You might have heard of a little event called the Movement Electronic Festival that descends upon downtown Detroit’s Hart Plaza every Memorial Day weekend. This is year 10. The stage lineups feature more than 120 performances across six different stages inside Hart Plaza May 28-30. More than 111,000 people from around the world attended Movement in 2015, according to festival producer Paxahau.
Movement always feels like an embarrassment of riches, and this year’s lineup is exceptional.
On one hand, this year’s roster is a return to form, as there is much less in the way of novelty, compared to last year. You don’t see Skrillex, Snoop, or any Kardashian members on the list, while the only EDM performers hail from its most respectable realms. Movement X can easily be seen as a further expansion of the festival, as the cast of international and local performers veer from the experimental to the straight-ahead. Kraftwerk were amazing last year at the Masonic, and we can’t wait to see them again. But there is so much else this year. Big Freedia! Four Tet! The Saunderson Brothers! Matthew Dear! RZA with Stone Mecca! Modeselektor! Whew.
There are some stages and showcases that look so packed and well-curated it will be hard to tear yourselves away from them. Red Bull’s stage is packed with heavy-hitters from the critically acclaimed side of things (artists most likely to have been covered by Pitchfork — Freedia, RZA, Four Tet, Kyle Hall, Caribou, Get Real). And Movement’s main stage boasts one marquee name after another, from Digweed and Matador to Seth Troxler and Kraftwerk. There are some great-looking showcases, notably the “Acid” showcase at the Underground stage (Boys Noize, Tin Man, and DJ Piere), the “Detroit Love” showcase at Thump (La Fleur, Carl Craig, and Stacey Pullen), and of course this year’s Kevin Saunderson stage at Thump (“Kevin Saunderson presents Origins: Elevation” — with Guy Gerber, Delano Smith, and Bruce Bailey). Now is the time to gather. You must crack your glow sticks, get extra energized, don your finest dancing attire, and jump into your most comfortable shoes. And hey — don’t forget to hydrate.
Always refer to Movement’s website, at movement.us, to double check which stage, and what time, artists are set to perform. Last-minute changes have been known to occur.
The Movement Electronic Festival runs from Saturday, May 28-Monday, May 30; starts at noon each day; 1 Hart Plaza, Detroit; movement.us; general admission for one day is $85; general admission tickets for the weekend are $175; VIP weekend tickets are $300.
Here we have put together a list of both well-known musicians and artists who are more in the “bubbling under” category. These are just some of the shows that we are most excited about during this iteration of Movement. Why 27? That’s the shortest list we could compile, which is a great indicator of just how massively packed with talent Movement is at this point.
Since details for set times can change at the last minute, we’ve arranged this list alphabetically. Consult the inside pages of the issue if you’re looking at the print version, and always check Movement’s website at movement.us to double-check which stage and at what time the artist is set to perform.
New Orleans' undisputed queen of bounce always puts on a killer show. You have to be allergic to fun to not want to see her catchy, raucous, and often sexy-as-hell performance. (And even then, it might be worth it to tough out all the hives and just bounce along to the righteous good-time grooves.) She's been with this music since its underground inception, and the electro elements to her live show ought to go over well at Movement.
Borderland (Juan Atkins and Moritz von Oswald)
Just last month, these two badasses released Transport, their second full-length under this moniker. Detroiter Juan Atkins (the techno innovator who still makes great music to this day, but you know that already) and Berliner Moritz von Oswald (one-half of all-time dubby 1990s techno super-greats Basic Channel) are Borderland. We're thinking that since the result is one of the best albums we've heard all year, this set is one not to miss.
Not to be confused with the coffee shop or the animal that looks like a moose, Caribou is in fact an extraordinary Canadian musician. Offstage, the artist goes by Dan Snaith. Previously working under the name Manitoba, then later as Daphni, Snaith appears to have settled on Caribou. Inspired by the Canadian synth-pop artists he grew up listening to, Snaith creates his own unique psychedelic rock mixes. What makes him stand out, however, can't all be accredited to his interesting tracks. Caribou is among the few electronic artists to perform onstage with a live band, despite working alone in the studio.
