He is a hustler. He uses music as his platform to inspire, bring growth and spread knowledge. If you have ever seen him play records you will see among the crowd a solid core of community friends up front and center. Bruce Bailey is a true Detroiter.
Being born and raised in Detroit directly developed his love for music, he says. “After all, from Motown to techno, us ‘Motor Citians’ have some substantial musical roots. Detroit is known for hard working individuals and I guess that really rubbed off on me.” Initially entering the scene as a promoter he decided to delve deeper into mixing records as he became witness to the inexplicable energy created by the music, the DJ, and the crowd.
His story’s trajectory truly demonstrates how versatile, grinding effort and an attitude that won’t quit can help you achieve your dreams. Bailey is a DJ, a promoter, a music lover and a businessman. Through various avenues and vessels he has established himself by taking opportunities as they come and perpetuating progress. He says, “It’s like working on my craft 24 hours a day is normal or something. I wouldn’t be able to stay relevant today without that instilled work ethic.”
It stretches back to his time spent as an undergraduate student at Western Michigan University. Centrally located between Detroit and Chicago, Bailey (with a foundation of music history from his hometown) started to become increasingly more exposed to Chicago house music. He and his friends were playing vinyl and at the time he says “the record purchasing craze was unbelievable.” They were able to tune into house music on numerous radio stations picked up with his roommate’s high frequency antenna. “I remember many a night (sometimes day) we would sit in the dorm room with sounds blasting, writing down what we thought were the names of new music we had never heard. On weekends we would drive down to the Windy City and purchase vinyl or send word to the Detroit buyers to grab some of this new music we’ve heard.”
As he started to become more established within the scene, Bailey and his partner Vern English worked together to found Tandem Entertainment Company. They both had been spinning since college. “We were getting booked individually at a ridiculous clip. One day we collectively decided that we needed to emerge from the underground way of doing business. So, we added eight or so additional DJs, sound techs and personalities to the team to help cover the plethora of events we couldn’t keep up with beforehand. It not only helped us to totally legitimize the steady stream of revenue but also assist us in multiple tax related ways,” he says. “Over the years ‘The Tandem Brand’ has covered a diverse number of events as our DJ services became mandatory from numerous corporate and underground bookings. To this day The Tandem is the most utilized DJ company in Metro Detroit.”
Throughout Detroit he has held residencies in the city’s most reputable spots. Bailey’s first was at Cheeks, a legendary establishment where Jeff Mills’ Wizard persona came to fruition. The spot was also home to moments like the debut of Inner City’s “Good Life”. In 1991 Bailey went on to become head promoter and resident DJ at Club 246 where he stayed for seven years. It was during this time that DJ Minx got her start, Delano Smith got back behind the decks, and the stage saw the likes of so many local favorites like Norm Talley, Moodymann, Al Ester, and Terrence Parker.
“This is arguably the most historic club in Detroit history and the stories from this era are nothing less than amazing. Probably the most memorable was – well let me set the stage first…” he says. “Club 246 was located on the street level of The Madison Hotel in the thick of Downtown Detroit. The night I was given to run was a Thursday. In the early ‘90s you couldn’t get a continuous weekend night to promote house music at any venue downtown, hence the Thursday night sets began. So, I’d say halfway through my seven year run (on a Sunday if I recall properly) I got a call from the owner saying there was a fire in the building. Now keep in mind all the other businesses within the hotel (including the hotel rooms themselves) were defunct except the ordinarily designed Club 246 and it’s adequately sized walkout patio.”
He continues, “So as you’d guess I’m in limbo regarding this situation as Thursdays were definitely the hottest thing going in Detroit at this time, house music wise. The fire department came out and extinguished the fire and it was a mess throughout the building. I knew we’d be closed for some time with a good possibility of never reopening. To my surprise a few days later I got a call saying that we were gonna try and move forward with opening up – I couldn’t believe it. Somehow we opened and it was super successful. Outta the disaster we got an upgraded sound system (so needed) and for maybe a week or two you could smell faint remnants of smoke, but unbelievably not even for one week did it deter the capacity crowds from supporting.”
After Club 246 closed he moved on to a restaurant called Lola’s in 2002. This residency lasted him about five years which he says “catapulted my brand and solidified a switch, as a week later I became the first resident DJ at TV Lounge.” At the time Bailey’s friend, Tree Graves, was the owner. Formerly called Half Past 3 (now frequently called TV Bar) this venue remains one of the strongest Detroit spots. “You see, Half Past 3 was more so the cool spot for the cities jet setters before transforming into the house/techno mega club that it is today. Sport players and dignitaries flooded the venue on Fridays and the Salsa community filled the joint every Saturday.”
