The Importance Of Coffee In The DJ’s World

Espresso coffee

This is a funny story I wanna share with you guys. It started the other day when I went to Derrick May’s place to interview him. I wanted to know more about his early years in Detroit. After exchanging a few words, he offered me a cup of coffee, you know, to make our talk more comfortable. I’m a big coffee lover, so I obviously accepted it. And then I thought that even I love coffee so much, I hardly ever brew it my self at home, I usually go out and meet friends to drink coffee.

As I was preparing myself to ask the first question, I tried my black coffee I had been offered and it was so good, that the first question became “how did you make this coffee?” Derrick then started to tell me about the espresso machine he had bought a few months ago. The interview completely switched from talking about his work in Detroit to coffee. And even this is not what I had planned, I got an unexpected side from Derrick May, so here’s a summary of what we talked.

It turns out that Derrick does not only drink coffee because he’s a huge lover, but also because coffee helps him on his creative process to produce music. Amazing, right!? I would have never expected that! He mentioned that in the beginning, he’d just go out and grabbed a coffee for home but he realized that he could save some money if he could actually get a high-quality coffee made at home.

He explained that the process of choosing the proper espresso machine was not easy. He didn’t have a clue about such things and there are many options in the market that it even felt frustrating. Derrick obviously bought machines that didn’t meet his expectations, but that was part of the process, he said. After some failures, he finally found the perfect espresso machine for him. “It felt like winning the lottery” he expressed.

And I can believe that! When he showed me the espresso machine, I fell in love. I knew right away that I wanted it so badly in my kitchen. I’m talking about a Capresso 465 coffee maker. This machine comes in different colors, so it will match your kitchen decoration no matter what. The size is also perfect for a kitchen, you couldn’t ask more!

By the time he explained to me how the machine works, I was so into the topic, that I completely forgot about the techno scene in Detroit. All I wanted to know was how to brew coffee with that wonderful thing and how espresso is actually good for our health. He let me try pulling an espresso shot. Opposite to what I thought, it was actually really simple to do. And so, I had my first professional cup of espresso, done by me.

The best thing I got out of that “interview” with Derrick was the idea of getting my own espresso machine, I obviously bought the same one he has. I gotta say that he saved me a lot of time and probably a lot of frustration trying to look for an espresso machine, I’ll always thank him for that.

As I write this article, I’m enjoying an espresso and I understand now the importance of a simple cup of coffee for creative work. One can’t just pretend to be creative without a good cup of coffee.

Singing, Violins, Record Players and Detroit: A Brief Update On My Life

a singer singingIt has been a long time since I’ve written on here, so I decided to take some space on this page to write a quick update. I just figured I should let you go know what is been going on in my life. And why I haven’t been writing on this blog anymore.

First, I’ll give you some updates on stuff that I’ve mentioned on this blog before. The first is that I visited Detroit and ended up buying an espresso machine. It’s a great city and I wanted to go to some clubs and see some DJs there. But, while Detroit was the birthplace of techno music, it really isn’t that great for it today. I guess it’s because the city has fallen on such hard times. But honestly, the clubs just weren’t very fun and the DJs I saw weren’t very good. That said, I was only there for a few days, so I’m sure I just didn’t really know where to go. People who live there could probably have shown me a much better time.

The second thing is my singing lessons. You may remember that I decided I should learn how to sing, because I thought it would be great to combine some vocals with my DJ. That is not going great. It turns out I’m not a great singer at all. I did buy some vocal lessons and I think I will drive my singing instructor to an early grave. Seriously, I don’t think he has ever heard someone sing as badly as me. I really feel bad for the guy. I should probably pay him more, but I don’t want to. And I can’t afford it.

One of the reasons I can’t afford it is that I decided to also get violin lessons. Yes, I know I’m an idiot. But remember that I also wrote a post about playing the violin during a DJ set? Well, I thought that would be cool too. Yes, I want to be a DJ who sings and plays the violin. And yes, I sometimes make rash and stupid decisions. It is safe to say my violin playing is going about as well as my singing. Actually, it’s going even worse. In the end I will probably give up on learning the violin. But I’m also stubborn, so I have not done that yet.

