Following last month's sampling dispute, the three artists are now planning a collaboration.
The song in question is Supernova's "Beat Me Back," which came out last year on Nirvana Recordings and spent seven weeks at #1 on Beatport's House chart. Reached for comment at his home in Detroit, Saunderson said he first heard of the track in January. "A friend of mine called me up and said, 'Hey, I heard your track on the radio and it sounded different.' So I said, 'No, that's not me, somebody ripped me off.'"
He figured it was an obscure bootleg and didn't think much of it. But when he heard the track on Beatport a month later, he stopped taking the situation lightly. "I was shocked. It was just like, this is the same track and they're selling it! It wasn't like it was just sampled or it was used a bit–the track was robbed, you know?"
Saunderson's first move was to go public. He banged out a statement titled "FROM THE DESK OF KEVIN SAUNDERSON" and sent it to countless artists and music industry professionals. He also provided a link to download "The Sound" for free, along with a stream of "Beat Me Back."
"For me to hear Supernova taking an extended loop of 'The Sound' and claiming that this is their own original composition and production is both dishonest and disrespectful," he wrote. "My first thought was that they were perhaps naïve, but as they have apparently been recording together since 2002 this seems unlikely."
As it turns out, naivety is precisely the duo's defense, and the one Saunderson ultimately accepted. They say they were children in 1987 when "The Sound" came out, and although they're inspired by a lot of old school techno, they had never heard that track specifically. The offending loop supposedly came from a sample library that was given to them by a friend, details of which they can't recall.
Saunderson quickly believed Godi and Nencioni. "I can't tell you how much they said that they were sorry, that they just didn't know, so we resolved our issues," he says. "I was a little unclear about how they got the sound from a sound bank, but I didn't try to get into all that. I do believe after speaking with them that it was a genuine mistake."
As a result of the ensuing agreement, "Beat Me Back" has been re-released with Saunderson listed as a collaborator. He's also receiving a share of the profits. "I'm definitely going to get royalties from the track, definitely. Actually, most of the income from the track will come to me."
Godi and Nencioni say they "could not be happier with the outcome," but they wish the incident hadn't played out so sensationally. "These things happen very often in this industry, and normally it is resolved very easily with a simple e-mail or phone call... We were disappointed that no one contacted us or Nirvana earlier to inform us of the issue and give us a chance to resolve it peacefully."
"We also want say that from the first day this issue came out, all the big labels and the most respected DJs and A&R have contacted us in our favor."
Still, there is by all accounts a "mutual respect" among the three artists–so much, in fact, that some official collaborations are currently in the works. Saunderson says: "They really want to work and do a track with me, and I'm considering it, because they're young and they seem very ambitious."
"I'm not a guy who holds grudges, you know? I'm a businessman. I'm a producer, I'm an artist, and I love what I do. I can move on very easily and the past is the past. But you can't step on me and think you're going to get away with it. Alright?"