christ, Maurice Joshua and Phuture, School Kids Records, and letting young big pants ravers come to his party. <smiley face>

He even spoke about contextualization and recontextualization as major forces in the continuing vitality, or sometimes lack of, in techno and house music. And I tell ya, I’m so excited about that because those words are already major concepts for my dissertation, and he just fueled that ember a little more.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Benny Benassi??

Benny Benassi just popped up on my Pandora station that I made and love. Fucking Benny mean I created this eclectic station that I love to listen to and rarely lets me down, and you all think that Benny Benassi fits in there?? Fucking Benny Benassi.

Oh My!

The birds were singing a sweet song this morning:

Dan Sicko...

Techno Rebels...

2nd Edition...

Where do I line up!!??

Aaron Carl, Vinyl, & Bileebob

I was called a purist by Aaron Carl last Thursday! Meaning, a vinyl purist, someone who prefers vinyl records over any kind of digital format, like CDs or mp3s. And not only prefers, but actually fancies vinyl vehemently over the other options for playback and DJ performance. We were doing an interview at a nearby friendly pancake house and Aaron was telling me about his music, about his history as a producer, DJ, and vocalist, and about Detroit. Then he turned it on me and started asking me questions…wait a minute, this interview is not about me, now you want to hear what I think!?...oh no, what should I say!!?? He asked me what I think about analog and digital music and the debate over the two. Unfortunately, the first part of my answer caused him to put his head in his hands and said, “Oh no, you’re a purist!” I quickly explained that I also embrace digital forms of musical production and listening, and I’m really not vehemently one or the other. I really have no set in stone, crotchety difficulties with CDs or mp3s, nor do I adhere stridently to “black gold.” Just thought it would be humorous to insert that little phrase! What I did say about vinyl was something like this: I enjoy records. I enjoy listening to music on vinyl. I like the way musicians and others communicate using vinyl through etchings in the vinyl around the label, and various other ways people use vinyl creatively. What I should have included but didn’t think to in the moment is that I just started buying vinyl and actively listening to records this winter. I got my first set of well used turntables in December for Christmas. So my shelf of records holds about a foot and a half of black discs, some of them generously donated by Anthony Shake Shakir, Theo Parrish, and Traci from Mahogani Records, some of them purchased at local record stores like the now closed Record Time in Ferndale, Record Time in Roseville, and Melodies & Memories. Hardly the collection of a purist! I don’t even come close to the ranks of enthusiast, and certainly not audiophile! I’m more like a vinyl liker; I’m happy to listen to good music in all the formats that exist, and vinyl is one of them. Here are some other more specific reasons why I enjoy vinyl records that I have started to discover over the past year:

NSC etchings in vinyl pressed by Ron Murphy at National Sound Corporation:

Keepin' Vinyl Alive article in the Metro Times
Infinite State Machine post about Ron Murphy's passing

Various other types of messages that producers etch into the vinyl, like "Respect the B-52s" and "I Love Techno." Photos to come, I just have to figure out with my photographer husband, James, how to get a clear image of the etching without a flare. DIY labels on the vinyl like the spray painted stencils on Theo Parrish’s Ugly Edits and the markers that Omar S uses on his labels. Starting a record from the inner most groove so that it plays “backwards” from the inside out. Lock grooves in which at the end of a section of regularly spiraling grooves, sound is recorded into a groove which circles around right back into itself. These are certainly not limited to techno and house records, but are just things that I enjoy learning about, seeing on my records, and listening to. Not only do electronic musicians in Detroit communicate aurally and sonically, they communicate visually using textual messages contextualized in the vinyl. Here’s where I fight the urge to insert a smiley face.

Here are some interesting wikipedia entries:
Analog Recording vs. Digital Recording
Gramaphone Record

There are loads of debates online about the values of vinyl vs. digital, and proponents of both sides aggressively challenging the others perspectives, and you can imagine how many times during interviews I have heard about this debate. Nearly everyone I speak with feels strongly about the recording and playback format they choose to use and have myriad reasons why. And of course they do, it’s part of their instrument they use in performance and the way they release their music to be consumed by fans and listeners. Vinyl and/or digital productions are essential materials in the production and circulation of electronic music. What I would love to see and hear, however, is greater acceptance of differing viewpoints. No matter how much arguing goes on, Kenny Dixon, Jr. is going to continue to press vinyl and not release mp3s, so is Theo Parrish, and Kelli Hand and Punisher are going to continue to promote their successes with digitally released tracks on Beatport. Aaron Carl is going to keep loving his CDs, Minx is going to keep using vinyl and CDs interchangeably, Felton Howard will continue on with Serato, and WhoDat will not stop spinning those black discs on her rotating platters!

Staying relevant and successful is key for most of these artists, so if you can support your family on releasing your music on vinyl and CD only, then KEEP DOING IT! If you find more success with digital downloads, then DO IT! I understand all the complexities of this debate. Some fear vinyl is dying and if they don’t press it, who will? But what about the fact that vinyl sales rose 80% in 2008?

Wired story about vinyl sales
Computer World article about vinyl sales

Some of the arguments in support of vinyl are based on sound quality. I have experienced this many times, listening to vinyl sounds so damn good sometimes. I wrote about one of these experiences here. And I know this is completely subjective, unscientific reasoning, and that’s totally fine. Because no matter how deep these scientific explorations go about the actual sound quality of analog and digital formats, there are always going to be a multitude of factors that impact the sound quality that go beyond simply the musical format; and more importantly, producers, DJs, and fans are going to continue to like what they like, and hear things how they hear things. So maybe we can all just chill a bit, embrace the complexity that is performance and production, and keep digging good music!

Now for a change in topic: I just had a wonderful interview with John Bileebob Williams (ha, my spell check just suggested Beelzebub) the other night at Luna CafĂ© in St. Claire Shores. He brought a big box full of flyers, CDs, stickers, a photo album, one of his own publications about Detroit music with interviews, poetry, and photographs which has now morphed into his blog Famzine, loose photos, a wonderful book of portraits of DJs, and a few CDs and stickers for me to take. Now that was pretty awesome of him to bring all those materials documenting his history as a musician in Detroit, but also the history of techno and house music in this city, and the Midwest party circuit – that’s my new word for ‘rave scene.’ Don’t you just love my ingenuity!? Here’s a post I wrote last May about his performance with Milton Baldwin as the Aquanauts at Alvins. So anyway, we found ourselves on merging, sometimes parallel missions of documenting what’s great about Detroit and the electronic music here. Should you expect some collaboration? I think yes…