The longstanding Detroit party will celebrate 15 years of operation later this month with sets from Brian Gillespie, Derek Plaslaiko and others.
Family started off as a single event in 1996. The next year, it became a weekly Tuesday party at Motor and soon gained international acclaim alongside the club. After Motor closed in 2002, Family moved on to other Detroit venues. To celebrate a decade and a half of operation, a collection of artists who've held Family residencies over the years will play sets, including Derek Plaslaiko, Brian Gillespie and Jason Kendig.
The event will be hosted by its founder Adriel Fantastique, known formally as Adriel Thornton (who last year participated in our oral history of Detroit's electronic music festival). RA caught up with the Family man this week to talk about the anniversary.
Tell us about the early days of Family.
The first Family occurred at Tom Philip's Post, a veteran's hall on the east side of Detroit, in December of 1996. Derek Plaslaiko, Carl Craig, Rob Hood and Adam Haupt played. At the time, it was the largest event, attendance–wise, that I had produced. It was amazing. The following Fall, I was asked to put together a weekly night at Motor. I used the Family concept, which I had been thinking of doing since the party, because of the ambiguity of the word "family." To the underground dance community, the word described us, really because everyone felt that our scene was like a family. For the purposes of what Motor wanted (which was a gay night, which still cracks me up because I had only produced underground dance events that weren't specific), the word "family" meant queer. By merging the two crowds, I felt that we could create a special night. But of course, to me, it wasn't so much about the crowd as it was the music. And, interestingly enough, I didn’t think it would last long.
Can you share with us a few of your most memorable moments (or maybe your favorite sets)?
Wow, there are so many, it's hard to think of just a few. One that stands out was from the anniversary a few years ago. Derek, Jason Kendig, Carlos Souffront and Patrick Russell did this hours-long tag team set that was... stunning. Another time, at the weekly, Derrick May just showed up and started playing as a surprise guest. There are just so many good memories.
You were heavily involved in the early days of Detroit's electronic music festival, which seems to be attracting more and more young people each year. What do you think of the American youth's growing appreciation for electronic music?
It's interesting. When we started the festival we knew that the interest of electronic music fans would be great, but the age range was wildly varied. Now, there are really young folks there. I think that the music, in one form or another, has seeped into the mainstream consciousness. Like, it's no longer hidden in the warehouses or clubs. I mean, Justin Beiber wants to use dubstep on his next album. That says... something... about how the youth are gravitating towards electronic music. I guess that's cool, if it's a gateway to something better. Like, maybe if they like his music, they’ll seek something deeper. I’m trying hard to be nice here. [laughs]
The 15th anniversary party's lineup is filled with Family residents and friends. What should a guest who's completely new to Family expect at Motor that night?
They should expect top-notch electronic music, ranging from Detroit techno to deeeep house. The crowd will be totally unhinged... Family goes hard. [laughs] These people are party professionals. The spirit of the event is loose and free. Like, you can be whoever and whatever you want to be that night, with no fear.
Speaking of Motor: plans to convert the club into a retail space are apparently in the works. Do you know what the future will hold for Motor?
No clue. I'm not sure if the plan to convert it is accurate anymore.
Now that the party is turning 15, what's up next for Adriel Fantastique and Family?
That's a great question. As far as me, I'll continue producing and hosting events. I'd like to continue my current direction, which is producing signature events on a larger scale.
Family is always a wild card. 15 years is a long time for an event. The question is, has it been long enough for Family? I think that it has room to evolve. I would love to see Family continue to matter and remain relevant. I love that it has managed to appeal to new people and maintain its original base. Maybe it's time for a "Family" festival? Hmmm...