One good thing is that these two new pursuits have increased my record collection. I have bought a bunch of vinyl that contains famous violin music and also vinyl from some of the great singers of the past. I thought listening to their music on my record player would inspire me. And that brings me to another big update. I bought a new turntable record player. Yes, I spent almost $2000 on this thing, but it is amazing. My record collection has never sounded this good.

The final thing? I got a new job. I now work in the cannabis industry growing my own marijuana. Yes, I know I sold out. But this job pays a lot and it allows me time for my hobby. It is also what allowed by to afford my new coffee/espresso maker.

I wasn’t making much money from DJing anyways, and I can keep doing it and I don’t have to play gigs that I don’t want to anymore. I can only play the ones that I actually want to play and I don’t have to worry about payment. Even if they don’t pay me, I can just do it for fun. And the job is what allowed me to visit Detroit and those clubs.

I obviously don’t have enough time to practice my DJing (and my singing and my violin), but I also don’t have to struggle to get by in life anymore. I guess I grew up. It apparently happens to a lot of people.

All DJs Should Learn How To Sing

All DJs need to have some vocal ability.

I know that’s going to be controversial and many people will disagree, but hear me out.

I think it’s important for anyone in the music industry to be able to sing. I also think they should be able to play an instrument, but our voice is the one instrument we all have and I think anyone who makes money through music should be able to use that instrument. DJs don’t really use their voice, but they could. I’m not saying you need to sing all the time, but if you produce tracks, it would be nice to do a little bit of your own singing on them. Singing ads a whole new dimension to your DJing and some of the most popular DJs also sing on their tracks, especially the female ones.

DJ singing while mixing

A DJ singing during his set

But more than adding a new dimension to your DJing, singing helps with your knowledge of music theory. Learning to sing teaches you a lot about music that will help you a lot in your DJ career. If you’re only mixing tracks, it will still help you, but it would be limited. But to be honest, any DJ who only mixes tracks is not really a DJ in today’s sense of the word.

Any good DJ today produces his or her own tracks. It is just part of the business. If you can’t produce music, I don’t think you should really call yourself a DJ. And if you can’t sing, what you can do in producing music is more limited. You can still have a great career, but singing just teaches you so much more that will elevate your music production to the next level.

I’m sure I’ve convinced you with those two paragraphs, right? Well, since that is the case, I can anticipate your next question: how do I learn to sing?

First let’s clear up one myth. Many people believe they are tone deaf and can never learn to sing. This is true for a few people, but very, very few. Almost all people can learn to sing. Tone deafness is very rare. It is more difficult to sing for some people than it is for others, but everyone has the ability to learn the proper vocal technique and to improve their voice.

If you want to be a better singer, you need to practice. You also need to get all the basics down. So to improve your singing, head to It is the best site out there to help you work on your vocal techniques. It will also teach you how to find the right right vocal coach for you, if you decide that voice lessons are the way to go. And if you want to practice your craft at karaoke, Musicaroo can help you find the best songs for your karaoke style.

If you do decide to go with the vocal coach, there so many to choose from. First look around in your area and see if you can find a good one there. You want someone who has the right personality for you and the right teaching style. To get way more options, look online. You can get tons of coaches online, many of them famous. By famous I mean they have taught famous people to sing and they can do the same for you. They are often the same price as regular coaches in your town as well, so this is a pretty good deal.

And if you want to do it on your own, I refer you back to Musicaroo. There are also many YouTube videos that teach you how to sing like this one.

So there you have it. I’ve given you all the tools you need to learn to sing better and I hope it will have as much of an impact on your DJing as it does on mine. I know many of the great DJs of the past, especially those wonderful and great Detroit DJs, did not sing at all. But the craft is evolving and these days, you want to have more skills in your repertoire to really stand out and get ahead.

Violin Music Used By The Detroit DJs

violin with a bowOne of my favorite things about the great Detroit DJs of the past is their use of many different genres of music. Yes, we all know they spun house music, but what records did they use to spin that music? The answer is, they used anything and everything they could get their hands on.

They were obviously heavily influenced by some of the German techno groups and a lot of the music coming out of Europe at the time. They use a lot of that in their music. They also use a lot of R&B and blues and early hip-hop and jazz and anything else you would expect. They used some classical music too. You might not expect that, but they did and it worked well.

Obviously, a lot of instruments made an appearance in their music. Some, like the trumpet, featured very heavily. The saxophone was another one you would hear a lot. The voice is the greatest instrument, but not enough DJs learn to sing. But one you might not have heard much is the violin.

Yes, there’s definitely some violin music in some of the tracks. I’ve always been a huge fan of the violin and I have read every review out there, so I love when it pops up in electronic music. People don’t use it enough, but there are a lot of DJs that do use it. It is much more common these days, but even the early pioneers made use of the beautiful violin sound.

The Detroit DJs did not use it heavily, but they definitely sampled some classical music pieces with the violin. They also use a lot of jazz pieces and folk pieces with the violin and I believe I’ve even heard the fiddle in some of their music.

For those of you who don’t know: the fiddle is basically the same thing as the violin. Actually, it is exactly the same thing. A fiddle is a violin and a violin is a fiddle. They are the same instrument. So why are there two different names? Well it’s basically about the style in which the instrument is played.

A fiddler is someone who plays the violin with much more fanfare. It is more exciting. It is more energetic. Fiddle music is used in country and bluegrass. It is the kind of music you hear in the old movies when you see people, especially cowboys, dancing while someone is playing the violin very fast. That’s fiddle music.

Violin music is music played in the classical style. Classical music obviously counts as this, but also the way the violin is used in jazz and pop and similar styles of music. This is also called violin music and not fiddle music.

Whatever you call it, the instrument is the same and the sound it makes is wonderful. I love that my favorite Detroit DJs like Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson and Derek May used my favorite instrument. I do wish they had used it more, but that’s pushing it, isn’t it? I should be thrilled with what they did already. And I am. I might even learn it myself.

These guys are the pioneers and they did everything right. Just because they didn’t use one instrument as much as I might have liked, that does not in any way affect my opinion of them. And they did use it, just like they used so many other instruments. They set the stage for everyone else who uses those instruments much more heavily today. What they did led to some of my favorite modern music. And I love them for it.

What Turntable Would The Greats Use Today?

Have you ever wondered what model turntable the greats started on? Which turntable did they used to learn their craft? And did they stick with that turntable throughout their career or did they switch to something else once they became successful?

When it comes to the famous Detroit DJs like Kevin Saunderson, Derek May and Juan Atkins, it is easy enough to look up this information. You could probably find it on their Wikipedia pages. If you’re really curious, go check it out now and see what equipment they started with and what equipment they currently use.

A DJ using a turntablePersonally, I prefer to speculate. Not with the equipment they started on, of course, but with what they would use today. Let me rephrase that, I prefer to speculate on the type of equipment they would use if they were getting started today and if the digital music revolution had not happened. In other words, if turntable record players were still the only option for DJs.

Given those parameters, I believe they would’ve gone with an Audio Technica turntable. Really, it would be either that or a Technics, but the Technics turntables are too expensive for beginning DJs. That’s why I believe they would go with an Audio Technica.

As for the model, it would either be the AT-LP60 or the LP-120. I like to believe they would save up money and splurge on the 120. It is quite a bit more expensive, but is still priced as an entry-level turntable. For that extra money you just get so much more functionality than you would with the LP60. Let’s look at some of the things this turntable can do that the 60 can’t.

The AT-LP120 is reviewed on this page. You can see it is quite heavy, but it is very sturdy. This is important for DJs, because it gives you a solid base and the turntable doesn’t move while you are scratching. This turntable is also equipped with anti-vibration feet. As the name might suggest, they reduce vibrations which could impact the sound quality. The feet are also adjustable so you can have the turntable stand steady without wobbling.

It has an elliptical diamond stylus which tracks the record grooves better than most, reducing skipping. It also comes with mounting hardware and a stylus guard.

Something that is very important for DJs is that it has forward and reverse play. It also has a popup stylus target light which makes it easier to cue records in low light. Variable pitch control and quartz speed lock are also incredibly important for Djs.

