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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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GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.

 

Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

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Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 GRAMMY.com

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or ticketing@grammy.com.

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy

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Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske
Seattle

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards