electronic directory

a young persons guide to electronic music

dj bone interview

leave a comment

DJ Bone Biography

DJ Bone is one of Detroit’s most coveted underground vinyl technicians. This very talented and highly sought after Artist plays events and clubs worldwide, has held a residency position at four of Detroit’s top clubs and produces music inspired by the city in which he lives, Detroit. His record labels Subject Detroit and Encounter are futuristic and unearthly while still displaying the true essence of Detroit’s Techno Soul.

Bone experienced the emotion, passion and energy of Detroit Techno first hand at the infamous Music Institute. What he witnessed there, along with the eclectic mix of music filling Detroit’s airwaves by the legendary Electrifyin’ Mojo and The Wizard, along with Detroit’s industrial backdrop, would serve to be Bone’s main influences.

Bone began his DJ career spinning groundbreaking sets weekly at The Love Club (The Shelter). From there he gained a dedicated following which eventually led to him playing at three different clubs five nights a week as well as several underground parties in Detroit. An invitation to provide fortnightly, live mixes for the Deep Space Radio show on 107.5 in Detroit was also extended.

After hearing Bone in Detroit (1996 Love Club Anniversary Party) Laurent Garnier booked him to headline at the Rex Club in Paris. Soon after word spread and Bone was invited to play events all over Europe. He gained momentum and began performing in locations such as Tokyo, Slovenia, and Mexico to name a few.

Observing a lack of electronic music, which fit his style, led Bone to produce his own original songs to incorporate into his funky and eclectic sets. He took it a step further and started his labels Subject Detroit and Encounter focusing on true Sonic Soul.

In late 1997, Bone began his residency at the Motor Lounge in Hamtramck (bordering Detroit on all sides) pioneering an underground Detroit Techno night. Within a month, the number of Bone’s weekly session attendees topped 1,000 as well as tens of thousands of others tuning in to his live set broadcast on the radio every Friday from midnight until 2 am (87.9 FM). Always looking to expand minds and move bodies, Bone took on the challenge avoided by so many DJ’s before him familiar with Detroit by name only. For nearly three years, he amazed his crowds, which included out-of-towners from as far as Japan and Australia alongside his Detroit faithful. Unfortunately, due to Motor’s attempt to exploit what Bone had founded and loved, he decided to depart from the club and his residency.

Bone also has performed during concept car shows at the North American International Auto Show (twice), the Cadillac Concept car unveiling in Geneva, Switzerland the 2000-2002 DEMF, fashion events and was asked to serve as a Board Member for the 2002 DEMF.

Observing the trend of producers being booked to spin as opposed to actual DJ’s fueled Bone to go against the grain and establish himself as a DJ primarily. He believes that an individual’s talent should speak for it and not be overshadowed or misconstrued by hype.

Bone is currently focussing his attention on his record labels (Subject Detroit and Encounter), concentrating on pushing the imaginations of those who live for a true underground vibe.

Interview with DJ Bone by Kazuumi Ishii

When you started getting into music you were listening to The Electrifying Mojo/Jeff "The Wizard" Mills on the radio. Now you are playing with people like Jeff Mills, was that just a huge thrill ?

I was influenced by both of them as a teenager. I also had some of my own DJ sets featured on Deep Space Radio with Juan, Kevin and Eddie.

The Wizard was one of my many influences (along with Claude Young) and alot of people believe he is the best Techno DJ so I’ve always wanted the opportunity to play right before or after him at an event. What truly excited me is being able to display my Detroit reality to those same crowds around the world.

You used to be a resident at the Love Club. And how did you get the residency ?

I used to make mixtapes in my basement and sell them to friends. One of my friends, Thomas Barnett heard that the promoter of The love Club was looking for a resident so Thomas gave him one of my tapes. After listening to it the promoter called me and offered me a residency on Friday nights. This was my first residency.

You don’t generally use any software or new technology when you are performing – only vinyl. Would you ever consider using anything and if so, what ?

When it comes to DJing I’m strictly vinyl. In my opinion technology or software does not make the DJ any funkier than they would be without it. Most Djing technology still can’t do what many battle DJs were able to do with vinyl 15 years ago.

DJing is an artform to me and I think too much technology damages that. I refuse to become a human jukebox that only pushes buttons, clicks a mouse or twists knobs. The people deserve better than that. I appreciate and respect when there is a certain level of difficulty involved. For me this seperates those skillful enough to manipulate vinyl without trainwrecking and skipping from the rest of the pack.