This record player can play both 7 and 12 inch vinyl records and it can play them at speeds of 33 1/3, 45 or 78 RPMs. It has a direct drive, high torque motor, not a belt drive motor. It plays at a consistent speed and is great for spinning. TheLP120 also comes with a switchable internal stereo phono preamplifier, so that you can plug it directly into components with a dedicated phono input.

The tone arm has a hydraulically damped lift control and a lockable rest. This ensures that it can play any record without wobbling or skipping. Also, a DC servomotor ensures a much more accurate rotation speed.

And finally, although we are assuming that we have not entered the digital area and all DJs are using turntables for this little exercise, I do still want to mention that this model comes with a USB port, so you can digitize your vinyl records.

This record player does not have any of the bells and whistles that many home record players feature. In other words, it has no Bluetooth, no built-in speakers and it doesn’t play other formats like cassette tapes or CDs. But when you’re a DJ you don’t want any of that. You want a turntable to do one thing and one thing only. All those other components make it bigger, they make it heavier and they make it more expensive.

I like to believe that this is the turntable the Detroit DJs would’ve used. Part of that may be because it’s the turntable I started with and I still use today. That’s right, I never upgraded to a Technics. I mostly spin digital music these days, with a controller, so I saw no need to upgrade.

I still occasionally use my Audio Technica turntable for nostalgia’s sake, but I rarely use it at gigs. I do miss it, but I can’t deny that the digital age has brought a lot of advantages and I take full advantage of them. I am not one of those people that longs for the old days, although I certainly do miss them at times.

Turntable Record Players And Vinyl Discs Start DJs Off

Do you ever wonder how other DJs first get into the field? I know I do. I especially think about how different it must be for today’s DJs, compared to some of the pioneers. Today’s DJs probably start with their iPods or their laptops or some other electronic method. I bet many of them have never even seen a turntable record player. Perhaps they’ve never seen vinyl records. But that is how many of us older DJs got our start, isn’t it?

vinyl turntable record player

A vinyl turntable player

And I don’t mean we started spinning records on a record player. Of course we did that, but I’m talking about even before that. What was the first thing we did? In my case, I destroyed my dad’s record player. I broke his needle. You can probably guess how.

Yup, I took one of his (admittedly crappy) records and I decided to spin it. I put it on his regular old record player and treated it like a DJ turntable. I scratched the shit out of that Harry Belafonte record. I rubbed it back and forth to try to make cool noises but obviously, the needle was not meant for spinning. The record was destroyed. The needle was also shot to hell. A few hours later my ass was spanked to hell. I deserved it, I suppose. (I needed this post on things not to do to record.)

turntable record player needle

The needle of a record player

I wonder if those great Detroit techno DJs did the same thing. Did their forefathers also have an extensive vinyl record collection? Did they also ruin one of those records along with the needle? I like to imagine they did. Maybe that’s what I should’ve told my dad when he found out. Maybe I would’ve been able to sit down the rest of that day.

What about, Cassettes? Were those are big in your house? I know in mine they weren’t. We had a cassette player as a part of our stereo system, but no one ever used it. My dad had a huge vinyl collection and then when DVDs became popular, he bought a lot of those. In fact, most of his music is still on DVDs. I bet he still has all his vinyls too, but I don’t think he has a record player anymore. I’m not sure, now that I think about it. I have to ask him. Of course, he might lie, if he still remembers what I did to his last record player.

So what am I trying to say here? Nothing, really. This is just one of those rambling posts, where I write down whatever is in my head. But I guess there’s a little bit of a point. I eventually bought a very expensive record player for myself.

Let’s not forget the old school methods. Sure it’s great that we can mix together thousands of tracks that are all contained on a tiny little USB stick. That is so much more convenient than having a huge box of vinyl or a bunch of CDs, but there was something nice about those old records, too.

If you get a chance, practice spinning some records on an old-school turntable. Even better, if you get a chance, just listen to some music on vinyl, on a record player that is meant for listening, not for spinning. Give it a try. People do say it’s the best way to listen to music.

music store selling vinyl records

An old-school record store

I don’t really agree with that, but there are many who do. They say music on vinyl is how it’s meant to be listened to. They love the crackling of the needle in the grooves and the other flaws of this music storage method. Personally, I like digital files for their cleanliness and their flawless sound. To me that is more enjoyable.

