Carl Craig - Carl Craig In Session
Detroit techno legend Carl Craig has been one of the most anticipated DJs to arrive in Australia for quite some time. Blending influences from jazz to drum n bass into his music his is techno in a class of its own. 3D’s Cyclone spoke to the DJ ahead of his NYE set in Sydney.
No contemporary producer commands a cult following to rival that of Carl Craig. This summer Craig is finally returning to Australia to DJ, but word is that he was reluctant to grant pre-tour interviews. The laconic American didn’t feel he had anything to talk about. In fact, Craig has enjoyed a quietly triumphant year. At the start of 2008 he attended the Grammys. Craig was nominated as 2007’s ‘best remixer’ for his subliminal reworking of Junior Boys’ Like A Child. Alas, Craig lost to Italian electro poseur Benny Benassi. He marked the occasion by releasing Sessions, a well-publicised double-compilation of his remixes.
Nevertheless, Craig has been involved in two other more niche projects this year. He joined forces with Basic Channel’s Moritz von Oswald, AKA Maurizio, for Recomposed Vol. 3, a ‘techno’ revisioning of classical pieces for the elite Deutsche Grammophon.
Its promotion was derailed when in October von Oswald reputedly suffered a stroke, Craig respectfully declining to comment on the German’s health. Yet the plan is for Craig to perform with an orchestra in 2009. He has relished the opportunity of liaising with classical musicians. “I want to be a conductor now!” he enthuses.
Craig also participated in a David Bowie covers album, Life Beyond Mars, remaking Looking For Water from 2003’s Reality with Collin Dupuis’ Krautrock-ish group Zoos of Berlin. Craig admits that their choice of Bowie song was leftfield.
“I mainly knew David Bowie from his blue-eyed soul and the Thin White Duke era – songs like Fame – which I grew up with, but it wouldn’t make sense for me to do Fame... We decided to do Water as it was less obvious.”
Craig is the most inscrutable of Detroit’s fiercely individualist electronic community. In his teens he became Derrick May’s protégé. The prolific and restless Craig would go on to issue, not only landmark tracks, but also superb albums – rare in electronica. He’s consistently pushed the fringes of ‘Detroit techno’. Craig revels in the art of self-reinvention almost as much as a Madonna. As Paperclip People, he composed the dancefloor paean Throw. He explored the legacy of Kraftwerk with the LP Landcruising. Craig conjured sublime Detroit noir with More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art. And he presaged drum n bass – and broken beat – with Innerzone Orchestra’s Bug in the Bassbin. The futurist later revisited Innerzone, perversely transforming it into a space age high-tech jazz funk machine. Still, Craig maintains that all his music exists in the electronic sphere. Techno is “a state of mind”.
In 2008 Craig hasn’t necessarily slowed down, but he’s a father. Familial commitments may account for why he’s not rushed to unveil his next ‘solo’ endeavour. Indeed, Craig has spoken of a “secret project” that will be, presumably by his own standards, out-there. The rumour is that he’s cutting electro jazz fusion with Detroit’s Tribe Records fold. Don’t expect a scoop here. “It’s still top secret,” he teases.
Anti-dogma to the end, Craig freely tunes into pop music, especially urban-pop, being endlessly fascinated with its appropriation of electronic sounds. The last ‘pop’ record that astonished him was OutKast’s Hey Ya! “It sounded so different to anything out there.”
WHO: Carl Craig
WHAT: Plays Club Club NYE at Chinese Laundry
WHEN: Wednesday 31 December