Thereís always been a cloud of mystery that surrounds Drexciya. In fact, very little is known about the people involved with the music. Those who know, know. Those of us who donít, donít, and we go on keeping it that way. What we do know is that their home base is situated somewhere in Detroit. We also know that there are at least two members, but there have been stories of other people being involved with Drexciya throughout different periods of time. Rumors float about the underground community that members of Dopplereffekt and Japanese Telecomm are also a part of Drexciya. But what we truly know is that Drexciya makes underground music the way they want, how they want and above all, music that remains pure and timeless. Pop on a Drexciya release from yesteryear and itíll still sound as if itís from tomorrow. Fact or fiction, you decide. These are questions that will remain unanswered. Itís the undergroundís best kept secret, and as a DJ and electronic music aficionado, Iíd like to leave the mystique and stories the way they are. After all, itís about the music.
Formed in 1991, Drexciya has been recording since 1993 and continues to make sub-aquatic deep techno rhythms to this very day. I like to call it hi-tech funk. Popping up here and there, I learn that this is the true definition of a wave jumper. You never know what to expect with Drexciya. An unannounced single here, an album there, and perhaps one day, a full blown live performance. Along with the music there is the fantasy. Stories that take your mind off of the daily grind and make you think a bit deeper. There is often talk about far off places like the Red Hills of Lardossa, Positron Island, Neon Falls, dominated by images of Drexciyan warriors, Darthouven Fishmen and Mutant Gillmen. These are just some of the tales behind the music. We say that theyíre stories or made up sci-fi tales, but who knows. Could it be real? Weíll never know.
The year 2000 through 2002 has been a very busy one for Drexciya. Their latest album, "Harnessed the Storm" , released on Berlinís seminal Tresor label is their first in just over two years. They also popped up on Warp Recordings as The Other People Place and around the same time, surfaced as Transllusion on Tresor off-shoot label Supremat. Each album focusing on different themes, we learn in this interview that there is much more to come. In fact, a total of seven new albums.
I recently had the scarce opportunity to speak with one of the members of Drexciya. His name, I wonít reveal. Iíve taken a personal oath with the underground to never reveal that information. Besides, I donít need Drexciyan warriors or Mutant Gillman hunting my ass down. Surfacing from the depths of the underground every so often to rarely do interviews, we talk about the new album, whatís to come in the future, the fate of techno and much more. We hope you enjoyÖ
Well, the basic idea is just to be spontaneous. Just being spontaneous, whatever comes comes. Go with the flow. Basically just load up the equipment and start working, and whichever way you go thatís where we end up and make it happen. Thereís nothing thatís planned, thereís no set course. So the mystery of the unknown is really what makes us tick. The curiosity of not knowing where weíre going to end up at once this track is done, or when this album is done, and so forth and so on. We never plan our course on where weíre going with a particular project. Itís mainly the unknown is what makes us tick. Itís like living on the edge.
FUTUREBPM: Youíve always done things your own way. You donít follow the so-called traditional "rules" of the industry. You release music when you feel like it. Like you said, with no planning. Your releases are done the way you want them to be. This is proof that the war without weapons is succeeding. How do you do it?
The way you do it is believe in what you do. You really have to have big kahunas, and you got to understand and weigh out the pros and cons. A lot of things youíre going to lose, youíre going to lose a lot of perks and a lot of things by doing it like this. Itís up to you if youíre willing to sacrifice these things or not. If youíre not willing to sacrifice it, then youíre not going to be able to do these things that we do and how weíre not signed to a label and we basically jump to wherever we want to go. Even if we deal with a major or whatever, conditions still have to be right on our terms on when we want to do things, because if theyíre not then itís not going to come out right. Iíll be damned if I do that. So, thatís basically the way it goes.
FUTUREBPM: And on that same note, a lot of people today argue that signing up with a major label is the way to go and further argue that it exposes the music to larger audience. Drexciya has done neither of that and youíve released music on leading underground labels like Underground Resistance, Tresor, and a handful of other independents like Warp, Rephlex and Shockwave. At the same time, your music is known all across the globe in the underground community without the help of any major label. Is this your way of saying that it can all be done without the big money and "selling out" for lack of a better word.
