One of the many astounding facts often forgotten about the great city of Detroit is its status as the birthplace of techno music. Pioneering Black artists from the Motor City and its suburbs welded synths and rhythm into one unstoppable machine, doing for Woodward and Gratiot Ave what Kraftwerk had done for the Autobahn. These techno vanguards created a soundtrack to life in the city, fueled by the fires of industry and progress and set to the heartbeat of the people. If you have spent any time here, you know that the people of Detroit work, and Detroit techno captures that ethos with music that demands physical engagement from the listener.
Movement Music Festival, the beloved celebration of Detroit electronic music, has taken place in the D since 2006 and draws a worldwide audience to Hart Plaza. Movement 2023 happens this weekend (May 27-29), and while it features sets from EDM household names like Skrillex and Bonobo, Detroit natives and global techno enthusiasts alike know that it’s the local talent–both newcomers and icons–that has always made Movement a top-tier festival. The lineup is absolutely packed with Detroiters, and here are 5 local acts we can’t wait to see.
With a moniker uniting Black revolutionary Huey Newton and the tech-augmented titular character of William Gibson’s short story Johnny Mnemonic, Huey Mnemonic (O’Shay Mullins) is ushering in the future of electronic music in Michigan. While working in a Grand Rapids fabrication factory, Mnemonic moonlit as a radio DJ, starting his own show that showcased the best of GR’s surprisingly formidable dance scene. Now he’s back in Detroit, but his vision stays in orbit.
313 Acid Queen
313 Acid Queen is the pseudonym of Rebecca Goldberg. Her homages to Detroit don’t end with her area code shout-out; with tracks like “Riverwalk” and “Aquarium (Belle Isle Acid)”, Goldberg anchors her frenetic-but-focused tracks to Detroit landmarks. Pro tip: find a parking garage roof with a clear view of the RenCen at night and put on her collab track with SickBoy, “Renaissance.” You might gain insight into the alchemy she uses to turn physical fragments of Detroit into vital sounds.
With a discography that touches three decades, ownership of two Detroit-based record labels (Mahogani Music and KDJ Records), and a handful of Grand Theft Auto Online cameos under his belt, Moodymann’s resume is as multifaceted as his music. His sets are hallmarked by an intoxicating blend of disco and funk, mixing the analog virtuosity of Motown with one-of-a-kind digital magic. His extensive discography and genre elasticity always result in a vibey set–don’t miss it.
Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale
Widely regarded as the Godmother of House, Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale has been a familiar voice on Detroit radio since the ‘80s and has the distinction of being the city’s first female house DJ. As the founder of the Detroit-based Lesbians of Color Support Network, Hale has led and championed intersectional activism in her local community and across the music world. She’s been breaking new ground since she entered the scene, so don’t be surprised when you feel tremors underneath your feet at her Movement set.
Another Detroit legend who has radically altered the course of global dance music, Robert Hood has been innovating since his emergence in the early ‘90s. From co-founding the powerful, unflinchingly revolutionary musical collective Underground Resistance, to establishing his own label (M-Plant), combined with decades of singular releases (including a watershed record that shaped the minimal techno genre), Hood’s musical and cultural oeuvre is as expansive as his ever-shifting sound. His work as a member of Floorplan in the early 2010s united his precise, minimal style with the joyful maximalism of gospel, a combination that continues to influence hip-hop to this day.