Awesomeness Description, Meta Writing

Ads are gone…

08.29.11 | Permalink | 1 Comment

I am happy. Taking care.

And now I have a Big K.R.I.T. tag on schoolcraft wax. Joy.

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Academic, Social Awareness

HEAR Detroit

08.10.11 | Permalink | 1 Comment

History Education Advocacy Research Detroit

HEAR Detroit’s mission is to become a catalyst for indigenous musical preservation and historical advocacy in Southeastern Michigan. We want to promote sound thinking for Detroit’s future. Carleton Gholz, PhD, and I have just launched this organization. We are currently forming a board of directors and investigating the option of non-profit status. Our goal is to provide an intimate and well connected network of education and preservation of musical culture in southeast Michigan. We are starting with electronic music in Detroit because this is where some of our shared expertise lies. However, Detroit’s extensive sonic cultural network requires preservation and education in expansive, broad, and deep ways. Jazz, Black radio, rock, rhythm & blues, techno, house, hip hop, noise, hardcore, these are all forms of sonic expression that have deep, long-term roots in Detroit and southeast Michigan. Not only do these styles of music and culture have significant foundational roots in Detroit, but the people of this region have a serious vested interest in creating, maintaining, negotiating, and educating about these cultural forms. In Detroit, there are limited resources. We all know this. There is limited time, space, people, money, etc. But there sure as hell doesn’t seem to be a limit of love and dedication! Lucky us!

Follow HEAR Detroit on twitter.
Visit the HEAR Detroit website.

If you have old reel to reel tapes with amazing sonic data on them and they are sitting steeped in Midwest humidity, or if you have somebody’s words on a DAT tape, or if you have important papers with regional documentation, or if you have musical paraphernalia that smells like some old mildewy vinyl you just picked up, we would like to be able to connect you with someone who can help with the preservation of those materials. We don’t want to just store your shit away, though. If you’re interested, we also are dedicated to educational action within the city of Detroit and the region of southeast Michigan. Detroit is an important site and requires as much advocacy and educational support as it can get. Carleton and I are in a position to begin to make these strides and connections.

Our first project occurred in Detroit on July 29 at the Submerge building, headquarters for Underground Resistance, Exhibit 3000 techno museum, and Somewhere In Detroit record store. With the assistance of Patrice Merritt, executive director of the Friends of the Detroit Public Library, Carleton organized a tour for a group of Detroit youth to tour Exhibit 3000 (edit: co-curated by Bridgette Banks and Carla Vecchiola). The teens are members of the organization known as HYPE (Helping Young People Excel) at the Detroit Public Library. The students walked from the DPL to Submerge that Friday afternoon ready for a tour and Cornelius Harris gave it to them! He knows what he’s doing and he does it well. A number of the students were really excited. One of the young women in particular was enthusiastic enough to sing over a beat that Nick Speed was playing on the turntable in the basement record store. All the students signed the walls or ceilings of SID.

Enjoy some Nick Speed:

And check this link from Loop Detroit on the man.

It was a truly inspiring experience to see teens who are residents of the city of Detroit, most of whom didn’t know anything about Detroit techno, house, or hip hop. They didn’t know Dilla. I cried inside. Cornelius spoke about Detroit history, techno history, record mastering and pressing, the music industry and Detroit musicians holding the rights to their own music, electronic equipment for musical production, Afrofuturism, Detroit radio, and significant people and moments in Detroit’s electronic music history. It was pretty awesome.

If you have questions, information, or requests, please email heardetroit (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Interview

“The Songs That Changed Music” special on Detroit

07.14.11 | Permalink | 1 Comment

Swedish Television is researching Detroit for a half hour special on three songs that are emblematic of Detroit and significant contributions to the music world overall. This special will air in January 2012.  They chose “No UFO’s” by Model 500!!

For this segment on Detroit, they will also feature “(Love Is Like a) Heatwave” by Martha and the Vandellas.

And probably an MC5 song, although when I met with the reporter, he was not certain which Detroit rock song they would cover.

It appears that they stream most or all of their programs online. I’ll find out for sure whether or not “The Songs That Changed Music” series will be available to watch online and I’ll let you know.

Anna Swantesson is the principle researcher for the program, Kåre Persson is another researcher, as well as the reporter and camera person, and Jerry Silfver handled sound engineering.