But some just like nostalgia. Some people always think the original ways are better and they never get used to the new ones. And even though I don’t agree, I do think there is something nice about listening to a vinyl record at times. That’s why think you should give it a try. Just don’t try spinning it.

For all things vinyl, check out this Subreddit.

The Second Wave of Detroit Techno DJs

Everybody is familiar with the original Detroit artists like Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Blake Baxter, Chez Damier, etc. I’ve written extensively about the Bellevue Three on this very site. There’s a reason for that. These guys put Detroit on the electronic music map. Not just that, they brought techno music to the masses. In fact, many say, they made techno music a recognizable genre. All of today’s electronic dance music, the rave culture, and so many other musical things we take for granted, came at least in some part from Detroit and from those great pioneers. But not many people know that Detroit’s music scene didn’t stop there.

A few years after those guys, once techno had begun to really take off in other parts of the country, Detroit enjoyed a second wave of famous DJs. By this point everyone was aware of the musical revolution out of Detroit and rave culture was in full effect in Europe. This is when DJs like Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Octave One and many others made it big.

Detroit DJ working a mixer

A DJ at work mixing his set in a Detroit club

The second wave of Detroit DJs took movements like the acid house movement, which came from Europe and was a result of Europeans adding crazy beats and drugs to the original techno sound, and took it to a new level. They turned this into a really harsh kind of music. It was hard-core and characterized by strong riffs and a feeling of an industrial wasteland. It was kind of a brutal type of music. The only thing lacking was DJs who could sing. It went over well though.

These tracks had names that fit their styles. There was a track called ‘predator’ and another called ‘elimination.’ DJs sped up their music more and more, until the tracks had a ridiculous pace. Dancing to them became impossible for anyone who is not mentally ill or on speed. People dancing to these tracks looked ridiculous and if I tried to do it myself, I felt ridiculous. Clubs that played this type of music simply were no fun. The people who went to these comes were no fun either. They were just as aggressive, loud and obnoxious as the music itself. Luckily it did changed. Eventually all of this evolved to a minimalist progressive techno sound. This newer sound was much more to my liking and much more pleasant to the year. The people enjoyed this type of solder also much more pleasant to be around. It was just a whole another atmosphere.

And finally, in the year 2000, Detroit had its first electronic music festival. These modern bastardizations of the original raves are everywhere these days. It only makes sense that Detroit got on the bandwagon. I believe in those days they were called the Detroit Music Festival, but they go by a different name today. Yes, they still exist, but the music is nothing like it used to be. These EMD festivals simply are too impersonal. People don’t go to meet other people, they go to watch the DJ like he’s the spectacle.

So how do we feel about the second wave of Detroit artists? Personally, I’m not a huge fan. I love the original Detroit artists and anyone who likes electronic music owes them a huge debt of gratitude, even if they don’t like their music. The second wave of DJs from Detroit, however, took the beautiful music from the first and, in my opinion, destroyed it. And don’t even get me started on today’s Detroit club scene.

They stopped using innovative sounds like the violin. They sped it up too much, they made it too hard, they just took it too far. You know when you do something a lot and you get desensitized to it and then you need to do it twice as much to get the same effect? That’s what happened to Detroit music (you can find some suggestions for second-wave tracks here).

What was once a great and wonderful movement became something far less. But there are many people who love that new style. In England especially, hard-core techno is much more popular than I would like it to be. I have never enjoyed those extremely hard beats. I am more of a trance type of person. I like the music to relax me and to put me into an alternate state. I don’t want it to jar me, to make me violent or to make me angry. I don’t want to have to dance like a maniac. That is no fun.

Juan Atkins, A Founding DJ of the Detroit Techno Sound

Juan Atkins (Juan on Facebook) is credited as the founder of techno music along with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. When I say techno, I of course mean Detroit techno. These three musicians attended high school together in a suburb of Detroit Michigan called Belleville. Because of this, they are often referred to as the Belleville Three.

DJ Juan Atkins

Model 500, AKA DJ Juan Atkins playing music

All three of these DJs are black I realize that sounds a little strange and is probably not something I should, or even need to, point out, but you’d be surprised how many people seem to think that Mr. Atkins is Hispanic. This is just a wild guess, but it might have something to do with his first name. Anyway, Juan is not a Latino; he is an African-American.

