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Stacey Pullen - Put Your Hands Up For Music

Author: Aaron Roach
Friday, 27 April 2007
How do you start a write-up about someone that has been labelled just about everything and anything- Moreover, it's somewhat insulting to both Stacey Pullen and music journo's alike when you see the cliched 'second-wave…' and just about all of his monikers which easily can make up a first paragraph. We all know what's been going on. In fact, it's lazy, which is the antithesis of what Pullen is all about.

The majority of us weren't there when the first few Derrick May singles started breaking through to the rest of the world. We've all had the 'way back when' discussions, but not many people are in the position of being able to really answer the question: What was it like knowing that you were in the midst of an Avant-Garde time for music-

"When it first happened, I didn't know I was going to be a part of it. I just knew that this was something big…the first record I heard was (Derrick May's) Nude Photo…it was literally the future. I was already a progressive thinker, a person that thought beyond the realms of society, so for me the music was a perfect match to my personality. It's my whole thing of being Stacey Pullen.

"It was something that came along way before I was around. These guys were doing it in '84/'85 and I was listening to their music on the radio, not knowing it was them until I got to meet them, until the Music Institute opened, until I saw face with the music."

It's easy to assume that the heavyweights of the dance music world have always been doing the mega-star thing, but in a world that still sees the US preferring the popular culture of Pop, R 'n' B and Rap to underground music, it remains a difficult ride for not only Pullen, but the originators of the Detroit scene. At one stage, the crew had to pay their way on to a radio station.

"Oh yeah, I was involved with that," Pullen says with a slight pause. "That was crazy. We had to pay $2000 a week, man. Just for a late night slot from 12-midnight 'til 4am. It was $500 an hour just for us to have commercial-free, non-stop electronic music."

Pullen feels the US audience is still to catch on to the music the rest of the world has been paying homage to for an amazingly long time. Moreover, Pullen finds justification as to why it's still a non-event for the mainstream society.

"When you have Justin Timberlake winning Best Dance Album, it lets you know that nothing has progressed. You got the remixes of Madonna tracks winning Grammies, which really are the ones that matter as far as song-writing goes. Nothing against those people, but it's not electronic music, you know-

"It may be Top 40 dance music, but it's not electronic dance music."

After cynically suggesting to Pullen that tracks like Put Your Hands Up For Detroit are the opposite of what the scene was all about, he gets philosophical, saying, "It wasn't an ode to Detroit, but the key is, you need songs like that…or dance music won't have an identity. The younger generation doesn't have a clue on what Detroit was about in the past and they hear the song and go 'wow…what is it about this great city that we don't know about-'

"To be honest, I wish it had gone to number in the US, because we're still dealing with the Pop/Rap generation, where the only number songs we're going to hear on the radio are Gwen Stefani."

With his own displeasure at seeing a side project go to the throes when he was signed to a major label, it hurts Pullen knowing that the States can't break the mould - a polar-opposite twist to the very thing the Detroit scene was about. For more than two years, he put everything into the record.

"I put my heart and soul in that recording. For it not to get recognised in my own country was a really, really big blow to my ego. I thought that I'd deserved to at least have a US release, limited edition or otherwise. It was making a statement."

However, that's where the hurt remains - in the past. Pullen compares it to the Jazz musicians that had to go over<
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