001 || Stephen Brown
Edinburgh born and bred, Stephen Brown has been channelling the spirit of the Motor City since the 90’s and the Terminal V favourite demonstrates it every time he steps behind a set of decks. It is no secret that Brown’s connection to Detroit Techno goes back nearly as far as the genre itself and with releases on a string of influential and seminal labels that include Djax Up Beats, Soma, Skudge and Derrick May’s Transmat.
With many more production credits to his name it is no surprise to learn that he counts Ben Sims, Laurent Garnier and Richie Hawtin amongst his most verdant supporters. Stephen’s uncompromising yet soulful style has lead him around the world and he can be regularly found captivating crowds at the most discerning clubs. For this very reason, we couldn’t think of a more fitting artist to inaugurate our podcast series and in advance of Stephen next appearing at Terminal V, we caught up with the man himself…
Being so connected to Detroit what is your take on the current sound?
I’m quite open minded nowadays if it sounds good then that’s it really. There are some producers who still have that sound like Truncate for example although my first love will always be Detroit Techno. More recently I’ve been inspired by artists like Shed (WK7, Head High etc) and Fjaak which to me sounds like a natural progression.
It seems that the 1st and 2nd wave of Detroit artists are immortal, what is it about them that just doesn’t seem to age?
Quite simply the music and the reason why they make music. Detroit artists won’t sell out because they are not part of an industry they are part of a movement which is much bigger.
Who would you say is emerging with a new take on the Detroit sound from Detroit or elsewhere?
There’s a guy from Australia called BIZ, Derrick May has released his music on Transmat and it’s pure Hi Tec Soul, also a duo living in Berlin but from Italy called Subradeon they are on fire at the moment.
What has been happening in the studio lately? (Original tracks or remixes)
I’ve just finished a remix for Subradeon which should be out soon. Also, a release on Jasper James label Mitchel St. I’m also working on tracks for a possible release on Sven Vath’s Cocoon. The music will be more melodic down tempo so that should be interesting. I’m also working very closely with a group of friends on starting a new label.
Should we expect any new Realtime material?
Real-time is on hold for the moment. I’ve found a place for releasing my music confined to a small group of established Labels I’m happy with.
Do you stick to the gear that you have and learn it inside out or do you like to change things up? Any new additions?
Frustratingly my workflow is changing all the time. I’ve gone from hardware to software and back and forth several times. With software, I’m the same from Cubase to Logic and Abelton. I’ve settled down with Logic and Abelton using Native instruments and Arturia Plugins.
You have just mixed the first in the Terminal V podcast series, tell us a bit about the mix?
I used my son Jack’s Pioneer XDJRR and basically started with a BPM of 130. For the first time, I searched tunes via the BPM rather than create a playlist. I just wanted to put together something with energy relying on the groove throughout rather than big drops and snare rolls every 5 mins.
Did you have a firm idea of what you wanted to do with the mix or is this fairly off the cuff?
100% off the cuff I’ve created playlist in the past and it feels strange. Like having records in your box unable to play in a certain order. I prefer to play like this especially on CDJ’s.
Would you say this is your style of performing or do usually go in with a game plan in mind?
If I’m playing live there’s a lot of preparation and a game plan although even then you have to be flexible and open minded and go with the flow.
You have been an integral part of the Terminal V events what do you think makes them so special?
Firstly, the organisers, they are like one big family and we’ve become good friends. I’ve watched Terminal V grow since the beginning and although it was tough in the early days they kept focused on the long-term vision with a dedication and passion that just seems natural to them. Secondly not only have they brought to Edinburgh some of the original innovators of Techno and House they continue to showcase new and emerging talent while supporting a wide variety of local artists at every event. Long may it continue
Interview by Stu Todd