Photo by Roe Ethridge.
It may be considered the American way to “put a boot in your ass,” as country singer Toby Keith would say, but we’ve been getting our ass kicked on the techno front for way too long. Sure, Detroit and Chicago made their marks. But that was what? Fifteen years ago? After those cities left the spotlight, American techno started to suck hard. Now it’s time to go nuclear. We need to build up an arsenal of American producers and labels, and we need to level the world with some of our own homeland jams. The UK has garage, Cologne and the rest of Germany have minimal techno, there’s French house, and even Finland has its own techno incarnation of the Neptunes in producer Vladislav Delay (AKA Luomo). With all of these influences from abroad, the rare passing-through of an American producer like Kit Clayton or Stewart Walker is worth a bar of gold. Walker, who recently released his album Discord—a split with Geoff White—on Force Inc., knows exactly why Americans aren’t into a sound so sweet. “As techno spread, it picked up a lot of bad aspects: bad drugs, bad music, and bad clothes. Kind of like disco. Shit sticks, but there’s hope we’re at the dawning of a new era.” James Murphy of great music kingdom DFA Records agrees. “I used to think techno was all C&C Music Factory and shit. It all sounded like music for people with shiny shirts and lots of hair gel. I just hadn’t been hearing all the good stuff.” The producers and DJs mentioned above are pushing to create scenes and communities in the US. They’re trying to remove the stigma of techno. But it takes a movement, not a couple of names, to change the state of things and to fill the dance floors. Americans need to realize that it’s not all about glow sticks, E, and big pants. Go buy some records, realize the shit’s good, and start making your own jams. Prove to everyone around the world that American techno doesn’t have to suck. MATT EBERHART