This has been quite the eventful week for Carl Craig. It started with Craig complaining about a post on this blog with the juvenile “Haters gonna hate” caption. Then it emerged he had died – only for the man himself to confirm later that he most definitely wasn’t dead.
Anyone made of less tough stuff than the Detroit DJ and producer might have been easily forgiven for deciding to go back to bed and sleep until next Monday. But regardless of the fact he’s the kind of person to back a losing horse, he’s also the eternal optimist – and it looks like persisting with this week has paid off.
Yesterday, Defected announced that Carl Craig was the latest DJ they were bringing out to their festival in Croatia later this year. Dames Brown and the blog blocking Ash Lauryn are also there to represent the house and techno sounds of Detroit. Rumours are that Moodymann will also make an appearance – no official confirmation of this yet, though.
I wrote a while ago about Defected promoting the sound of Detroit, and how it was essentially a money making exercise – Defected didn’t get to where they are today without knowing what will pay the bills. Well, it certainly will be for Unkle Carl and the rest of the Detroit contingent booked to play…
If there’s one thing that Simon Dunmore is especially good at in life, it’s finding the cow with the maximum amount of milk inside it, and then extracting as much of that milk as he physically can. It’s a skill he learnt in the 1990s at Cooltempo and AM:PM, and he utilises it well at Defected.
Hence why if you look closely at Defected’s history, you’ll start to see patterns. For example, the label was really into soulful house around the mid-2000s. Or more recently, you might notice the records being signed have changed dramatically since the success of “Cola” a few years ago.
During the pandemic, Defected has been hit by accusations more than once of colonialism. They’re more stung by the allegations than it first appeared, when label boss Simon Dunmore blocked DJ E-Clyps on Twitter last summer after he started asking difficult questions. And Detroit is one area where the Defected machine has been focusing lately.
And that’s the blog blocking, Derrick May supporting Ash Lauryn. You might remember her from an episode lately where she accused this blog of “spreading lies” about her – and despite repeated requests for details, she has yet to point out a single thing which was reported incorrectly.
So why is Defected so keen on Lauryn? An insider who’s previously worked with the label tells me “She’s the whole package, that’s why. She’s a new face on the scene, but comes from a city with heritage and a story to tell. She also happens to be quite easy on the eye, which is good for promotion on socials. I’m not surprised Defected are interested.”.
And though I say so myself, I think she’s a pretty solid DJ – although her taste in music leaves a lot to be desired…
Some years ago now, Defected label boss Simon Dunmore spoke about how he acquired the old MK catalogue. Although MK – real name Marc Kinchen – was probably best known in the 1990s for his endless remixes, he did create a few decent originals in the process too.
Dunmore explained the logic behind the process. Firstly, the price was low – a good thing for an independent label which doesn’t have an endless budget and must exercise strategy when buying catalogues. And secondly, he believed that MK’s sound would come back into fashion at some point. Which was entirely possible due to the cyclical nature of house music.
Recently, Defected has been pushing a number of genres which it has traditionally veered clear of. One of those has been Detroit techno. For example, they’ve been promoting artists such as Carl Craig, and the song “Strings Of Life” has been mentioned a few times – although Defected stick to the 2004 remake from Soul Central when promoting it. I can’t think why…
Yesterday, Defected put a message out on their social media platforms simply asking “What is your favourite track from Detroit?”. Which has immediately got me wondering – what is the Defected machine playing at? Why the interest in a genre which they’ve taken no notice of previously?
I asked my industry insider about this, and for once, he wasn’t entirely sure. He told me “I’ve known Simon for a long time and most things Defected do are part of some longer term vision. His label could have their eye on an old catalogue of Detroit techno classics. Detroit was always a bit overlooked, meaning catalogue prices could be low, and Defected are good at bringing things to a modern audience.”.
And the prospect of the independent label buying up Detroit catalogues might not go down well. A well-connected source in the city tells me “Some of the guys would see a big British label buying their old s*** as colonialism. Simple as that. Irony is though that some of the same guys would take a pay cheque for their s*** anyway.”.
If you start seeing artists from Detroit doing remixes on major Defected releases over the next few months, it means they’ve made in the eyes of the label. If that happens, just remember you read it at Amateur’s House first…
The other day, I wrote about the release of Phase 1 listings for Defected Croatia 2022, due to take place in August. I couldn’t help but notice it looked awfully similar to the lineup for this year’s festival – leading me to wonder if two for one offers were a thing amongst DJs desperate for bookings.
One new name, however, was Detroit native Ash Lauryn. You might remember she’s been on the blog before – and she didn’t like it. Before petulantly blocking the Amateur’s House Twitter account, accusing this of being a “cheap ass blog spreading lies about me”. To this day, she has failed to point out a single “lie” about her published on the site.
And the fact she’s on a lineup for a festival like Defected Croatia has not gone down well in her native Detroit. One producer who has previously appeared on the label accused her of “chasing money. She’s just looking for a big payday. We’ve noticed her track selections have got more commercial this year – maybe this is why”.
Another source questioned why she was working with a company like Defected, saying “Defected are a bunch of f***ing colonialists. They sign up s*** from black people and it’s rich white guys who benefit. Getting involved with a company like that is a bad idea – I hope the money’s worth it”.