As an artist who does not limit himself to one genre, Matthew Dear has taken the music world by storm. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what sound the DJ, producer, record label owner, and experimental pop artist is aiming for, as it changes with each album release. One thing is constant: his talent, creativity, and consistent ability to make listeners get up and dance.
After a stint with the unfairly obscure post-rock act Fridge in the 1990s, multi-talented Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet turned his attention to producing eccentric electronic music. Four Tet creates unique tracks, generally remixing his own guitar strummings with an array of elements ranging from hip-hop to folk. Sounds often accumulate like pebbles adhering to a giant mound of bubble gum descending a rocky hill — until it all rolls on top of you and permanently sticks to your brain. There's a little bit of everything in this Englishman's works, so no matter what genre you're in the mood for, Four Tet has you covered.
And here we have one of the kings of the second wave of Detroit techno. As his first record, the single "Goodbye Kiss," was released on Juan Atkins' Metroplex Records back in 1986, we're all celebrating his 30-year anniversary of producing beats and getting people up off their feet. Eddie Fowlkes is best known for paving the way for a fabulous style of DJing that incorporates three turntables, a mixer, a wah-wah pedal, and an 808 and 809 drum machine. Fowlkes also owns two record labels, City Boy Records and its subsidiary, Detroit Wax — keeping the funk and "technosoul" alive through other artists, as well as with his own tracks.
What's better than one DJ onstage? Two, of course! Get Real is a collaboration between Los Angeles' Claude VonStroke (of Dirtybird infamy) and Chicago's Green Velvet (of Green Velvet fame). Their music is dirty, fun, and sounds like the future and the past at the same time. It's like the soundtrack to a XXX video game from 2087, it's so funkin' good. The two have performed together in the past, but they finally decided to officially join forces and perform for the first time last year, at Movement and other major music festivals. The duo told Billboard back in December that they wanted to revive the authentic sound of house music and techno. Hooray for achieving goals.
Kyle Hall is one of the most talented young Detroiters working in any medium today. His music is deceptively simple, always accessible, but wholly original too. It's jazzy and clearly connected to house, but it has a hip-hop sensibility and is not disconnected from dirty 1970s funk, neither. It's quintessentially Detroit music. Hall is probably the next international superstar to come out of our fair city.
Just a short hop across the Detroit River is the lovely city of Windsor, and fortunately for us, the Detroit techno sound carried over to there and influenced one of Canada's greats, Richie Hawtin. Not only has Hawtin been touring the world and been an innovator in techno for decades now, but the dude is also developing new technology for DJs that is changing the game in which they perform. The Model 1 is the first piece of equipment that he's developed, and it features six channels, low and high filters, an analog sculpting EQ, and a bunch of other fancy things that will make DJing so much easier. Anyway, that sounded like a product placement, so we expect to receive gear in the mail. (And you already know to go see Hawtin, anyway.)
Heidi was heavily influenced by Detroit techno and house music as she grew up in Windsor. When she moved to London, she began DJing at clubs, where other artists took her under their wing to show her the ropes. She's now so successful, she hosts her own BBC Radio 1 show and and her own events, called Jackathon parties. There is no way that an event called a Jackathon party is not awesome. Heidi's music is straight-up, four-on-the-floor, delightful dance music. She started out by dancing to the music she heard, so her own sound is highly influenced by dance and movement.
Bringing some West Coast swag over to the Movement stage is Honey Soundsystem. Hailing from San Francisco, Honey Soundsystem formed due to a shared inspiration from pivotal gay underground parties. The initial mission of the four folks in this collective was essentially to redefine dance club music and create a new brand that wasn't mainstream. Among the four members, there's a mix of DJs, musicians, performers, and designers. The group says they "bond over a shared love of timeless sounds, iconic imagery, the complete look, indulgent behavior, and most of all, attractive men." Hard to argue with any of that!