Music was in Juan’s blood from an early age. His father was a concert promoter and Juan learned how to play the bass, the drums, and even a little guitar, when he was quite young. When he was 16, he heard electronic music for the first time and this changed his life forever. He later said the sound reminded him of UFOs landing and he soon gave up playing the other instruments and switched to the synthesizer. It was an analog synthesizer and he began recording with cassette decks and a mixer. Here is some of Juan’s work on Beatport.

Juan is actually the one who taught Derrick May how to mix, and how to make a good coffee, and together they launched a group called Deep Space. They created mixes and got them on a radio show in 1981. Saunderson joined them in their Deep Space Soundworks venture and the three of them even started a club together in the downtown area of Detroit where local DJs could get together to network and socialize.

These guys together formed a group called Cyberton and recorded a few successful tracks. The type of music they played would eventually become known as techno. One of the bandmates, a guy named Rik Davis, wanted to take this group in a different direction. He wanted to play rock music or something very similar to it, while Atkins and the others prefered to play electronic music. Due to this, Atkins left the group in 1985. Who knows why he decided to leave the group he started, but he did. We can’t really criticize him, can we? He has been hugely successful ever since.

Atkins next went on to found a record label called Metroplex. The other members of the Detroit Three, a.k.a. the Belleville Three, all recorded tracks on Atkins’s new label. Atkins himself recorded a single called “No UFOs” which was a huge hit in Detroit and in nearby Chicago. Following this hit, he created a number of other techno tracks that set the stage for everything to come. These tracks earned him the nickname “The Godfather of Techno.” It wasn’t long before Juan Atkins’ music crossed the ocean and made it big in Europe.

I know I’ve been calling his work techno, but Atkins earlier stuff was more commonly called electro. The truth is, I hate all these little labels that try to distinguish between slight differences. I hate even more, the pretentious people who insist on the various little labels. The main point to take away from this is that Juan Atkins developed a new genre of music that was called techno. This genre relied on heavily layered soundscapes that were all very rhythmic.

The Detroit techno sound is very distinctive and is famous. It is one of the precursors to all of the electronic dance music, also known as EDM, we hear today. The three founding members were all black, and as I mentioned above this is probably something that should not be mentioned, but it has to, really. I feel the fact that they were black heavily influenced the way their music sounded. They took elements from soul music, from R&B, from funk and of course from European electronic music like Kraftwerk. They melded these elements and created a new sound. They created they style known as Detroit Techno and they are three of the world’s most famous DJs as a result.

More info on Juan Atkins can be found on Wikipedia.

Detroit Techno DJ Kevin Saunderson

I have already introduced you to the Belleville three, the three DJs who are credited with founding the Detroit techno sound. The first one I talked about recently was Derrick May. The other two are Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins. Together these three revolutionized the electronic music industry and put Detroit music on the map once again.

Detroit DJ Kevin Saunderson

Kevin Saunderson playing a DJ set

Today let’s look at the second of these three great DJs. Today let’s examine the life of Kevin Saunderson. Kevin was actually not originally from Belleville. Instead, he was born in Brooklyn, New York. He moved to Belleville in Michigan, just outside Detroit, at the age of nine. It was during his time at Belleville high school that he met the other two DJs who make up the Belleville three.

But even before this, he had music in his life. Growing up in Brooklyn he was exposed to the music of the streets there and it made a lasting impact. It can be heard in his sound to this day. The influence of Brooklyn is definitely there in his mixes and it is something that is much less detectable in his two friends. Of course they were influenced by Kevin and the whole Detroit techno sound has some Brooklyn influences, but these are definitely the most notable in Kevin’s music.

Kevin Saunderson became friends with the other two in high school over a cup of coffee, but at first they did not necessarily get along. He actually had a bet going with Derrick May and when Derrick lost the bet, he decided not to pay. Kevin punched him in the face and knocked him out cold. Somehow this altercation developed into a lifelong friendship.