However, the opposition isn’t entirely universal. One of the earliest producers of Detroit techno got in touch with this blog and agreed to be quoted on condition of anonymity. He said “I’m f***ing jealous, to be honest. Ash is brilliant at marketing herself and is trying to push the envelope forward. I, for one, couldn’t be any happier for her”.
As ever, you can make up your own minds on this one…
Is there a two for the price of one deal doing the rounds amidst the house music world’s DJs? This blog can’t help but wonder, as I keep seeing the same people appearing on lineups for supposedly different festivals. Perhaps that’s the latest cockamamie scheme doing the rounds.
It would certainly help explain why all these festivals look and sound the same. A while ago, I commented that Defected’s London and Manchester events this year both looked eerily similar – and it appears this philosophy of sameness (or loyalty, as Simon Dunmore prefers to call it) has seeped into the annual festivities at Croatia.
Take a look at these lineups. 2022’s phase one lineup on the left, and the 2021 one on the right. I couldn’t find a phase one for this year, so let’s just concentrate on the top half of the list for now…
They’re awfully similar, aren’t they? I’m all in favour of brands showing loyalty to artists, but there’s a danger it’ll eventually lead to an identikit lineup year after year. How long the festivals will be able to get away with this remains to be seen.
Although I do notice one very prominent new name in the 2022 list. Defected has been talking for a while now about the influence of Detroit on dance music – whilst avoiding mentioning Derrick May at all costs, of course. So it’s with interest I note the aforementioned Mr May’s old friend, Ash Lauryn, has been booked.
But let’s just say this news hasn’t gone down entirely well in her native Detroit. More on this one over the weekend…
I made emphatically clear in the past few days that I will continue to cover things that go on inside the dance music press. Whilst I accepted a recent post on Resident Advisor’s editor was in poor taste, I make absolutely no apologies for holding the website – and others – to account.
So with that in mind, let’s get to the subject at hand. Now, this blog runs a weekly column called The Six On Saturday (That Aren’t From Me!). Its premise is simple – I review my favourite new releases a week. There’s aren’t always six releases featured and I don’t include anything which I was involved with.
Resident Advisor appear to think differently. What else could explain the decision to review the new EP by the blog-blocking Ash Lauryn? And naturally enough, the review is absolutely glowing, referencing her “clarity of purpose”. And yes, the review does point out she’s an occasional contributor to their website – but this doesn’t stop me believing it to be a conflict of interest.
In a way, it’s a pity that she’s blocked this blog from her life – because having listened to the EP, I actually think it’s pretty good. “Life Is Back”, the lead track, is probably my favourite of the bunch. Listen yourself and make your own minds up…
It’s always a nice feeling to know when you’re getting under someone’s skin. When someone is being criticised and responds with hyperbole, aggression or insults, you know you’re onto something they’d rather you didn’t know.
This was something I remembered on Friday night, when Ash Lauryn made the decision to block this blog’s Twitter account. But not, of course, before sending two tweets in my direction at eight minutes apart. I only arrived at the party after I was blocked – but thanks to these wonder things called smartphones, both tweets were waiting for me in my notifications…
Notice she failed to point out a single lie published on the blog about her. Notice, also, that she felt the need to come back with something else eight minutes later before blocking the blog’s account – somehow harbouring the impression this would stop me from responding.
I stand by my reporting. If I’m wrong, Lauryn – like anyone else who I write about – is welcome to point out errors. The fact she reacted so badly suggests to me that I’ve hit a nerve…
Apparently, Juan Atkins is due to do his first gig in a long time next week. On August 19th, he’s due to appear at The Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre in Detroit. According to the listing on Resident Advisor, he’s due to play for five whole hours.
And joining him there? No, not Derrick May – the strategy these days is to put him on the flyer, then take his name off whilst not announcing he’s not playing anymore, because he still is. No, it’s none other than May’s friend – “the type of person who’d crawl up your ass and stay there until something better came along”, apparently – Ash Lauryn.
Quite how she got the gig remains something of a mystery. I can only assume everyone else in Detroit is busy that night. But perhaps it’s just as well that she has – because if history repeats itself, she could quickly find herself promoted to being the main act of the evening.
You see, Atkins hasn’t performed much in recent years – it’s an open secret in Detroit that he’s had problems with drugs flaring up and down for over a decade now, hence why he comes across as a bit of a recluse.
And one of his most recent gigs as part of the so-called Belleville Three was an unmitigated disaster. On May 14th this year, I detailed what happened when he appeared at Awakening in 2010. He seemed to be having trouble getting his laptop to work properly, and later in the day managed to confuse Adam Beyer for Jeff Mills. My understanding is that around the same time, the issues which Atkins had with drugs were sadly flaring up once more.
And word is the pandemic has not helped matters one little bit. Whilst I don’t know whether Atkins has had the Covid vaccine, one of my sources was telling me that several of Detroit techno’s bigwigs met up a while ago and the topic of the jab came up. Opinions were split. Carl Craig thought it was stupid not to get it, Derrick May thought taking what he called an “experimental vaccine” wasn’t a good idea.
Craig reportedly told May he was a “d***weed” at the same discussion and questioned whether May could even spell the word “experimental”. They can’t agree on anything, this lot…
Then again, Ash Lauryn is well versed in the ways of Detroit. The in-fighting between the scene’s figureheads in the city do make advancing her career easier…