Kraftwerk in 3-D
Did you see Kraftwerk at the Masonic last October? It was such a seamless multimedia execution. It clearly took so much work to present such a gorgeously minimal aesthetic and do it so well, and the 3-D effects were stunning. The music is the motorik beat that unites and continues to propel us all down the autobahn of peace, love, unity, and respect. Kraftwerk's brilliant music is what connects every single Mojo listener who left the porch light on. You can't miss this, no way.
Don't count the younger generation out. Starting her producing career at 18, Lauren Vellucci, known on stage as "Loren," has been in the business for about three years now. Despite her young age, Loren has built quite the resume. Since teaching herself the skill of beat matching after receiving her first turntable at 17, she has created a spot for herself in Detroit's underground scene. Having already played multiple venues and clubs throughout the United States, Loren has owned her self-described "futuristic minimal techno" sound, hoping to spin records and get people up and moving for as long as she can.
Justin Martin's sound is often described as melodic with a solid toughness. His melodies are catchy and lofty, but the bass is loud and in your face. The San Francisco-born DJ says on his website that he started banging pots and pans when he was 2 years, and now he's a DJ. When you see Martin perform live, you can easily see this was something that he was meant to do in his life. Before Movement, Martin performed both weekends of Coachella, getting in a good test run for his highly anticipated set in Detroit.
For those who want a little bubblegum pop at Movement, Mija is one artist you will want to check out. Better known to close friends as Amber Giles, Mija has been performing and touring for the last couple years, and her infectious songs easily become everyone's favorites. Where some DJs go hard with heavy bass and huge drops, Mija makes music that will want to make you dance until the blisters on your feet have blisters.
MK Marc Kinchen
With so many tracks under his production, it's hard to find a song Marc Kinchen, better known as MK, hasn't remixed or revamped. The producer and DJ is a native Detroiter, being both born and raised in the city. Initially starting his music career in 1989, MK continues to drop dope remixes. The number of artists he's worked with is just as long as his list of remixes, and includes big-name celebrities such as Will Smith and Pitbull. His remix discography includes revamping tracks by Lana Del Rey, HAIM, and Sam Smith, just to name a few. Whether he's creating an original beat or adding a new twist on a top 40 song, it's safe to say MK has remixing and rejuvenating tracks down to a tee — regardless of the genre.
Berlin has clearly been one of the main centers for techno since the early '90s, and the duo behind Modeselektor has been there since the beginning. After signing with Ellen Allien's label BPitch, they've not only toured the world and won awards, but have influenced a younger generation of DJs and producers. The duo samples every genre of techno, from house to electronic, so their music always seems fresh and alive. They even made a fan out of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, who invited them to open for Radiohead on a tour. We wonder if they even made that mopey dude dance a little bit? One can hope.
Who wouldn't like someone who describes their genre as "acid booty-tech bass and beyond"? The Illinois native studied engineering before following her passion for music. Jessica Phillippe knows how to make people throw it down on the dance floor with her mind-blowing, booty-shaking mixes. According to her biography, J. Phlip aims for "dance floor lobotomy" and playing whatever it takes to get the party started. If dance floor lobotomies and booty shaking aren't your idea of a party, then why even leave your house?
To understand and fully enjoy DJ Pierre's mixes, one must really dig and understand house music. DJ Pierre has earned the title as the "quintessential dance producer" through decades of hard work and record spinning. Fascinated with electronics and music since childhood, it was inevitable that DJ Pierre would become, well, DJ Pierre. Remixing tracks and spinning at parties throughout Chicago, he quickly gained popularity in the underground scene. His remixes created a previously unheard sound. Mixing acid grooves and heavy beats that are topped with vocal samples, DJ Pierre unknowingly created a new type of house music, one that he continues to develop and perfect to this day.
