Even futuristic techno isn't immune to the march of time — Juan Atkins' pioneering Metroplex label is having its 25th anniversary this year. And the (tongue-in-cheek) "janitor" of Metroplex, Anthony "Shake" Shakir, is celebrating the 15-year anniversary of his own Frictional label this year.
While his compatriots and collaborators Atkins, Derrick May, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson and Dan Bell might enjoy better name recognition, Shake has an equally impressive discography and role in the history of Detroit techno.
As a kid, he says, "When everyone went to play football, I'd play records. I carried albums around like people carried lunches." Shake was keen to learn how to mix and be a DJ. Back when the Motor City airwaves were way hipper, he was inspired by the manic mixing skills of Jeff "the Wizard" Mills and the crazed musical eclecticism of the Electrifying Mojo.
After meeting Juan and Derrick at a 1986 Bonnie Brook Country Club party in Detroit, that was it. He set out to become a techno DJ and producer, and learned to create his stripped-down techno tracks a little differently.
"I always approached making techno like making hip hop," Shake says. "I was surrounded by giants — I had to figure out how to make myself stand out."
Shake was diagnosed with MS in 2000, just before appearing at the DEMF. Since then, he's been living in his mother's house on the west side. That is, when he's not overseas spinning records. He has a studio in the house where he makes tracks surrounded by the classic soul records that electrified Detroit's airwaves in the '70s.
"Most of my records are failed experiments," he says, in a not-so-rare moment of self-effacement. "Do the beat, move on. That's my philosophy."
You can find out more about Shake at myspace.com/tonyshake66. His three-CD, five-LP retrospective, Frictionalism 1994-2009, will be available Feb. 2.