DEEP HOUSE,DISCO: A journey into the last 20 years of House Music Feat. Alton Miller (Music Institute, Detroit)


Legendary Detroit producer/dj and House music forefather Alton Miller will be playing a special show this Sunday (April 24) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the famed Detroit club, The Music Institute and show exactly what  HOUSE music means to him. Expect him to touch on plenty of his inspirations and records that shaped the way he listens, plays and produces his music.

If you are keen to hear what the man has to say about music, he will be appearing live on Sydney’s weekly REAL music lesson ‘Departure Lounge’ with Trevor Parkee on 2SER 107.3 FM this Saturday between 3-5pm. He will also be doing a guest spot on our man Joe Stanley‘s Bondi FM show this Sunday afternoon between 4-6pm to warm up what will be a huge night at Manhattan Lounge.

Presale tickets are available from Our House Sydney

Check out this dope write up on THE MUSIC INSTITUTE

Chez Damier
musicins5.jpg
What was “The Music Institute”?
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997
The Music Institute was Detroit’s answer to such legendary house and garage clubs as New York’s Paradise Garage and Chicago’s Powerplant.
At the beginning of this music, the MI was the only place where you could hear Detroit Techno the way it ought to have been heard; loud. Bumpin’. Funky.
The MI (along with the smaller UN club) was the last gasp of young, black intelligentsia; the final celebration of the unique, creative vibe of the “cool” kids from Northwest Detroit; a vibe long since supplanted in more recent times by the relentlessly shallow and low-class gangsta aestethic (“keepin’ it real, son”) of hip-hop.
But in 1988 and for two years, Derrick May rocked the turntables from midnight to 8-9 am with UK Acid House, Chicago House and the first Detroit Techno classics that the world would later come to know: Suburban Knight’s “Motor City Pressure” (later to be released as “The Art of Stalking”), Model 500’s “No UFOs“, Inner City’s classic “Good Life” and his own anthems, “The Dance”, “The Beginning”, “Nude Photo” and many others. Although others spun at the venue; Mayday was the star of the show, and fuck anybody who says different. Many times, he’d play tracks right off a Fostex two-track recorder that he’d just cut hours before at his studio, something I never got over. He’d beat mix between the reel to reel and 1200s and back, using the pitch control on the reel. He’d cut, edit and destroy other people’s tracks, too, as he did with his fucked-up psycho re-edit of the MI theme “We Call It Aciiiieeed” by D-Mob (which I still have on reel).
Although some newer heads deride him as a has-been, Derrick in those days did by hand what many of the current Techno producers do digitally. No DATs. No acetates.
The MI, through Derrick, brought a European vibe to our city, something that there never was before. Before, we were just a bunch of middle-class black kids who read The Face and GQ and Melody Maker and dreamt about what London or New York would be like; now ABC and Depeche Mode came to the MI in its heyday to witness the relentless Mayday at work, and to hang out with us. Real Brits ! Real accents ! In our club !
A no-liquor (pop and juice only) policy kept the MI open without incident to all comers. The older kids, the Cass Tech and Renaissance high school kids, the gay crowd and girls girls girls. All in one house; pre-rave, pre-drugs. One strobe light and House Music All Night Long.
But, ultimately, that’s what did MI in at the end. The frat boys wanted alcohol. The older kids didn’t like high schoolers there. The girls came to dance, not to get hit on; which made the straight guys mad, as did the healthy presence of a gay clientele at the club (in fact, in those days, the only white faces in the crowd would be the more-adventurous House-loving gay kids and their fag-hags).
Then with the twin debuts of NWA and 2 Live Crew, gangsta hip-hop and booty music (always an East Side thing in Detroit) supplanted House and Techno with the youth. Europe became more lucrative for a lot of Detroit producers as they turned their sights overseas. AIDS destroyed the previously open and fun-loving gay community who had always welcomed straights into their world, and whom House Music had belonged to before Chicago, New York and Detroit had given it to the rest of the world. The talented, smart kids went on to college, only to ultimately leave Detroit (and who could blame them ?).
But for a second, it was there.
There were tears and hugs on the last MI night back in 1990. Every person in Techno at the time, along with a house packed to capacity, jacked their last jack (“jack your body” was current slang back then) at their beloved club. Derrick May’s final record was the sad and plaintive “Pacific State” by 808 State; made even more sad by this new context.
Detroit plunged into the Bush years (more bad news for us black folks). And we said goodbye.
But not before a lot of young, talented black people were inspired to take up this music and one way or another, make it their lives. Then go on to rock the planet.
George Baker (owner). Derrick May. Juan Atkins. Kevin Saunderson. Alan Ester. Alton Miller. Chez Damier. The Music Institute, 1315 Broadway, Detroit, MI.
Alan D. Oldham
Feb. 1997
ALTON MILLER: Biography
It was once said that art is an expression of life. The way in which we choose to view it, hear it, dance it, speak it and write about it is the passion that drives an artist to create. Alton comes to the world painting a musical canvas. Molded, shaped and reared on Stevie Wonder, Santana, Parliament Funkadelic and the Philadelphia sound, he grew to be an avid clubber. On a frenzied tour of clubs in North America, Alton began homing his skills under the electrifying energies of Ron Hardy, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan and Timmy Regisford. Alton, along with friends, set out to recreate the energy they experienced in the clubs, by opening the world renowned dance club the Music Institute in Detroit. The Music Institute was one of the epicenters of the underground House movement where Alton and Chez Damier shared residency on Saturday nights creating the musical volcano that erupted worldwide in 1988. Alton’s affinity for rhythms led him to take up conga drumming and becoming an accompanist for a local Katherine Dunham based dance company. Drumming and its connection to rhythms of all music have proven influential to his musical growth. In 1991, Alton recorded his first release “Pleasure Baby”, for Serious Grooves / KMS. ” I Like Having You”, his second release recorded for Cyren is considered a classic among House DJs worldwide. This single was also a debut for his vocal talents. Alton’s third single “Dusk”, recorded under the pseudonym Aphrodisiac for Serious Grooves / KMS, was critically acclaimed on both European and North American charts. Since his early recordings, Alton amassed worldwide success and exposure as a producer/DJ.

