With the Movement Festival in Detroit this weekend, Ford partnered with Detroit locals Ataxia and Secrets to create two exclusive new tracks that capture the sound of Detroit. The city has a unique place in the origins of electronic music.
In the 80s, Detroit electronic music stemmed from industrial sounds. To pay homage to the city and its imprint on electronic music, Ford gave Ataxia and Secrets the chance to tour the Ford plant and capture a plethora of sounds. They then infused these sounds into two tracks – combining two main elements of the city: electronic music and the automotive industry. The tracks will be debuted live at the Movement Festival this weekend.
I got the chance to catch up with Ataxia and Secrets to discuss their trip to the Ford plant, how this industrial sound influenced the final tracks and Detroit’s footprint on the electronic music scene.
Did you go into the Ford plant looking for a particular sound or were you inspired when you entered the plant?
Secrets: For me it was more just going in not knowing what to expect and letting whatever happens happen. The more we walked through the factories, the more inspired we got.
Ataxia: For me, I definitely have always had a fascination with the idea of Detroit warehouse techno because that was the sound that was happening at the parties in the late 90s. One particular album that had me inspired to do this project was Plastikman’s Consumed which was a very influential record for me. It had many elements that could definitely be found in the Ford factories and was sort of actualized with the visit to the factories: very sparse, airy, compressed sounds with natural reverbs. It definitely hit home for what the original vision I had.
How did the sounds you captured infuse themselves into the final product?
S: When we got there we got some safety gear and had a tour through the plant where they build the Focus electric car and a walking tour of the stamping plant. The stamping plant was much more clanking and banging and the other tour was more of an echo chamber. That’s what inspired me was more of the echo-ism of such a large warehouse. Sort of the white noise you hear in the background.
A: For us, we had an idea originally when we knew about the tour that we would start working on a track that had a sort of driving feel. So I went in with a sort predisposed idea of what I was going for sonically. When we stepped into the stamping plant, it was blaring with sirens and everything seemed like a huge cause for alarm. It’s also indicative of what it’s like going to a rave in a warehouse. Bottom line, being in a warehouse is dangerous in general. The stamping machines were huge! I’d never seen something of that size before. So everything was very impressive both sonically and visually.
To integrate the sounds from the warehouse, we just embedded them into the tracks then layered the effects over them. It’s a little bendy, twisty and bouncy. We were able to create something raw with the sound of the machines so we’re really happy with the results.
Can you talk a little bit about the meaning behind your track name?
A: We were throwing around ideas that included the original Ford Model T from 1908 and we kind of landed on 1908 Model T Drive as sort of a fake address for a warehouse rave.
If you can explain it, what do you think the Detroit sound is?
S: Years ago there was definitely a Detroit sound. In the past five years there’s been an explosion of creativity here. There’s so much different music going on from so many different people here. The coolest thing about Detroit is that it’s small and everyone kind of knows each other and knows each other’s sound.
A: The Detroit sound is really immeasurable. Originally the Detroit sound had that Motown feel to it. At this point, there’s such a diverse music scene in Detroit, not just in the electronic scene, but overall. From punk to garage rock to indie and hardcore and everything under the electronic umbrella, it’s all happening in Detroit. People would probably be surprised how diverse the electronic scene is here. There’s lots of things that are far derived from “Detroit Techno.” That’s sort of a thing of the past. It still exists and lives on but that isn’t necessarily indicative of the modern Detroit sound. Generally the Detroit sound has a little funk and a little soul to it – a little extra groove or shake. Detroit is a very tough audience to please and if something doesn’t reach the audience, they’re definitely not going to dance or groove to it.
What does Detroit mean to you?
S: It means everything. I’ve lived all over the place and I always end up coming back. It’s hard living here. It’s good and bad – but the good outweighs the bad tenfold. There’s not too many places where you can be an artist and not have to hold two other jobs. You can just be an artist here. People here are the best in the world. Everybody here is hungry to make this city work and prove everybody wrong.
A: Detroit for me has been a lifelong experience and relationship. It’s a city that is continuously on the rise. Despite what the media shows, it’s better and worse than what the media will ever show you. To actually experience it is a completely different view than through any camera lens. The people here really do care about progress and improvement. There’s a really strong arts and music community here that really have each other’s backs. It’s definitely a city that, despite it’s reputation of being a hard place, if you’re a genuine person and contributing to our culture in significant way, then other people will believe in you. It’s really a bunch of people trying in concert with each other to raise the city’s standards. We really just want to be a leader in the country for art and music.
In such a time of struggle, music is such a great escape. Do you think that’s why music thrives so much in Detroit?
S: I’m definitely a believer that art helps through pain and struggle. You look around this city and there’s so many new artists in this city. There’s a reason for that. I think the reason is that a lot of people struggle in this city, and a lot of beautiful things come from struggle.
A: Dance music gives people hope. People want to dance to music and feel free and happy. In general, worldwide, people are sick of having a bad time and they just want to have a good time. So anytime there’s a pair of speakers and a DJ playing tunes, even if you just have one or two people dancing, that can have an effect on peoples days and send them on a straight and positive attitude through music. That’s a really powerful thing.
Be sure to check out the tracks below and if you’re in Detroit this weekend, catch Ataxis and Secrets at the Movement Festival!
ATAXIA – 1908 MODEL T DRIVE
SECRETS – FOCUS POKEUS
And to see how Ataxia and Secrets gathered the sounds for their tracks, check out a video of their tour through the Ford plant:
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