Photo: Press (Stacey Pullen)
Stacey Pullen has called many places home during his career, but his hometown will always be Detroit. That’s where he first cut his teeth in the late 1980s, refining the sound that had been established by the so-called Belleville Three – Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson. Apart from releasing on labels like Cadenza or Science, Pullen started his own label Blackflag Recordings in 1998. However, Pullen is first and foremost a DJ. We caught up with him to talk about the current state of Techno, recent projects to rehabilitate Detroit and of course DJing as well as his own music. Listen to Stacey Pullen’s Groove mix featuring cuts from his brand new EP ROK on his Blackflag Recordings below our interview with him.
You have been an influential figure in Techno from very early on. Lately, the current scene has been criticised by DJs like Levon Vincent for being too bleak and having distanced itself too much from its roots in soulful, jazzy music. Isn’t that a somewhat conservative accusation of a culture which is, at its core, more concerned with the future than its past?
Well, you have to know the history in order to make history. A lot of the DJs nowadays are too consumed with trying to be popular and the fact that now, anyone can be a DJ. I think most of the purist DJs have a valid point. The fact of the matter is that htere’s so much music out and the market is oversaturated with track after track that history gets pushed back even further.
There have been efforts to rehabilitate your hometown Detroit both culturally and socially by people like Tresor’s Dimitri Hegemann. What is your perspective on those projects – especially if they come from outside the city?
I understand why people like Dimitri are proposing to do what they intend to do, but what they don’t understand is that Detroit is not a 24 hour city and Berlin is. Detroiters must have an open mind to accept new energy but the average Detroiter is also worrying about crime and finding jobs that don’t necessarily mix with people wanting change. Detroit is ripe for change and the time is now to bring in new ideas to help put Detroit back where it once was in the early 1950s and 1960s.
Another Detroit producer and DJ who has gotten a lot of recognition in Europe lately is K-Hand with whom you have released music together. What’s so special about “The First Lady of Detroit Techno”, as you have called her?
K-Hand was pretty much the first girl releasing music in Detroit, she’s such a kind spirit. We used to live in the same apartment building when I started in my career. She had her own vision as to what she wanted, she was and still is respected in Detroit and also around the world
Your mix for the Groove podcast is your first one in quite a while. Why did you take such a long break from releasing mixes and what was your idea behind this one?
I prefer to have the in club experience when people hear me DJ and I’m my own worst critic. I am very selective when it comes to what i put online and I’m a bit selfish with my music, how odd that may be. My idea behind this mix is to showcase my knowledge of how I have embraced modern music, and I’m still able to express my diversity of sound. Me being from Detroit people seem to think that I have to DJ a certain way, and my feeling is that there is an abundance of good music out that there I like and I get joy out of playing that music regardless of where it’s from.
As a producer, you also have been relatively quiet, releasing only a collaboration EP with Lukin under your Bango alias in the past three years. How did the radio silence come about – are you perhaps working on a successor to 2001’s Todayisthetomorrowyouwerepromisedyesterday?
I’m not the type of producer that releases everything just because I feel like I need to in order to compete with the marketplace. I also was very jaded with the music industry in the early 2000s because of my major label deal I had with Virgin Records. But lately i’ve been inspired by new sounds and technology that has enabled me to do things in such a way that I haven’t been able to in the past. As far as a new album goes, I really think that most people look past albums nowadays because it’s a singles driven market. I know this because we live in an age where people’s attention span is short these days and they don’t have the patience to listen to a whole album like they used to.
With Blackflag, the label you have been running since 1998, you have also preferred quality over quantity. What’s to be expected from the imprint in the future?
With Blackflag coming out of Detroit I could have been just another detroit label that only releases Detroit music but I have had some success with releasing music by international producers from Spain, Italy, Canada, Argentina, Miami and few others. What I found is that the artists who send me music want to have a Detroit connection because of who I am and what I’ve done in my career. My insight and knowledge has enabled them to be better producers because I am very selective in what I release on Blackflag
Last but not least, where will we be able to see you behind the decks in the next few weeks?
My upcoming tours take me to New York, Miami, Canada, the lovely Island of Ibiza, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Amsterdam and back home to Detroit.
Stream: Stacey Pullen – Groove Podcast 69
01. Clif Jack – Spirit Of Moon (Slick Records)
02. Cassy – Keep Trying (Radio Slave Raw Remix) (Aus Music)
03. Gabee – Carnival (Original Mix) (Ushuaia Music)
04. Manuel De Lorenzi – Sonnenallee (Related)
05. Stacey Pullen – ROK (Blackflag Recordings)
06. Owersound – The Red Monkeys (Original Mix) (BC2)
07. Gianluca Caldarelli – Es Vedra (Noexcuse Records)
08. David Andujar – Asemble 2 (&lez Remix) (House Pacific Records)
09. Stacey Pullen – ROK (Christian Smith & Wehbba Remix) (Blackflag Recordings)
10. Philip Bader – Detroit Life (Original Mix) (Solar Distance)
11. Sidney Charles – On The Record (Stacey Pullen Remix) (Avotre)