For the last two years, Alton has been busy releasing singles & EPs, for various independent labels. Guidance Recordings and BPM Records were plateaus for Alton’s inner growth as a musician and songwriter/producer. “The Rare Source EP” recorded in Paris for BPM charted in Muzik’s Top 100 Top Songs of 1996. Alton’s latest projects include a single for Carl Craig’s Planet E and mixes for Detroit House Producer : Scott Grooves. At the end of 1998, Alton signed an exclusive recording agreement with Distance Music, this single comes from his forthcoming album, to be released Spring 1999.From 1989 to present, Alton has toured France, Chile, England, Switzerland,Portugal, Germany … defining House music to the world as he has experienced and lives it. Miller’s intimate connection with the drums and varied African influenced rhythms result in compositions that move people physically and emotionally and hearing him DJ defines what House music is all about ! –http://www.distancemusic.com/BIOS/amiller.htm
Detroit techno is an early style of techno music originating from Detroit, Michigan, USA in the mid-1980s. A distinguishing trait of Detroit techno is the use of analog synthesizers and early drum machines, notably the roland TR-909 for its production or, in later releases, the use of digital emulation to create the characteristic sounds of those machines.

History
The three individuals most closely associated with the birth of Detroit techno as a genre are the “Belleville Three”; Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May. These three high school friends from a Detroit suburb would soon find their basement tracks in dancefloor demand, thanks in part to seminal Detroit radio personality The Electrifying Mojo. Mojo not only played the early homegrown techno tracks, but also influenced the new sound by playing electronic music from techno and electronic music pioneers like Kraftwerk, Philip Glass, New Order and Afrika Bambaataa.
Influences also came from Chicago’s early style of house music [1]. Although producers in both cities used the same hardware and even collaborated on projects and remixes together, Detroiters traded the choir-friendly vocals of House with metallic clicks, robotic voices and repetitive hooks reminiscent of an automotive assembly line. Many of the early techno tracks had futuristic or robotic themes, although a notable exception to this trend was a single by Derrick May under his pseudonym Rhythim is Rhythim, called “Strings of Life.” This vibrant dancefloor anthem was filled with rich synthetic string arrangements and took the underground music scene by storm in May of 1987. With subtle differences between the genres, clubs in both cities included Detroit techno and Chicago house tracks in their playlists without objection (or much notice by non-audiophiles) from patrons.
Socially and geographically, it is important to note on a local level, that Detroit Techno as a genre created a newfound, integrated club scene in Detroit that had not been felt in a general sense after the Motown label moved to Los Angeles. Television programs like TV62 — WGPR’s “The Scene” featured a very mixed selection of dancers (Black, White, Chaldean) every weekday after school, but the playlist was typically jammed with the R&B and Funk tracks of the day, like Prince or the Gap Band. Breakouts like Juan Atkins “Technicolor” under his Model 500 moniker eventually found their way onto The Scene, and helped to explode the burgeoning local Techno underground with validity for the urban high school set, college radio programmers and DJs from Chicago to London, and beyond.
Geographically in a Detroit sense, the “Eight Mile” concept, like the segretory stigmata of Watts, The Bronx or South Chicago is still true in southeast Michigan. Even the Belleville Three lived outside the city limits, yet their influence and magnetism in loft apartment parties, after hours and high school clubs, and late night radio united the listeners of progressive dance music from above and below eight mile road. Even infamous, Techno-friendly regular hours clubs like The Shelter, The Music Institute and The Majestic among many others were the incubators for progressing the Techno movement from basements and late night radio onto the dancefloors of the world.
