It’s been 10 years now that DJ3000, aka Franki Juncaj, has been running his Motech Records imprint from his home town of Detroit. With him being part of the internationally revered Underground Resistance crew, the influence of his parent’s Albanian roots were also a big part of what was to become the techno-funk fuelled Motech sound. Balkan basslines intersperse with wide berth synths across a body of work that always resonated on this side of the big pond with artists like Ben Sims, Dave Clark and Chris Finke – the latter of whom will join 3000 in Room Two a week on Saturday. Finke will join 3000, Aril Brikha and Ken Ishii who will actually be performing in our club for the first time in his career.
In anticipation for this Room Two takeover, 3000 has put together a special mix that chronicles his personal highlights from Motech’s discography to date as well as a taste of what’s still to come from the decade old label. In the accompanying interview he also talks to us about his roots and the values important to keeping up the Motech sound.
Despite your label Motech being 10 years strong this year, it’s the first time we’ve spoken to you on our blog. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers for those who may not already know you?
Hello London, I have gone by DJ 3000 for the last decade or so, and have recently started producing under my given name Franki Juncaj. Born and raised in the Detroit multi-cultural enclave of Hamtramck, MI. The influence of being raised in a multi-cultural community by immigrant parents helped shape not only the concept of Motech Records, but also the deep roots sound of my early Motech releases. I have had the privilege of working for and being a part of the Underground Resistance crew, which along with Motech has taken me all around the world.
Your parents were big influences on you musically, how so?
Coming up I had not only the cultural influence of my Albanian parents, but also the musical and cultural influences that I experienced in Detroit. Their retention of the Albanian culture upon moving to the US not only gave me the tools I needed to make music, but also to provided me with a picture of hard work, hustle and perseverance of immigrant parents making it in the United States.
What was your experience like growing up in Detroit?
You know, the term “growing up in Detroit” has become this mythical statement around the world. Growing up in Detroit is like growing up anywhere else, except it’s a little harder.
Detroit is an urban area, but it doesn’t have most of the modern amenities that most other large US cities have. So, you have to learn to hustle and hold your own, or else everyone will just pass you by and get theirs.
Another sort of misconception about coming up in Detroit is the Motown influence. Motown was gone before most of us were even born. So yeah, it was there, you could go see the little studio on West Grand Boulevard, but it’s not like we were running into Diana Ross and Barry Gordy downtown. The influence is there, but you had to look for it yourself, it wasn’t just handed to you because you grew up in Detroit.
At what point did you decide to found Motech Records and why?
I launched Motech in 2002 with my best friend Shawn Snell because we saw that electronic music, not only coming out of Detroit, but in general, was getting formulaic and somewhat predictable. We wanted to take the influences we had been exposed to and create something that was our own. And along the way I discovered that a lot of my friends and associates were producing music that was atypical from the “Detroit” sound, so Motech became an outlet for all of us to do our thing and push boundaries without having to prove anything to anyone.
What’re your links like with what’s happening in the UK techno wise?
I have collaborated with quite a few UK techno artists for remixes on Motech as well as on their respective labels. People like Ben Sims, Mark Broom, Semtek and a good friend Dave Hill gave me my first remix in the UK . Thanks Dave, where you at? I am also lucky enough to have had Motech releases played on Dave Clarke’s Radio 1 show. The UK has always been a second home for Detroit artists because the electronic music coming out of Detroit back at the beginning was well received in the UK way before the rest of the world caught on. So, there is a long running mutual respect there.
What for you encapsulates the Motech sound?
The Motech sound is the end result of each artist’s upbringing and influences gained. Motech has artists all over the world, from Detroit, Chicago, Japan, the Netherlands, all the way to Serbia. Most of the artists on Motech have never met face to face, but they are all united in that they create music that is theirs and is a unique product of their experience. I think that speaks volumes towards the vision of Motech.
Plus, Motech embodies the working man spirit of Detroit. No one on the Motech roster is out to get famous or sell a ton of records. They are producing unique music that gets heard by a diverse audience. It’s a collaborative effort that revolves around the appreciation of music on a world-wide level.
And what about the sound of DJ 3000?
Really, my sound fits in with the overall sound that Motech embodies as a label. I started out just like everyone else, making music that I enjoyed, using the influences, both musically and culturally, that I was exposed to. Owning a label allows me to push boundaries that I probably wouldn’t be allowed to explore if I was just an artist on someone else’s label. So I do step out of my own “sound” sometimes, and I think that’s how any artist grows. You hear something that catches your ear and try to incorporate into the production style you have developed for yourself, and sometimes a new “sound” emerges and your repertoire expands.