The list of residencies and artists that have performed either inside, on the patio or down the alley at TV Bar is innumerable. With a welcoming atmosphere the club’s energy continues strong longevity to this day for locals and visitors alike. Bailey says, “TV Lounge is a family and I’d like to think I did my share of work in elevating it to the worldwide iconic status it receives today.”
There is an undeniable uniqueness to the Detroit hustle. It is grassroots, unrelenting and if you have seen it before you know there is a genuine confidence embodied in the energy. This is why you see (in many Detroit DJs and producers) this particular attitude which makes their presence so special. Especially during the time before technology, there was a limited accessibility in sharing sounds. It took, as Bailey and so many others did, pushing out hundreds of cassette mixtapes. Speaking to people face-to-face and developing real-time connections was the only accessible avenue anyone had to make their name known. In Bailey’s mind it’s how you set yourself apart.
“Here in Detroit you’d never solely make it in the DJ business if you sat back and waited for clients to contact you. If you excelled here in The D, you must be liked, have a solid game plan and also the intellect to overcome obstacles – hell, I always say if it was easy everyone would be doing it (successfully),” he says. When you see Bailey play on home turf it is so apparent that he has developed and maintained relationships throughout the years. Keeping those personal connections alive is a foundation for success is just about anything.
“Certain things you do dictate your character and I believe that represented mine in the best fashion. Of course my original saying had to go on this sign as marketing waits for no one – ‘the brand don’t build itself.’” – BRUCE BAILEY
There is plenty on the horizon for Bailey starting this spring with the release of his latest EP The Detroit Room through Open Bar Music. He says, “This two track release has been simmering for quite a few months. Additional production by Oscar P and Delano Smith make this a sure fire underground hit for the deep house music fan.”
Additionally, you can also look forward to a two-day boutique festival in Detroit during the last weekend of June at TV Lounge. With efforts from Bailey, the venue’s staff, Josh Guerin and Delano Smith, talent is booked and “people can expect the official announcement sometime early May. Collectively we couldn’t be more excited about our first stab at a local festival.”
Within Bailey is a deeply motivated passion to create and build. He blends together his entrepreneurial spirit and his love for music in a way that is tasteful, genuine and inspiring. The name Bruce Bailey, is more than just a name. “Music for me is a collection of emotions. I love it for the way it brings people together and how it unites communities. Without music there would definitely be a void in my life. I look forward to spreading my love of music around more this year as I have road shows in China, New York, Houston, Chicago, Dallas, North Carolina, Los Angeles and Virginia already set for this year. Yup, I love music…”
Catch Bruce Saturday night in Rochester for Signal > Noise.
ROCHESTER – Signal > Noise celebrates their birthday with three beasts: Pittsburgh’s Aaron Clark and Shawn Rudiman and Chicago’s Sassmouth.
Perhaps no one else is as responsible for putting Pittsburgh on the map recently like AARON CLARK. If you’ve been plugged into the scene over the past several years, you’ve undoubtedly caught wind of the throbbing, sweaty techno revival happening there, at one of the events Aaron helps curate and promote with his crew Humanaut (recently celebrating their 10th-year anniversary!) and the notorious queer collective of which he’s an integral part, Honcho. What you may not know is the dancefloor weapon that Aaron Clark is when he gets behind the decks. Dynamic, subterranean beats mixed with maturity and surgical precision is what Aaron brings to whatever sound system he rocks, be it Berghain in Berlin or Rochester’s Signal>Noise.
Chicago’s Sam Kern, aka SASSMOUTH is the jet-setting queen bee of the American underground techno/house scene. Her reassuring presence and constant hard work on so many fronts has helped energize, catalyze and unify the U.S. scene. Sam’s passion for dance music and its lifestyle is unquestionable. She runs the always-on-point God Particle record label, is a resident DJ at Chicago’s Smartbar and San Francisco’s As You Like It, and with the Naughty Bad Fun Collective, is responsible for one of the most beloved events during Movement weekend in Detroit every year, Industry Brunch. Besides all this, Sam is an absolutely incredible DJ, and a simply wonderful human being whom we cherish and are thrilled to have back in Rochester, which is somehow still standing after her last appearance here in 2014
Pittsburgh’s SHAWN RUDIMAN is part-man, part-animal, and part-machine (he can also be quite the party animal, but that’s another story). Shawn annihilated the Signal>Noise dancefloor upon his last visit with the explosive 100% hardware live performance that he is renowned for worldwide. Many in-the-know techno-heads everywhere regard his as the best live techno PA on the planet, and we at Signal>Noise unanimously agree. Shawn has been a staple in the world techno community for almost two decades, playing at clubs, raves and festivals like Tresor and Movement Detroit regularly. You simply haven’t witnessed the pure, unadulterated fury of techno until you’ve witnessed Shawn Rudiman and his machines raging at full blast. on a killer sound system.
