TF Archives

Kevin Saunderson

Author: Andrez
Sunday, January 1, 1995
Kevin Saunderson was born in Brooklyn NY, but at the age of nine he moved to the Motor City and since then has ingratiated himself into what's become known as the Detroit school of techno. One of the earliest pioneers of that sound alongside Derrick May and Juan Atkins, Kevin has honed his skills both as a DJ and producer and along the way created such varied sound systems as Inner City, E-Dancer, Tronik House and Reese Project.

Inner City remains to this day Kevin's best known project, an outlet he invented in 1988 alongside Chicago chanteuse Paris Grey; their first track 'Big Fun' generated critical acclaim and a spate of successful singles. After their own brief artistic hiatus, the duo re-established themselves as one of the leading lights of contemporary dancefloor house music with the release of their most recent single 'Your Love/Hiatus' earlier this year.

It should be remembered at this point that Kevin spent his childhood in New York before relocating to Detroit, and that Paris Grey comes from Chicago. In some of the Inner City tracks I've heard there's a reflection of the musical styles of all three cities, and Kevin himself agrees with this assessment. "I think I've had influences from all over, and obviously Paris brings that element of Chicago with her. Because I started out in New York I was into vocals on records, while Detroit introduced that more experimental edge to things. Obviously it all comes together."

One thing Kevin Saunderson's sound does do is defy musical boundaries in a way no other Detroit-based producer can achieve. While Inner City deliberately goes for the jugular of overground dance music success, he continues to dabble into the rawer elements of techno with side-projects such as E-Dancer and Tronik House. "They're all ongoing outlets", Kevin confirms. "Inner City's still going, and so I haven't had a chance to work on Reece Project for awhile because of that. And I'm going to be working on an E-Dancer album shortly." It's the album concept that now strikes a fancy in Kevin Saunderson's musical itinery. "Before I never actually released albums with those projects - you know, you'd do a single and you'd put it out, then you'd do the next single - but now I'm looking forward to creating an album that reflects each one. Obviously Inner City is my more commercialized project, it's got vocals and it's uplifting dance music. Reece Project is a little more soulful and down-tempo, it's mainly Detroit-based with a combination of vocalists rather than just one singer. E-Dancer is funky techno, kind of raw with lots of effects and sounds, kind of like driving with a lot of energy. The new project I'm working on for Transmat is going to be a lot more experimental; actually, I don't know what title that's going to be under!" He chuckles.

On the side Kevin runs his own label KMS, a task he's had to necessarily down-grade in recent times. "I just found myself travelling around too much and doing to many things to run it appropriately the way I'd like it to be. So what I'm doing right now is releasing any of my own records, obviously, and the back-catalogue has got to continue to be supplied. I'll be putting out an album called 'Phases & Faces' which is all the classic stuff I've created over the years along with other tracks by Chez Damier and Carl Craig that were released through the label."

There's a whole new crop of Detroit producers who have come through since Kevin started out with people like Derrick May and Juan Atkins in the tail end of the 1980's - I'm thinking of people like Carl Craig, Claude Young, Stacey Pullen and Kelli Hand. It would be interesting to note what this particular veteran of the Motor City thinks about their inroads. "Well I mean, hey, they've obviously been influenced by what we were doing and they're doing the best they can out there; some of them have been quite successful at it, too. Stacey's quite talented, Carl Craig is very talented, and Claude Young i