First things first, weíll go backwards with this. I donít really call it selling out. Itís a personal choice, because different people have different ways of producing music, doing business, the way they have their visions and concepts, if they have a concept. Some people need to be taken under somebodyís wing to where they need a record company to give them a team of people to help them with their concepts, to show them where to go, and what to do and so forth and so on. Theyíre just a worker and they do it. Then you have those who are leaders. Itís kind of hard for leaders to deal with record companies because record companies want to do everything for you. They tell you how to dress, how to walk, how to talk and they take you to different places and you just work. But if youíre a leader, you canít work under those kind of conditions, unless you find a label thatís going to work with you. As far selling out, I donít think itís selling out. Itís just their personal choice, and if this is something that they can deal with, then fine. Like I said, even with that, youíre going to give up something. You just might lose the creative edge of the music, if you came out a certain way, you just might lose it because they might want you to change it. Itís up to you if youíre going to say yes or no. Now, as far as dealing with a lot of different companies, that is a good way of saying that you donít need the majors to do this. Itís getting back to the point that I said from day one. Itís not about the me, itís not about the record companies, itís about the music. The music is the reason why so many people in the underground have latched onto Drexciya, because itís the music and what it says. And thatís the thing about a major, if they want a piece of this and they really want the true underground, then theyíre going to have to back off and deal with the ones who are the leaders and let them do their thing. Just put the money behind them and get it there, but you canít change the idea. You canít change the focus of it. So thereís no problem with having 2 to 3 million people into your music. Just donít change it. Donít change what youíre all about, and so forth and so on. There are certain principles. The one thing, you have to cut out, is you canít be on TV. Thatís one thing as far as Iím concerned. Doing interviews and so forth and so on, thereís nothing wrong with it, because you have to have some kind of information for people to understand and keep them abreast at whatís going on. Thatís the reason why Iím doing interviews at this particular time, because thereís a lot of information that people need to know, and after this, there will be nothing else to say.
FUTUREBPM: Itís been close to three years since you released your last LP. You sporadically release music, but the 2001 / 2002 time frame, we saw some other releases involved with Drexciya, such as Transllusion and The Other People Place. Were those projects you were involved in?
Those two particular records, those two groups, are a part of storms of "Harnessed the Storm" Drexciya LP. All together there are seven LPs, which I call storms. So far you have The Other People Place, Transllusion, and you have Drexciyaís "Harnessed The Storm", which is the first one. Thereís no particular order that theyíre going to be released in. The records are already done. Right now, storm number four is due up next to blow up off the coast of Portugal, which means thatís another record label Iím dealing with. There are certain reasons why I deal with certain record labels, because I want to see whatís going to happen, or whatever. In other words, all the record labels that I dealt with had different strengths and thereís a particular reason why I deal with them. After that, thereís going to be three more storms. Theyíre already ready and theyíre just waiting to come down the line.
FUTUREBPM: In regard to these different storms and reading the song titles and such, Transllusion appears to focus more on the inner mind and human feeling, where as the Other People Place seems to focus on more human elements by exploring love and romance. How does this all tie into Drexciya?
Weíre going all over the place, weíre hitting everything. You know Drexciya, we give you a 360 degree angle of everything and thatís the reason why we did this. Each (LP) one is totally different. Thereís a lot of different angles to this. We want you to feel each and every one of these angles. Itís a variety show, in other words. Theyíre all linked, but there are very small, little links that you have to really listen to and even look at the titles or artwork thatís going to lead you to the next one and so forth and so on and you will see the cycle and the connection. Basically what this is, getting back to the record label thing, is that our production company, Dimensional Ways, which we go out and license our material to different record labels and different places. Thatís the way we want to do things, instead of being signed to just one. Thatís what fits our business needs. Being signed to someone would not be suitable for us, so we designed something here thatís kind of unique and not everyone can follow this logic, or not agree with what we do, and so on and so forth. Theyíll say that we take music and give it to everyone else around the world. Thatís doesnít matter. As long as the people who listen to these records are satisfied, thatís all that matters. I donít care whoís getting rich off of this money, because thatís not what Iím all about. If Iím not making myself rich, why should I make somebody else rich? Iím spreading the wealth around the world, and as long as the people keep getting the quality music that theyíre receiving, thatís all that matters to me. And so far, itís working and Iím happy. Extremely happy, because the people are happy. If the people are not happy, Iím not happy, something has to be done.
