It's fitting that techno's defining festival has a complex backstory, much like the city that gave birth to it. Going from the “shambles” described by Richie Hawtin of Carol Marvin's inaugural '94 World Party event to the successful launch of Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) curated by (later-to-be-sacked) Carl Craig in 2000, to the Paxahau-led incarnation it is today, Movement has changed management like the dance festival equivalent of Chelsea FC.
Since coming in to man the underground stage in 2005 under the guardianship of Kevin Saunderson, the people of Paxahau, who took over full control of production in 2006, have taken steps to propel the event to an international audience while keeping true to its essence as Detroit techno's most integral music festival. Today, it's more diverse than ever, with hip hop, dnb and electronica all getting a look in alongside the Motor City old guard, who set up their stall to bat in full force for the purists.
“Since we became the producers of the festival, we have taken some minor liberties with the lineup that the founding fathers of the festival would surely have not believed were in line with the original vision,” admits Paxahau's Morin Yousif. “However, in order to gain more attention for the quality underground acts that are showcased each year, we have booked some more mainstream acts in the hopes that people who knew those names would also be exposed to artists that they did not know they would love.”
Indeed, had we told Juan Atkins 13 years ago that the likes of Andy C, Squarepusher and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs as Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, he'd have spat Kool Aid all over our Ellesse jumpers, however that's the case today. Also embracing the new breed of the house and techno new school, the likes of Nina Kraviz, Soul Clap and Art Department – even UK garage/house crossover starlet George Fitzgerald and techno/bass talent Benjamin Damage – all foot the bill, alongside Berlin dwellers Steffi, Ben Klock and Tommy Four Seven.
These days encompassing the full electronic spectrum with a techno slant, Movement is still on the move, providing the clubbing world a shopwindow to the heart of a city still struggling to revive itself after suffering economic collapse all those years ago.
“Music has always been an intricate part of Detroit and the residents here are proud of what this festival accomplishes in three days—good music, tourism and a huge economic boost,” explains Morin. “When festival goers from different parts of the world come here, they’re pleasantly surprised over what the city has to offer; great restaurants, galleries, music venues and historic spots just to name a few.”
KEVIN SAUNDERSON ON MOVEMENT...
“Movement is important to techno as a whole. Why? Because it's Detroit. We are the birthplace of techno as people know it. It is the foundation that ignited the music scene around the world along with Chicago. But Detroit had a different path and Detroit is Detroit. The festival was started by Carol Marvin, the festival producer and Carl Craig. The concept was talked about among companions and good friends, including myself, so what happened came from us originally. Myself, Derrick, Carl. So to see it happen was amazing"
"Then because of the politics and the other stuff happening in Detroit, Derrick took over and I joined him in the second year. I resigned then Paxahau then took it on, and it has grown as it should have all along. It has had a major impact on the scene in Detroit and people travelling to here. It went from having on party to two to one hundred now and some pretty great parties. The level of talent has jumped up and its inspired a lot of new, local talent, especially this year. Without Movement all festivals could be commercialised completely, run purely for the sake of money.”