075 – Delano Smith

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It’s not every week we add a name to the list of the calibre and renown of our next guest. Detroit house and techno may be most often linked nowadays with the likes of Derrick May, Theo Parrish and Moodymann. Delano Smith, however, is universally one of the most respected members of the Detroit movement by his peers, and one of the few remaining players who can say they were there when it all began, picking up the trade before house or techno even existed.

Delano has been a busy boy these last couple of years, first preparing his debut album An Odyssey for Sushitech, the Berlin based label he’s forged a powerful alliance with, then spending most of this year touring the LP around Europe and the world. He’s also a key member of the Secret family, regularly representing at the Secretsundaze parties around Europe.

For Australian fans, Delano is playing shows in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne this coming long weekend, which also marks his first time playing in the country. To celebrate we’re happy that he’s been able to supply us with episode 075 of the series, and take a few minutes to talk to us about it!

Where have we caught you? What have you been up to these last weeks?

Currently resting in Hamburg Germany. Had a show last night with the Smallville cats at a club called The Golden Pudel, awesome party!

After being a professional DJ for such a considerable portion of your life, being on the road and spending much of the summer away from Detroit in different cities around Europe week in week out, do you feel as though it has kind of become a second home to you now? Could you ever make the move full time?

Well, I wouldn’t call it a second home really as I’m not in one particular city for more than a day or two with the exception of Berlin. I still don’t know many people personally in Europe, and generally spend a lot of time alone working on music. I couldn’t see myself moving to Europe anytime soon as I’m more accustomed to the way I live back in Detroit. I have a pretty nice size home and a few cars and I wouldn’t be willing to give that up for a flat and taking the train [laughs]…there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that though, but I have a wife and family – and I’m certain the wife would not be up for moving to Europe right now, but nothings impossible.

Touching on your gigs in Europe, you’ve stated how much you enjoy playing to the more multi-cultural crowds that you get over there as you have more scope to play new sounds, and not just strictly Detroit gear which you are more or less expected to play at home. Generally speaking, do you find that being the Detroit house icon that you are, it actually comes with a lot of pressure to play a certain style of music?

I started DJing in Detroit very shortly after mixing or “blending” two records together became popular, before the inception of House and Techno and played to a primarily black audience. For the longest time before I started touring, many DJs in Detroit that cater to black audiences are confined to one particular style of EM. I’ve always embraced all types of EM but the soulful black audiences in Detroit are very particular.

Contrary to what the world may think, we generally cant get away with playing the likes of Omar S, Norm Talley or Kenny Larkin tracks unless the crowd is diverse or if it’s Movement weekend. The scene I came up with are much older now, and they like what they like. That’s why enjoy performing in Europe and to more diverse crowds. They come to hear you, your vision and interpretation. And that’s what it’s all about – playing from your heart.

You’ve toured off the back of your successful LP An Odyssey for much of the year, what has been the overall reaction to that record do you think? Is an album something you can see yourself committing to again anytime soon?

I worked very closely with Sushitech label boss Yossi Amoyal in selecting the tracks for An Odyssey – we both think that the album is very elegant in nature, I’m very pleased with the results and how it’s been received. I could definitely see a few more albums in the future. To me, an album is an expression. Being able to present various ideas and moods through an album can be hard to achieve, I’d like to think that we were successful in defining the sound and mood of An Odyssey. The overall reaction has been very positive, look – I’m talking with you now.. [laughs]

What can you tell us about the forthcoming Reconstructed releases with Carl Craig, Mike Huckaby, Tobias. and Makam each reconstructing tracks from An Odyssey for Sushitech? What involvement did you have in those records and how were those four artists decided upon?

Yossi and I chose the artists very carefully, it took a while to get Carl on board as he’s extremely busy, but we waited. The only involvement I had was sending the parts and samples to the producers and they worked their own magic – for which I’m very very pleased with the results! Definitely looking forward to the reactions once they are released.

Delano Smith – Midnight Hours (Reconstructed by Carl Craig)

What can you tell us about your live set? We know you were busy working on that at the beginning of the year.. Is that something you’re still refining? Have you played any shows as of yet?

I’ve done 3 Live shows so far and I’m looking to build upon that by working with more analog machines and professional musicians. I’d like to really build on the live aspect as I see it being a thing of the future – it’s nowhere near where I want it to be yet.

What can you tell us about this mix? How did you end up recording it and is there any major theme behind the mix?

When my agent Ben Start told me about the Melbourne Deepcast I was very curious to see what others had done on the site, so I listened to a few and really didn’t think about it again until he reminded me shortly before the deadline. I’d been playing peak time sets for weeks and just wanted a change when I performed the mix in my home. I was just back from a 2 week long tour of constant head banging…so this mix reflects a somewhat relaxed me…a little intimate if you will. I rarely get to play these types of sets nowadays.

What can we be expecting from you on the production front in the next few months, post the Reconstructed releases? We hear you may have been doing some collaborating, can you tell us when any of that material will be coming out?

I haven’t really finalized any collaborations yet – I have so much going on right now I’m just trying to keep up – I have a release scheduled on my own Mixmode imprint that Wordandsound will be distributing in Dec of this year, so I’m excited about that release as well as future projects I have planned with Sushitech. In 2013 I will be concentrating on my own label, as the album really dominated a lot of my time in 2011.

We are all pretty excited for your Aussie tour – which begins next week – from what we know it’s your first time playing in Australia, and possibly even your first visit? How long will you be here for and what are some things you’re hoping to get up to between gigs?

I’m excited too! It’ll be my first visit down-under and I’d like to see the Sydney Harbour and take some photos, the typical tourist thing. I hope there’s time for it though, the schedule’s quite hectic.

Finally, what else do you have coming up to round out the year that you’re able to tell us about?

I have a remixes on Bass Culture, More About Music and Sushitech that are just around the corner and of course more Mixmode tracks that I’m anxious to release during 2013. I plan to keep busy and ride the wave! Thanks guys!

1 Comment

  1. Ivan says:

    Great interview guys and thanks to Delano for a wicked set!

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