Inside the sonic mind of a Midwest techno master.
At a young age, Kalamazoo-native Donnell Knox was on the cusp of signing a contract that would've taken him to California to make a hip-hop record. His cousin Jay Denham happened to bring him to Detroit around the same time, where Knox first met Derrick May. The image of May sitting zen-like on the floor surrounded by blinking machines struck a chord with the deep-thinking Knox, and from then on, techno was his life. But long before coming into contact with the Detroit school, the music was already part of his DNA. He used to spend childhood summer vacations in Detroit and Chicago, where he'd tape radio shows from The Wizard and Hot Mix 5. He eventually started releasing high-octane Midwest techno as D-Knox in his late teens and founded his own label, Sonic Mind, soon after in 1995. He always tried to infect his music with a positive, holistic energy, hoping to subconsciously help people understand their place in the world.
He spent years flying back and forth from Kalamazoo to Europe before eventually settling in Warsaw, where he resides today. Nowadays, Knox is able to pursue music on his own terms, releasing what he wants, when he wants, with little external pressure. He's worked with higher-profile labels since the move, landing on fellow Kalamazoo local Seth Troxler's Tuskegee and Maceo Plex's Ellum in recent times. When he visited RA's Berlin HQ to speak with Will Lynch, he unpacked the spiritual philosophy that's shaped his life and music.