Technology certainly makes things easier but not necessarily better or funkier.

You’re DJing constantly – how often do you experience magical truly memorable gigs, do you believe in higher powers and magic ?

Those magical nights are VERY rare ! I love when they happen but it’s not often. I try to make every time I play a special moment for everyone there. If they are open to new things and trust me (and the promoters that booked me) then magic can happen.

I used to experience this EVERY Friday night at The Love Club in Detroit and on a few occassions at MOTOR too where the crowd would become one and the vibe was so thick ! There were also quite a few underground parties in Detroit and Chicago that blew me away.

As far as higher powers go – I believe in GOD and I always meditate before every gig.

Were you technically a brilliant DJ when you started playing in public ?

Brilliant is a strong word. I always thought that I was good. Every time I played, it came from my soul and sometimes that would just transcend everything else going on around me. I was nervous my first few times in public but I can say I definitely had skills ! I used to practice mixing records at home the same way some people practice martial arts, with endless spirit and intensity. After my first couple of gigs in public it was like second nature to me. I sometimes I feel that DJing is in my blood…or part of my DNA.

On production front, I know you’re currently running three different labels, Subject Detroit, Encounter and Info. Can you tell us the concept of each label, differences as well as your strategies behind each of them ?

Subject Detroit started in 1996 as a one release experiment. I had grown tired of buying records from labels that seemed to just be copying Detroit so I decided it was time to do something about it. My idea was to release a 4-track EP without my name on it to see if people would pay attention to the music or the "image" of the label and producer. It was received very well and sold alot of copies. This let me know there were still true Techno fans out there….now all I had to do was make more music ! I placed the label on hiatus until I re-launched it in 2002.

Subject Detroit is special, it encompasses my history of growing up in Detroit along with the vibe of the city and it continuosly updates that vibe and sound. For me this label releases music that feels and sounds like a soundtrack for the city of Detroit.

Enounter is my second label. This label deals with extra-terrestrial matters and their proggression. Each release deals with different levels of encounters, for example: sightings, communication, abduction, hybridization, etc. Personal experiences have made me a true believer that extra terrestrial life exists and Encounter is my outlet for the musical ideas that I generate from my experiences.

INFO is my third label. This is my soul/hip-hop label. I truly think that electronic music, when used correctly, can be merged with soul and hip-hop resulting in a uniquely funky sound. I have many brothers and friends in Detroit that make music which is very futuristic on that level but they had no options for releasing their material. Now they do.

In the past couple of years your original productions have all been released through your own label Subject Detroit. Is this because your finding your music veering further away from what might be considered the norm ?

Mainly it’s because I think I have a unique vibe in my music. Each song I make tends to have a life of it’s own, full of emotion. Releasing my own works on my own label makes sense to me since I don’t think that my emotion or spirit would translate very well on other labels. Also, as a true independent I own all of my music. I’ll never have to buy my own publishing back or worry about what another label is doing with my songs. I can be as creative as I want to be and my possibilities are endless.

"Out Of Knowhere" is your first artist album, where did you start ?

It all started on the Westside of Detroit. I wanted to create something from my soul that would be as timeless as possible, something that could defy the boundaries of genres but still work as a whole… A sonic story that would help the listener visualise each moment in sound.

How did you approach making the album, as opposed to doing single tracks ?

It took me several years to create this album. Flow is important to me and it has always been difficult for me to just make a song on command so I hade to create a studio situation that allowed me to basically create the moment I was inspired. Different situations or conditions would affect what I made musically and I wanted to capture that.

Every song depended on my neighborhood….my city. Whether it was the gunshots that inspired "Beauty in Decay" and "Bodybags" or the haters and everyday dangers that inspired "Change" I made sure that my music reflected me and my surroundings 100%. That’s Detroit……..

Dance music is still very fast moving, did you find yourself reworking the older tracks as you came close to finishing ?

Some of the songs are 5 years old but surprisingly I didn’t have to rework anything. The only major thing I had to do was edit a few of the longer songs (the original Beauty in Decay is 45 minutes long) so they would fit onto the album. I knew if I stayed true to myself and created songs that would be difficult to categorize or be considered trendy then time wouldn’t be a factor.

Whether you are looking for new releases for your labels or artists to collaborate with on productions what draws you to certain producers ?

