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Record Store Recs: DJ Carl Craig Selects Some Of His Detroit Faves & Talks Planet E's 30 Years Of Independence

Carl Craig

Photo: Ana Monroy Yglesias

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Record Store Recs: DJ Carl Craig Selects Some Of His Detroit Faves & Talks Planet E's 30 Years Of Independence

Detroit legend Carl Craig shares his gems from the Detroit section of Stellar Remnant's vinyl pop-up at CRSSD Fest 2021, talks the Motor City's resilience and celebrates 30 years of his label, Planet E

GRAMMYs/Oct 22, 2021 - 10:20 pm

For the first IRL iteration of Record Store Recs since its launch in May 2020 to support record stores and artists during the pandemic, a few of the DJ/producers who played electronic music festival CRSSD Festival 2021 joined us at the Stellar Remnant popup. Detroit techno forefather Carl Craig stopped by to check out the Detroit section, sharing personal stories about the seven fellow Motor City dance greats whose records he chose.

The "Forever Free" producer also discusses the DIY magic of his hometown, celebrating 30 years of dancefloor independence with his label, Planet E, and his hope to hear more dance records that cut through the divisiveness of society.

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There's something about Detroit, a coming up-from-the-ashes feeling. People create so much beauty out of abandoned buildings, and out of the hard times of living in Detroit and what it means to grow up there.

Detroit is a city that has had a lot of the odds against it. Detroit's a city where we put all of our eggs in one basket, as far as the automotive industry. So, the people who were left in Detroit were able to take those little scraps and turn them into something. Detroit's really good at taking negatives and turning them into positives. We had white flight, we had the recession.

We were able to take what was given to us and flip it however we wanted to flip it.

We had our big riot in 1967. Musically, I'm trying to talk after Motown, because Motown was happening when there was a great movement as far as industry and money coming into Detroit. Punk is considered actually from Detroit, with Death, Iggy the Stooges, MC5, those cats. Death came before the Ramones as far as punk is concerned.

Then we get into Parliament-Funkadelic and that kind of stuff.

Detroit was still lucrative as far as business was concerned, but that was one of the moments that contributed to what we call white flight in Detroit. We had Young Boys Incorporated, all these drug gangs. We had the Big Four, when the police would go around and just kick ass. It was just craziness, but the music has always persevered. The music's always been there—the ideas, the struggle—and it brought us to what we know as Detroit techno.

Carl Craig. Photo: Ana Monroy Yglesias

That’s a great segue to talk about the records you picked up. For each, tell me why you picked it and what you love about it.

M5, Celestial Highways (1999)

M5 makes a great Detroit techno record. It originally was released on Metroplex Records, which is Juan Atkins label. But now it's [reissued] on Raw Wax. It's Gerald Mitchell who did this record. Gerald did "Knights of the Jaguar" along with "Mad" Mike Banks and DJ Rolando, and it's a beautiful piece of—one of my favorites, actually. I've been waiting a long time for it to be rereleased because it's a beautiful, beautiful record.

Kenny Larkin, Azimuth (1994)

This is a reissue as well. Kenny reissued it on his own label, Art of Dance. I think it originally came out on Warp Records. Beautiful piece of music from the mid '90s. Kenny's always been a great musical visionary, someone who's not formally trained but knows how to get his ideas out. He's my brother. I love him. If he was a woman, then I'd love him even more. [Laughs.]

Dopplereffekt, Linear Accelerator (2003)

Dopplereffekt is Gerald Donald. Gerald's a very interesting character. I've known this guy since he was a little punk. He used to come to my house and play my music—or play his music, which was crazier back then than any of this stuff. He would try anything. He pushed buttons. That was great about Gerald. He's a huge Kraftwerk fan, a huge Juan Atkins fan. He's also had another group [with James Stinson] called Drexciya.

Amp Dog Knight, "Over U" (2005)

The next one's Amp Dog Knight, also known as Amp Fiddler, a wonderful musician. He started off playing with George Clinton. He was on the road with the P-Funk All Stars, Parliament, all that stuff. Amp is a wonderful guy, an amazing musician, amazing singer.

We played together many times, but he was also on The Detroit Experiment record that I did [in 2002] that had Bennie Maupin, Karriem Riggins, Marcus Belgrave, and Francisco Mora. But this is a beautiful, beautiful record from Mahogani [Music], Kenny Dixon Jr. — Moodymann's — label.

