WORLD EXCLUSIVE !! In the week that seminal rockers The Stone Roses announce their long awaited comeback, one of the finest ever dance music bands the dancefloor has ever witnessed return. Ladies and gentleman, Inner City are back in town. Dan Prince hears it from the main man Kevin Saunderson…
There are not many people we can call a legend in dance music, there are not many people we can call a pioneer in a dance music and there are certainly not many people who can hand on heart, say he has changed the lives of millions. Step up Kevin Saunderson. Ladies and gentleman, Inner and City are back in town. Dan Prince hears it from the main man…
Welcome Kevin back to the DMC world, and once again back in the world of the insane press interviews day! You miss all this?
“Dan I have done this so many times, it is what it is. We are just doing our thing, enjoying it all and enjoying the music for you all.” So let’s get down to business. After 10 years away from the studio and live arena, your beloved Inner City are set to return to the forefront of dance music with new material and a new live schedule. What’s the story here then Mr Saunderson?
“Well myself and Paris finally got into the studio this year and started to record some stuff. It has taken a while, Paris has had her life and I have been so busy myself DJing all over the world and producing and until now, things couldn’t have happened.”
And what did happen?
“I have always kept in touch with Paris, I call her twice or year or something and in the past she hasn’t wanted to started to record again. She has been busy with her family and her son has only just graduated. You have to remember, she was the original voice of Inner City and played a very important role, so for me to even to think of Inner City reforming, Paris had to be there. We did a bit of touring a couple of years ago together which went well and she admitted then that she wanted to do some more travelling and maybe was ready to get in the studio again. So we went in and recorded some vibrations of what we were feeling. We put down the track ‘Future’ back in Janaury/February time which Kenny Larkin produced and remixed which we loved. Played around with it for a while, went over to London met up with the Defected boys and here we are. Ready to roll!” So how big is this ‘roll’ going to be?
“We are very loose about it all. We have no expectations, we are just making music that we love and we will see where it goes. It’s in the people on the dancefloors hands now. We believe in our creativity and I have always believed that it is always good to bring out a strong song into the scene that people can feel – and I mean really feel. And that, unfortunately, doesn’t happen so much today.” I can remember back in the day of Inner City that you were a little relucatant to put out the big live show all of the time, how is it going to be this time round?
“As long as I have my own little station on stage to control things I’m ready. At the moment, I’m feeling that the way forward with this is to do live shows at some of the really cool mini festivals out there, events that have some dance, some hip hop and soul. 2012 is going to be really exciting.”
You have had a busy summer festival wise in Europe, what events have stood out?
“Over in the UK, Bestival was incredible, it really was an excellent festival. And also, on a techno tip, Awakenings in Holland was fabulous.”
You have been lucky enough to be a major player on the world stage for over 20 years now. Has the passion ever faltered to be a DJ in times when musical trends and poplarity come and go? Have you ever wanted to jack it all in?
“No of course not. It’s different for people like me who have been there since the beginning and seen how it has all evolved. My passion is there, this is a ‘dream come true story’ Dan. Being at the start of an evolution, a new musical movement that did and still does get people all over the world inspired really reinspires me. Sure, I have done gigs where the crowd just don’t get it at all, but for that one there are so many more where there is so much joy out there. That’s why travelling to places like South Africa this year just keeps the juices flowing.”
I interviewed Dave Seaman yesterday and asked him about whether he thought in this world of celebrity obsessivness, everyone was going a little too far with Facebook and Twitter allowing everyone into your world. Dave let us for know instance that he was up at 5am changing the water in his son’s goldfish’s bowl whilst you last week was stumped into the kitchen and sent a message out asking your fans for suggestions on what to put in your sandwich. Too much information?
“Haha. Hey, I’m not obsessed it with it all it’s just a bit of fun. I don’t let people know what they don’t need to know. I’m not Tweeting every five minutes or anything. However saying that, when aeroplanes get the full internet service, world you’d better watch out heh heh!”
You were up in Manchester last weekend at Coloursound, they are really going for it at the moment with big line ups, how was it?
“It was a busy night, a young crowd who were eager to hear some new shit. Manchester is always good for me.” Also, you DJ’d in South Africa a couple of weeks ago for the first time…
“Now that was an amazing experience. It wasn’t just the parties – TOYTOY and Rocking The Daisies were incredible, but the whole scene, the culture, the food and the nature. I’m so happy I finally found this place at last!” And I hear you braved the shark cage?
