Photo: Press (The AM)
Ann-Marie Teasley is connecting the dots between the past, present, and future of the Detroit sound as an affiliate of the SCAN7 collective, Ash Lauryn’s Underground and Black, and her new party series Culture Code, while also translating the futuristic musical ideas of back then into the present as a prolific producer. Having released her debut EP as The AM on Berlin’s Tresor label this year, the Detroit native has more music coming up on Deeptrax as well as the AUX88-run ELECTROSTATIC imprint. The AM’s mix for our Groove podcast offers the perfect balance of energising electro and the darker shades of techno. This is the oldschool sound of Detroit, presented in a way that feels both contemporary and forward-looking.
You were born and raised in Detroit and started exploring the scene in the mid-1990s. What was it that resonated with you on a musical level in those early days?
Back in those days, it was a lot more common to hear techno at parties in Detroit. What resonated with me was seeing these interesting black men carry these parties into the next morning with their DJ sets. It was amazing to see people that looked like me as the centre of it all. One of the techno sets that has stayed with me and shaped me was Kenny Glasgow at Club 1X, which was torn down. From that point on I knew I preferred techno over house music and I have not changed since.
You wrote in a piece on Detroit’s techno history that it took you a while to pick up DJing. What about producing, what did your first steps look like? You have also been trained as a violinist.
I played the violin from the age of four and played first violin in a youth orchestra for five years. The training was extremely rigorous and I had private lessons weekly for 15 years. After experiencing something like that, production felt natural to me. I started off writing vocals, but, honestly, that wasn’t enough for me. I needed to know how to create exactly what I wanted on my own. So I took a chance and contacted one of the best producers in the game: DJ MAACO of Detroit In Effect. He was cool enough to fit me into his schedule and we started early morning production classes over Facetime, believe it or not.
You debuted as The AM with Black Majik on Berlin’s Tresor Records earlier this year and will celebrate the club’s 31st birthday with a set there this weekend. How did the release come about, what is your relationship with Tresor like?
I was always drawn to Tresor because of their work with black artists from my hometown. Around 2016, I took a trip to Berlin for Tresor’s 25th anniversary festival to see Robert Hood and experience the techno culture in Berlin full force. After this experience, I knew I had found my favourite place. So when I was finally ready to submit tracks to a label, they were my first choice. They are always on point and have a dynamite team.
Your upcoming EP for Deeptrax, Sexworker, is being described by the label as a “short story through music and art.” What themes informed the music exactly and what kind of narrative did you try to construct through the music, and how?
The cover art for the EP may be considered somewhat provocative but it represents a reality, at least for certain people. It’s meant to take a closer look at the emotions a sex worker experiences on their journey. Quite often, people in this line of work are looked down upon, and I want listeners to look at these women from a different angle and bring out the artistic value of the lifestyle. Street life is a big part of my past that I typically do not share. This was a way for me to share through music and art, rather than words.
The last track was made in collaboration with Track MastaLou of SCAN7. You seem to quite involved with the collective, how exactly are you connected with it?
SCAN7 has become my family over the last couple of years, and TrackMasta Lou looks out for me and is my biggest support system. Lou has been by my side through almost every studio session I’ve had and vice versa. We are both constantly learning from each other. He’s definitely my “right-hand man.” We built a genuine friendship based off the same music taste before we ended up making tracks together and I think that is very important. You develop an unspoken form of communication that comes out in the studio. We call it “in the pocket.”
You already have the next release planned, an EP on ELECTROSTATIC, a new label created and launched by AUX88 that so far has put out EPs by “Mad” Mike Banks under his Electric Soul moniker and the other by Jessbeatz. What can you tell us about the label, your relationship with it and, of course, your upcoming release?
I’m proud and excited to announce that I have now signed with AUX88, and we are currently in the studio working on the project. My first EP on the label is a collaboration with AUX88 featuring The AM. This has been in the works for quite some time, but we kept things quiet and closely guarded until the time was right. We haven’t titled the project, but the creative process and studio work is amazing. I met them through hanging out with SCAN7, and we hit it off pretty well. We have a really good working relationship and good friendship as well. So yes, look out for me on ELECTROSTATIC.
Besides your work as a producer and DJ, you are also involved in Ash Lauryn’s Underground and Black. What is your role there exactly?
My role is an organiser for smaller events that we have in Detroit and I am also an informative guest writer for the blog.
You have recently started the monthly residency, Culture Code, at The High Dive Detroit. What concept do these events follow, what kind of atmosphere would you like to create?
The concept is to celebrate early rave culture and to have a safe haven for queer and people of color to dance without judgement harassment. This is our place. I created this space because of my own past experiences and listening to experiences of others. My sister and I have went to parties where we were were asked: “What are you guys doing here, do you even like house music?” Or: “Do you even know who is playing?” These experiences were long after the 1990s and early 2000s. It’s like the scene took a turn and had been taken over by the masses. I wanted to create something that took us back to that time in raving where all people were celebrated and certain groups were not just tolerated. When nobody cared about what sexuality you were or what brand you were wearing. Everyone one was just just high off of music and love in the air. Strangers hugging each other on the dance floor. That’s the code of the culture.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
This mix was meant to represent where I’m from and where I was born and raised. Lots of very early electro straight out of Detroit that segways into a bit of darker techno which is my biggest influence of all. This is usually my way of introducing myself so people know where I’m from and how I get down.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
To keep on grinding and normalise the black female producer in dance music. I want to make the big homies from Detroit proud and I hope to carry on their legacy.
Stream: The AM – Groove Podcast 348
01. Israel Vines – Popular Decisions (Original)
02. Drexciya – Species of the Pod (Original)
03. Mike Ash – Reset All Parameters (Original)
04. DJ MAACO – Beware of the Fakers
05. Cyan85 – Contamination Ph0nk
06. Mr. Dé – Come On Baby
07. Aux88 – Welcome to Avalon
08. Underground Resistance – Aquatacizem (Original)
09. Posatronix – Shake-dat-Thanng
10. Sync 24 & Morphology – Abstract Index (Original)
11. Stefan Linzatti – Seconds
12. Floorplan – Learn
13. Echoplex – Memerays (Original)
14. Radial – Asiel (Original)
15. Jorge Fons – Locus (Original)
15. Jorge Fons – Run Out of Liberty (Original)
16. Trecci – Control (Darkmode Remix)
17. Diego Hostettler – Mind (Detergent Robert Hood Mix 2)
18. Rennie Foster – Good Time Charlie (Aux 88 Zoom Mix)
19. DJ Bone – It’s All About (Original)
20. Wetworks – Petey C’s Groove (S-file Philly Edit)
21. Lester Fitzpatrick, DJ Geto – Freak (Original)