FUTUREBPM: The title of the new album, "Harnessed the Storm" is a bit different for a Drexciya album. Other titles make reference to certain places, voyages, and especially water. This title seems to be more turbulent with an element of chaos involved. Does this relate to the music directly on the album.
It relates to this whole situation directly with the seven storms that are brewing. It took a whole year to put together these seven albums. It was very, very violent and very chaotic in a lot of different ways. Ups and downs. If youíre in the middle of a storm, you have your ups and downs. You have all the elements that there are on this planet that exist in a storm, from water to air, fire, electricity. You might have a cow or a truck mixed up in there too. Those are the images that we perceived when we made the music and thatís how the concepts come about. To answer your question, it had a lot to do with the album and everything going on around us was very turbulent.
FUTUREBPM: Techno has been known as a faceless, nameless music but with Drexciya and its side projects, you have taken this concept to another level, creating a mysterious aura behind the artists involved. Is this just an extreme emphasis on the concept "itís all about the music", or is there much more to it?
Thatís exactly what it is. We basically want to put all the energy into the music and concepts, and thatís more fun that just focusing on the artist or record label. We have concepts that you can actually think about and there might be a mystery there, or it might not be a mystery. It just might be fun to get into the concept and it makes you think a little deeper about things in your own life. To me, it makes the music exciting. Without it, it would be very dull. It would be faceless and nameless, and itís here today and gone tomorrow. We try and make it a little more interesting so if itís going to be around a long time and if you come back twenty-years down the line and play it for somebody else, you can tell a story behind the music. It has a reason to exist, a purpose. It lives, it breathes, you can smell it, and you can taste it. Itís not like fast-food, this is a home cooked meal, a full-course. This is very, very important to us. And thatís why sometimes we back away from things and take time, and we might be away for a year or so.
FUTUREBPM: And the word techno is so misused and bastardized today. From the commercial dance music you hear on the radio to the harsh, minimal rhythms, people call it techno. To you, what defines techno?
Techno is just basically all electronic music in general. Thatís the way I see it. But the thing is, like we were saying with major record labels, with them trying to get into electronic dance music or "techno", they wouldnít do it their [the artistís] way. They take out what they want, put the rest of it in the garbage, and then they put out garbage because itís half done. As far as techno goes, you have to put it next to the word Ďelectronic musicí, because right now there are so many different categories and so many different people doing it and people calling it this or that, it kind of lost itís original element. Back in the day there were maybe two or three different styles, that doesnít exist anymore. Now itís just a generic name and generic title. Everybody has to just go under the title "techno" and "electronic music". It really has no definition to me any more, and thatís the reason why we do what we do and just make music. Itís sad to say, but thatís just the reality of it.
FUTUREBPM: And your music, there really is no category. Itís this high-tech electro-techno funk unlike anything out there today, but at the same time, there are things I sometimes hear in music today and recognize a bit of Drexciya in it. Just when we think we have it all figured out and can pinpoint the sound of Drexciya, you throw a musical curveball and evolve the sound. Do you think itís important to evolve, or just stick to what you know?
Oh man, you definitely have to go forward. Just like time goes forward, and just like the Earth turns and the landscape changes, you have to change as the people change. If you stay with the same thing, you will become dated. And if you become dated, then you are in trouble. Youíre going to be behind. If youíre going to be staying at the forefront of the cutting edge and be a leader, you have to lead and cut a path. Sometimes you might hit a brick wall, but youíre going to have to find a way to go around the brick wall, over it, or go through it. You have to have a lot of heart, a lot of guts and be willing to make a lot of sacrifices.