J Dilla, LOST TAPES REELS + MORE (2013)

Of course, Dilla is a legend for rap music, for hip-hop, a genius visionary, beatmaker, producer. His group was Slum Village, which I love. He was also part of tThe Ummah, which Q-Tip was also in [with Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest]. There was also the Soulquarians, which featured, Dilla, Common, D'Angelo, and Questlove.

Dilla was mentored by Amp Fiddler, who taught him how use the MPC.

Floorplan, Music / Tell You No Lie (2016)

I play a lot of Floorplan when I play. This one is with "Music" and "Tell You No Lie." Floorplan is Robert Hood and his daughter, Lyric Hood. I've known Robert since we all started making music together. He was part of [musical collective] Underground Resistance at one time. He's a great DJ, and his music sounds amazing. The label is MPlant, which is his own label.

This record is a bit more disco-y than the stuff Robert usually does. He is more of a straight techno guy, but the Floorplan stuff has more disco, with vocals and everything.

Shake, …waiting for Russell (1998)

This one's by Anthony Shakir, [a.k.a.], Shake, on his label, Frictional Recordings. I've known him since I started making music, since 1988 or something. He was making records before I was, but he's one of those unsung heroes, who probably should have gotten further than he did. He's like, "Carl always tells me shut up and make records," and I do. I tell him all the time because he is always theorizing. He's always talking about stuff and it's like, "Man, just f*ing make the records." [Laughs.] That's Shake.

I want to ask you about Planet E's 30th anniversary this year. What does it mean to you to have made it to this point and still be putting music out, still be doing this thing?

Planet E's always been my independence, me putting out my own music. When I would do remixes, I looked at the money I made from it as guerilla warfare. I take that money and put it back into my label in order to keep the fight going. The DJ income has been the same thing. So, it's the ability to keep my independence so that I could stay in business as Planet E and Carl Craig. I could just try to work on everybody else's labels and be at the mercy of other people's tastes, other people's finances, any of these things. But I'm my own boss.

I used to work at a furniture store and I would go to my supervisor and say, "Hey, I'm done with this task. What should I do?" And he'd go, "Be your own boss." It's like, "Okay." I knew what it meant: find something to make yourself look busy. But I took it and said, "Well, f* it. I'm going to be my own boss." And that's what I did.

The independence is necessary. In Detroit, Motown, the independence of Berry Gordy made a big impact on me and a lot of my other brothers in this business. So Moodymann, he's got his own thing. Derrick May has his own thing. Kevin Saunderson has his own thing. Everybody has their own thing. We're a very DIY-orientated group of artists in Detroit.

"Planet E's always been my independence."

And you have an anniversary release coming out soon. Tell me about that.

Our 30th anniversary is in October, and we're marking it with the release of 69's 4 Jazz Funk Classics, which I relate to the death of Miles Davis. I did a dedication to Miles on the inside of the vinyl. We're working on other releases as well.

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And who are some of the artists on the anniversary releases?

The majority of the early releases were mine, so that's what we're focusing on. But we have a release from DJ Minx that's coming up. We reissued Marcus Belgrave's Gemini. We had DJ Holographic's Detroit Love compilation that we released this year. So we've had some nice things.

What do you hear when you listen back to the music you made 30 years ago?

Youth and energy. When I listen to Wu-Tang records, I hear that hunger, I hear that youth. That's important to capture in records. It's important to capture that personality. So if you hear a record like The Last Poets, you can hear what they were going through when they put that fire into that music—and I hear that with my early releases.

What has you excited about making music right now?

I have to make my own excitement, to tell you the truth. I think that there are some good records that are coming out, but a lot of records follow the same formula, and that's been the music industry for a long time.

What I would really like to hear — because we've gotten so divided — are some new records where people are actually talking about unity and love, because we need it. "That's The Way Love Is" by Ten City, or "Good Life" or "Big Fun" from Inner City, or even Deee-Lite records—these are records that were talking about how the world and life can be so much better.

We're so divided by politics right now. We're divided by whether people want to wear masks or not. Anti-vaxxers, pro-vaxxers. We're divided by cancel culture.

We're drawing lines constantly and it makes it difficult to come together. We need to come together, but who knows what's going to happen. But we do need some music that's about peace, love and harmony, and all that kind of stuff.

I love to ask this question because the answer is always different. What do you think makes a great dance track?