<<< DJ LINEUP >>>
[Honcho | Humanaut PGH]
[God Particle | Smartbar CHI]
[Detroit Techno Millitia | God Particle | 7th City]
<<< PARTY ESSENTIALS >>>
Saturday > January 28
45 Euclid > Rochester > NY
[10PM – 4AM]
SIGNAL > NOISE v2.3: 2016’s final update in Rochester’s series of intimate gatherings featuring DJs and artists at the forefront of house and techno.
Affiliate of Detroit’s Interdimensional Transmissions and Bunker New York City, loved and respected by everyone who knows him, Derek Plaslaiko is the consummate dj’s dj. Derek has graduated from studious Detroit workhorse to globetrotting techno ambassador by diligently paying dues and djing prolifically for over twenty years. Making his home in Berlin, Plaslaiko remains 100% Detroit at heart, playing the perfect blend of gritty, electro and house-infused techno, with careful attention to detail. Known for seamless blends, staggering knowledge of music, obscure track selection, and a fun vibe behind the decks, experiencing a Plaslaiko set is a revelation everyone should have on the dancefloor.
You’ve witnessed his record-setting 12-hour Boiler Room set, now check him out in Rochester, NY as he commands the SIGNAL>NOISE sound system for the entire 6-hour duration of the night, open to close.
READ ON BELOW FOR INFO RELATED TO TICKETS, VENUE, AND ARTIST LINEUP.
<<< DJ LINEUP >>>
[The Bunker NY, Interdimensional Transmissions | Berlin]
[Open > Close]
<<< PARTY ESSENTIALS >>>
Saturday > December 10
45 Euclid > Rochester > NY
[10PM – 4AM]
There is an undeniable passion that drives Derek Plaslaiko, a Detroit native who calls Berlin home base. With more than 20 years of touring internationally, playing extended sets, and producing tracks – in addition to balancing family life – he continues to grow as a beloved head in the scene.
Growing up just 20 minutes outside of Detroit proper, Plaslaiko’s youth was spent exploring and becoming heavily involved in the city’s circuit. He got his start around 1994 when Detroit’s house and techno scene was on a heavy up and he became crucial to both the Analog and Poorboy Parties, along with comrade Mike Servito.
An experience that really brought him into the realm was picking up a job at Record Time. Opened in 1983 by Mike Hime, the acclaimed music shop was a staple for local music lovers. With a couple different locations it became a place where many would converge to explore and discover the multitude of local sounds and music from abroad.
Plaslaiko started working at Record Time around Christmas 1996, he vaguely recalls. Hired by Mike Huckaby he says “I was only supposed to come on for the holidays, but then was kept on until summer 1998, I think? Somewhere around there.”
Other former employees include familiar names Claude Young, Rick Wilhite, Magda, Dan Bell and Rick Wade. The Dance Room at the Roseville location became known as a hub for collecting and selling records from numerous local house and techno producers. Plaslaiko says “the space was was usually pretty hilarious, too. Guys like Gary Chandler & DJ Dangerous would come in and crack jokes with Huck. Have you rolling on the floor laughing.”
Eventually, “I got let go for the same reason 99 percent of the people working there did: being late. They were super strict on it. Even if you were one minute late, then that would be strike one. I then went back to work at the Ferndale location around the spring of 2000 until spring of 2002,” he says. During his time there he was ordering for the dance catalog and remembers it being fun, seeing a range of characters walk through its doors. He commended the staff of Record Time saying it “was nice to see the hard work build into something special.”
The shop was influential in many facets for young Plaslaiko as his passion for music began to transform. “Working there was incredible! Both locations were phenomenal. This music was a lot harder to come by back then. So, working at the source really helped shape my musical tastes. Not to mention working around Mike Huckaby,” he says.
His employment at Record Time helped him earn his weekly residency at Family. Held at the pivotal Motor club tucked away in Hamtramck, this venue played an important role for the scene’s growth and was one of the longest running clubs in Detroit. Jason Kendig and Jeremy Christian were original Family residents. One night at a party in 1998 Plaslaiko found out Christian was leaving his spot and the event’s promoter Adriel Thornton had an opening to fill. Plaslaiko took to the helm and was a regular there for the next four years or so.
