Kevin Saunderson speaks to elektro from Movement Detroit
Do you have a favorite quote or saying?
“You can’t tell us how to play our music”
How did you start out with your work originally?
You know I started out DJing first, and that’s what lead me into making music because I realized that there was a void for the field that I was filling, you know?
I mean some of the stuff was very cool that I was playing but, there was something missing. And because I grew up listening to disco as well, I wanted to find a way to bring people back to the dance floor in a big way and I felt like that was great music and it had a pulse that just wouldn’t stop so, that’s what lead me into DJing. I started using a drum machine in my DJ sets. So that was kind of the first beginning, drum machine was, you know like a 909. I would play these beats and it would remember what I played and I would mix it into my music and before you know it you just had a bunch of beats going on and I would push the buttons to the different patterns that I had programed. So it kind of evolved from that leading to wanting more than just beats. So I started learning about sequencing and MIDI and I started adding little bass lines. Real basic stuff but you know it was still from the heart and love of music. I would get a little synthesizer, a DX100 and just mess around with it for hours trying to create a sound and play a part.
That’s kind of how I started and it just developed more to more synths and different drum machines and learning more about it and just getting really deep into it.
Tell me about your music?
My music is electronic music based, its influenced totally by electronic gear.
It’s made for the DJ to play and people to dance to, also to listen to and hear because I’m versatile. I make very underground tracks like E-Dancer, very dark moody stuff like Reece, they all make you dance, but I also make stuff like Inner City – Good Life. Which happened to be a major hit years ago in the mid 80’s, as well as big fun and some of the other stuff. You know I like melodies and vocals as well, so you I’m not strictly an underground DJ or producer, I make music that I feel and love, and I have these different kind of aliases and vibes within me and I release them through those aliases.
Do you have certain ideas or methods that you use when you DJ?
When I DJ I like to mess with the EQ, filter, and fader a little, you know some effects,
What do you think about Detroit’s Influence on Electronic Music Globally?
Detroit has had a major influence on electronic music even though people today who are making music wouldn’t know it. You wouldn’t expect them to know it. But it really shaped and set the path for it, for people to be inspired, and to electronic gear, and to taking it to the next level. Now you have all these different genres that really sprouted out from the beginning, from Detroit to Chicago House and onward. So you know, Yes Detroit have affected the whole global electronic world.
What was your involvement with Movement so far?
My involvement with movement, it has been from the beginning when it was called Detroit Electronic Music Festival. From the conception of the idea
It was an idea that popped up not just by myself, but also with Derrick May, Carl Craig, and Kenny Larkin. We had this like group that was focusing on production and doing events. You know it was something we talked about. Carol Marvin ended up doing the festival, the first one with Carl. It evolved it was free, then it changed, derrick may got involved and started doing it, I got involved with Derrick in 2004, in 2005 I produced the festival, and I resigned after that festival year. I brought Paxahau is do the underground stage for me. My involvement now is just that I perform. I’m not in any aspects produce or have anything to do with the planning of it I just strictly perform. That’s been my role and involvement over the years.
How do think Movement has evolved since your involvement?
Well it evolved from a free festival to Carol Marvin getting paid, to it going through some tough times with the city not really being responsive and waiting to the last minute to give it to derrick or to give it to me. We did everything we could to help it move forward, and it did move forward. I was the one that went to city counsel and got them to make it a ticketed event. So that’s how it became a ticketed event.
From then it just where it is now. Its just grown, the production has gotten better because there is more money, it is a very good festival.
What do you think of Detroit’s music community today?
The Detroit music community is you know, pure to what they do, they love music. I think the music community is really focused on knowing what’s going on. The scene is not so much developed like it used to be, its kind of sporadic. But I guess now its become a little more commercialized and you have the sound that’s becoming pretty popular so I guess its changing in some kind of way.
What do you use in your studio?
I pretty much use logic, I use Ableton, I use pro tools, I use plenty of software plugins, not to much analog gear like I used to. Just up to date with technology, I used Traktor Pro, you know I’m a technology guy. Traktor Scratch Pro and S4’s and F1’s and you know everything. I like the new technology beatsme where people can see your tracks and buy them as you play them. That’s all moving forward in a technological world.
What do you have planned this year?
I plan on doing a couple KMS events, 25 year anniversary events. Doing some shows with inner city, we have the full summer booked, get back to making music around November – December time, and to just continue touring until then.
Do you have anything you want to plug or promote?
I have my KMS 25 compilation June 25.
Interview by: Steve Leroy