Space. Miles [Davis] said it: "It's not the notes you play. It's the silence in between the notes."

And most dance music that we have now has so much space taken up and not enough silence in between it. Again, it's formulaic. That's one of the nice things about soundtracks: they deal with a lot of pauses, a lot of space.

With the world that I'm in now doing sound installation, I can deal with things based not on what the dancefloor is about but about telling a story of what the dancefloor is about. My art piece, the Party/After-Party, was great because the pandemic happened and nobody had dancefloors to go to. So, when you came to my piece, you got another impression of the dancefloor.

We were so jaded before the pandemic. It was like everyone had an idea of what dance music is. We needed a reset and the pandemic helped to do that reset. We had 15, 18 months or something. Of course, in Miami they were still going [to the club].

But it helped people appreciate music and not be just like, "You've got to play this record."

But when people were able to come back, it's like they're hearing music in a way that they couldn't hear it before. It became more of a social thing again instead of being a spoiled brat, jaded, like, "I know what techno music's supposed to sound like and this isn't techno." Just all the ugly things that became dance music.

Now I'm happy where we're at and I hope it doesn't go back to being a jaded view of dance music. I hope it stays the level where we're at, where people are actually appreciating the music that's being played and appreciating that you're playing instead of taking it for granted. I took a lot of it for granted as well, so I'll take a brunt of the problem myself. We all did.

What does Detroit sound like to you?

The actual pulse of the city, it's a mix of cars and nature, because we don't have a big city sound in Detroit. We have 600,000 people in Detroit, so there's not a lot of horns honking like in New York. There's not a lot of people walking in the street. The best time in Detroit to me is usually at nighttime because you have the steam that comes out of the ground and you can drive through it and it feels like what you see in Taxi Driver. It's got that vibe to it where New York doesn't even have that vibe. New York has become full of people that aren't from New York.

Detroit, luckily, we haven't gotten there. We still have enough charm of real Detroit. You can hear the animals. When you drive through neighborhoods, [you hear] a lot of dogs barking, but there's not subways going like in New York. You might get more street racing. That's the sound Omar-S, Kenny Dixon Jr., Theo Parrish, "Mad" Mike Banks, and those guys, they loved being in that street race world.

What does it mean to you to rep Detroit?

I'm always going to rep Detroit. Detroit is the unsung hero. It's the underdog and I'm glad that people represent Detroit for Detroit. I come from Detroit. I went to public school in Detroit. I got shot at in Detroit. I saw all kinds of sh*t. I've got to rep because I've experienced it. I'm always going to rep Detroit.

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Planet E's Carl Craig On Keeping Dance Music Black & Expansive New 'Planet E 30' Album
Carl Craig at Sala Apolo in Barcelona.

Photo: Cristian Di Stefano

interview

Planet E's Carl Craig On Keeping Dance Music Black & Expansive New 'Planet E 30' Album

"I've always been about taking risks," says Carl Craig, a Detroit techno forefather and the head of the label Planet E, "and staying independent, an independent Black-run company, because that doesn't happen very long."

GRAMMYs/Jun 28, 2022 - 01:32 pm

Carl Craig is one of Detroit techno's forefathers, and hearing him speak is like sitting down for class with the coolest history professor. The GRAMMY-nominated producer, DJ, multi-instrumentalist and label head has influenced history with his innovative dance and jazz records — and projects that meld both worlds — and shaped dance music culture through his Detroit Love parties as well as his independent, Black-owned label, Planet E.

For the amount of noise Planet E has made over the decades, it's almost surprising that the label is housed in a quiet, glass-walled Mies van der Rohe-designed townhome complex. The inner walls of Planet E are painted black, a nod to clubs and the underground Craig is so essential to, and is currently showcasing two pieces of art from Black artists — including a tender photo of Prince from his first show in the Motor City in 1980.  

His boundary-pushing dance music imprint is celebrating 30 years with the extensive Planet E 30 compilation album. Among its scene-shifting tracks is 1999's "Bug In The Bass Bin," which was sped up by U.K. DJs and became a foundational sound in the then-nascent drum and bass scene.

On the final day of legendary Detroit dance fest Movement, GRAMMY.com sat down with Craig at the sleek Planet E headquarters. He looks effortlessly cool in a black and white lightweight short sleeve button down shirt, black shorts, and chic oversized gray gradient shades as he discusses his label's milestone and its new compilation album. Craig also talks about the importance of celebrating techno's Black Detroit roots, his jazz explorations, bringing the Synthesizer Ensemble to Carnegie Hall, and much more. 