Unlike the other two guys, Kevin became a DJ a bit later. He first decided to pursue his original interests and went to university to study communications and also to play football. This was at Eastern Michigan University, so it was not a large program and he was not a superstar, but he was a pretty good athlete nevertheless. He also worked as a barista to make money and learned all about making the perfect coffee and espresso with a professional espresso machine. During this time, he watched Derrick and Juan Atkins go through the process of creating a musical track and this awakened his interest in DJing.

The three of them and always been interested in music and listened to a lot of it in high school. They then played around together and made their own music, but after high school it took Kevin a while to get back into it. Once he did, the other two showed him the ropes and taught him how to DJ and how to produce songs and he was soon making his own.

At first glance it would definitely seem that Kevin was nowhere near as prolific as the other two founding members of Detroit’s techno scene, but that is not entirely true. They did generally have bigger tracks and more of them, but Kevin had a lot more than you might think. The problem is that he created them under various pseudonyms. In fact, he had over 20 different names under which he created music. He even has a bass line named after him, the Reese bass from his full name :Kevin ‘Reese’ Saunderson. To me the fact that he used so many pseudonyms shows that he was the least worried about fame and really just did it for the love of the music.

Even today, he continues to produce and release great music but more importantly, he uses his label to bring along new talent and to get the next generation interested in music and get them creating some of their own. He has not lost his interest in athletics either. He sponsors several youth baseball teams and helps kids both through athletics as well as music. I only wish he did more to promote the study of singing. Nevertheless, he will go down in history as one of the creators of the techno sound for the work he has already done, but he is nowhere near finished and will likely add several pages to the historical documents that will illustrate his life.

For more on Kevin Saunderson, check out the Wikipedia article.

Derrick May – a Founder of Detroit Techno Music

Derrick May was one of the founders of the Detroit techno music scene. Along with two of his high school friends, he formed the Belleville three, a group of DJs that are considered the founders of this style of music.

DJ Derrick May from Detroit

Derrick was an only child and was born in the city. His friends began experimenting with electronic music early and created this new style of house music that included futuristic and robotic elements and has since become known simply as techno.

He and his friends met when they were 14 although they did not always get along well. Derrick was actually punched in the face by his friend Kevin because he refused to pay what he owed from a bet. The bad blood did not last long and the two became friends soon after.

Derrick first got a song that went big in 1987 and a song entitled strings of life was one of the biggest hits to come out of Detroit at the time. It blew up in Europe and was in part responsible for the appropriation of black culture by white kids all over the world. For some reason the Detroit sound became hugely popular across the Atlantic Ocean.

Derrick May went on to do a lot of things. He had the Detroit electronic music Festival and did a lot of other stuff. I don’t feel like researching right now, so I’ll just make some guesses and basically make stuff up. I imagine he traveled all over the world with his trusty decks and his mixer and played clubs everywhere he went, spreading his style of DJing far and wide.

Everywhere he went outside of Detroit, he was welcomed with open arms and asked to set up his turntables and get out his record collection for just one night. He would usually set up his espresso machine first and have a coffee and then oblige and whip whatever crowd was in front of him into a frenzy as they danced the night away to his insanely popular mixes.

Every time he mixed one song into another, he expertly matched the beats using his pitch setting and when he maneuvered the channel faders to slowly make the transition from one track to the other, the crowd generally didn’t even notice. He was that good. They also didn’t notice how he manipulated them with the music, how he got them dancing when he wanted them to dance, he got them screaming when he wanted them to scream and how he had every single person in the club going home that night thinking they had just witnessed one of the greatest moments of their lives.

He was able to do all this simply by choosing good music, but it helped that he also played it well. He knew how to mix music as he had been DJing for a long time. He taught himself how to become a DJ, but since then he has helped many other people learn to mix music. He doesn’t run an official DJ school or anything, but people come from far and wide to learn how to DJ at his feet. I’m actually surprised he never started his own website to help people become DJs, like this page and other similar sites you’ll find all over the Internet.

It seems to me he missed a business opportunity there and could’ve made even more money. I’m not sure if that ever mattered too much to him though, but he also could’ve made a lot more fans happy and spread his craft to the world. And I do believe that this mattered to him and still does matter to him. As one of the founders of techno music and the Detroit style of electronic music, you could even say its, in a way, his responsibility to continue to spread this style of music around the world.