It was this residency that convinced Carl Craig to ask him to play the inaugural Detroit Electronic Movement Festival [DEMF], which eventually transitioned to be known today as Movement.
Throughout the years he has found himself playing the annual festival, other parties throughout Memorial Day Weekend and as a resident he can always be found at the otherworldly after-party No Way Back. That is of course with the exception of 2014 when he basically took the year off from DJing altogether with his son’s birth just four months prior. Regardless, experiencing basically every year since the millennium he has seen the festival’s evolution, which is now a pilgrimage for music lovers from around the globe.
“The festival has changed in so many different ways. I mean, the obvious one is that it used to be free. But that was never going to be able to sustain itself. Even still, you can’t beat that first year. The thing about it being free that made it so special was that people from absolutely every walk of life came down to check it out. Every race, every age – you name it and they were down there. But, you start putting a price tag on that, and it’s obviously going to change.”
Prices began increasing, but he says the biggest benefit to Paxahau taking over in 2006 and the higher price tag means a larger scale of production. “Doing something that big down there is a feat unlike any other. I’m super proud of all those guys for doing what they have done with it. And they really do strive to make it better and better every year. I often think they are going to plateau even with the sound systems, but they just keep getting bigger and better … It’s always going to be a super special weekend for me, and I don’t even plan to skip it again unless something major prevents me from going.”
In the summer of 2004 he needed a change of scenery and moved from Detroit to New York City. Eventually he met Bryan Kasenic and went on to become a now 10-year resident of The Bunker parties. During time spent in the city he started producing; his debut output xoxo, NYC was a 12″ released in 2010 through Perc Trax. During that same year, he packed up again to move to Berlin and has since remained. In 2011 he spent a summer residency at Club der Visionaere and frequents the notable and legendary Tresor and Berghain/Panorama Bar among many others in Germany.
Although Berlin remains home he continues to travel extensively playing festivals such as Dimensions in Croatia, Communikey in Boulder, Harvest Festival in Toronto and Decibel in Seattle. He’s shared his music at beloved venues such as Smart Bar, Hot Mass, Good Room for The Bunker, Marble Bar – the list goes on and on.
Still, he maintains his traveling lifestyle as a DJ and balances life at home with his wife Heidi and his son Elliot. Such dedication is no easy feat and I find incredible appreciation for people who are so passionate about their music and are still growing a family. Someone else whom I admire for exactly that is Chicago’s Sam Kern, otherwise known as Sassmouth, who is also good friend of his. I couldn’t help but wonder what sentiments parent DJs must share with one another.
“God, I love Sam Kern. She was actually just in Berlin with Ryan [her husband] and Amelia [her daughter] and we got some great hang time in. I really try my hardest to not let my ‘career’ affect my family life in Berlin. I’ve definitely been more selective of my gigs these days and also very cautious about spending too much time away from home. DJing might be considered a job that I’m doing, but there is no denying that there is quite a bit of fun being had. I tend to feel a bit guilty about it, and feel it’s maybe a bit unfair to Heidi if she’s left to all of the parental duties while I’m out partying in multiple cities for 2-3 weekends in a row. Despite all of that, she is incredibly supportive and is even encouraging me to go out on the road more this next year.”
Elliott will be three in January and since he spends time in daycare and preschool (Kita in Germany) Plaslaiko says things are becoming a bit easier to manage. His wife is able to work consistently at her day job, “so me being gone doesn’t affect her like it would have a year ago,” he says. “Though, I’m sure the early mornings every single day probably wear on her a bit. But, all in all, I’m just trying to weigh everything out so that I’m still doing my part, so to speak. Elliott is at an age where he’s constantly doing new things that are super impressive, so it hurts to be away and missing a lot of these first time moments. I also miss them terribly within two days of being gone. Even writing this, I’ve been gone four full days and it feels like weeks. And I have eight more days to go. So, in short, yeah it’s quite hard to be away from them. Luckily with Skype I can stay a bit connected to them while I’m touring. I have no idea how people would’ve done this 15 years ago!”
For the last stop on his tour he will hit Rochester, NY for the first time at Signal > Noise, which has seen the likes of The Black Madonna, Claude Young, Norm Talley, Mike Servito and more. For a man with more than 20 years of dance floors under his belt he has seen a variety of spaces and crowds. I inquired about his reflections on small city scenes.