After a brief introduction to the project, and an explanation that they are planning to talk to Juan Atkins and Derrick May, here is what Anna Swantesson wrote to me:

“But we’re also looking for some kind of ‘expert’, someone who can tell us how the techno-scene started out in Detroit and who can explain the sound and also tell us just how this music influenced other musicians. Perhaps also play excerpts from different kinds of early techno and describe just what we’re hearing and tell us what it was that was ‘new’ about this music at the time.

“Since we’re doing educational TV with an aim to reach music school students, we’re focusing on the actual music and the sounds. The culture and sociology surrounding it is of course also interesting and important but we’re mostly interested in someone who can talk (and perhaps show/play) about the actual music and sounds.

“Do you know who we should talk to? Can you perhaps recommend someone in the Detroit-area? Preferably a woman, since we’ve already got so many men in this feature.”

Yes ma’am, I know who you can talk to, ME! I figured since my good buddy, Kent Williams, here’s another link to him, and the man on soundcloud, referred them to me, it was appropriate to say “shit yes, talk to me.” Kent also referred them to Dan Sicko. Hopefully they spoke with Dan as well.

I was so excited, but totally freaked out nervous wound up, to be asked to play music and talk about it. It took me a while to figure out where I would meet with them. I didn’t really want to ask them to come all the way out to Ann Arbor to my house. Their visit to Detroit consisted of three very packed days. I thought maybe I would meet them at the Detroit Public Library, check out a turntable and a room. That would be kind of cool, but not really. Then a good friend suggested that I try to meet up with them in a record store in Detroit. After picking myself up off the floor over the greatness of this idea, I decided that Detroit Threads would be perfect. I had never formally met Mike Smith who owns and runs Threads, but I figured, like I always do, that it never hurts to ask. So I wrote him on Facebook describing the project and telling him who I was and what I do. I figured there was a good chance I wouldn’t hear back from him. This is Detroit and he is a Detroiter, so I expect people to be skeptical or even uninterested. That is not a criticism, not at all. I love Detroit and the people who make it what it is. It’s a hard city and there is an air of insulation and protection that is somewhat necessary. I expect it and usually know what to do with it.

Mike responded right away agreeing to host the interview. Now imagine my smiling face at that…

Nervous as all getout, I met them down at Threads one afternoon last week. Kåre had excellent questions for me, responding directly and intuitively to what I was saying, and addressing specific points with further inquiry. They filmed the record store and gave me the space to talk about the store a bit. Detroit Threads has been open for 14 years! They filmed me digging through the Detroit records section and asked me to talk about what I was finding. Mike keeps an excellent selection of new and old Detroit stuff. I came home with a small but solid stack.

We then began talking about the songs I brought to play and discuss. They asked me to talk about “No UFO’s” of course. They also requested A Number of Names “Sharevari.” I was planning on that one anyway. I was given two other songs of my choosing to discuss, although we did not get to talk about them very much. I chose Anthony Shake Shakir “One Beat (Just Won’t Do)” and Robert Hood “Museum.” When you ask me to talk about techno, I’m not going to just talk about techno, I promise you. I’m such a big jerk! There are plenty of beautiful and important strictly Detroit techno songs. Just read this great list and this great list. Seriously, I get genre, I really do. I love it. But what makes music important and meaningful is not just the ability to zero in on very specifically delineated categories, but also the ability to move well beyond specificity to nearly wild oblivion, not totally, but almost. I agonized over those two songs. Here are some others that I considered:

Jeff Mills “The Bells” and “The Dancer”

Rhythim is Rhythim “Strings of Life”

Drexciya “Bubble Metropolis”

Paperclip People “Throw”

Theo Parrish “Synthetic Phlemm”

Omar S “Phychotic Photosynthesis”

Moodymann “Mahogani Brown”

Inner City “Big Fun” and “Good Life”

Minx “A Walk in the Park”

Kelli Hand “Flash Back” and “The Saints Go Marching On”

Claude Young “Change of Pace” and “Detroit By Night”

That’s a pansy list, isn’t it? In terms of length, definitely not in terms of who and what are there. There are lots more, but that’s what I wrote down while prepping for the interview before I reminded myself that I can choose TWO. I was already pretty settled on Shake, so really, it was just ONE that I was giving myself permission to choose. I love Rob Hood’s music, and “Museum” really captures the driving force, sonically, that I hear and feel in Detroit.

