Carl Craig on Detroit Techno, Jazz, and the Collapse of the Auto Industry

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"Techno is a music that uses imagination to develop the fantasy of what the future can be," says Carl Craig, waxing poetic. But his sound is just as informed by the past as it is by the future.

Part of Craig's unique contribution to Detroit techno are his forays into electronic jazz and soul, and in a sense he considers techno a succession of traditional black music forms in America.

"No matter what any of my mentors and colleagues have tried to do with rejecting styles of music before techno, there are too many parallels that make these arts the same -- Jazz being the premier intellectual black music recognized academically," he says. "And techno has that academic achievement, unfortunately not in the US, but [yes] throughout the rest of the world."

Indeed, the American industrial capital of Detroit was a likely setting for the birth of techno music. "The automotive industry started laying off people and hiring machines, and this was very influential in the development of this machine music that we call techno," explains Craig. "We stick around here because the environment is still the same as the environment when we started, and there's too much inspiration here. That is why we can't turn our backs on Detroit. Detroit to me is like what New York is to Woody Allen."

In 2011, Craig can look back at the fruits of his labor with pride. "We put out some great music over the years, and saw artists grow outside of Planet E, like Moodymann, Recloose, and Martin Buttrich," he exclaims. "It's been 20 years of highlights."

Carl Craig with Mr. C. Friday, February 11. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.

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