How does it feel being back at Movement and to have the festival back?

It's great. It's great to be able to do this again after two years off. The pandemic has passed by so fast, it doesn't really feel like it's been two years that we haven't had the festival. Being back on the [Movement] stage feels like it did the last episode, which was in 2018.

Why do you think Movement is so important to happen now, 40 years into techno's existence?

Movement is something that should always be here. It should be here to celebrate the music of Detroit. Detroit doesn't have a Motown festival or a punk festival — the origins of punk come from Detroit as well — but we do have a techno festival. Detroit techno is as rootsy to Detroit as Motown and the band called Death.

What do you think is missing in the modern dance music education for the average raver? Do you think everyone knows that techno comes from Detroit?

No, no. That's a fight that we have to keep fighting, [to educate people] that Detroit techno is grassroots Black music. Like every music, there're influences that come from everywhere; we get our influences from, of course, more famously Kraftwerk and, less famously, funk music. We have to always keep people abreast of what's going on, that we're making techno music in Detroit that is not only the real deal, but it's also the beginnings of how we know electronic music in the United States.

This is a big question, so feel free to unpack it as you wish. Could you speak to the legacy, impact and continuing influence of Black artists in dance music?

Dance music as we know it comes from African roots, that's just as folksy as it gets. It's not like doing square dance [chuckles] or doing the Riverdance or any of that kind of stuff, it is really based around solid African influences that came with the slaves, and that found other ways of coming over as well, whether it's from Fela Kuti and the whole Afrobeat style of music. And now from South Africa, there's Amapiano.

For most Black people in the United States, all they had was dance and music. So, to be able to get out of it out of the ghetto, it was either become a sports star or become a musician.

The great thing about Detroit is that because we have techno, we're more interested in being Dr. Dre than being Drake. So, at a production level, people are more willing to make music within that legacy of what the underground is.

Read more: Record Store Recs: DJ Carl Craig Selects Some Of His Detroit Faves & Talks Planet E's 30 Years Of Independence

So, making music less focused on radio or more mainstream audiences?

Yeah. Of course, if you can get a hit, then that's great. The publishing was really good on hits. [Laughs] But on a production level, it's about making great music. It's about making music that is within yourself, and that can translate.

So we here [in Detroit] have grabbed hold of making dance music and making it electro style, or disco style, or house style, or techno style or whatever. And it's important to influence people so that they understand that it is a style of music that is from people with an African background. Of course that gets lost in the shuffle because EDM — it's become a generic term — but it's not really the style of music that you would associate with Black artists until, I think Rick Ross did a track with Skrillex [in 2016].

I love the fact that many rap producers know who Moodymann is, and they knew him before Drake sampled him [on 2017's "Passionfruit"].

What excites you now about what the young Detroit kids and other Black artists are doing in dance music?

I'm happy that Waajeed is doing the Underground Music Academy. That's really important for the next step of production here in Detroit. Because, at a time, it seemed like producing in Detroit — in the U.S. — it seemed like being a Black person wanting to get in the music business, you had to do rap music. J Dilla proved that you can do rap music, but you can be underground as well, you can make all this amazing music and you can cross over.

That's what I've always done, making jazz, making techno, making anything. I've always crossed over genres. And that's what I'd like to see more in Detroit, that kids realize that they have the possibility to crossover and do anything that's musically interesting to them.

What does being able to celebrate 30 years of Planet E mean to you?

I mean, to do anything for 30 years is major. To be alive for 30 years, for some people that's a feat, let alone being in the music industry [for that long]. I wrote my own story. That was what was important — I decided I had to have my own label in order to really have a voice.

Some songs, like "Bug In The Bass Bin," for instance, would never have been released if it was through another label, because…it was somewhere else, it came from outer space. If I tried to put that record out through a Detroit independent, it probably wouldn't have come out. And if I tried to put it out to a major, it definitely would not have come out, it just would've been another demo. So, I put it out myself and then it made waves, got to the right people's hands and the rest is history.

What are you most proud of from your Planet E journey?

The risks. I've always been about taking risks, and staying independent, an independent Black-run company, because that doesn't happen very long. The only Black-run label that has been around for [at least] 30 years — and it's not even owned by Black people anymore — is Motown. It's important being a Detroit label and being around for so long. I'm really proud.

