Photo: One 2 Click Photography (Eddie Fowlkes)
“You have to be a knucklehead, hard-headed, to make this type of music for so many years,” says Eddie Fowlkes and he must know – he’s been making this type of music for more than three decades, after all. Currently preparing a reissue of his classic 2007 album Welcome to My World on February 26th, the City Boy owner’s mix for the Groove podcast offers a one-hour journey through the type of music he’s been calling techno soul – a take on techno that draws on funk and soul as much as it borders on the house music that originated in Chicago.
First off, how have you been doing this past year?
Without putting my personal business out there, I’ve been as okay as one can be during this pandemic.
One of your last releases was the fourth entry in the Knuckle Head Series. What’s the concept behind the series and where does the title stem from?
The series is from my City Boy label, and I wanted to keep the label as vinyl only. City Boy Music is digital, so I produced the Knuckle Head Series with the logo of the City Boy. The title was influenced by the idea that sometimes you have to be a knucklehead, hard-headed, to make this type of music for so many years.
The first instalment of the Knuckle Head Series in April 2020 marked the relaunch of your City Boy Records label. What made you revive the imprint?
As stated in the last question, I wanted to keep that label as vinyl only, so I launched this new series for digital.
In summer 2020, you’ve released a collaborative EP with Loco Dice called D-Town Playaz in reference to your respective hometowns. How did the collaboration come about?
Well, we’ve been thinking for years about getting together and doing something! Then, I finally went to his studio in Düsseldorf to start producing with him.
Also in 2020, you have debuted together with Jeff Mills and Jessica Care Moore under the name The Beneficiaries for the album The Crystal City Is Alive. It’s a rather experimental record. What did your working process look like?
I did most of my production at Amp Fiddler’s studio in Detroit and then we recorded the finished product in another Detroit studio. It was kinda cool because it was deeply experimental and more socially conscious of the Black culture of dance music.
Thematically, the album revolves around Detroit. The past decade has been especially hard for the city, which has been transformed by economic crises, gentrification, and growing inequality. How has this affected the city’s music scene?
I don’t think the economics aspect is as bad as people think it is, however the gentrification and growing inequality are alive and well. From someone who grew up here, I think the party scene has got less cultural than the early days — I just feel less soul in the Detroit club scene.
And where do you see the city heading, musically speaking? What are up and coming producers, DJs, and collectives that are pushing the envelope?
There’s not too many people pushing the envelope, other than the usual suspects, because you gotta have a culture that the music comes from. Without culture, there’s no good music, and with gentrification you won’t get that funk and soul or deep soulful techno.
You have started out DJing with quite an impressive set-up comprising not only three turntables but also drum machines and other hardware. What are your preferences these days, what type of equipment do you use?
I prefer to use a bunch of MPC-Xs. I will leave it at that, as I want to keep the inside of my studio personal.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
The idea was to play the funkiest and grooviest vinyl shit I could find. I usually just pull records out and start playing, because I like to put a bunch of hot shit together in a crate and just pull it out and make magic – the art of DJing.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
As of right now, I want to come up with the dopest app and somehow make it correlated to music — of course, in addition to always making beats.
Stream: Eddie Fowlkes – Groove Podcast 288
01. Eddie Fowlkes – What’s That
02. Norm Tally – Powder
03. D.E.Q. – All Over the World
04. Zapology – Her Song
05. Kia – White Label
06. Fudge – Ponta Negra
07. Soul Saver – Another Day
08. Trouble Men – Underground
09. 7th Movement – Odyssey
10. Dennis Ferrer – Soul Collection
11. Chris Simmonds – My Soul
12. Black Label – Unknown
13. Kyle Hall – Vexed
14. Next Evidence – Life Is Better