Second wave
Once Detroit Techno became a full-fledged musical genre, a second generation of regional artists developed into techno icons themselves; Jeff Mills, Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman) and Carl Craig to name just a few. Mills began his career as “The Wizard” on Mojo’s nightly broadcast, showcasing his turntablist skills with quick cuts of the latest underground tracks and unreleased music from local labels.
In the mid-to-late 1990s, Detroit Techno producers experimented with extended aural soundscapes featuring sparse, ambient underscores punctuated with sporadic, cyclical periods of percussion. Extended length vinyl projects like those under Hawtin’s Plastikman facade are particularly clear examples of this period. Atkins “Sonic Sunset” CD in 1994 also delivered this new tradition of Detroit techno.
On Memorial Day weekend of 2000, electronic music fans from around the globe made a pilgrimage to Hart Plaza on the banks of the Detroit River and experienced the first Detroit Electronic Music Festival. In 2003 the festival management changed the name to Movement, then Fuse-In (2005), and most recently, Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival (2006). The festival is a showcase for DJs and performers across all genres of electronic music.
Quotes
Derrick May once described Detroit techno music as being a “complete mistake…like George Clinton and Kraftwerk stuck in an elevator.”
Alton Miller
Profile
Of the many figures central to Detroit’s thriving electronic dance music scene that began in the mid-’80s and has carried on to the present, some figures such as Alton Miller have played important roles but never managed to attain the mythical status that has been granted to many of the city’s more legendary figures. Growing up in the 1970s, Miller soaked up the musical environment surrounding him in the Motor City, taking a particular interest in the sounds of Motown, Philadelphia, Parliament-Funkadelic, and Santana.
It was during the early ’80s once the dance music-crazed Miller become friends with a young Derrick May that he decided to start spinning records, citing Chicago DJs such as Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles as prime influences. By the latter part of this same decade, Miller joined forces with George Baker and Chez Damier to start the Music Institute, a short-lived but legendary Detroit club that has since become near-mythical, thanks to the pioneering techno efforts of figures such as May. Following the demise of {~the Music Institute}, Miller took an interest in Conga drumming in addition to DJing, which led to a period between 1989 and 1991 where he toured world with his music. He then joined forces once again with May, first as an employee of the artist’s Transmat record label, then as Aphrodisiac, the title under which he would begin releasing his music. Besides his EP on the Transmat-affiliated label, Fragile, he also released his music on Kevin Saunderson’s KMS label and a series of EPs on the Serious Grooves label. By the mid to late ’90s, he increased his presence in the Detroit area through a number of DJ performances and continued to release his music on renowned labels such as Carl Craig’s Planet E, Mike Grant’s Moods & Grooves, and Distance. ~ Jason Birchmeier , All Music Guide
Chez Damier: 1987, il part pour Detroit où avec l’aide d’Alton Miller il ouvre le Music Institute, le premier club Techno/House aux USA. Un club sans licence pour l’alcool où les Depeche Mode et autres Fine Young Cannibals découvrirent la House.
http://www.tokyoclassified.com/tokyoclubsbars/321/tokyoclubsbarsinc.htm
http://www.bassics.de/mgprofile.html Profile of Mike Grant’s label Moods & Grooves
Meeting Detroit techno legend Derrick May in 1984, Miller was deeply influenced to develop his own DJ skills. Soon he became part-owner of the epicenter of the techno movement, The Music Institute.