What are you hoping that listeners get when they experience the Planet E 30 compilation album?

It is just a way of chronicling the steps that we've taken. We really spent a lot of time on Planet E 20; we did a boxset, it was really a big undertaking. And for this one, we've had new releases over the last 10 years, but we hadn't done maybe as much as we had in the first 20. Part of that has to do with the record industry changing; streaming. We're proudly a vinyl label, and it's really difficult to get vinyl pressed these days.

So, [Planet E 30] is to give people the idea that there are some things that they probably did miss over the last 10 years since we did Planet E 20. [The tracks are] really more from the past 10 years, plus my music, which has been from the beginning of Planet E.

What have been some of your favorite releases on Planet E?

[Deep chuckle] I A&R the label, so everything is from my choosing. And I never choose based on commerce. I base it more on the idea, the intent of the label, plus my taste and what I just think is good. So I can't say that I liked Clark better than I liked Kirk DiGiorgio, better than I liked Moodymann, better than I liked Niko Marks; it's all something that I enjoy.

I know, it's like asking you to pick your favorite child, you can't do that.

[When people ask] "What's my favorite song that I've released?" That's exactly what I say, "I love all my children." One is not more interesting than the others.

Are there any responses to Planet E releases that have surprised you?

When I put out Moodymann [his debut album, Silentintroduction, in 1997] what surprised me is when I was in New York at a restaurant and they were playing it. And they said, "Yeah, the chef loves this." I don't know if they knew I was coming, but that was a big, big surprise.

My releases, I put out and just let them happen. And then if it's a big deal, it's a big deal. When I put out "Throw" [as Paperclip People in 1994], it was a track that I did while I was watching the Super Bowl one year. I had it on acetate, and I played it out in London and the whole place exploded. That was a really nice feeling.

Planet E feels very boundaryless and you definitely push that with the genres and styles that you bring in. I'm really curious about how you've brought jazz and orchestral arrangements into electronic music in your work, and specifically to Planet E.

We used to have jazz radio here called WJZZ — every major city had a jazz station, like a serious jazz station, not a public radio one. I grew up listening to the jazz station when I was with my dad, and with my brother, he liked rock and funk, so I was listening to Led Zeppelin and Parliament Funkadelic. With classical music, I've always been interested in the whole thing about muzak, like the music that Ramsey Lewis was doing, with a jazz version of "Eleanor Rigby" or something, with a swooning orchestra. Call it elevator music, I love elevator music. I think it's great.

I like symphonic music from that standpoint; from the beginning, that is what was interesting. When I was in high school, I played upright bass in an orchestra. I also played jazz band and played guitar. So my background comes from playing these interesting styles that weren't necessarily normal for my age group. [Chuckles]

I love all kinds of music. So me working with [pianist] Francesco Tristano on Versus is amazing, me working with [trumpeter] Marcus Belgrave, [saxophonist] Wendell Harrison, [trombonist] Phil Ranelin and [drummer] Doug Hammond of Tribe [for their 2009 Rebirth album] is amazing, to the Detroit Experiment with Bennie Maupin, Jaribu Shahid, Karriem Riggins, Amp Fiddler and Francisco Mora Catlett and all these guys. I mean, it's unbelievable. I'm at a position where I feel I've been able to express everything that I can as a Gemini.

Do you feel any connection between playing music in a jazz setting and being a DJ, where you're helming the vibe and the mood?

I've been DJing since 1991. So it's gotten to the point that I look at DJing first, in comparison to being a musician first. Before, when I started making records, I would get suggestions from DJs like, "Hey, you need to have four bars of just kick drums so we can mix into it." I thought, What? Why would you do four bars of kick drum? That doesn't make any sense creatively. I'm not making hammers and nails, I'm making art here.

Of course, after DJing for some years, I understood why they would want it. But I see it now how most dance music tracks that you get have this intro of drums so that it makes it easy for beginner DJs to mix in. Even though I'm a mix DJ, I still come from that world of how [vinyl] records were made where you scratch in and then the track is there and you might have a drum turnover or something like that, and then you can [makes chucka chooo vinyl scratching sound] go right into it.

So I still think in that way, but because I'm looking at the dance floor, how I'm playing, it does come back with me to the studio when I'm working. And I don't particularly like that. It's my life, but I have to separate myself from it to be able to go in and do what is actually best for the track, best for my creativity. I've never sat in the studio like "I betcha people will dance to this." But I do find myself closer to that situation now than I had in the past. 

