Growing up in Detroit during techno’s infancy, Eddie Fowlkes is seen as a founding father of the genre and has a career spanning over 30 years. In true justice to Detroit techno, he closed the Thump: Made In Detroit stage in spectacular fashion.
With the Motown Sound and Detroit soul as his foundation, he has recently championed the sounds of “technosoul” with his label Detroit Wax. He is noted as a premier DJ for his quick mixes and continues to tour all over the world, playing some of the largest clubs including Ministry of Sound and DC 10. The Sherp was lucky enough to sit down and have him spend time with us to explain his story and perspective on the genre he helped create.
1. What was it like to close out the Thump: Made in Detroit stage yesterday?
It was cool. I didn’t want to sound like the average DJ. But I have been under weather since the beginning of May so I couldn’t do what I wanted to. If I would’ve had my energy, believe me there would have been more hands in the air.
2. There was still plenty of energy.
It could’ve been better but that’s just me.
3. How many times have you played this festival?
Since its origin? I’ve played this festival (DEMF, Fusion, Movement) eight times now.
4. What is your favorite thing about Detroit?
That I can make a mother effing track and blast it down the street and hear people just vibe on it. But if they aren’t vibing on it then it’s not happening because there’s so much music in Detroit in the neighborhoods.
(Courtesy: Kristin Nortz)
5. So this year Movement booked Kraftwerk who are considered to be the pioneers of electronic music, were you able to catch their set at all and how have they influenced you?
Well yeah I did, but I’ve seen Kraftwerk so many times. But they really pay homage to us because we pay homage to them. But we never talked about them in magazines when we were going over to Europe early on because they were fading. They would tell you that they weren’t even paying attention to them over in Europe until we started talking how we grew up to them. Then the kids started listening to them, thinking if these crazy people from Detroit are making this crazy music listening to Kraftwerk then they must be good. And there was a lot of mutual appreciation between us.
6. How did you get involved with the Berlin scene especially with famed club and label Tresor?
Well, Mike Banks from Underground Resistance introduced me to the Tresor guys. Him and Jeff Mills were the first guys to release off their label and Mike’s always been a fan of mine. We literally signed the contract in the bathroom because at the time Tresor was just a small bar. Dimitri was very committed to building this record label and took care of us. He actually stayed at my flat in downtown when he used to come visit. Dimitri is a cool guy.
7. Can we expect a 3MB performance in the near future?
No that won’t happen because Mortiz (von Oswald) and Thomas (Fehlmann) are far apart and just don’t get along. Me and Mortiz are still cool, Me and Thomas are still cool. It’s just Thomas and Mortiz. It’s just like Moritz and Mark Ernestus from Basic Channel and how they broke up. So it’s like damn Mortiz, you break up with everybody.
8. What was the first music festival you’ve ever played?
It was in London and it was a renegade event in the streets. This was way back before all the sponsors and magazines when the game was new and still fresh. But that night there was an after party, and guess who was playing… Carl Cox.
(Courtesy: Kristin Nortz)
9. And had you ever heard of this “guy” before?
Well we knew him and had heard about him. So Juan (Atkins) and I stood behind him to see how if this cat could play. He was so nervous that when he walked by with his two crates of records, he tripped and they went everywhere! He would always say to me how he was nervous knowing Juan and I were watching and how we were djing long before he had. Because back then, you had to have the skills to pay the bills or else you were wack. But see how far he has come today.
10. Very few artists can boast a career that has span decades like yours. If you could give advance to young artists today, what would it be?
I would say to put some vinyl out and be consistent because the vinyl scene is really never going to go away. If you put out stuff on digital then you’ll just be another fish in the sea, but if you can procure a level of vinyl consistency and build a good name within in the underground scene you’ll be better off.
11. What are the hurdles facing Detroit techno today?
Well first off, you didn’t have to go on a place to support yourself and your family. You could sell 30 thousand records for $2.50 and make over $60,000. I used to see Juan (Atkins) sell 50-60 thousand records out of his basement and didn’t have to go on a plane at all. However, now that equates to getting on a plane, traveling a lot in order to support your family.
12. How do you think the techno genre has changed since you started?
It went from funky and soulful to the straight foot, removing the funk notes. Yeah, it changed everything.
13. Can you describe the sound of your label in three words
Techno. Soul. Baby