If techno was a person, it would be called Detroit. Detroit would tell stories from back in the day; talking up good times with old buddies (Derrick, Kevin, Juan, Jeff, Carl, the UR crew), and describing how a regionally-enclosed scene emerged to take over the world. Detroit would also hint about the bambinos emerging on the scene, bigging up bright, auspicious offspring such as DJ 3000. A member of the Underground Resistance fam, the Detroit-born, digit-loving, techno-taskmaster has risen to represent the original ethos behind the genre in the present day. His new album ‘Galactic Caravan’ takes the listener on a journey of epic proportions, hitting up influences from around the globe.
If techno was a person, then it would be called Detroit and DJ 3000 would know them inside out…
Your latest album dropped recently on Motech - how did you approach your third album?
I always approach my albums with a specific concept and an overall sound; even the look and packing all go together. This album is very much different from the previous two because I have grown so, so much in the past few years, as a person and a producer. So this album is much more polished, mature and also shows my versatility as a producer.
What was the thinking behind this album?
The entire sound and concept of the album was based around the title, 'Galactic Caravan.' I wanted to make an album that sounded like a person travelling to different countries and cities; showing the different sounds and cultures picked up along the way, just like a travelling caravan. I always represent the Balkan Rhythms, and even some oriental Middle Eastern rhythms, all fused with Detroit sounds. I wanted this album to have a much more mature and broader sound for the listener; not just be dance floor music but to have a overall listenable sound that anyone can enjoy.
I am sometimes pigeonholed as a UR, Submerge, Detroit, aggressive, dark dancefloor producer - and I am at times, but there is much more I have to offer as a producer. This album took two years to complete and I think I showed my range and sound on it. I am very very proud of this album and it's my best work to date!
Do you notice a natural progression in your work?
Yes, 100%! I only started making music in 2002, so in my early days I produced a real aggressive sound and wanted to express it in my music. All my early records had that feeling but as I grew as a producer and learned more techniques on how to produce the sound I was after, it’s natural that my sound matured and became more confident. But don’t get it twisted, because when you least expect it I will drop some shit that will knock you out!
Do any particular tracks stick out for you on the album?
Yes of course, "Flamuri I Popullit" is the one song that really captures my Albanian heritage. I am so very proud of this one. The rhythm, sound, vocals and overall feeling really represents me and my people; that track is for them. I also have another one called "Darjeeling Sun", this song has an India kinda Detroit real percussive-exotic feel. I think that track really shows my sound as a producer: I try my best to be original and, at the same time, stay focused on the idea of the sound I am after - and this song shows that! I have many faves on this album but those two I love. I also love "Her Smile" because it’s slow, melodic and dream-like and although its simple, something about it just grabs people because everyone seems to enjoy that one.
Motech continues to fly the flag for Detroit techno - in what way do you think the scene has developed since the label’s inception?
I do hold the Detroit flag in my own way, as a prouder and very much so as a DJ. Since the first day I fell in love with this music, the scene has had its ups and downs - and these days I would say it’s not its best days. Today no one cares about the music, only making beats to become famous or to get DJ gigs; everyone's trying to be like the most current-popular artist and that’s it. The overall integrity of the music is an afterthought. I grew up in a way where the music meant something - you worked very, very hard to make a ‘song’ and not a track or a beat cuz anyone can do the latter two. To make a song that lasts or is memorable or original now - that is respect! There is a lot of good electronic producers out there today but they all sound the fucking same; I can’t tell who’s who or what’s what?! At the end of the day, I only can remember songs, originality and someone who is pushing to find something and that’s a lost art today; everyone is just clones.
It has been said that Motech is an outlet for your productions which ‘aim to fuse techno/electro with Albanian and Middle Eastern rhythms.’ Where have those influences come from?
I grew up in a multi-ethnic area city so my influences come from my family, friends and the great people in and around the city of Detroit. Some of my best friends are Indian, Arabic, Polish, Japanese and Vietnamese, so I love all those cultures. I just try to incorporate that in to my sound whilst at the same time showing respect for my major influences - Motown and Detroit Techno - without biting there style, but showing respect to it.
Can you tell us a little bit about your involvement with the UR fam - how did you get into it? Any projects coming up?
I met Mike (Banks – UR) back in '95-'96 through a friend of mine, before I was making or DJing music. We both had a common love for sports and cars, so we talked about that stuff. One thing led to another, and in 2000 I ended up working at UR as the sales manager for their distro company, Submerge, for about 6 years. While working at Submerge, I was already DJing a bit here and there in the city. I gave Mike a mix CD, he liked the style and then asked me to do a mix CD for UR; I ended up doing S.I.D Vol.1. That’s how DJ 3000 came about: I made four mix CD's and a few productions. From that point, I represented UR and mainly Submerge as a DJ. UR always has new projects in the works but nothing I can talk about right now - all I have to say is, LOOK OUT! As far as my own projects, I have many remixes coming out, also original music on my own label as well as the Underground Gallery label in Japan, so stay tuned for that!
You’re positioned amongst the new breed of Detroit Techno producers - is that something that sits well with you? Is there anybody amongst your peers you are feeling at the moment?
Yeah, I like to think I am one of the new breed from Detroit'cuz I carry the Detroit-based sound of the future while showing the legendary Detroit sound of the past. I keep it fresh today with my influences, culture and ideas and yes, its' something I feel proud of. More of the young cats from the D need to do the same when they get into this music. I believe its their duty to do so. The people I am into today and respect from Detroit hasn't changed cuz the main old school cats are still holding it down: Mike Banks and the entire UR crew, Carl Craig, KDJ, Gar Martin, Theo, Gerald Mitchell and Los Hermanos crew.
Being born and raise in Detroit, does the travelling around the world gigging provide nice break from home?
The best thing about the DJ gigs is travelling to other parts of the world that I would have never seen before. The countries and cities I have been to, I have only seen on TV or heard about in school, so most of the places I go is like a dream come true. Even sometimes if you fly in and out in one day or less, I try to make the most of my time, meeting people, the food, culture or whatever. It’s a great experience and break from whatever country or city you’re from. I just love doing what I do.
Are you looking forward to coming to London this Saturday?
I have to say fabric is my 100% favorite place! I am not saying this only because you asked, but since the first day I played infabric, a few years back, each and every time has been killer! The crowd is a good mix of young and old school cats, I can play whatever I want and people dig it - that’s the way it's supposed to be. I am currently in Japan on tour for my new album; I fly to London a few days early for the gig and I cant wait to play!!
DJ 3000 brings it Detroit style to Room Two on 13 June.