With his previously announced, two-disc remix retrospective release, History Elevate, about to drop and Detroit's annual Movement Festival less than two weeks away, one would assume Kevin Saunderson has little time to talk. So XLR8R was in for a pleasant surprise when the Detroit techno legend not only agreed to answer a few questions, but also gave us an exclusive, hour-long DJ mix, with tracks from Radio Slave, Milton Jackson, Osunlade, and a host of others (including a couple cuts of his own).
The mix is currently available for download, and when he wasn't choosing tracks (or touring Europe, promoting the new album, and generally being an international star), Saunderson took a few minutes to talk about his forthcoming release, this year's Movement Festival, and 20 years of making music.
XLR8R: How did you go about choosing the tracks for History Elevate? How challenging was this process?
Kevin Saunderson: I knew a lot of the producers and DJs and I liked their music. Those who were able to deliver remixes were those who were inspired by me, and then I was inspired by their remixes. It wasn’t hard to go to guys I thought were doing good stuff, and most of the guys I contacted were dying to remix some of my old stuff anyways. The only challenging part was waiting for the mixes to be done. It took over a year to get the mixes done and put together.
Can you even begin to sum up the last 20 years?
I could never have foreseen these last 20 years, but it’s been one heck of a ride. Many inspirational moments throughout those 20 years, and that the journey is still continuing and there’s much more inspiration within myself. So there will be another 20 years of music from me.
In what ways do you think techno—and electronic music in general—have changed the most over the past two decades?
It’s grown. It’s evolved into many different layers. I think the quality is not as good, but if you look, there’s plenty of quality music out there. When anything grows and expands, the quality will go down because everybody can’t make it the same, “feel it” the same, and everyone has different influences. It used to be an analog world, but computers are now at the forefront, where before, you had different instruments that worked with computers. Now, computers can do everything with the right software. It’s just changed and moved on with the times.
Any funny stories from the last 20 years?
I was in Japan with Inner City and we went out to eat. The Japanese wanted to make sure we were fed well in a quality restaurant. They [brought] out this nice fish cut on a plate and our singer, Paris Grey, started screaming. We wondered what was going on. You [saw] the fish carcass on the table, but the fish meat [was] cut off on the side. We thought that the fish was just a disguise for the meat, but we didn’t realize that the fish was still alive. Paris was not happy about that!
Walk us through the new release. What sort of "mood" did you want to create with it? Any particular favorites or special songs on the tracklisting?
It’s a combination of a mood from the remixers and producers who took part and me building up something. That was my whole goal.
“Bassline (Jooris Voorn Remix)” and both Ben Sims and Christian Smith & John Selway’s remixes of “Rock to the Beat,” and Carl Craig’s remix of “Till We Meet Again.” On CD One, the very first remix I ever did for Wee Papa Girls and The Pet Shop Boys remix stand out. They are all special, but these are the ones that stand out the most for me.
What sorts of excitement can we look forward to hearing/seeing at this year's Movement Festival?
Just like it has been at the past. You’ll see me get down and be into it very much. Maybe get on the mic and talk a little. I always look forward to playing at home to the Detroit/U.S. crowd and giving them great music and energy.
History Elevate is out June 9.
Photo by Lars Borges.