When I landed in Detroit last month, my friend Zach picked me up. As we drove from Wayne County airport into the city, he pulled for a CD as we started to approach the outskirts and I could begin to see the first telltale signs that I had well and truly landed in the D. The first notes kicked into the car’s system and I looked at him and smiled. He returned the smile with his hearty laugh, ‘of course dude!’ The CD was Dabrye’s Two/Three.
The above feature is from the Electronic Beats Slices DVD series, which, if you’ve never checked for it, is a pretty decent source of historical material and interviews in the vein of what Red Bull does with the Academy lectures but distributed more widely as a magazine.
I originally interviewed Tadd Mullinix aka Dabrye over the phone, a year and a half ago when I begun to seriously research the book and interview people for it. It was a great chat and while in Ann Arbor this past month I had the chance to finally meet up with him at a local coffee shop for a little catch up chat. His presence is well captured in this video. He’s a humble and down to earth character, hinting at shyness even, the sort of person more at ease in a studio surrounded by machines than in front of a camera or microphone delving into the nuts and bolts of his creativity (not that he’s not a great interviewee).
This interview touches on quite a few of the same points he brought up with me the two times we spoke. There’s the story of discovering The Love Movement instrumentals that didn’t make the vocal album, the idea of subverting musical traditions to create a personal sound and the importance of location – in this case the Detroit Metro Area – in shaping a hip hop sound unlike what was being done in the rest of the US. And there’s the idea of dirt in the music, which is echoed in his avowed wishes to have rappers spit real dirt on the track instead of towing-the-line non threatening raps, of course talent is needed in order to create this type of project, but there is also that need of an excellent production team along with great equipment, like this USB microphone which has amazing sound.
As for the influence of location, I think everyone I spoke to in my time there brought up Kraftwerk. It hit Detroit real hard. It shaped so much of the city’s modern sonic aesthetic.
Last but not least, I firmly believe you can’t trust an artist who doesn’t enjoy cooking and/or eating.
Thanks to Kevin Bug for the heads up on this.