Wow, two weeks later and I’m still writing. Way to stay timely!! Sorry for the delay, again, there has been lots of stuff going on, including illness in 4 of the 5 members of our family! And I really want to get down every detail that I can remember for the purpose of my documentation of my experiences here in Detroit. I will be going back to all these notes that I take and other things that I write in order to make a full assessment of what the major themes are so that I can do Detroit justice when I write the dissertation. So that’s why these bloody posts are so long, I want to capture everything that I can remember. And writing these posts does take some effort on my part, so that’s another reason for the delay, because an exhausted, sick brain does not do well with a keyboard and computer screen!
I didn’t take notes at all during the festival weekend unfortunately, and then, Monday evening, I just jotted down a small page of ideas and thoughts. I wrote down a few major ideas that I knew would help me get into a writing mode later that week. I probably should have been taking notes all weekend had I been a dutiful fieldworker. I was just so busy listening, watching, dancing, wandering, and videotaping, that my little moleskin notebook stayed tucked away in my bag all weekend!
So Monday morning, we headed down and actually arrived in time to see Clark Warner at the Beatport stage. Before that though, when we checked in to get our Monday media patch, I signed up to interview Jason Huvaere, president of Paxahau, at 3pm that afternoon. James Canning, Paxahau’s person in charge of media for the festival, and the person who approved my request for media credentials even though it came way late, encouraged me to talk with Jason. So, I’ll come back to that later. Clark Warner played a nice set, played CDs, did some nice manipulation with the mixer and, like his wife, Liz Copeland (Warner), is a great selector. The whole Plaza was still pretty empty at that time. Clark started playing at noon and there were no other performances happening that day until 2pm. It’s always nice to arrive at the festival when things are quiet, peaceful and breezy. I videotaped a lot of his set We then skipped out for food so that we could get back to interview Jason at 3pm. I knew I wanted to see a lot of sets the whole rest of the day, so food needed to happen then. I was getting nervous about my interview because usually I get to be leisurely with my interviews and take lots of time to chat and get into history, backgrounds, music, DJing and producing, and whatever else. I start out with a few ideas of where I want the interview to go, but usually have the luxury of letting the person I’m talking with take it in whatever direction they want to go. I knew that this interview would have be short, very direct, and to the point. Over lunch, I thought up three major questions that I wanted to ask Jason about with the hopes that these would be appropriate for the rushed setting, but would provide me with enough information to be a worthwhile interview. And that is just what happened! So here were the big questions that I asked him:
Can you tell me about Paxahau’s history in Detroit, and your history with the Movement festival? And in order to prod a bit deeper, I mentioned my interview with John “Bileebob” Williams (which brought a big smile to Jason’s “business” face). Bileebob talked with me about the lofts at 1217 Griswold in downtown Detroit which were home to many electronic music producers, event promoters, and other local artists and musicians in the early 1990s. Bileebob and Jason Huvaere were both residents there and pre-Paxahau event planning/promoting got it’s start there.
Here are two posts from Famzine about 1217 Griswold:
I then asked Jason about the challenges in artist booking for the festival, representing local Detroit artists and music, while at the same time inviting national and international artists from outside of Detroit to play. I wanted to understand Paxahau’s perspective on what they do. And I didn’t want to be negative or inappropriate while talking with him during the festival weekend, AT the festival itself. Basically, their perspective is that local, Detroit electronic artists make up a third of the artists at the festival every year, which seems to be true. And not only do they invite the big names from Detroit, they also invite local DJs who are not producers or whose production catalog is very small compared to other artists at the festival. However, the treatment of some of these artists seems to be thoughtless to a certain degree, like putting so many incredible musicians and DJs into the underground area, forcing them to have terrible acoustics for their performances. And this is really disappointing. The underground area was rarely very crowded the whole weekend because the sound was so freaking scary down there!! So many people missed out on great artists because of the sound quality, because all the distinct sound levels got smashed together and muddled from bouncing around the concrete space. Honestly, next year, they should just put some speakers down there broadcasting music from the main stage and it can just be a roller skating rink. I can totally see that happening; no worries about liability or supplying skates, or any other logistical concerns like that. It would just be cool.