The producers that interest me are the ones who defy the norm, avoid trends and are naturally funky. I need to feel a song in order for it to be considered for Subject Detroit. I want to work with new people…with outrageous ideas and their own vibe, not imitators ! I don’t want some guy who "studied" Detroit or copied someone else’s style.

Subject Detroit is not about sounding like anyone else, it’s not for fitting-in or ripping people off either. Subject Detroit is a label for innovation, dedication, spirit and unique vibes. If I hear a demo that sounds like someone else I toss it away immediately !

Are you interested in releasing DVD stuff ? If yes, what kind of things do you want to try ? Like DVD mix CD like Jeff Mills’ Exhibitionist or maybe collaboration with short films ?

All I can say is I have a few DVD and multimedia projects in the works. I had a couple of great ideas stolen over the years by people I trusted so I don’t mention things much anymore. You’ll see when they come out.

Do you think the whole scene is still going too much commercial, or has it returned to how it should be, like more underground and experimental ?

Man…….this is a difficult one to answer calmly. I think the scene has already reached the peak of commercialism and is being so heavily exploited that it can’t get any worse ! All that this has done is produced more average music and DJs, taken away from the vibe and put tons of money into greedy pockets.

What’s happening now is more people and more companies are trying to use hype, branding and marketing campaigns to make artists, clubs and labels famous. I think FAME IS A DRUG ! Alot of people’s priorities are out of order now and the soul, spirit and music have been pushed to the back. Talent and skill don’t matter as much anymore…and that’s a tragedy.

That’s why I felt the need to release my album now. To remind people that it’s not all business, that the music still matters and should be the #1 priority. All aspects of true underground cultures and attitudes are fading fast and someone has to take a stand and speak out !

Most of our innovators and Rebels seemed to have vanished or become lazy. Creativity is somewhat discouraged and technology has given birth to a new type of "producer" that is more scientist than artist. I don’t see the art in copying what everyone else is doing. Studying another persons style and imitating it doesn’t make you that person, it makes you a cheap imitation of that person. That’s why I call people like that scientists, because they’re just plugging data into a pre-existing formula. There’s nothing experimental about that.

There are still a few producers that continue to push things forward but we need more. Hopefully OUT OF KNOWHERE can spark some change.

What is your general impression about Japanese techno scene ?

Respectfully, I think that the Japanese Techno scene has been hindered by the same things that plague the rest of the worlds Techno scenes. Hype has changed things to a more commercial atmosphere, but I know there is still a strong underground force in Japan that will help make change ! The people deserve skilled DJs and quality music not just the latest magazine hero. Stand-up Japan UNDERGROUND ! I feel you !

So many art forms have evolved because of surrounding circumstances – political unrest or injustice. The struggle has been a huge aspect of the evolution of American jazz music. Charles Mingus had said: "Had I been born in a different country or had I been born white, I am sure I would have expressed my ideas long ago. Maybe they wouldn’t have been as good because when people are born free – I can’t imagine it, but I’ve got a feeling that if it’s so easy for you, the struggle and the initiative are not as strong as they are for a person who has to struggle and therefore has more to say." Do you agree with this statement that struggle creates stronger or more influential art, etc ?

I think it’s very true, whether it’s a struggle with one’s self or their environment, struggle usually breeds stronger, more genuine art. Just think about all of the best artists (not necessarily famous), most had hardships, many were thought to be insane because of they way they acted due to their environment. I think their surroundings created that artist inside of them. The natural talent was there from birth but their distinct creativity came from the influence of their environment.

Do you have any messages to Japanese fans ?

YES !!! Being independent and underground is what made me who I am today. I don’t have publicists, managers, agents, magazine covers or major distribution in chain stores but I still go toe to toe with the "big name" DJs out there. I owe it to my fans and to myself.

I want tell all of your readers that my debut album OUT OF KNOWHERE will be available in July ! You can go to www.subjectdetroit.com to reserve your signed copy. I have arranged for free shipping of the CD to Japan !!! SHIPPING IS INCLUDED ! I am also signing every copy and including an exclusive gift ! Hopefully this will be an incentive for the underground of Japan to represent. Also coming soon…www.subjectdetroit.jp

Many thanks to Kazuumi, Electronic Directory and JAPAN for your respect and support.

