The highest compliment you can pay producer-DJ Aaron-Carl Ragland's music is to call it schizophrenic. Or, more accurately, that he has musical multiple personality, but don't call it a disorder. In anyone else's hands, Aaron-Carl's musical stylings would seem crazy, but in his mischievous grasp it makes perfect sense.
You see, Aaron-Carl's music is a mind-boggling yet seamless mixture of house, techno, soul and ghetto-tech run through Prince's (very) dirty mind. Referring to both title and music on his new CD Bitter Soulful Sweet, Aaron-Carl says, "It's a bunch of extremes, but that's how my life is — no gray areas."
Indeed, Aaron-Carl has released many classic 12-inchers dating back to 1996 — such as "Down," "Wash It," "My House," "21 Positions" and "Homoerotic" — yet has remained relatively unsung in his hometown (he's big in Europe, of course). "People know my records, they just don't know me," says the ever-grinning Aaron-Carl. "I got lucky — one day I got signed to Submerge (Mike Banks' classic Detroit techno label), the next day I was on a plane to France."
Aaron-Carl grew up downriver and lived in Hollywood between 2000 and 2003, but he couldn't stay away from Motown: "It wasn't home, it wasn't Detroit."
Now, Aaron-Carl lives in a modest but comfy ranch house in Clinton Township with his dog Reno and his 8-year-old son Jevon (aka DJ Japan, who frequently assists Dad on his online radio show). Aaron-Carl's studio sits downstairs with three vintage arcade games nearby, including his fave, Ms. Pac-Man. And feel free to play a game with Aaron-Carl if you visit, just don't expect to win. "Don't bet me clothes or money because you will lose!"
Hear Aaron-Carl's music as well as his weekly radio show at 7-9 p.m. Fridays at aaroncarl.com. You can catch Aaron-Carl spinning Friday, Oct. 17, at The Works, 1846 Michigan, Detroit; 313-961-1742.