I loved being involved in this project and now I know that I can speak into a camera about Detroit. I wasn’t sure that I could! Like I said, I’ll let you know when this airs. Later bitches.

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Radio, Social Awareness

Updates to schoolcraftwax

07.07.11 | Permalink | 1 Comment

A badass song for some badass updates. Just accentuate that bassline with some part of your body every chance you get. It’s fun.

Time to update you on some updates. I’ve made a special page just for the Afropop Worldwide radio program on Chicago and Detroit. It’s sitting right over there to the left in the list of pages. I think it’s important, so I wanted to keep it up there for folks to listen when they want to.

Also, the RBMA Radio page is updated with some new shows that I really like. Here’s what I selected:

Another thing I want to share with you … I’ve got a youtube channel. I’m not really all networky on youtube, but I do like to share music that I think is awesome. So take a look and I’m sure you’ll find something that excites you. I just went through and took out all the bad links and replaced them with good ones. So stop taking down the songs! It’s important for people to be able to hear things. Especially things that most are not going to go out and dig for, and things that are not really widely available any more. I have zero strategy for how I select things that I like on there. Some of it I own, some I don’t own. Some I listen to frequently, some I’ve only listened to once and forgotten about. I guess I do have one strategy, IT’S ALL AWESOME.

And, to all my sweet sweet communists, … okay, and socialists, and a marxists, I have decided to try out having ads on schoolcraftwax. Holy fucking shit, I know. Capitalism is something that I have isolated my writing from up to this point. Consciously and proudly. I didn’t think it was ethical to associate the documentation of my doctoral research in Detroit with direct capital gain. However, now I’m nearly done and I’ve decided that it’s about time I started winning some bread from my writing and having ads on my blog is one way that I’m going to do that. It might look weird for a while, but we’ll all get used to it, and maybe I’ll be able to advertise some cool shit down the line. So don’t cry when you see the weirdness that doesn’t seem to fit with this pretty pretty blog. It is so pretty, I know that. Just bare with me and be proud of this Ma figuring out new ways to support her little guys.

I’ve been busy talking to lots of great folks, both learning AND teaching. I’ll be telling you more soon. I like to get busy.

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Interview, Radio

Midwest Electric on Afropop Worldwide

06.27.11 | Permalink | Comment?

Go listen to this show. Download it. Love it. Cherish it. Comment on soundcloud. I did.

Midwest Electric: The Story of Chicago House and Detroit Techno by Afropop Worldwide

This is a great radio documentary about electronic music in Chicago and Detroit. Marlon Bishop and Wills Glasspiegel, of NPR and Afropop Worldwide, traveled to Chicago and Detroit to research this radio documentary and to conduct interviews with significant figures, of the past and present. Kai Fikentscher, Ph.D. and Portia Mautlsby, Ph.D. were instrumental in connecting me with Afropop Worldwide for this program. I am so grateful to have been a part of it and to be given the opportunity to involve others in this project that Marlon and Wills would otherwise not have met. I always have an agenda of getting lesser known, but super important, names, sounds, and ideas out there. I had an excellent time taking Marlon and Wills around Detroit to show them some important music sites. We did a techno tour!! They visited Submerge on their own the day before, and spoke extensively with Cornelius Harris, John Collins, and Jon Dixon. I took them past Hart Plaza and described how the festival happens there. We went past the Music Institute at 1515 Broadway, Motor at 3515 Caniff, and Oslo at 1456 Woodward. We visited the Packard Auto Plant where tons of big old parties were thrown in the 1990s. I wanted to take them to Buy Rite Records at 7324 W 7 Mile and Detroit Threads at 10238 Jos. Campau, but there wasn’t time. I was invited to sit in on their interview with Carl Craig. It was pretty great. Yes, I’m a tag-a-long tour guide! The highlight was a visit to Archer Record Pressing Plant.

Mike Archer graciously let us in and took us on a tour of the plant. Here’s the feature on Archer at the Afropop Worldwide blog.

And the audio of the tour:

Afropop Visits Archer Pressing in Detroit by Marlonious Thunk

This was one of the most fun projects I’ve ever been involved in and I look forward to doing more work like this, for radio, film, print, whoever wants to know!

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