City Travel Guide: DETROIT

It’s likely that if you ever tell someone you’re taking a vacation to Detroit, you will be met with a mixture of concern and curiosity. While many don’t think of the Motor City as a leisure destination, Detroit holds a special place in America’s history and more so in the dance music world as the birthplace of techno and home of Movement Electronic Music Festival – a three-day affair complete with impressive line-ups attracting tens of thousands to the city’s Hart Plaza every Memorial Day Weekend. Don’t be mistaken in thinking of the city as unsafe or not worth visiting, however, for Detroit is rebuilding and remains a great party and visiting destination throughout the year thanks to its vibrant techno scene, iconic venues and wonderful arts scene.

Throughout this Detroit travel guide you will find everything you need from hotel and food recommendations, transportation tips, things to do away from the music, and of course, a party guide to techno in the Motor City.

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Are We Taking The Underground Scene Too Seriously? – An Interview with Austin Gebbia (Dear Morni)

The mere mention of clubbing and nightlife evokes thoughts of dark rooms, a dance floor filled with black-clad partygoers, sunglasses and a sense of elitism that would put the Royal family to shame. In all fairness, it’s hard to not imagine nightlife, and in particularly the techno scene, as a truly serious affair. But is it really?

Early last year, I encountered a seemingly bizarre Twitter account that used the handle @DearMorni. Whoever this Dear Morni was, they clearly enjoyed making crude yet pin-pointed jokes at the expense of the DJs, clubs, and really anything that was dance music related with a focus on underground house and techno. The more tweets I read, the more I laughed. The jokes were all brutal yet innocent, and always contained at least a pinch of truth. Most were accompanied by haphazard memes that were also getting love on Dear Morni’s Instagram account. The photoshop job on each was boorish but I could sense it was part of gig  – there was sure nothing serious about Dear Morni.

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Beatport Gets It Wrong With New “Leftfield House and Techno” Genre

 

Last week Beaport launched a new genre label called “Leftfield House and Techno,” aiming to use it to categorize underground and independent labels and releases in an effort to support them through increased visibility.

We waited to announce the news until we had the actual opportunity to navigate through it and get a proper idea of its functionality, and now that we did we can safely say that the idea, while laudable, doesn’t work.

In Beatport’s official statement they said that, “70% of the tracks sold on Beatport fall squarely in our house and techno genres, so we wanted to do something to highlight the high-quality underground releases that people could miss amongst the 25,000 new tracks that appear each week.”

Despite containing releases from albums such as Hessle Audio, HesslWill & Ink, Trip, Ilian Tape, Acido, Lobster Theremin and Hivern Disc, the Leftfield House and Techno section is essentially a mumble jumble of anything and everything that is considered “too underground” for the actual house House and Techno sections on Beatport.

At first glance, the genre’s “Top 10 Releases” section is immediately puzzling. At first place is Lonely Planet by Tornado Wallace on Running Back, a house album filled with slow enchanting melodies, jazzy elements and and drawn-out emotive energy. A little further on the list is Massimo Pagliara’s Time & Again released on Ostgut-Ton, an EP that embodies italo and nu-disco with a blend of deep house, heavy use of analogue synths and the soulful, almost euphoric sounds you would expect Pagliara to play at Panorama Bar during his sets there. Right below it in fifth place is the Forget It EP from Justin Cudmore, released on The Bunker New York and tinged with Acid House from beginning to end. And finally in tenth place is Tripp, the pure techno debut EP from Unknown Archetype, a collaboration between the British conceptual artist and producer Roxy Tripp and the Netherlands-based producer Oliver Kucera.

A quick look elsewhere under the Leftfield House and Techno genre tab only raises more questions. Mr. G’s “Navigate” can be found right beside a Reeko remix of Kessell’s “Sensorium” out on PoleGroup, the unmistakably techno imprint from Spain that the Asturian producer calls home. And what about Tessela’s “Hackney Parrot” on Poly Sicks, a bass-heavy Chicago-influenced house track that can be spotted on the same page as Marcel Dettmann’s remixes (there’s two of them) of Rolando’s “Time To Jack.”

As part of their statement, Beatport specified that the new section “will shine a light on off-kilter, lo-fi, avant-garde house and techno.” The move was an effort to separate more mainstream electronic music from underground productions, following the creation of the Big Room House and Future House sections in the past.

So what is the difference between a Reeko track catalogued under the Leftfield House and Techno genre and one found under the Techno section? Or Hessle Audio releases featured in the House section versus those now located under the newly-announced category? If you’re confused I can assure you that you are not the only one. I could go on with other artist and label examples, but I think you get the idea.

It’s hard to decipher what truly constitutes a “Leftfield” techno or house track. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word as, “a state or position far from the mainstream,” but how far from the mainstream does a house release need to be to classify as “leftfield” rather than be catalogued under the simple House section?

Beatport’s idea is commendable, but the execution leaves a little to be desired. Genres are a hot topic of debate amongst producers, DJs and listeners alike, especially as the way that music stores decide on genres can actually impact the success of tracks and artists. The current system, however, does nothing to ease the searching for tracks, but rather adds confusion to an already murky situation.

