Interview: Antwon Faulkner & Today’s Techno in Detroit
Antwon Faulkner is a DJ’s DJ. A Techno diehard from Detroit, he’s been in this game for near on 30 years and he knows his stuff. We caught up with him to talk about his latest release on his label Hijacked Records Detroit, and how he sees the Electronic world in the modern day.
OTB: I want to start by asking about your Deep Space Radio release. Can you tell us a bit about it?
AF: Deep Space was originally formed in the early 1990s by Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Eddie Fowlkes. It was a Detroit radio show dedicated to house & techno. I grew up listening to the show when I was 15 years old when I first got into DJing and electronic music. It had the biggest impact on me because that’s where I got educated on a lot of Detroit Techno cause they played it all. So once I got my own label going again here in Toronto when I moved, I had the idea of making the track along with getting remixes from artists here in Toronto and in Detroit. Also artists like Matt & Mark Thibideau and Greg Gow have always been influenced by Detroit Techno so it made perfect sense to have those guys and DJ 3000.
OTB: Where do your influences come from? Was electronic music prominent when you were growing up?
AF: Well I started my musical journey when I was aged 6 by playing drums in a gospel church and my Dad was a jazz musician so I would go with him when he had band practice and play with him and the band, so that’s where it comes from. Then when I got older and started to listen to the radio it was Electrifying Mojo, Jeff Mills, Claude Young and Deep Space so yeah electronic music was very prominent growing up in Detroit in the 90s.
OTB: What else do you listen to in your spare time?
AF: Some hip hop, maybe Jazz, just good music in general.
OTB: So tell me about your sound. How would you describe it best?
AF: It’s three elements of the Detroit sound. House, techno, funk with a futuristic swing and melody of my own. The only way I can describe is Hi -Tech Funk. It’s a sound that was created by Mike Banks & Underground Resistance in the 1998’s. This is my style of that sound 17yrs later into the future.
OTB: And the artwork is very distinctive, too. Do you think artwork is often overlooked in this day and age?
AF: Only when the artist is telling a story with the music through artwork and people don’t get it then it may be overlooked.
OTB: What modern DJs and producers do you look up to? Who or what influences your sound the most?
AF: Jeff Mills and the way he tells stories with sound through cinema, art is amazing to me. Ive listened to one of his interviews and he was saying things I have tried to explain to people months before hearing it, it was so wild but true. Robert Hood is another, it’s a spiritual thing with him so it goes deeper then just music. I get most of my influences for my sound from not listening to someone elses music but from just everyday life being out and about around other cultures and positive people, or just learning more about astronomy cause that’s what influences me the most.
OTB: Is there anyone you aspire to be like in that regard?
AF: No just myself creating my own sound.
OTB: What’s your ultimate ambition as a DJ and producer?
AF: To kill and destroy EDM pop music lol, and to turn people on to the real cyber tronic funk of the future as a DJ when I play with no laptop syncing just CDJ and turntables and my hands and fingers.
OTB: Do you prefer one to the other?
AF: No because I’ve learned to balance them both to my benefit.
OTB: Can you tell me a bit about how the track was constructed? What did you use?
AF: Native Instruments Maschine, an oxygen 64 midi controller with multiple synth plugins. I played with no loops.
OTB: And why did you go about choosing the remixes that you did?
AF: When I moved here to Toronto my wife would take me out to events and I saw Matt & Mark Thibideau play live. It had all of the Detroit elements with their own style and sound that was very unique. So over the years I’ve got to know those guys. I liked what they were doing with their music so I let them hear the original in Montreal last summer and ask them would they be interested in doing a remix and they said yes and what they did with it was really different. If you listen closely you here elements from the original Deep Space Radio Show. DJ 3000 I’ve known since back in the day from Submerge in Detroit so last year I reached out and connected with him to do a release on his Motech LTD Label. I asked him would he be into it because I really like what he’s doing as well. Greg Gow I’ve known for years, he’s the Detroit Techno soldier of Toronto who I have a lot of respect for. He’s one of my favourite DJ/producers here. I have releases on his Restructured label and have always wanted him to do something for my label when the time was right so it worked out this time.
OTB: What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing up and coming DJs and producers in this day and age?
AF: That they don’t have to learn how to DJ on turntables anymore. It’s too easy with the software and controllers these days to become a DJ so the challenge now is what can you do to make you stand out from the other million out there with the same sync set up? Also I have friends in Detroit & Toronto who think they’re just too cool for school because they DJ in the city to the “locals” and don’t realize there is a whole world out there who don’t know who the fuck you are and its funny to me! So you gotta produce some hot music to get the respect as an international DJ or Producer, that’s my opinion. That’s what I’ve learned over the years doing this because anybody can DJ easy, the challenge is can you make some hot tracks?
OTB: Do you think it’s important that respected DJs and producers put back into the scene?
AF: The only person I can respect in that sense is “Loco Dice” and what he did in South Africa, that’s how you give back and teach people about this music. That was amazing.
OTB: Are you full-time in music then? Or what else takes up a lot of your time?
AF: Yes I am, so nothing else at the moment and I love it.
OTB: Finally, what 5 tracks are you really into at the moment?
AF: 1. Cris Celiz – Please Dont Stop (Original Mix) KMS Records
2. Matt Sassari – Circu Phage (D-Unity Remix) Unity Records
3. Rødhåd – Mines Of Mars (Original Mix) Dystopian
4. Justin Schumacher – Go Like This (Proudly People Remix) Rawthentic Music
5. DJ Sly – For the Kraftwerk (Rework) Prisma Records
Antwon Faulkner’s ‘Deep Space Radio’ is out on Hijacked Records Detroit on 13th April
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