Every so often the desire for mainstream music taste shifts. In the 60s it was all about precision and soul, followed by the disco and heavy metal of the 70s and 80’s. 1990s saw the resurgence of boy bands then DJ’s and MC’s ushered in rap and hip hop of the 2000s. Now, the tables, literally are turning, and electronic music is again on the rise; again the DJ is getting some shine.
Electronic Music, better known as Dance music or more specifically Techno or House, has again hit mainstream. A style of music with a pulsating heavy bass beat, initially popularized in underground all-night parties; it’s largely associated with pill-popping teens or hypnotized adults who relate it to a religious experience.
The music genre is again coming from the underground roots and into the mainstream money-making consciencness. The emergence of techno music festivals like Coachella and Detroit’s Electronic Music festival have become sell-out staples, bringing in hundreds of thousands of gyrating fans.
“I don’t believe my entire generation is only listening to hip hop,” says Dantiez Saunderson, 20, DJ and son of Kevin Saunderson, credited as one of the creators of techno music. “I think people just sometimes want something new.”
Just as international recognition enriched the likes of The Supremes, Jay-Z, Prince, Tina Turner and DJ Clue, house DJ’s are on the road, making music and igniting a movement that could just as well become a lifestyle like Rock and Roll and Hip Hop. Because Techno music garnered over 300,000 fans both internationally and locally to Detroit’s downtowm Hart Plaza Memorial Day weekend, it prompted the Michigan Chronicle to release its first ever Electronic DJ Kings List.
Detroit born and bred, Derrick May tops the list with over 30 years in the music business and credited as inspiring the likes of DJ Minx and Steve Rachmad to take up the tables. Traveling more than 200 days a year to Berlin, Paris, the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Europe yet making his home across from the Eastern Market near downtown Detroit for more than 29 years, Derrick May is credited as one of three men, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson – who created the now recognized genre of Techno Music. “I never listen to my music in the house…,” says May. “Its important for me that it stays fresh and in the moment with the crowd and the energy.”
It’s not just the top three DJ’s who just happen to be from Detroit that’s taking all the crowd, Netherlands bred yet Detroit influenced Steven Rachmad claims a spot with over three CD’s and endorsement deals in Amsterdam. DJ Minx, the only female DJ on the list played to over hyped diverse yet moving crowd during the 3-day festival. She’s quoted as saying that after seeing May as a teenager, she knew she wanted to DJ.
Other DJ’s on the EDJK list include the Godfather of Techno Kevin Saunderson and son, Dantiez, as well as, Allan C. Ester, Jr. and Bruce Bailey.
Though these Electronic DJ Kings have taken different roads to their turntable dreams, they’ve got at least one thing in common; they all have been influenced by Detroit. Often praising the tough love tactics that pushed them to a career in music, unlike rap and pop artists who typically take all the credit.
These music creators earning from live shows, recording music sales, endorsements and in the case of Saunderson and May, label ownership.
Photography by Dedan Photography @dedanphotography