I wanted to ask about your Synthesizer Ensemble and what it was like bringing it to Carnegie Hall.

That was incredible. My great friend King Britt invited me to be a part of the Afrofuturism Festival that he was involved in organizing. It's a beautiful project that he has. For us to do the Synthesizer Ensemble there was maybe the perfect venue in America for it. It was my great pleasure to be able to come to Carnegie and do something as special as that project and for Afrofuturism to be recognized in that way.

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Record Store Recs: Sergio Acosta Of Zoé Shares Vinyl Gems From Austin & London

Zoé

Photo: Courtesy of artist

news

Record Store Recs: Sergio Acosta Of Zoé Shares Vinyl Gems From Austin & London

Their most recent album, 2018's 'Aztlán,' earned the rock en Español heavyweights their first GRAMMY win, and the follow-up is on the way

GRAMMYs/Oct 22, 2020 - 09:59 pm

With the unprecedented global disruption of 2020, it's important to support the music community however we can. With our series Record Store Recs, GRAMMY.com checks in with vinyl-loving artists to learn more about their favorite record stores and the gems they've found there.

Listening to Zoé feels like exploring a new city with an old friend—colorful, comforting, atmospheric, upbeat and filled with enchanting stories. The GRAMMY- and Latin GRAMMY-winning Mexican alt-rock band has been captivating listeners with their soundtrack-worthy songs for over two decades now, with loyal fans around the world.

Their most recent album, 2018's Aztlán, earned the rock en Español heavyweights their first GRAMMY win. The name comes from the mythical birthplace of the Mexica people of the Aztec Empire, as a symbol of Mexican heritage and pride.

Now, Zoé is back with more immersive new music, with their seventh studio album on the way (the title and date have yet to be revealed). So far, they've released three new singles in 2020, the most recent being the spacey, synthy "Karmadame."

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For the latest Record Store Recs, Zoé's guitarist Sergio Acosta shares his favorite vinyl haunts around the world and some of his favorite finds. He also shares the first records he ever got! Read on to adventure with him.

Pick three to five records stores you love.

Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas

Rough Trade in London

Amoeba Hollywood in Los Angeles

Flea markets around the world

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Why do you love these shops? And what kind of goodies you've found there?

Nowadays, record shops are a fragile entity. Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas, no doubt is my favorite shop. It's the perfect shop for me because it has a tight, wide and masterfully curated selection in a fairly small space. Curatorship is great at Waterloo. I can almost always find what I have in mind at Waterloo.

Amoeba Hollywood, on the contrary, was almost as big as a Walmart, but packed with great music of all sorts of genres. Very well organized, and vast. High ceilings. Last I heard, it is moving out of its iconic temple that was a unique, massive place for music lovers for many, many years. I'm happy to know that it's changing to a smaller location as the next step.

And who can argue with Rough Trade Records in London? It is as fancy as London can be. They are always proposing new music, and curatorship is also impeccable. It is still a very special place. 

Flea markets around the world have proven to be providers of very sporadic and very special surprises for me.

Acosta's vinyl pics | Photo: Sergio Acosta

For at least one of your favorite shops, share a recent record or two (or three or four…) you bought there and what you love about the record/artist. 

I rarely remember where I bought my vinyl records. But, at Waterloo Records, I do remember finding the original music from the 1968 film Le Pacha, done by Serge Gainsbourg and Michel Colombier (released by We Want Sounds in 2018). That album blew my mind and I had never heard it before. 

Once in Rough Trade, I saw for the first time the Who is William Onyeabor? vinyl (released by David Byrne's Luaka Bop in 2013). I bought it for the cover in an African music discovery spree. It just blew my mind as few albums have.

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What's an upcoming/recent release you have your eyes on picking up and why?

I'm not at all waiting for new music, I'm just always aware and eager to discover any old or new music. But if I had to say which two very relatively new artists made a big impression on me and have become part of my family life in the past years, it would be:

Sam Evian, Premium (2016, Saddle Creek) and Bertrand Belin, Persona (2018, Wagram Music).

What were the first CDs and/or vinyls you remember purchasing when you were younger?

It's so funny, and I do remember! My two first vinyl records were gifts that I asked my parents for, Prince's Purple Rain and Twisted Sister's Stay Hungry.

