The 'Prince Of Techno' Says Goodbye to Techno
Friday, January 5, 2001"In Detroit you have the purists and you have the cliquey artists and I just don't like this scene anymore. I'd rather leave it to those who are really into it."
Blake Baxter, Detroit's legendary so-called Prince Of Techno spoke to mezz's Benedetta Ferraro just before Xmas, in a rare interview about his work. Shortly, releasing his last album for Berlin's mighty Tresor label, the former Underground Resistance operative, is selling up and moving to New York, where he'll be launching a new career in house and R&B. "Don't get me wrong, I still respect techno and I don't hate anybody or anything," Blake continued. "It's just that I love to dance, to laugh and have fun as well as being an artist."
mezz: Your new album has a very sexy vibe throughout…
Blake Baxter: "It wasn't intentional but I like that style, you know, sexual… I like to write about love and experiences… It's kind of tongue 'n' cheek, though."
mezz: You've spent 10 years on Tresor, how much has this relationship changed over this time-
Blake Baxter: "When I first started they looked at me as this young, inexperienced artist and felt I always needed to prove myself to them. At first I was just an artist but as the years went by their faith in me as a producer grew. It took them a while, but in the end they accepted me and out of all the labels I've worked with, they've really stuck by me. As far as the future is concerned, this is the last album I do for them and my last techno album. Usually when I DJ I prefer to play house, if I do play techno I go towards the old school style, simply because it has more bass lines and moods. These days, techno verges more towards sound effects and drum track. There's not much room for vocals, which I really like, and not much either for bass lines, which I also love."
mezz: So is it goodbye to techno then-
Blake Baxter: "Yes, definitely. I also feel that in Detroit you have the purists and you have the cliquey artists and I just don't like this scene anymore. I'd rather leave it to those who are really into it."
mezz: Are the people at Tresor cool about your decision-
Blake Baxter: "At first, it was a struggle to put this album out as it took so long. They've always released my records constantly but my concept of an album is, at first you have a collection of ideas, or songs from an artist and then you release the re-mixes and 12" for the dance floor. However the way techno labels work is totally different. They believe that everything is danceable and should be re-mixable whereas I first think of the album and subsequently think of what the single is going to be. In that aspect I really didn't fit into the Tresor way of thinking, but they still put up with me. Don't get me wrong, I still respect techno and I don't hate anybody or anything, it's just that I love to dance, to laugh and have fun as well as being an artist.
With techno everybody seem so serious, they smoke a lot of spliffs (marijuana), they want to look intelligent with their glasses, they want to dress down. I like to dress up these days, dress funky, and have a laugh. They often look at me and say 'What's wrong with you-' and I think, 'Isn't this a club-'"
mezz: Well, life's about change after all…
Blake Baxter: "Sure. I believe you can get caught up in the same creative loops year after year and if you get stuck into these loops it's a sign of brain deterioration. Step outside instead and create different things. I like variety."
mezz: How much does this album reflect your current taste in music and your future direction-
Blake Baxter: "I feel it represents pretty much where I'm at right now. These days everybody uses samples, so I wanted to strip it down and just use the 909 drum machine with the 303, no sequencer or anything like that, I've just let these two raw elements do their work. I have used som Tags