Eric Estornel, better known by his stage names Maceo Plex and Maetrik, has the best of both worlds. Hailing from Spain, he was highly influenced by the sounds of European techno. He now lives in Miami, a town that has become a landmark in electronic music, thanks to its dozens of high-tech clubs, and music festivals like Ultra. Maceo Plex's work reflects the sounds and styles of both South Beach and Barcelona. His music is deep, dark, and minimal. There are soft beats with heavy bass combined with that iconic house sound. If you want a set that isn't gonna kill you, check out Maceo Plex.
What happens when you put two creative Detroit techno producers together? You get Project 313, a collaboration between Chad Parraghi and Nick Bien. More than a powerhouse techno duo, Parraghi and Bien partnered up to create techno outlet and, later on, the record label Blank Code. While they do assist other artists with recording and releasing their records, the producing pair also takes part in the creative fun, producing and remixing tracks under their artist name Project 313. Falling under the techno, ambient, and experimental genre, Project 313 describes their work as "post-apocalyptic dark hypnotic sounds that result in a unique aural experience."
We predict right here that Detroit-born Stacey Pullen will have one of the best performances of his career as he plays for a hometown crowd at Movement. During a second wave of techno that boomed out of Detroit, Pullen was an innovator and one of the best artists to come from that era. He was mentored by some of the Belleville Three — Atkins, May, and Saunderson — you can't ask for a better pedigree than that, can you? Pullen grew up a musician while touring with his high school band in Detroit, until the electronic movement busted onto the scene in the mid-1980s and Pullen and his friends started messing around with turntables. Don't sleep on this.
RZA is one of the most exciting hip-hop acts on the Movement lineup this summer. As we all know, RZA is the leading member of the unstoppable genius that is the Wu Tang Clan. He has produced almost all of the group's work from the beginning. And since then, when not exploiting 1 percenters by getting them to pay millions for a single CD, the RZA has even dipped his toe into acting. We are not sure if other members of the Wu Tang Clan will be joining RZA onstage in Detroit, but his solo work has always been exciting, and his influence can be seen in any rapper worth hearing that's come around since 1991.
Another pioneer of Berlin techno, Anja Schneider has been making music and breaking down walls for the past 15-plus years, and has no intentions to stop. She co-founded the record label Mobilee with fellow producer Ralf Kollmann. Together, they have made their own music and signed new producers and DJs. Their main goal is to create vintage dance music, engage with like-minded contemporaries, and take new directions as techno is always evolving. Schneider samples a lot of different genres, but her main goal is to get people dancing.
Tale of Us
The Berlin-based duo begins their tale with the statement, "All good music should tell a story." This pair strives to "rewrite the rulebook for deeply moving, emotional electronic music." Comprised of Carmine "Karm" Conte and Matteo Milleri, the Tale of Us originated in Italy, where the two artists met while they both were kids. Childhood bonds apparently make for great music. Both Karm and Matteo work together to create the distinct Tale of Us sound that is sure to whisper tales of catchy dance jams or ambient, abstract beats.
Will Sessions with Amp Fiddler
Think Movement is all about production gadgets and computer-generated beats? Will Sessions will prove you wrong. This group is a live band that incorporates a rhythm section, percussion, and a horn section — it's highly credible jazz-funk in the vein of the Lyman Woodard Organization, but updated. With a history of working with big name Detroit music big names like J Dilla and Dennis Coffey, Will Sessions will be performing with keyboard genius and fellow Detroiter Joseph "Amp" Fiddler.
The hyper Detroit rapper and producer really knows how to spit crazy lines and drop an infectious beat. Known offstage as Walter Williams, ZelooperZ's music career began when he was in middle school. Attending art school, Williams studied painting, but soon traded his paintbrush in for a microphone. From there, he recorded his raps in the campus studio, penned a stage name, performed around Detroit, and signed to Bruiser Brigade Records. After a successful tour with Danny Brown, ZelooperZ is set to bring his unique, avant-garde up-tempo beats from his recent album BOTHIC to the Movement stage.