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Record Store Recs: DJ Minx Brings The Detroit Heat

DJ Minx

Photo: CameraLady

news

Record Store Recs: DJ Minx Brings The Detroit Heat

The heavy-weight DJ/producer DJ Minx shares her favorite record stores in her hometown of Detroit, along with some hot vinyl she scored recently

GRAMMYs/Jul 29, 2021 - 02:05 am

With the unprecedented, ongoing global disruption of COVID-19, it's important to support the music community however we can. With Record Store Recs, GRAMMY.com checks in with vinyl-loving artists to learn more about their favorite record stores and the gems they've found there so you can find some new favorite artists and shops.

Detroit's "First Lady of Wax," DJ Minx, is a true gem of a DJ/producer and dance music OG. She's been going hard for three decades, yet is still wildly undercelebrated. Back in 1996, she founded the Women on Wax DJ collective to celebrate and promote fellow Detroit women DJs and artists, expanding it with a still-active label called Women On Wax Recordings in 2001. She spun at the inaugural Movement festival in her hometown in 2000 and has been a regular at the iconic house and techno event, as well as others across the city and globe.

Minx is one of a handful of Detroit DJs keeping their classic sound, rich history, and collaborative and supportive creative community alive and well. Today, for the latest edition of Record Store Recs, she takes us to her favorite Motor City record stores and shares some hot releases she's recently scored there.

What are three to five record stores you love?

Detroit Threads in Hamtramck, Michigan  

Somewhere in Detroit in Detroit  

Spot Lite in Detroit  

The Last: Record Store Recs: The Knocks Reveal The Grooviest Shops In Brooklyn And Online

Why do you love these shops? And what kind of goodies have you found there?

Detroit Threads is all of that and a bag of whatever you are looking for because they have vintage clothing and trinkets that you can grab while shopping for records. The vinyl bins are loaded! If I'm looking for some classics, boom! They've got it goin' on!

Somewhere in Detroit is a hot spot! People from around the globe visit there because of the good selections of music and for its sweet history. It's owned by Submerge [Records] and is in the basement of the Underground Resistance building.

Spot Lite is a gem that recently opened and my goodness it's the whip! The atmosphere is funky and chill at the same time, so you can spend hours in there just vibin'!

For at least one of your favorite shops, share a recent record or two you bought there and what you love about the record/artist.

I picked up the Parabellum Detroit album from Detroit Threads, and it is loaded. There are releases from Kenny Dixon Jr. (Moodymann), Rick Wilhite, Delano Smith, Jon Dixon, Javonntte (whom I work with quite a bit), Marcellus Pittman, and more on the release. Every track is well crafted and soothing to the soul. I could play something for my every mood and yours too! 11 tracks, three pieces of vinyl, one vibe. LOVE it!

I also picked up the DET-313 EP because there's a track called "Jus Hangin" that's a groover. Norm Talley and Moodymann produced it and D Julz got a hold of it and mashed it up real nice-like. The other track on the release, "Muggy Detroit Heat," gave me the feel of old school, Music Institute, full dance floor vibes. NOT TO MENTION the pressing sounds smooth as glass. Very well done.

What's an upcoming/recent release or two you have your eyes on picking up and why?

There's a series of House Music All Life Long EPs [from Defected Records] out there and one, in particular, stands out—the fourth one. Dario D'Attis' "Space & Time" needs to come home with me. I can see a crowd rockin' to the beat of that one. Todd Edwards has a track on it too. I've always liked his productions, so it's a treat that it's available on the same release.  

Another Record Store Recs: Producer Bongo ByTheWay Shares The Music Of His Mind

When crate-digging, how do you pick out records? (Is it the cover that grabs you, or do you shop for specific artists?)

First, it's the cover that could get my attention, but it's the artist that I look for mainly. If I love an artist's productions, I'll look for their records and see what they have goin' on. 

What were the first CD and first vinyl you remember purchasing when you were younger?

The first vinyl I bought was two copies of "100% Disin You" by Armando. I thought I was the sh*t when I was able to blend two copies of it!

CD? That would be the Dee Dee Brave album produced by Kerri Chandler. Every track on there was pure fire. 

In your opinion, what can music fans do to better support Black artists and businesses? 

For starters, get to know their business, what they do and who they are. Share why you support them and post it on your socials. Write a review about them or their business, visit their page(s) often, listen to their music and if you like it—buy it instead of asking for a free copy or download!

