7 Questions before Movement: Dustin Zahn

“7 Questions before Movement” is an ongoing series in which we ask the same seven questions to as many artists playing at this year’s Movement Detroit festival as we possibly can. The goal of this series is to familiarize festival goers with the styles and personalities of artists they can expect to see at the festival (because let’s be real – there’s always at least a few names we don’t recognize right away). Our second interview this year is with a Midwestern techno hero, Dustin Zahn, known for his harder releases on labels like CLR, Drumcode, and his own Enemy Records. 

1. Have you been to the festival before, as a performer or just as a listener? If so, what is your most distinct memory from the experience?

I used to go to the festival every year just to hang out! I haven’t been there in a few years because I’ve moved to Europe and it’s obviously much more expensive to get to in result. The festival holds so many amazing memories for me that I’m not even sure where I would start.

One entertaining story that can be told is when a small group of us nearly got kicked out of the casino in Greektown when were a lot younger. We went to some afterparty and everyone had a drink or 10. Around 6:30 in the morning we had the amazing idea of going to the casino to play tic-tac-toe against this real-life chicken. We arrived and the chicken wasn’t in his little box, so being idiots… we start banging on it. The security guard arrived and said, “What in the hell are you boys doing? It’s 6:30am. This chicken is sleeping!” Naturally, we say, “WELL, WAKE HIM UP. LET’S DO THIS!” The security guard did not see the humor.

2. Do you have any favorite classic Detroit techno tracks or artists?

Definitely! I could do a bunch of name-checking but it would all be fairly obvious. I’d say my all-time favorite is probably Carl Craig. A lot of people in my microcosm of techno would probably say Mills. I love Jeff Mills too, but I’m a melodies guy at heart. I love the uplifting feeling I get from C2’s productions. He’s a very diverse producer which is really inspiring to me.

3. Based on what’s been announced so far, which artists playing at the festival are you the most excited to see this year?

To be honest, I’m mostly interested in supporting my States-side friends whom I rarely get to see: Luis Flores, Hyperactive, Raiz, Project 313, Black Asteroid, etc. I am fortunate enough to see the bigger European DJs all the time but those who don’t have that opportunity are in for a treat!

4. To give readers a sense of the style of music you play, please name three tracks you’ve been showcasing in your sets lately.

These kinds of questions are impossible for me. Literally every day I find myself scouring the internet and record shops for music. I end up playing music from so many genres but I guess the core of my sound is still hypnotic techno. I would recommend checking out my most recent podcast for CLR if you’re curious.

5. What was your most recent release, and where can readers find it?

“New Day Rising,” which is a single on my own label, Enemy Records. You can find it in record shops, on Beatport, and wherever it is that people steal music from these days. My debut album called “Monoliths” is also coming at the end of March on Drumcode, which is Adam Beyer’s label!

6. What kind of equipment will you be using for your set, and why do you prefer it?

My current setup is simply a mixture of 3 CDJs and 2 turntables. Honestly, I find myself usually just going with the 3 CDJs lately because most of the turntables I encounter are in poor condition. That may be a really boring setup for some people, but it works for me. I don’t care about incorporating MIDI controllers, Maschine or any of that stuff into my sets anymore. I only play music that I really love, so I don’t need to reduce it into loops or play crap over the top. I’ve tried every form possible of a DJ setup, so I don’t think there’s a way it’s supposed to be done. Thinking about it though, this whole idea about overdubbed music manipulation is very electronic-music focused and it is kind of funny. People don’t put on something from Miles Davis and say, “Pause it for a minute, let me go get my trumpet!”

7. Can we expect to see you play at any afterparties this year?

It’s a bit early to say, so I’m not sure. If you see me at any of them, come say hi.