Okay, so none of that last part was my interview with Jason, just my mental foray into fantasy. I still need to tell you my last question:
I told him I was excited to hear about Carl Craig being the creative director for the 2010 festival. The press release was all over the web Friday before the festival began. And his response was interesting. Jason explained that this had been a long time goal for Paxahau, but they wanted to make sure they had a solid foundation for the Movement festival before approaching Carl with the offer. They wanted to make sure that the event was secured well into the future and would be something that Carl Craig would feel good about getting involved in. So yeah for next year, we’ll see what this all means!!
The interview went really well. He is clearly a seasoned public speaker and knows how to provide tons of information in a limited amount of time. So I’m really glad I had the opportunity to talk to him.
After the interview, I quickly packed up…oh wait, one little story from the interview lawn…There were these two dudes who were there to interview Afrika Bambaataa. They said they saw something about him on VH1 and wanted to interview him, but couldn't even remember his full name. They asked about him as “Afrika …I don’t remember his last name.” And then again when they started interviewing Jason Huvaere. I over heard as I was packing up my equipment. Are you kidding me? How are you going to try and interview someone, but don’t even know their name and then admit that to the main man in charge of the whole festival?? Please. And how often does that happen, they either get ignored completely, or get interviewed by people who don’t know what they are talking about! Well, at least there’s a few folks out there providing good journalistic coverage.
Alright, finally packed up, heading over to see Flying Lotus. This was one of the best sets of the entire weekend. I had so much fun and got to videotape most of his set. When I got there, the crowd was packed and James got up on stage to photograph while I just looked around for a bit. Then, I almost plowed down some dude in the crowd with my giant tripod (because my monopod broke the day before) trying to say hi to Todd Osborn as he passed by on his way to the stage. Sorry dude! And then I ended up totally interrupting Todd on his way to get some tracks up to Flying Lotus. Total nerd is me! After looking around a bit, I decided it was time for me to get on up there and get some video. Music was so hot, I could barely walk straight. I got myself set up on stage and this was probably one of the four most fun moments of the weekend for me; the other three being Osborne at the Blank Artists Afterglow party, Octave One, and DJ Seoul & T. Linder, which I will get to soon. Shortly after I got set up, FlyLo dropped Osborne’s “Wait A Minute.” I mean everything sounded so great, I could barely stand up, let alone hold my camera up pretending that my tripod was a monopod so that I could move it around easily. In addition to wearing a Dilla t-shirt, he played some J Dilla beats, like the “Takin’ What’s Mine” instrumental with the lyric “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” from a folk song from 1950 by The Weevers (or possibly Peter, Paul, & Mary). Then he gave another nod to Soundmurderer (Todd Osborn) on the mic as he played a jungle track. Don’t know what it was, but it sounded great, and he said something like “Soundmurderer turned me on to this!” He was super active with his equipment, he had a laptop going and an MPC, and it was really fun to watch him. He would turn down the music occasionally to speak to the crowd. It was just really fun.
And here's a photo by Chaircrusher, aka Kent Williams of me smiling at Flying Lotus!
We then bounced around for the rest of the night. Seth Troxler was surprisingly good. Kyle Hall made sure that we went down there to hear him and it was really a sweet set that suited the disco ball lighting and brought a pretty chill atmosphere to the room. He started off with a 45 of the Twinpeaks themesong which was a dramatic switch from the harder sounds that I caught right at the end of Lee Curtiss’ set. He used Serato along with a green tote bag of non-Serato vinyl.
On to Carl Craig which was a bit disappointing, like I mentioned earlier. Seoul vs. T. Linder with four turntables was fantastic! They were ripping through that vinyl and even though the sound was bad, I still enjoyed they’re set. It was cool to watch them trainwreck and then really quickly fix the mistakes and just keep on going. Not that there were lots of mistakes, I just caught a few because I was right there on stage and could see and hear what was happening, and they got things back on track really smoothly each time. Then to Los Hermanos with Pirahnahead on guitar. They sounded expectedly nice, although by this point my feet were about to crumble and it was all I could do to finish that last tape off. And I was done, I could not stick around for another minute. And I know, I missed an excellent Derrick May set and Buzz Goree’s set, but I just couldn’t hang one more second. So we left, got some pizza and ended our weekend with that.
It was a really great time, and I felt nourished by all the music. I’ll look forward to upcoming festivals in Detroit the rest of the summer and I’ll keep you tuned in to what’s going on here the rest of the year.