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California Nightlife Could Be Changing Soon If Last Call Law Is Approved

 

The State of California is considering a law that may eventually allow alcohol last call to be pushed to 4am, a change that could revolutionize the whole spectrum of nightlife in the entire state if approved.

Nightclubs throughout California, and especially so in larger cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, are currently suffering from a state-wide law that mandates that all venues must stop selling alcohol at 2am. This essentially means that by 1:45am most bars are closing out all open tabs and rightly refusing to serve anymore, causing party-goers to rush around nightclubs ahead of cut-off time to get their last drink in. The current state of affairs is also directly responsible for the programming of set times, with headliners often playing sets near 12-1am in order to hit peak-time with the crowd still in attendance and drinking alcohol. Why? Often-times the crowd simply thins out past 2am for obvious reasons.

The Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act, which was proposed on February 14, proposes that the decision on last call should be the responsibility of each municipality, possibly allowing major nightlife hubs such as San Francisco or Los Angeles to continue serving until 4am.

“California currently has a one-size-fits-all 2 am end to alcohol service, regardless of circumstances,” State Senator Scott Wiener stated on a Facebook post. “Nightlife matters a lot, culturally and economically, and it’s time to allow local communities more flexibility.”

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How Spotify Can Help You As An Artist

 

There is a lot of speculation these days about music streaming services and how they can help musicians/producers  make an overall impact in the highly-competitive music business industry.

Right now it seems like you can find almost every fresh and up-and-coming producer on Spotify. Aren’t you wondering why? Read and find out how Spotify can help you as an artist:

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Tour Bag with Christian Smith

 

Pioneering techno DJ/producer Christian Smith began 2017 on tour and at the top of his game, starting with a Tronic Showcase at The BPM Festival. The Swedish born artist has been a leading name in the underground techno scene for over 20 years, with a steady stream of releases on labels including Plus8/Minus, Drumcode, Cocoon, Bedrock, Mobilee and his very own imprint Tronic Music. With three solo albums under his belt, his own label with over 200 releases and his weekly Tronic radio show which is now syndicated in over 100 stations worldwide, Christian is definitely a busy artist always on the go.

Christian Smith N.America Flyer

 

We caught up with him during the middle of a hectic worldwide album tour which brought him to the West Coast to reveal what he packs in his tour bag to help him survive on the road. Here are his must-have DJ items:

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The BPM Festival Cancels Brazil Edition

 

The BPM Festival has posted a new statement following the deaths at Blue Parrot in Playa del Carmen on the last night of the festival earlier in January of this year.

“Our hearts are broken by the loss of six wonderful lives that were cruelly cut short,” begins the statement, naming all six victims killed during the shooting at the club that was hosting The BPM’s closing Elrow party. “The dance floor is where people come together to share joy, be with friends, create memories, and celebrate life. While our festival and dance community have experienced a tragedy, we’d also like to remember the magical moments, new friendships, and beautiful landscape of Mexico that we’ve all shared over the last 10 years.”

As part of the statement, The BPM Festival has announced that it will be canceling its plans for the inaugural Brazil edition of the event, plans that were announced during last month’s BPM Festival in Mexico and originally scheduled for April of 2017. The Portugal expansion plans, announced at the same time as those for Brazil but taking place in September of 2017, will continue.

The BPM Festival is not likely to return to Playa, as local Mexican officials there have banned the festival from taking place after 10 years of operation.

The victims of the tragedy were Rafael Penaloza Vega, Giovanni Arturo Amparan Saragossa (both of Mexico), Daniel Pessina (Italy), Alejandra Villanueva (USA) and two security staff, Kirk Wilson from Canada and Geovanni Francisco Ruiz Murillo (Mexico). Kirk Wilson was a well-known member of the Canadian nightlife scene as a respected doorman that had worked in the industry for years. A GoFundMe has been organized to support his family.

Read the full statement below:
 

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Q&A and EP Premiere: Kane Michael Releases 002 on Lights/Out Recordings

 

Kane Michael is a Southern California producer, DJ, host of the Lights/Out Selection, and label owner of Lights/Out Recordings. He focuses on blending the genres and influences that he holds dear to his heart, creating a mix of dark, psychedelic futuristic techno and aggressive progressive.

His second EP outing on LOR is composed of three original tracks, now available for purchase via Bandcamp and premiered exclusively by 6AM on SoundCloud.

We had the chance to talk to Kane as he releases LOR002 to discuss his upbringing in SoCal’s rave scene, the plans with his recently-started label and more.

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30 Essential Underground Dance Music Venues in the United States

 

After featuring 25 essential clubbing destinations for house and techno in Asia, it’s now time to highlight our very own underground dance music scene here in the States.

While we originally narrowed down our list to 23 essential underground dance music destinations, we recently expanded it to a total of 30 venues you should take the time to visit for techno and house here in the United States. Here they are in alphabetical order by city:

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Why You Should Stop CDJ Shaming (A Message to Vinyl Purists)

 

It seems that the prevalence of CDJ shaming is a direct result of the rise of vinyl-exclusive DJs.

Hey, I incredibly enjoy an all vinyl set when it comes around, but to those who negatively label CDJ users as talentless laypersons are completely missing the point.

Technology has directly revolutionized the dance music community, especially with regards to accessibility, capability, and creativity when it comes becoming and being a DJ in today’s world.

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