The Past, Present, and Future of Dance: Movement Detroit 2016

Eric Wood and Michael McReynolds

Since the year 2000 Detroit has celebrated its role in electronic music every Memorial Day weekend. Dance music bled from the fabled Detroit warehouse raves of the 90’s into the mainstream, forever altering the worldwide sphere of electronic music. Detroit’s Movement festival has had many names over the years but every year it stands tall, a testament to the past of electronic music and a beacon for its future.House and techno are definitely not the only genres represented; drum n bass, hip-hop, trap, and dubstep are all part of the diverse lineup this year. Here are some of the acts we’re most looking forward to that will be performing this weekend:

  • Four Tet – Widely regarded as a revolutionary of experimental electronic music and a master of sampling, Four Tet is definitely one of the most anticipated acts of this year’s Movement Festival. Kieran Hebden is a recent father, manager of the record label Text Records, and a prolific DJ since before most of you reading this could even say the word DJ. He has been releasing albums as Four Tet, Percussions, and under his own name since 1998. His unique style of sampled rhythms and driven beats will both make you move and make you think. Kieran’s unique style of vocal sampling to create disjointed yet human sounding melodies is evident on his latest release as Four Tet, Morning/Evening, a single consisting of two 20-minute-long atmospheric tracks. If you’re headed to Movement make sure to prepare mentally for what should be a physically and mentally enriching experience on Four Tet’s dance floor.
  • Josh Pan – This up-and-coming producer is a part of Owsla’s day-long showcase on the Underground stage. Once thought to be a collective of many different producers, his music merits questioning who or what he is. Josh Pan’s particularly dark and textural brand of trap beats is a breath of fresh air into the quickly stagnating genre. Having collaborated already with producers like Oshi, Misogi, and Medasin, Josh Pan is the type of producer you could expect to hear behind any major rapper in the next year.
  • lip – In 2014, acid legend Boys Noize was scheduled to close out Movement Detroit to a packed crowd; illness struck, and the festival scrambled last minute to find a suitable replacement. Chicago native Jessica Phillippe was chosen to fill in, and the star-making set that resulted is the stuff of legends. Jessica (J. Phlip) is a producer, DJ, and overall force to be reckoned with in the house scene as a tastemaker. After winning a DJ competition in 2005 and touring the nation, she moved to San Francisco to pursue her dream further, where Barclay Crenshaw’s Dirtybird imprint was just getting its start. Now, she regularly tours the US and Europe both solo and without the Dirtybird crew, showing no signs of stopping. Her releases with Huxley and Chris Lorenzo, remixes for Claude Vonstroke, Justin Martin, and The Knife, and impeccable live sets make her an elite member of the US techno scene. We’ll be catching her set Sunday at the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) stage.
  • Caribou – Dan Snaith has been releasing albums as Caribou since 2001. Much like Four Tet, the music of Caribou is heavily sampled and synth influenced although it regularly features his own vocals. Caribou is equally dense with 90s club-sounding loops as well as his high-pitched, reverberant lyrics about love. If you were alive in 2011 you may have heard his hit ‘Odessa’ in a commercial, but his music is far from commercial. His most recent album ‘Our Love’ was nominated for a grammy, and is equally a throwback to 80s synthpop and a preview of synthesizer based pop music from the future. Snaith has also released EP’s and a one-off album under the name Daphni, a project centered more on the dancefloor influenced elements of his style. Expect to see him with his full band at Saturday’s Red Bull Music Academy stage.
  • Kevin Saunderson – As one of the Detroit “Belleville Three” (alongside Juan Atkins and Derrick May), it’s immediately obvious that Saunderson knows what’s up, and knows exactly what he’s doing onstage. The B-ville three are attributed with the creation of Detroit techno, and worked together throughout high school and college to come up with the sound that the city is known for today. Another notable dance music facet, the Reese bass sound, also comes from Saunderson’s work; a simple synth line created on Kevin’s Casio CZ-5000 went on to have a massive influence on jungle and DNB genres. What’s even more intriguing is that both of Kevin’s sons Dantiez and Damarii, both respected DJs and producers, will be playing a duo set at Movement mere hours before Kevin takes the stage to close out on Sunday night.
  • The Black Madonna – Her bio on music site Resident Advisor reads: Androgynous Mind, Avenger of Comiskey Park, Patron Saint of Abandoned Daughters, Smart Bar Resident. The Black Madonna is one of the most important house figures in Chicago today, as a creative advisor of legendary club Smart Bar, as resident DJ, and as a touring act and label curator. She’s known for lengthy, genre-blending vinyl sets, and her impressive statement on dance music, which sums up what Movement Detroit is all about:

“Dance music needs riot grrrls. Dance music needs Patti Smith. It needs DJ Sprinkles. Dance music needs some discomfort with its euphoria. Dance music needs salt in its wounds. Dance music needs women over the age of 40. Dance needs breastfeeding DJs trying to get their kids to sleep before they have to play. Dance needs cranky queers and teenagers who are really tired of this shit. Dance music needs writers and critics and academics and historians. Dance music needs poor people and people who don’t have the right shoes to get into the club. Dance music needs shirts without collars. Dance music needs people who struggled all week. Dance music needs people that had to come before midnight because they couldn’t afford full admission. Dance music does not need more of the status quo.”

Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage throughout this weekend!