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Kevin Saunderson interview: A Reminder that TECHNO is Not Just About TECHNOlogy

Author: Elander Cooparez @ Royal Dark
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Inspired by highschool friends, Derrick May and Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson is the third of the legendary Belleville trio credited with the conception of techno. Founder and owner of long running KMS Records, the consistently high calibre of his material on a multitude of labels is second to none and perhaps matched only by his his numerous aliases. These include E-Dancer, Esser'ay, K.S. Experience, Kaos, Keynotes, Reese, Tronikhouse and collaborative efforts 2 The Hard Way, 3 Down, Bad Boys, The, Inner City, Intercity, Kreem, Reese & Santonio, Reese Project, The, Unreleased Project and X-Ray.

So where does one start when receiving the opportunity to interview the Detroit Godfather- What better place then the beginning as Kevin 'Master' Reese (another A.K.A.) talks us through the early years, his production career, the growth of techno, the influence of technology and some huge news on releases he's currently involved with.

As a youth, what was it that drove you into uncharted realms of electronic music- Why weren't you interested in conventional sounds-
Well, what drove me to electronic music was the technology. It stimulated my mind. The fact that you could create music without relying on a band or anyone else but myself was a big attraction. The people who I was surrounded by (Juan and Derrick) had an obvious influence on me too.

I was raised in New York, where I was into the underground New York radio stations. Through this I found dance, vocal and instrumental music. My style was from the very dark deep underground to stuff like inner city. That was just part of my nature. I was influenced by people like Shaka Kahn and Evelyn Champagne King. I also wanted to do the deep dark basic underground stuff. It's a combination.

What role did Juan and Derrick play in the creation of your early creations, such as Triangle of Love-
Juan helped me a lot. I didn't know how to finish a track. I knew how to tape my tracks and lay it all down but I didn't know how to make it a record. The pieces didn't fit. It was all there, the drums and bass, but it wasn't arranged. He showed me how to place an arrangement and do a mix on it. I just played what I wanted to play. Basically I had a repetitive set of loops. He showed me how to create changes in a track. He showed me how to mix down, EQ and put the effects on.

So he was basically your tutor-
Yeah, he gave me the knowledge of how to completely arrange and finish a record. He was making music before me, so I got to hang out at his house and check out his studio. It didn't really hit me until later down the line (the fact that it was my calling).

Pushing techno before the early 80s in an era where funk and other genres prevailed must have been challenging. What do you accredit your success to-
I accredit it to being around at the right time and getting my hands on the right tools, as well as being around Juan and Derrick. Being introduced to the equipment was a great help. They started making drum beats so I started making drum beats. It's something I felt too. I didn't realize this was my path, it just crept up on me.

In a previous interview you said 'a lot power exists in technology'. To what extent have developments in technology since the early days of your production benefited artists-
Now you can produce tracks more easily. It doesn't take people two hours to time structure a loop, to get it in place. Editing isn't so time consuming, the process is quicker and arranging is easier. Synths are easier to create and Oscillators are easier to use. (Laughs) There are too many benefits to list!

Derrick suggested that it is a little too easy to make music. He feels that it has led to a lot of poor production being put out. What's your view-
Yeah I agree, but good music always finds its way of coming out. Those who use it correctly are able to really create something special. Someone who plays shitty music does just