It’s an exciting prospect when one of Leeds’ old firm promoters approaches the new kids to put on an event. And that’s exactly what has happened in the last few weeks. Future Daze, headed up by Simon Scott who orchestrates the Dimensions, Outlook and Sub Dub events, are collaborating with Super Hexagon, one Leeds’ newest and most innovative musical collectives. The latter specialise in freaky electro and techno from all eras, which must have chimed with the vintage ethos of the Future Daze events, whose focus is on obscure organic electronic sounds, especially from the homelands of Chicago and Detroit.
The two promoters have worked hard to secure a set from a Detroit legend: DJ Stingray 313. Famed for his affiliation with pioneering techno outfit Drexciya, and with a phenomenal back catalogue of fierce electro and deviant house music, Stingray is sure to provide an absolute treat of a set when he comes to Wire on 5th March.
We couldn’t contain our excitement, so e-mailed him to tide us over before the event. Here’s what he had to say about his cultivation in Detroit, the popularity of electro and coming to the UK.
While other Detroit producers employ samples from older records, your music, especially recently, has tended completely towards the futuristic. Do you ever make music nostalgically? Is techno now a nostalgic genre?
I really try not to live in the past in terms of production. Of course there are certain techniques that are time tested which I use but i don’t long for the “good old days” or go into production/compsition with the attitude that I’m bringing back some past sensibilities or style. I think Techno certainly has artists that are tradtionalists and are enamroued with paradigms like Acid, Distortion, the use of modular equipment etc… But I think there are others who prefer to introduce variations and parameters that expand upon previously established approaches. I see limitless potential for Techno as a genre.
Saying that, some of your output as Urban Tribe had elements of future jazz. Is this a clue as to what you listen to in your free time? Or are you completely focussed on buying records/collecting music for DJ sets?
Funny that you ask as I just read a quote today from Henry Rollins that stated more or less that we don’t have any spare/free time, just time. But to answer your question I vary between listening to personal favorites for entertainment/relaxation/motivation to researching the music of others and my own to improve my production output. Of course I’m always hunting down music for DJ sets.
Kenny Dixon Jr taught you how to mix. How was he as a teacher? Have you ever taught anyone how to do it?
Mr KDJ was very patient and methodical. I never felt any stress or anxiety. He didn’t hover over me and micro manage. I’ve shown a few friends the basics but most didn’t have the patience that it required to mix vinyl.
What was the dynamic like when collaborating for Urban Tribe work? What did your producer friends bring to the table?
With all of the guys it’s straight business and each man is equally adept at composition, mixing, sound design, arrangement, etc.. They bring their own individual preferences for how a track should be formed and shaped. The work ethics of Carl, Ken, Shake are almost superhuman.
In what ways are we experiencing ‘The Collapse of Modern Culture’? What inspired the concept behind this album?
During that time I was more of an apocalyptic thinker and from my perspective it seemed that the current model of western culture was unraveling at a rapid pace so I just went along with my own thought patterns of that time period which were influenced by different books and philosophies that I was exposing myself to. Two books that really stood out was the “War at Home” by Brian Glick and “Inside the Company” by Philip Agee.
What is it like to still live in Detroit? Do you spend a lot of time there? How does it continue to inform what you do?
I still live in Detroit but most of my days are spent working on tracks, listening to music, of course engaging in social media. I get input and energy indirectly from the city and occasional jaunts here and there. Too much trouble to get into and avoid these days haha.
The guys running Super Hexagon are, generally, working in a very narrow niche in Leeds by running a night that plays electro, amongst other things. What was it that attracted you to making this sort of music? And why do you think it is retaining relevance into 2016, as DJs such as Helena Hauff become popular?
What people call Electro is/was techno in my eyes and the eyes of a lot of Detroiters and Americans in general who are aware of the genre(s). It’s natural for me to make music that is not entirely 4/4 based. Cybotron, Kraftwerk, Pretty Tony and Egyptian Lover etc. was my initial frame of reference so I continue in the spirit and tradition that I feel offers more flexibility and textures. I would like to know who decided that 4/4 based kick rhythms equivocate to validation of the Grand Unified Theory haha?
A lot of your music seems to work when played at 33 or 45rpm. Do you make music with the dance floor in mind? Is it intended to have a physical or mental effect?
I go into composition with the mindset of making something enjoyable and hopefully mesmerizing for the listener. Sometimes the rhythmic structure varies between being a consequence of habit and the intent of being dance floor oriented.
Your wearing of the balaclava got me thinking about a DJ’s persona. Would you agree that the selector’s role is one of self-sacrifice, where there is no ego, or do you think that they still have affectations, like any performer would?
Well one must have pride in the techincal and musical selection aesthetics of DJing and if one’s ego is entwined in that, then it can be a good thing because the people win. The DJ should never forget that without the people who come to listen to them and the artists who make the music he/she have almost nothing. Oh and respect to the DJs who collect music and just enjoy playing for themselves, friends etc..
I am loving your latest release – the collaboration with Glasgow’s Galaxian. How did this collaboration come about? What was the writing process like?
I think I met Mark on Myspace haha! He’s an energetic, creative dynamo and totally immerses himself in the production process. He can take a very sparse idea and expand it into a full composition very quickly. We have been working together on and off for several years and for the Shiprec project I just sent him some ideas and he ran with them. I have big respect for his abilities.
What do you enjoy about coming to the UK?
Of course not having a language barrier with exceptions being slang and colloquilaisms makes things easy. People are generally polite and know your music and electronic music in general. Public transportation is great and the countryside is beautiful!
DJ Stingray 313 comes to Wire next Saturday, 5th March 2016, and is brought to you by Future Daze and Super Hexagon. Support comes from Simon Scott (Future Daze/Sub Dub/Dimensions), Alma Construct (Super Hexagon/R&S) and J. Wiltshire (Super Hexagon/Hypercolour).