This Saturday It'll Do Club brings one of the original architects of Detroit techno to town. Kevin Saunderson was part of the first wave of techno artists in the late '80s. Along with fellow Belleville High School students Derrick May and Juan Atkins, he laid down the foundation of what became know as techno.
Inspired in equal parts by Kraftwerk and Funkadelic, Saunderson and his friends -- known as the Belleville Three -- helped pioneer the sound that would inspire a gazillion sub genres and musical movements over the next four decades. In the late '80s Saunderson, now a member of the group Inner City, had mild chart success with dance room staples "Good Life" and "Big Fun". These songs made him a household name in club culture all over the world -- except, of course, in the U.S., where techno has never quite reclaimed its popularity since the glory days of rave.
Despite being the foundation that most modern electronic music owes a huge debt to, it is surprisingly rare to hear techno in its purest form played out in Dallas. House music dominates the four-on-the-floor variety of club music in this city. The closest you get to actual techno is tech house, which is still more house than techno. The differences are subtle and sometimes blurred, but distinct: House is the direct descendant of disco, while techno owes far more to robots, science fiction, Motor City soul and the Motorik beat inspired by the Detroit auto industry.
In a recent interview with Attack Magazine, Saunderson waxed poetic like a wise man about his place in the current dance music spectrum.
"I look at the scene now and I see groups like Disclosure, I see MK -- who came up under me. I see how they're having success with vocals, with house music, with deep house, however you want to call it. And these new generations, yeah, they do think it's new. But I think it's great because back in the day my vision was just that I was making music because I loved vocals, I loved the underground, I loved it all. I did have a goal - I thought that everybody should be able to dance as one. There's no color in this music, it's for everyone."
Although Saunderson has been in the game for going on three decades, his modern day sets are as far from retro as it gets. He mixes up new versions of old techno staples from his massive discography of classics amongst the latest and greatest in innovative underground techno. Nowadays, it's music that is largely associated more with European clubs than American one. Saunderson is as dark, tough, soulful and futuristic as it gets.
Be prepared to move your feet and sweat hard as you witness a masterclass in techno mixing as performed by one of the best and one of the first in the scene. For anyone with an appreciation for techno or even dance music in general, it's a rare opportunity to see a true pioneer in action.
KEVIN SAUNDERSON performs with DJ Red Eye, 10 p.m., Saturday, August 16, at It'll Do Club, 4322 Elm St., $15