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The weekly RA Podcast features an exclusive mix of electronic music from top producers and DJs around the world.
In the mix with a Detroit legend.
Minimal techno pioneer, Underground Resistance alum, Detroit original—it'd be easy for Robert Hood to rest on his laurels, to become little more than a time capsule. But while to this day you know a Hood record when you hear it, he hasn't stopped moving forward, whether by continually refining the pared-down sound that made him famous, revisiting another shade of his musical personality (his Floorplan alias has been particularly active these last few years), or throwing curveballs at those who think "president of Minimal Nation" pretty much covers his place in electronic music history.
The latter's certainly the case on Motor: Nighttime World 3, the surprisingly lush recent installment of his series delving into the metaphysics of the Motor City. "Techno of big, broken-hearted beauty," is what RA's Tony Naylor had to say. But let's go further: It's as nuanced a reading of his hometown—politically, socially, spiritually, and, of course, musically—as you're likely to get through sound alone. Meaty stuff from a guy who's made his name stripping techno down to the bone.
Which isn't to say that a guy making such thought-provoking music can't throw down a good party set, because that's precisely what we get on RA.330: the rhythms are driving and the loops unrelenting—this is Hood, after all. Your feet should know just what to do.
What have you been up to recently?
Well, just preparing for the release of Motor: Nighttime World 3. Working on some new elements, just experimenting with some different sounds and trying some different techniques. I don't know if I've mentioned this before but I'm working on a new live set and just preparing for an upcoming tour in support of Nighttime World 3. Staying busy in the studio pretty much.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It was recorded in my studio on turntables and CDJs—you know, the typical set up, nothing really out of the ordinary.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I decided to start with DJ Muggs and GZA from Wu Tang Clan, the intro from their last album. [The mix] was Detroit inspired, elements of Rhythim Is Rhythim and 69. I tried to give it a Detroit sort of essence, sort of a throwback to the days of the Music Institute.
Were you imagining specifically Detroit-related imagery when you were composing Nighttime World 3?
Yeah, absolutely. I was born and raised in Detroit and so that feeling of, not necessarily hopelessness, but the feeling…that progressive attitude of Detroit is what I was trying to pull from…that feeling of trying to move forward, you know, when you had black people coming from the south and hopes of the American dream in the auto industry and the Motown sound. That was all the inspiration behind it, and the adversity that they faced in trying to achieve the American dream and also my thoughts, or my feelings, concerning my parents and my grandparents' aspirations of building a better life for us; their children not realising the doors that they opened for us.
I doubt very seriously if we would have been exposed to the type of music and the type of atmosphere and the type of sounds and the culture we were exposed to in any other place in the world.
Returning to the concept behind the album, what do you personally think it would take to restore Detroit to the path of its former prosperity?
If the people would begin to get it in their hearts and in their mindsets that we are the holders, we hold the key to rebuilding. Detroit is in our hands and we can realise that it's not in the government's hands; it's not in the mayor's hands. The people are going to make the change. People had this idea when Barack Obama was first elected president that he would be the catalyst of change. When he spoke last week during the Democratic National Convention he made it clear that he could inspire change but it's the people who are going to have to make the change.
It's the same with Detroit techno. Detroit techno could very well be alive and thriving and building, but it's going to have to take time and effort from the artists and creators of it, and not sit around and complain and complain about how bad things are and who didn't get good breaks and complain about the politics.
What are you up to next?
I'm currently preparing to release a Floorplan album for later this year and I'm pretty excited about that. That's about it right now for the remainder of 2012.
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