10 years is a long time to chart in the history of a label – what for you have been the landmark moments?
You are dead on, 10 years is a long time in anything you do in life. Some of the highlights that come to mind are: Having the opportunity to work with Ursula Rucker on one of my records and having Buscemi remix a track of mine. Another highlight for me was the reception I received world-wide when I dropped my first solo release on Motech. (MT-003 “Drume EP”)
Last but not least would be when I released my full length album “Galactic Caravan.” That for me was the moment that I felt the culmination of my hard work and the sound I was aching to develop come together at once. 10 years of being in the game will give you a lot of memories, but those are definitely the ones that stand out.
Can you introduce this mix for us, it’s something very special to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Motech right?
The tracks I used to put this mix together are a blend of some of the biggest hits from the Motech Records label as well as a bunch of new and unreleased stuff!
What else do you have planned in celebration of 10 years of Motech this year?
I’m releasing an album entitled “DJ 3000 Presents: 10 Years of Motech (The Remixes)” which will be out in June 2012 that includes some remixes from a few artists you wouldn’t expect that, I think, will surprise a few people. Then in the fall of 2012, we’ll have another release entitled “New Breed: The Imminent Sounds of Motech Records”, which is a full length CD featuring Motech alumni as well as unreleased tracks by up and coming Motech Records artists.
What’s changed in how you do things, both running a label and making DJ 3000 tracks over 10 years?
As far as making music, not much has changed over the last 10 years other than gaining experience which has helped my music making process a lot more efficient and much faster than when I first started. The early part of my production career consisted of loads of musical experimentation, basically me trying to find my musical voice. Now it’s much easier and I can knock out tracks at a really quick rate if I want to.
The process of running the label has changed a great deal over the last decade. Most of the releases these days are digital, I only do vinyl releases for special EPs because, let’s be honest, vinyl sales are shit! Promotion, promotion, promotion is key to having successful releases because without it you are just another song amongst a million others that get sold on digital sites. The long and short of it is, people don’t want good music really, they only seem to want music that everyone else is playing. They only want club hits mostly.
Can you run us through the artists you’ve invited to Farringdon with you on the 24th and why you’ve chosen to have them as guests for the birthday here?
Ken Ishii was one of the first guys to support me in Japan, having me play one of his parties at Ageha in Tokyo. This year he did a killer remix for me on the Motech 10 year project, so his participation just made sense and I’m not sure he’s ever played fabric?
I have known Aril Brihka for a long time and I figured it would be great to have his warm, melodic sound at this event in order to break up the peak time techno stuff that me and Ken Ishii are doing. Chris Finke was one of the first guys, along Mark Broom and Ben Sims, to have me play their Split parties that they used to do at Kings Cross. We have been friends ever since, and he did a killer remix for me that will be featured on the Motech 10 Year project as well.
01. DJ 3000 - untitled - Motech *unreleased
02. Subotika - Evolving - Motech *unreleased
03. DJ 3000 - Takism - Motech * unreleased
04. DJ 3000 - Voulez - Motech * unreleased
05. DJ 3000 - So Sheik (Alexis Tyrel remix) - Motech
06. DJ 3000 - On The Edge of Love (Raul Mezcolanza remix) - Motech
07. Franki Juncaj - You Can Run But You Cant Hide (Spiros Kaloumenos remix) - Motech
08. Alexis Tyrel - The Time is Now - Motech *unreleased
09. DJ 3000 featuring Esteban Adame - Midnight Express (Ben Sims remix) - Motech
10. DJ 3000 - Meridian (Mark Broom remix) - Motech
11. DJ 3000 featuring San - Hotel Oasiz (Robert Hood remix) - Motech
12. Franki Juncaj featuring Fer BR - The Pressure (Enthousiaste Gasten remix) - Motech
13. Dapayk Solo - Here I Am - Motech *unreleased
14. Gary Martin - Bus Stop in Budapest - Motech
15. DJ 3000 - So Sheik (Samuel L Session remix) - Motech
16. DJ 3000 - Sacred Time - Motech
17. DJ 3000 - Her Smile (Mark Flash remix) - Motech
18. Shawn Snell - For Those Who Know - Motech *unreleased
19. Gerald Mitchell - Belly Dancer ( DJ 3000 remix) - Motech