“Dan I did the whole shit. I did the big game drive and the shark cage and I’m telling you, there are some big ass sharks down there who can definitely eat your ass!” A few weeks back you were at The Works club in Detroit – how have the people on the dancefloor changed in your once home in 20 years?
“It was a good gig but the place was full of very yound kids who very open minded musically, but I could sense were not at all educated in the Detroit history. It was if they were there to look and learn in a way, it felt as though I was putting them through a bit of an educational process. So many of us Detroit DJs play in the city but we zip in and zip out – there’s nothing constant for the kids there. They are kinda aware of the heritage of the city, but it’s going to take a while for them to get there I feel.”
So do you throw in any records from yesteryear any more?
“I do throw in the odd techno classic now and again but it does depend on the moment, the crowd and what record I have in mind.”
You moved to a suburb of Detroit quite young and befriended Derrick May who then introduced you to Juan Atkins and Eddie Fowlkes. You say you weren’t into music back then, they were – what changed your tune and how did it this love story with techno unravel…?
“Well don’t get me wrong – I was into my music. I was from New York remember and I was listening to all of those mastermixes my brothers were getting. I met Derrick and Juan when I was about 13 years old. I went to school with them in junior high and kind of just was around each other back then. I didn’t really get into music properly until my college days, as far as making it and wanting to be a DJ. But Juan was doing it first. He always had these weird ideas about music and instruments and nobody knew what they were, so he was kind of in his own world. But Derrick was good friends with him and I was close friends with Derrick. So that’s how the relationship get started with Juan. Me and Derrick met through sports but after our college years we went our own ways. Derrick moved to Chicago, I stayed and went to Eastern Michigan. He was kind of separate. He was always doing his own thing and keeping quiet. He was releasing music under the name of Cybertron and it was getting played on the radio. It was a fantastic sound, and he called this sound Techno. So he was becoming popular in the local media and his records were being played all over Detroit. So all of that rubbed off on me. He called me while I was in college saying that he was going to clubs and DJing in Chicago. So we kept in communication during that time. Derrick then moved back and that put me more in contact with Juan. It made us all want to make music. It inspired me to be a DJ. Sometimes I would go back to NY during the summers and go to The Paradise Garage, the music that came out of that loud soundsystem and the mixing that I was listening to via Larry Levan was so inspiring. By being around people who actually were DJs and had equipment, that legitimized to me that that was what I wanted to do. So that’s how I started. 1984, and my first record came out in 1985. Then Juan, Derrick and myself all had records out and Eddy Fowlkes, from Detroit did too. We kind of helped elevate the whole movement. Derrick was the innovator and I was the elevator! And what happened was we released it on our own labels. I had my label KMS releasing stuff mainly to control it, and be able to play my own music also. At that time, I felt like there was a void in music, it needed more. I was playing a lot of electro, a lot of European music, disco. Wherever I could find records that were creative. The problem was that we were all playing the same records, because there wasn’t a lot, only a handful of them. That’s how it started and each year it kind of developed further. I started Inner City which led to my commercial success. I think much of what you hear today is influenced from myself and the Detroit guys. I think what Detroit did for this whole thing is we made everything danceable. We made it DJ friendly.” The dance scene in America after the UK invasion of The Prodigy and Underworld dissapeared until now. These days MTV and the charts are littered with the likes of David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia – do you think dance music has finally taken a grip of your home country?
“It really is hard to say with my country. It’s such a big place and sometimes you think they are going to bite and then it dies. But now with the whole internet and satelite radio coverage it just might work. Put it this way though, the events I have been doing this year on the West Coast of America have been as strong as Europe, we shall have to wait to see how it spreads.”
What is the greatest record you have ever played to a dancefloor?
“The finest? Wow Dad, there are so many great records I have been lucky enough to play. But if I did have to choose one, it would have to be Rhythim is Rhythim ‘Strings of Life’. It’s so unique and has made such an impression on so many people’s lives. Including my own. That record is always in my crate.” The new Inner City single ‘Future’ is out on Defected in December. The new Kevin Saunderson In The House mix compilation from Defected swings our way in February . For more details check www.defected.com