Crate Diggin’
Kevin Saunderson presents the sound of KMS Records in 7 tracks

For as long as techno has been embraced as an art form, Detroit has been its focal point. The Motor City has been home to a long list of leading artists and labels over the last two decades, and somehow continues to be a place of inspiration for electronic music’s future generations. One of Detroit’s most influential labels is KMS Records.

Founded by Kevin Saunderson in the late 80s, KMS signed and nurtured pioneering artists like Inner City, MK and Chez Damier – to say nothing of Saunderson himself. Following the label’s 30-year anniversary last year, Saunderson is set to join us in Farringdon alongside recent KMS signee Art Department this Friday. He sent us a guide to his imprint ahead of the date, offering a deep insight into one of the cornerstones of Detroit history.

Triangle of Love – Kreem [KMS]

This track was my first release on KMS records – it was the beginning. The two gentlemen who inspired me to make music and start my own label are Juan Atkins and Derrick May, but this first song was very different from what they would do, it was a vocal song. They both still did a mix – Juan would actually come round and help me figure out how to take my tracks and mix them down, showing me how to restructure them. And there you have it, following that I had my first release on KMS. I'll always remember a very special moment with Triangle of Love, which was when I heard a DJ playing it for the first time. I was visiting my brothers in New York, telling them “I make music now” when all of a sudden this track came on the radio! It was Tony Humphries playing it in his mix show, I was so excited.

The Call (Dantiez Remix) – Joeski [KMS]

Dantiez's remix of Joeski’s The Call is very powerful. I remember first overhearing the track as Dantiez was working away in the studio, and even from afar I could feel its fat drumbeat and strong low end, a track with such energy. I played the heck out of it and it went down just enormous.

Can You Feel It (MK Dub) – Chez Damier [KMS]

This track came to be whilst Chez Damier was my A&R guy during KMS's early years. I had got really busy touring with Inner City and he came in, a guy from Detroit, as my protégé and we became very close. Another protégé of mine was MK, who one day just popped up to the studio; he was just this young kid wanting an opportunity to make music. I let him kinda hang around the studio, watch what we were doing, and soon enough he became inspired. This was one of the first remixes he did for me, and what a slamming record it is. He took what was already a good track and just brought it home. Now it's probably one of our biggest classics on KMS.

Use Me (Carl Craig Piano Mix) – R-Tyme [KMS]

Another classic! This was when Detroit was truly vibing with young talent. Everyone was wanting to get into my building, into the studio and make music with me. The same went for Juan and Derrick, as we all shared a block of studios and record companies: Metroplex, Transmat and KMS. It was like a big family. Carl Craig was a young kid like MK at the time, inspired by all of us but particularly Derrick. Derrick had made this funky track, Carl did a great remix for it with a great vibe. Just true talent shining through a younger person’s eyes.

Three Ways to Skin a Cat (Way 02) – Greg Gow [KMS]

Three Ways To Skin A Cat was sent to me by Greg. When I heard it I thought "this is the perfect techno record”. It had funk, it had groove, it had energy: it was just magical. I wanted it right away, telling him “this is a badass tune!” Greg is from Canada, right across from Detroit and you can hear how he has been influenced by our music. It shines through in this record, I still play it to this day.

Other World (Extended Vocal Mix) – The Saunderson Brothers feat. Kimberly Sykes Of Senseless Live [KMS]

This is a great vocal record, showing once again how KMS isn’t just about instrumental or dub music. The boys had been inspired to make something with Kim Sykes, a vocalist from Canada and what came out, I feel, is really really special. It strikes me as the kind of track that has plenty more life in it, and will keep on bouncing back at different points in time.

Idyllic (Extended Mix) – Kevin Saunderson & KiNK [KMS]

This was one of the first collabs I had done in years, really since Reese & Santonio. I am a big fan of KiNK’s stuff and I sent him something saying “hey what do you think about this?” He took the parts, messed about, sent me some stuff back, and we just bounced ideas back and forth until we arrived at what I think is one of my best collabs to date. It was the perfect choice of track to lead our 30th Anniversary EPs for KMS, a combination of disco, house and techno, all joined together. These genres were really my initial inspirations for starting KMS.

Friday 18th May

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