7 Questions before Movement: Speedy J

Speedy J

“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 (and its afterparties) 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 around the festival (because let’s be real – there’s always at least a few names we don’t recognize right away). Next up is techno legend and Electric Deluxe label boss Speedy J, who is playing the festival in his duo Zeitgeber (with Lucy) and also a solo set at his label’s after party.

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’ve played there several times. I did the closing set a few years back when I was doing a collaboration with my friend from LA, Scott Pagano. We did an audio/visual show on the main stage, and I have good memories from that one. The screen was massive. The project was called Umfeld which was an audio/video DVD production that we did in 5.1 surround sound. We toured with that doing it in actual surround in several places around the world. But it was more suitable for seated artists, sort of a screening or installation. But we also made a dance floor variation that we did at Movement.

I’ve also played several after parties. I played the CLR after party twice, and the official opening party once by myself in St. Andrew’s hall six or seven years back. This year of course we are doing our own party, one of the official opening parties with my label Electric Deluxe. So I’m really looking forward to it this year. And on sunday I’m playing with Lucy as Zeitgeber on the underground stage.

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

I came to Detroit early on when I was hooked up with Joh Acquaviva and Richie Hawtin when they just started Plus 8. This was pre-internet, pre-cellphone, pre-everything. I sent them a cassette tape with like 50 tracks or something. I spoke with Jon on the phone and he said immediately “we want to do some releases with you, but before we do that maybe you should come over. We’ll meet and show you Detroit, and maybe organize some DJ gigs.” I went there in 1990 and Richie took me to visit classic Detroit people – Derrick May, KMS, 430 West, Kenny Larkin, Carl Craig, so I hung out with most of them fairly early on and that was a nice experience as a young kid, I was like 20 years old. I don’t think there’s any record or artist in particular that I like but I was very much influenced by the early releases on the classic Detroit labels.

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

I think what I’ll end up doing is what everyone does, just go there and let it happen. Hook up with friends and wander around and see where you end up. There’s too much to catch everything, so you end up wherever your mates are, where everyone is hanging out. So I’ll try to catch as many things as possible.

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

Grischa Lichtenberger – Remel Plus (Svreca Edit)

Lakker – Harbour


Terrence Dixon As Population One – Self Portrait (Actress Remix)

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

That was the Zeitgeber album with Lucy on Stroboscopic Artefacts. You can find it on Beatport, the Stroboscopic Artefacts website, etc.

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

I play stuff that’s all over the place, but I use Traktor and Ableton and I mash everything up in Live so I kind of improvise with loops and drums and tracks. I squeeze in a lot of stuff which is not necessarily suitable to dance to or is not a big dance floor record by itself, but the way I combine it with other things I can get away with it. And it’s usually the unexpectedness of hearing such a thing in this environment that makes it special. I’m coming from a live background, so I’m not like a traditional DJ that plays one record after the next. The element of improvisation is very important. I kind of feel naked when I just play records from start to finish, it feels like cheating. I always need to have some sort of manipulation going on to kind of make it my sound. Technically it’s not that different from a lot of other people, but I think my approach of how I use the equipment is probably what sets it apart or creates my own little twist with it.

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

It’s actually a pre-party rather than an after party, but I’ll be playing at the Electric Deluxe party at The Works on Friday night.