“I have never been one to shy away from playing someplace just because it’s scene is ‘small’. In fact, I’m always looking for more cities that fit that description. For years, I have had the approach of hoping to help build something somewhere. It’s important for a scene’s growth to have people come in from outside of the local community and (hopefully) provide a different experience, and possibly inspire those in that community.” – DEREK PLASLAIKO
For almost every DJ that has spoken with Sequencer regarding their insight on intimate crowds and concentrated music scenes the consensus seems to continue. “And smaller scenes usually have some of (like you said) the most passionate crowds. The first two that come to mind are Pittsburgh and Philly! Small scenes for the most part, but I can come in and do seven hours at Hot Mass, or thirteen hours at Inciting HQ and have some of the most engaged dancers I have seen anywhere else in my life! I’ve heard nothing but great things about what has been going on in Rochester, and I’ve been looking forward to it for months now.”
What can we look forward to seeing from Plaslaiko in the future? “I have The Bunker 14 Year Anniversary coming up in January! Definitely looking forward to that. Also, I did a remix for TB Arthur that will be out in late January. I’m also going into the studio with BMG right after I finish this interview, so that’s exciting too!”
Fluidly hypnotic Bill Converse, a DJ and producer, was heavily influenced by the sounds of Detroit while growing up in Lansing, Mich. At 15 years old in 1998 he and his family moved to Austin, Texas where he currently resides and continues to develop an abrasive and immersive experience of industrial techno and acid.
Initial exposure to techno happened for Converse while in Michigan and he started mixing as a youthful teenager. Mechanical Pulse, a college radio station out of Michigan State University, is where he was familiarized with Detroit techno, industrial music, and Chicago selectors
He developed solid roots living in Texas and the friendships he made have kept him there. “Pretty much everyone I grew up with here has been involved with music in some capacity the entire time I’ve known them. I’ve always enjoyed that about this place – even though for a long time I didn’t know any other techno nerds, just other types of music nerds,” he says. “But rent was cheap, friends hooked up free food, coffee, groceries and drinks…now the day-to-day isn’t quite what it used to be but you can still have fun.”
The Rave-O-Lution 309 is the first piece of gear that sparked his entryway into the realm. “I’ve always liked making music,” he says. When Propellerhead’s ReBirth was released he spent his time programing drum tracks and “wanky 303 patterns.” From that point on his journey into production began.
“Finally, I began saving up and buying the machines I lusted after for so many years, got lucky and started buying them before they started wearing the price tags they do now.”
Under the moniker WWC, he originally released 100 copies of Meditations/Industry, a 90-minute cassette of atmospheric acid, in 2013 through Austin’s cassette label Obsolete Future. Three years later the album was edited down and an LP was reissued under the name Bill Converse through Dark Entries, a San Francisco-based label. Establishing a solid foundation for Converse, that record brings a framework to sound that is evocative and dreamy.
“There was nothing pre-meditated about those tracks, they were all sourced from the urge and satisfaction of turning knobs and pushing sliders. Very precious to me. Now the tracks are living on their own, they’ve all grown up and have left the nest – they do what they want to, they have lives and lovers of their own. I’ve had to learn how to let them go. And I still love them very much. They are unfolding into this world quite nicely and I am overjoyed for them.” – BILL CONVERSE
Continuing deeper, the label explored more of Converse’s catalog and released Warehouse Invocation in July 2016. The EP included three remastered tracks from his previous record and one unreleased track that truly encompasses his raw and enveloping production approach.
He draws a crowd in and weaves his signature sound on dance floors throughout the U.S. and on an international level. Through Intergalactic FM, Converse and his crew Timelife Methrave began “Tunnel Dive” – an online radio show with a mission to promote and support underground DJs and producers. Currently spearheaded by Sylvia Shale, the broadcast specializes in the darker side of electronic music.
Whether eyes closed with headphones on or upon a dark floor in front of a system, Converse knows how to take the listener on an introspective trip. His productions and his sets have a very beautiful and ethereal as well as a brash and haunting spectrum. Explore more and hear for yourself. Care to catch the live experience? Rochester, N.Y. party Signal > Noise will host Converse for the next installation on Oct. 8.
An epic celebration of Rochester Pride. An exploration of current and classic house, techno and disco sounds slaying the global underground club circuit. Brought to you WITH LOVE from stewards of Rochester’s dance music underground, SIGNAL > NOISE and SOLE REHAB, and featuring GAY MARVINE [San Francisco] [Bath House Etiquette, Secret Mixes Fixes] and D’ADHEMAR [Washington DC] [Honcho PGH] as well as JIM KEMPKES [Rochester] [Signal > Noise].