DJ Bone Discography

own releases

as DJ Bone

  • Electronic Birth EP, 12"
    Molecular
  • Riding The Thin Line, 12"
    Metroplex (1999)
  • Encounter 1, 12"
    Encounter (2004)
  • Longevity EP One, 10"
    Subject Detroit (2004)
  • Longevity EP Two, 10"
    Subject Detroit (2004)
  • Physics, 12"
    Subject Detroit (2004)
  • R.I.D.E., 12"
    Subject Detroit (2004)
  • Ship Life, 12"
    Subject Detroit (2004)
  • Body Bags, 12"
    Subject Detroit (2005)
  • Longevity EP Three, 10"
    Subject Detroit (2005)
  • Modern Melodies, 12"
    Subject Detroit (2005)
  • No More Heroes / Music, 7"
    Subject Detroit (2005)
  • Whatubelieve EP, 12"
    D1 (2005)
  • Bridge The Gap, 12"
    Subject Detroit (2006)
  • Struggle – The Intricacies Of Simplicity, 12"
    Subject Detroit (2006)
  • Longevity EP Four, 10"
    Subject Detroit (2007)
  • Transcend EP, 12"
    Subject Detroit (2007)
  • Change, 12"
    Subject Detroit (2007)
  • Thursday Night / Music (in Japanese) feat. Taka, 7"
    Subject Detroit (2007)

as Subject No. 001

  • Unleashed EP, 12"
    Subject Detroit (1998)

compilations

  • Live In Detroit 1995, CD
    Subject Detroit
  • Birthday Party (Live @ Motor), CD
    Subject Detroit
  • Subject Detroit Volume 2, CD
    Eukatech (2000)
  • Parts Unknown Subject Detroit Volume 3, CD
    Subject Detroit (2005)

remixes

  • Bolz Bolz – Take A Walk (DJ Bone’s Subject Z mix)
    Take A Walk, Longhaul (2001)
  • Stephen Brown – Sonic Soul (DJ Bone mix)
    Sonic Soul, New Level (2006)

Subject Detroit Discography

  • Subject No. 001 – Unleashed EP, 12"
    SUB-001 (1998)
  • DJ Bone – R.I.D.E., 12"
    SUB-002 (2004)
  • DJ Bone – Ship Life, 12"
    SUB-003 (2004)
  • DJ Bone – Physics, 12"
    SUB-004 (2004)
  • Juan Atkins – Futurepast EP, 12"
    SUB-005 (2004)
  • DJ Lhoie – Sonic Assault EP, 12"
    SUB-006 (2004)
  • DJ Bone – Longevity EP One, 10"
    SUB-007 (2004)
  • DJ Bone – Longevity EP Two, 10"
    SUB-008 (2004)
  • DJ Bone – Body Bags, 12"
    SUB-009 (2005)
  • DJ Bone – Modern Melodies, 12"
    SUB-010 (2005)
  • DJ Bone – Longevity EP Three, 10"
    SUB-011 (2005)
  • Aaron-Carl – Tears, 12"
    SUB-012 (2006)
  • Stephen Brown – Subject Scotland, 12"
    SUB-014 (2006)
  • DJ Bone – Struggle – The Intricacies Of Simplicity, 12"
    SUB-015 (2006)
  • DJ Bone – Bridge The Gap, 12"
    SUB-016 (2006)
  • DJ Bone – Longevity EP Four, 10"
    SUB-017 (2007)
  • DJ Bone – Transcend EP, 12"
    SUB-018 (2007)
  • Rennie Foster – Subject Tokyo Part 1, 12"
    SUB-019 (2007)
  • DJ Bone – Change, 12"
    SUB-020 (2007)
  • Crudo – Subject Holland, 12"
    SUB-021 (2007)
  • DJ Bone – No More Heroes / Music, 7"
    SUBX-01 (2005)
  • DJ Bone – Thursday Night / Music (in Japanese) feat. Taka, 7"
    SUBX-02 (2007)
  • DJ Bone – Live In Detroit 1995, CD
    SUBCD 1000
  • DJ Bone – Birthday Party (Live @ Motor), CD
    SUBCD 1001
  • DJ Bone – Parts Unknown Subject Detroit Volume 3, CD
    SUBCD 1003 (2005)

Encounter Discography

  • DJ Bone – Encounter 1, 12"
    NCTR 1 (2004)

Upcoming

own releases

Out Of Knowhere [Subject Detroit]

Related Links

Written by Kazuumi

June 11th, 2007 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Features

Tagged with ,

Leave a Reply