FUTUREBPM: Some people unfortunately donít, and they get stuck. Kind of like the dinosaursÖ
Yes (laughs)Öit happens. It really goes back to the beginning. What is your purpose. Why are you making music? Do you love this, or are you here for the perks, which is money, fame, glory, jet-setting around the world, having people tell you youíre the greatest and so on. Or, are you doing this because you love the music? And if you love the music, then youíll be one of those people who will be a leader and be here a long time and will change things. Nobody says you have to 100% change your style. For example, the 808. Iím pretty sure weíll still use the 808 in the future sometimes. Thereís nothing wrong with that, but thatís what we do. But like you said, Iíll throw you a little curveball to keep you in your Pís and Qís, and thereís nothing wrong with change-ups, and thatís the one thing I really like. Iíll give you some stuff, but youíll never see it coming. Just like the seven albums here. Youíll be very surprised and shocked with the difference between the Other People Place, Transllusion, Drexciya and the next one thatís coming up. Thereís going to be quite a few differences in there. You have to have thatÖitís very, very important.
FUTUREBPM: You talk a lot about places like Lardossa, The Red Hills and even ventured into Neptuneís Lair. What are these places like? Can we ever have places like this in todayís society.
Nope. Sorry. This point is going to have to be rearranged. In other words, what Iím trying to say, is thereís going to have to be a great flood again and destroy everything and restart. Somebody has to hit the restart button because, right now, I donít think so. Somebodyís opened up Pandoraís Box and all hell is breaking loose. Thatís why Iím pushing the gas and Iím putting out more stuff. The kind of images with Drexciya and stuff, Iím taking people away from here. I feel like Noahís Ark, Iím loading up the Drexciyan-Ark and taking your mind on a trip away from here for a little while.
FUTUREBPM: In your travels, who would you say is the most receptive to the music of Drexciya? Is it a particular place?
I havenít been anywhere.
FUTUREBPM: AhÖso you havenít taken Drexciya on the road with a live performance yet?
No, I havenít left here yet. I havenít left the country yet. I have too much work to do here. Iím getting to the point to where the calls are starting to come to me to do the performances, but itís not there yet. One of the main things that makes me tick is how I feel, I go on vibes. I listen to that inner voice that tells me what to do and I do it. One of the things that my inner voice told me a long time ago was to stay home. Donít go anywhere; you have lots of work to do here. Focus on what youíre doing, master what you do. Donít half-ass do this. And Iím pretty sure you see this in the music and the concepts that I work very hard and focus solely on this. That calling is starting to come around, so I think I might get geared up for that and do little spots here and there. I will never do a major tour with twenty shows and go around the world on a full-blown world tour. I will never do that. The way I will do it is like I do with these record labels and my business, which is wave jumping. If you go back to the record "Wave Jumper", what that really was is how we do business with Dimensional Ways, which is we pop up in different spots in around the world and do releases. Thatís the true definition of what a wave jumper is. We just pop up somewhere and there it is. Weíre here for a second and then weíre gone. Basically the same thing will apply to a tour. Weíll pop up somewhere, unannounced, you will never see it coming and then weíre gone. You know sometimes how they do underground parties, where they tell you like a day before or only a couple of hours before the party goes on theyíll tell you where itís at? Weíll probably do that. Itíll be like 20 minutes before a show. Drexciya live, in Japan somewhere, down in a sea-port or submarine park downtownÖthatís how it would be.
FUTUREBPM: What musically influenced the sounds of Drexciya and sparked the whole idea?
It all comes from within. I shut myself down from all other kinds of music and musicians, everything. I solely rely on internal knowledge. Whatever we come up with, we come up with. Thatís the way we have to have it. Thatís why I donít go to parties. Thatís why I donít listen to the radio when Iím producing, thatís why I donít listen to mix-tapes, thatís why I donít listen to other records. I donít talk to anybody else because I donít want anyone elseís ideas or vibes when Iím in production. It has to be 100%, it has to be pure, it has to come straight from us. I love techno, I love electronic music, I love my friends. At certain times I have to take care of business and shut everyone out.
