Carl Craig

Carl Craig is one of the greats. The Detroit techno ambassador, Grammy-nominated composer, creative visionary, entrepreneur and civic leader the all forward thinking DJ will play at Jenja on December 24. Check it out as The Beat digs deeper into the mechanisms of this musical machine.
What was your vision with the Planet E label when you started it and did this change over the years?
My vision, first of all, for starting a label, was independence. And the vision is still the same because it’s still independent and it’s all about music that I like from my friends.
Your Planet E label is still one of the leading techno labels worldwide. What do you think is the main reason that Planet E still has so many followers?
I think that we have been true to the concept of the label.
You are one of the pioneers of the Detroit sound and always try to create new, fresh sounds. Is this by accident or are you really aware that you have to think out of the box when you are in the studio?
I’ve always known the importance of thinking outside of the box, as you put it.
What was your biggest creative achievement regarding Planet E?
The first record that was released on the label in 1991.. under the name 69 (pronounced six-nine), ‘4 Jazz Funk Classics’ – a release inspired by my love of Throbbing Gristle.
What is your biggest ambition for the future?
To keep doing music that I think is interesting, and that is close to my heart.
What are your biggest sources of inspiration?
My beloved home town of Detroit. Detroit is musically a magical city. We’ve had so much wonderful music come from here, from native Detroiters, that have been influential to so much other music globally. I find that I make much better music when I’m in Detroit. To outsiders the city seems desolate and ominous, but to me the city is so electric!
Atkins, Saunderson and May were your fathers? What did you learn from them? What did they mean to you (both as a person and for your career)?
If it wasn’t for Juan and Rick Davis (as Cybertron) making those first records, my spiritual relationship wouldn’t be there at all. I don’t think we would have had any of the kind of electronic music that has come from Detroit, and of course Derrick was my mentor, he was the one who taught me how to produce records.
Where does your love for music come from? What was there before the Music Institute and Derrick May?
My love of music comes from something deep inside of me. Before Derrick the thing that maybe was the biggest influence was my brother who is older than me and I listened to loud ass music with him.
Your endless number of aliases show us that you are one of the most complete artists of electronic scene. How is it to be respected without being enclosed in any musical style?
Each alias is like a different idea and even though the styles might cross over in some ways, the idea is as important as the actual material.
After all this time being on the top, how do you regenerate or reinvent to remain on the top? What is the secret that keeps you up so high?
I am serious about what I do but I also have fun doing it. Serious but not too serious.
America or Europe? How do people listen to music differently in Europe than in USA?
In Europe, each country has its own way of educating its people musically and I think that’s really important because each country is like a state in the United States. People who are into techno in Spain are going to listen to it different to how people listen to techno in Germany and Italy. In America we listen to music based on some idea that has more to do with how much money you make than the actual artistry. A lot of really great music gets lost because the idea of people is based more on commerce than it is about art. Also, Europe never had the Disco Sucks movement.  (link to )
It’s been more than 25 years since the beginning of your career, how do you see your past as artist and what are the things you think you have to do now?
My past as an artist has been almost like guerilla warfare doing remixes, helping to keep my show in business. And my coming career is to explore within myself how to make my music better.
Usually, when someone composes music is inspired by something like a necessity, a dream, an idea … What inspires you to always do something new?  
I’m inspired by experimenting with sounds that aren’t usual so sitting in front of a modular synthesizer and just messing around.
You can catch at Carl Craig doing his thing at Jenja Christmas Eve, December 24 from midnight.


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