Friday, May 22, 2009
So I wasn't sure if I would get this post up before the weekend or not. But I figured if I didn't do it now, I would get all bogged up in the festival notes and for my conference presentation in San Diego next weekend...on GENRE...that I would never get this up. I met Kyle Hall Wednesday night finally, and he is the shit. Let me tell you, he truly is. I met him at the Red Bull Music Academy info session event in the loft space above Niki’s Pizza restaurant in Greektown. While we were talking, my brain imploded with all the excitement and slipped out through my ears and then Kyle and my husband James helped me pick it all back up again. Where to begin...well, I tell ya, Kyle Hall, 17 year old, fabulous producer of electronic music in Detroit, approaches music, Detroit, people, with an open heart and head. One point he made strongly to me is that he really wants lesser known figures in Detroit techno and house music to be given their much due props; he is frustrated when interviews get published about him and the writer only mentions a handful of people, like Theo Parrish, Rick Wilhite, and Mike Huckaby, as influential to Kyle's musical and creative background. And don't get me wrong, I will write these three names over and over acknowledging their many significant contributions as producers and DJs, as well as many other major contributions to Detroit life. Theo Parrish Theo Parrish Theo Parrish - who is, by the way, one of the sources for some quotes on genre that I'm using in my roundtable discussion on genre in popular music at next weekend's International Association for the Study of Popular Music conference in San Diego. "I don't believe in genre" he says. Love it! Anyway, back on track. Kyle spoke to me about, and this wasn't a recorded interview or anything, he was just sharing some thoughts with me in a very exuberant way, but he spoke about people who have been influential to him as a young musician in Detroit with affection, but also frustration over the lack of recognition that some of these people get. Like Alvin Hill, a local multi-media composer and DJ that Kyle met and then begged to be a student in Alvin's electronic music class at Youthville Detroit. Youthville is a community center for young people in Detroit with all kinds of arts and recreation courses year round for very low membership fees. Kyle started taking classes there a few years ago, and now, at 17, will be teaching his own class this summer in DJing and production.
He knows where he comes from and honors his teachers with the utmost respect, while at the same time, preparing himself to make his own decisions and figure out which rules he will follow and which he will break. Kyle mentioned Terri McQueen, otherwise known as DJ WhoDat, with admiration, as a person who demonstrates pride and confidence in deciding her own musical path. And that's my impression of her as well, she maintains an open head and heart to her teachers, while at the same time choosing what and when to make her own way. And then she just says fuck it, and goes to Germany to play some records a few times and opens her own record store in Detroit which supports local and independent musicians. She doesn't get hung up on grudges or cynicism, which seem to plague Detroit musicians way too often. And hell, she has spent more time teaching me shit about Detroit than anyone I know. And I have excellent video of her making a thunderstorm track on her 303 using the presets. And now you can Laugh Out Loud.
Man, what else did we talk about, oh yeah, fractals, physics, quantum physics, and generally patterns in nature (fractals) that apply to human interaction in ways that inspire him to help other people excel in their creativity. James, who was totally exhausted and could barely hear anything we were saying perked up when he heard Kyle talking about physics and patterns. That's when I sat back and enjoyed the geniusness that I was witnessing in my husband and Kyle. It was a great time and I'm very excited to meet this energetic, creative, innovative young Black man who is not afraid or shy to be intelligent. So go get you some Wild Oats.
Alright now, so onto the rest of the event on Wednesday:
I was really excited about the RBMA event all day, all week! It was an information session for the Red Bull Music Academy, but it’s also a really nice event to meet people and form relationships, and also to get to hear from DJs and producers who are associated with the RBMA, or not, talk about Detroit, music, their backgrounds, history of electronic music in Detroit, and so on. The group of producers was nicely diverse: iMix (Chris French), DJ Dick of Electrobounce, Mike Huckaby, Claude Von Stroke, Brendan M. Gillen of Ectomorph, Mike Clark, Todd Osborn, Jeff Risk (last year’s Detroit musician who got accepted to go to RBMA in Barcelona), and Brian Gillespie, who is the Detroit representative for RBMA and organizes these events. There’s apparently going to be another RBMA session in July that will focus strictly on production…and I’ll be at that one too. I’m not going to these because I’m planning on applying to the academy. I don’t make music, I just talk and write about it. But I enjoy these events because I love getting the opportunity to hear electronic musicians talk, especially talk together, to each other, about Detroit and music. So anyway, James and I arrived at 8pm, we actually got a babysitter for the evening!! And of course, we were early. Even though I’ve been going to parties and enjoying electronic music since the mid 90s when I was in high school, I don’t think I’ll ever figure out what the proper time to arrive is. I’m almost always early, even when I think I’m late and missing something important. It’s just something I can’t figure out. Saw Bill Stacey (DJ Seoul) there, gave us a flyer to a party this weekend. Tons of people were there promoting their events this weekend. Saw Todd Osborn up on the semi-stage area talking with Jeff Risk (although I didn’t know who Jeff was at that point in the evening). Introduced James to Todd. A few people I spoke with at the event who know me and know what I'm doing somehow think that I’m just doing a paper for a class, not a dissertation – I don’t know why. Somehow I'm not describing what I'm here for properly! When I meet someone or introduce myself, I think I'm explaining what I’m doing properly, but some people for some reason just think it’s something small for a single class or something, just a semester long class project. And me being too shy/polite to say anything, I don’t correct these assumptions, and that's just totally stupid! Ran into Jit Wiggins (Todd Weston) who is interested in doing an interview - yes Todd, if you read this blog, an interview will be happening!! Terri handed out some of her brochures to her record store she is opening, gave me one. She is going to be opening up shop at the Russell Bazaar for the weekend, and still plans on finding a permanent space to rent in the Russell center, not the Bazaar, in the very near future. Here's the website for her store: Ya Digg Records. I got so many flyers last night, and I’m excited about that because so many flyers are now so widely available online on Facebook, Myspace, Detroitluv.com, and other websites, and people promote their events online so much, that I rarely find flyers any more, even at record stores. I imagine if I went to a record store or to Spectacles today, I would find lots of flyers for the weekend. But usually it’s pretty sparse. I’m happy to have so many physical flyers to add to my research documentation.
I finally introduced myself to Angie Schwendemann of Detroit Techno Militia. We have communicated via email for a while now, but haven’t ever met. She introduced me to Tom Linder and we talked a bit. And girlfriend reads my blog! Thank you!
After all the talking and Q&Aing, Todd Osborn was set to play, and I was ready. In my mind, it was my gearing up for pre-pre-weekend festivities, or, you know, it's own event, however you want to think about it. They even cleared a dance floor, and then I got really ready. Then, the place all but cleared out. And I thought, what, are you kidding me?! Todd is playing...you need to stay! And then, as though everyone knew my husband was dragging and they were telling me to just let him get out of there and into bed, the lights were flickering on and Todd began to slow his track down. Oh well, at least there will be multiple chances to see him and many other great musicians over the weekend all over Detroit.
Oh, and I got press passes for James and me for the festival this weekend!! I was pretty shocked that they actually granted me "media credentials." Maybe they thought a nerd with a lanyard would be cool...except they have patches this year instead of lanyards, so I'll be a nerd with a patch? That doesn't sound very cool. I'm super stoked though to be able to get some good video and photos!
I'll be seeing some of you this weekend!