FUTUREBPM: Understandable. Water is the most important and powerful element on Earth. When I look deeper, I find it brilliant how water is tied in with your music. The water is feeding the music, making it so powerful and water seems to central to Drexciyan philosophy. Thereís some deep stuff there.
Right. But you got to think, thereís more than just power there. Thereís a lot of elegance, creativity and innovation that comes with water. Donít they say we came from out of the ocean, or something like that? Thereís a lot of things that go on in the ocean now. Thereís a lot of undiscovered territories, uncharted areas and stuff like that. I adopted the same way that you view the waters, with the depths, creatures, and undiscovered territories, itís the same way I see the music. Thatís the way I like to approach it, because I want it to be endless. I want it to be as innovative as it can possibly be. I want it to be the most creative. I want it to be that spark of life for whatever I do, so thatís the reason I adopted the whole background and whole theme of water, for itís longevity. Water was here at the beginning before we existed and water will be here when we go away. Itís beautiful. Think about this. Do you know of anyone who can create water? What is this stuff? How can you make water, if it doesnít already exist? Sure you have molecules and all that stuff, but outside this planet, how can you make more water than thatís already here? If you have Lake Michigan, how can you produce the equivalent of Lake Michigan water, without taking it from some other place on the planet, how can you create that in a lab? Because if they can do that, donít you think weíd all be drinking fresh water instead of contaminated water? They would have dumped all this water on this planet and made fresh water in areas that are needed? Donít you think if they can actually do that they would do it? What Iím saying is water is a very interesting, very marvelous element that people take for granted. Once it goes, youíre done. Air is very important too, but waterÖyouíre done. Your body, is like 80% composed of water. Without it, youíre done.
FUTUREBPM: Powerful stuff. In relation to Detroit, what is the scene like there these days? How does Drexciya fit in with the city.
I donít know. I havenít been around anyone, so I donít know. Technically, I never based Drexciya off of Detroit. I just happen to live here. What if I lived in Alaska for the past 5 or 10 years? My music would still be produced the same way that I am doing here. People would still be thinking itís a Detroit sound, but if Iíve been living in Alaska for 10 years how can one say that? Iím sad to say, but I havenít based the foundation and concept of Drexciya around Detroit and the things that go on in Detroit. I shelter myself away from the stuff that goes on in Detroit. Like I said earlier, I shut myself down and stay away from everybody because I donít want any outside elements creeping itself into the music. Back in the day when I did some of those records with some of the guys, yeah, that was done for a specific reason. But that was then. But the overall beginning and the whole nine-yards of what weíre all about has nothing to do with Detroit, it has to do with Drexciya. Drexciya is a whole different plane of reality and I donít like to inter-tangle it, because within the next month or so weíre relocating offices down to Atlanta. Are people going to still be calling it Detroit techno? Iím not going to tell anybody Iím in Atlanta, but are they still going to be calling it that? Probably nine times out of ten, yes. If thatís the stigma thatís on it, Iím not going to change it. I was born and raised here in Detroit. Whatever people want to think, I let them think that. I believe in a free thought, a free mind. If you want to call it electro, techno or space music, thatís up to you. Iím not going to correct you. Iíll point you in the right direction and say weíre going this way, and Iíll let you take it from there. Thatís the fun of it.
FUTUREBPM: What can we expect from Drexciya in the future, first the seven new stormsÖ
Yes, within the course of the full year they will be released. The next one thatís coming out is called Abstract Thoughts, which should be out in the next month or two. The last three, Iíll keep those as a mystery. Iím pretty sure youíll catch up on that though with the little hints and such.
FUTUREBPM: Any last thoughts or comments that youíd like to tell the people out there?
YeahÖjust stay deep. Keep drinking from the pond. Keep drinking from the pond. Look in the mirror, do you see you or do you see me?
FUTUREBPM: Thank you for your time and sharing some insightÖ
No problem. Thank you.