Seth Troxler On His Detroit DJ Education & The Rich Black History—& Future—Of Dance Music

Record Store Recs: Eelke Kleijn Takes Us Crate Digging Around The Globe

Eelke Kleijn at Gramaphone Records

Photo: Courtesy of Eelke Kleijn

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Record Store Recs: Eelke Kleijn Takes Us Crate Digging Around The Globe

At one of Kleijn's favorites, Chicago's Gramaphone Records, you can find classic dance records that were part of the city becoming the birthplace of house music

GRAMMYs/May 4, 2020 - 09:50 pm

With the unprecedented global disruption of 2020, it's important to support the music community however we can. With our new series Record Store Recs, the Recording Academy checks in with vinyl-loving artists to learn more about their favorite record stores and the gems they've found there.

Dutch DJ/producer/score composer Eelke Kleijn is beloved for his hypnotic beats that take listeners on a journey, whether that's on the dancefloor or while watching one of the films (including "Rush" and "Parker") or TV shows he's scored music for. As the founder of Days like Nights, a beloved dance music label and radio show, he shines a light on other DJ/producers who create emotive tunes. His latest release, released just last month, the soaring house track "The Magician," he offers a taste of his own upcoming masterpiece, his fourth album, to be released in September.

While Rotterdam, Netherlands is his home, his years as an in-demand DJ have seen him exploring the world's record shops for sounds that inspire and delight him. For the second edition of Record Store Recs, Kleijn shares his three favorite spots he's found great vinyl in over the years, all of which you can shop online.

Read The First One: Record Store Recs: Patrick Holland A.K.A. Project Pablo Shares Montreal's Vinyl Treasure Troves

Pick a few of your favorite record shops currently offering online/delivery services.

Gramophone Records in Chicago

Demonfuzz Records in Rotterdam

Something Else Records in Sydney

Demonfuzz Records | Photo: Eelke Kleijn

Can you tell us more about your favorite store(s) from the bunch?

Gramaphone:

I like to visit various record stores when I travel, especially in places that have a lot of history in dance music, such as Detroit and Chicago. The last time I was in Chicago I visited Gramaphone Records, a store with an incredible history, they first opened in '69. The nice thing for me about going record shopping these days is that I don't necessarily look for records that I play in my sets. I used to shop like that, when I played mostly vinyl in the early 2000s. Nowadays a lot of my music is digital and so I go out shopping for classics and records I just like to have in my collection, whether it's dance music or not.

In Chicago I thought there was only one way to go, and that was for some proper Chicago house. I ended up buying a couple of records, Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles and a few others. I also bought the original double-vinyl of The Chemical Brothers' [1995 debut LP] Exit Planet Dust which I've always wanted to add to my collection!

Demonfuzz:

Awhile back, some friends and I were looking up records that were No. 1 hits on the day we were born. For me that turned out to be Irene Cara's [1983 GRAMMY-winning song] "Flashdance…What a Feeling," which is fitting because I've always liked that song a lot.

We all ended up buying our record, and I did so in my hometown of Rotterdam at Demonfuzz Records. They have been around for as long as I can remember, at least 20 years. Pretty much all the record stores in Rotterdam are located close to each other on the Nieuwe Binnenweg. Even when I was growing up I would check out of school early and pay them all a visit on my quest for vinyl. Unfortunately, many of them have disappeared by now. Demonfuzz is still going strong, mostly because they have a very strong selection of music, ranging from rock and pop to disco, soul and jazz, for sale at their store or online. If you are looking for anything cool that is not last week's house music, they are probably your best bet.

After coming home with the record, I discovered the whole album was produced by Giorgio Moroder, the "father of disco," apart from one track which was produced by James Newton Howard, my favorite film composer. Now that's something you can't make up!

Related: 4 Independent Record Stores Across The U.S. Weigh In On Their Struggle To Survive During COVID-19

Irene Cara's What A Feelin' | Photo: Eelke Kleijn

What's a recent record you've bought from there and have been enjoying?

Irene Cara's [LP] What A Feelin'

What's an upcoming record you've got your eye on?

As part of my upcoming album, there is one track "Woodstock" based on a cool, laid-back beach club in the Netherlands where I hold a residency called Woodstock. The release will be supported by a bunch of remixes from Hernán Cattáneo, Gerd Janson and one more, due for release this summer on DAYS like NIGHTS.

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