Music runs the Motor City.
That's simply put, yes, but definitely true. It's the driving force behind much of the change we see in the city today. With constant growing and moving and adapting—it's Detroit’s return to grace.
Out of the city has emerged an entirely new culture. That of dance music. The music itself was born in Detroit and the city continues to serve as the home for new DJs and producers who continue to adapt the sound. Some of those artists have turned around to leave their mark on the city and have left a lasting impact through their music.
While there are many stories that begin in Detroit, this one starts back in 2009 when Ted Krisko and Eric Ricker created the DJ duo ATAXIA. Their recent releases on labels like Connaisseur and Touch of Class have solidified their roles as tastemakers in the techno community. While their roots may be in punk rock bands, their lives are now immersed in dance music.
I had the opportunity to chat with Krisko earlier this week before their epic show this weekend—an opening party at a new club in Brooklyn called Studio 299. He shed light on their history in the Motor City and how, along the way, they found a bit further east in Brooklyn where they are continuing to produce and perform.
So, to start at the beginning, Ataxia was born as the next step in an already well-established musical career for both Krisko and Ricker.
“Ataxia was incarnated nearly a decade ago. Our gigging origins as a duo take us back to Detroit in 2009. Before that, Eric and I both had spent our years touring around Michigan and the Midwest in punk and hardcore bands. We both have a long history of event promotion and production. It was natural for us to get started on Ataxia, with music production, DJing and party planning all as part of our new agenda.”
What happens when you throw a little punk into the birthplace of Techno? A phenomenal sound that brings the crowd to their feet and keeps them dancing all night.
Their music has brought together the best of both [musical] worlds.
“The style of Ataxia’s music has taken on many faces. A friend of ours recently called our acid techno sound ‘relentless.’ The music we’ve been making of late is increasingly taking on a more direct approach to dance floor instigation. Less elements and full embrace of Roland classics… less is more. Given our punk music roots, there is an essence to the energy of creating music together that will always embody our traditional ethics. An age old acronym suits this best: K.I.S.S.- ‘Keep it simple, stupid.’ We find ourselves stripping things back constantly and always trying to find the most common denominator between the relationship of sounds.”
And for the past six years, Ataxia’s “home base” was at one of the most popular bars here in Detroit—TV Lounge.
“TV Lounge (affectionately known as ‘TV Bar’), is our residency home of the last 6 years. It has gone from being a small, private feeling club to a full scale venue with a consistent influx of renowned international DJs. What was once our personal oasis for a very small handful of ravers and city dwellers, it is now easily the top venue for dance music in town. There are a handful of other venues that matter to our crowd as well, but TV is the pride of Detroit.”
With a residency at TV comes a close relationship with the production company that hosts Movement Electronic Music Festival each year, Paxahau. As Krisko put’s it, “Paxahau puts on the best show for the people, and it’s the ultimate victory lap as an artist to celebrate another year of dedication to the cause of expanding people’s consciousness through music.”
So when Ataxia was asked to play at Movement, it was nothing short of rewarding.
“Our most memorable years performing were this past year on the Beatport Stage, and 2013 on Made In Detroit. Both times were mid-afternoon and thousands of fans, family, friends and fresh faces showed up to dance. It’s too much fun hammering acid party tunes on a sunny afternoon in Detroit with the best crowd a DJ could ask for!”
As a DJ who’s musical career was born in Detroit, the opportunity to perform at THE festival in the city—one that is considered the best in the world—is humbling. It brings great artists and great fans together for one of the best parties the city has to offer.
Yet, as careers go, both Krisko and Ricker felt it was time to take a retreat from the tours and the gigs to focus on their production. That, and plans of a move on the horizion, Ataxia took a short break from performing to begin releasing some new music.
“Our tour from Summer into Fall last year  was incredible. It was a dream come true to be headlining at respected clubs like Output, Treehouse, Smart Bar, to name a few. We had hit Movement, BPM, WMC, Moogfest, Burning Man with plenty of tour dates in between.
Our debuts on Culprit and Leftroom were a great start, but we weren’t satisfied with stuff we recorded while on the road in the year to follow. This had been the third year in a row of gigging non-stop, so it was time to get ourselves off the road and back in the studio to record new material with our attention undivided.”
Now, with tons of new music under their belt, Ataxia is back and performing, this time in Brooklyn.
The move out of Detroit, however, was not without careful consideration.
“No love lost for Detroit. In fact, if anything, my heart has grown even fonder. I miss the places and people I love back home more each day. It was just time for a new challenge in my life. I had spent my whole life living in Michigan except for a stint in Miami a couple years back.
New York was the place we played most frequently, returning almost monthly for two years straight. It was an obvious choice for a new frontier to bring our sound and energy to. With our regular appearances at Output & The Panther Room, hosting “NIGHT MACHINES” (our monthly party at TBA in Williamsburg) and the occasional underground, we stay busy. Plus our studio here gets a nice workout!”
The feeling is mutual, though, because Detroit certainly misses Ataxia’s energy and, of course, love for the city. But the music was meant to be shared—and luckily enough for Brooklyn, Ataxia has an incredible show planned for this Saturday at Studio 299.
“They will have a brand new Funktion One we’ll get to take for a ride, and the party has a handful of super talented acts from Wolf+Lamb, Life On Planets, Slowhands, Navid Izadi, as well as our friend Cry Baby rounding out the line up! Honored to be part of the christening of a new venue—this will be a serious celebration.”
Well, some advice from us in Detroit to all of you in Brooklyn—get your asses out the door and over to Studio 299!