Respected and acknowledged around the World as one of the three Detroit Techno innovators, Kevin Saunderson is a legend in his own right, who has helped to reshape the future of Dance music as we know it!
Kevin was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1964, but moved at the age of nine to the place known as the ‘Motor City’, Detroit. He attended Belleville High School (West of Detroit), where his youthful urge to make music had been fuelled. There he befriended two other like-minded students (Atkins and May). After leaving school he attended Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, where he played Football. After 2 years, Kevin quit playing football in order to focus on music, so he joined his high school pals Derrick May and Juan Atkins, which unknown at the time would be the move that would help Kevin’s career escalate.
Starting out as a DJ, Kevin soon developed new skills that led him into producing records, which he released on his own label, KMS Records. The demand for Kevin as a Producer and DJ was overwhelming overseas, as well as in the States. He introduced acts like ‘Kreem’, ‘Reese’, ‘Inter-City’ (later to become Inner City) and ‘Reese & Santonio’. Kevin has had many other aliases too, such as; ‘Tronik House’, ‘The Reese Project’, ‘EssRay’, ‘Kaos’ and more recently, ‘E-Dancer’, which he uses to show his versatility at being able to create different facets of Dance music. Kevin also pioneered the art of the “REMIX,” changing the face of how remixers revamp songs. His very first remix for The Wee Papa Girl Rappers “Heat It Up” went on to pick up ‘DMC Remix of the Year’ in spring 1988.
Kevin’s biggest achievement (to date) and his most commercially recognized project has been INNER CITY, who have come full circle after TEN years, as one of the World’s most influential Dance acts. As one of the most important prime time movers in the house and techno revolution of 1988, Kevin Saunderson and Paris Grey have been to the top, struggled and bounced back to the top of the pile. Now in their thirteenth year together, the duo have proven they are one of dance music’s great survivors with a new dazzling renaissance and they’re justifiably proud of a healthy career spanning early pioneering hits like “Big Fun” and “Good Life”, “Ain’t Nobody Better”, through to “Hallelujah”, “Pennies From Heaven”, “Till We Meet Again”, “Do Ya”, “Your Love” (to name but a few) and most recently the1999 Spanish re-recording of their 1989 hit “Good Life”,(Buena Vida), which soon became a Number One Club hit in Europe and entered the TOP TEN on the UK Pop Charts. (The group’s latest single, “Good Love”, is also destined for success in the UK).
Since the beginning, their career has been nothing short of remarkable, not only for their numerous critical and commercial achievements, but also for their longevity. Whilst most acts have been snubbed out at the onset of the ‘next big trend’, Inner City have managed to sidestep the trends, making “songs that went on to become classics”. Amazingly, the good life of being one of the World’s top dance groups came to them by accident.
In 1987 Kevin, then at only 22-year-old recorded a backing track in a makeshift studio stuck in the basement of his apartment. He needed a girl vocalist who could also supply lyrics and his friend Chicago house producer, Terry “Housemaster” Baldwin, suggested Windy City Chanteuse Paris Grey. Paris agreed, flew into Detroit, came up with lyrics and “Big Fun” was born. Incredibly the tape was then filed away and almost forgotten until months later when UK dance aficionado, Neil Rushton, visited the Motor City to put together a compilation album, “Techno – The New Dance Sound Of Detroit” for Virgin Records. He freaked when hearing the song and made sure “Big Fun” was on the LP. Soon afterwards, it was released as a single and went on to become a World wide smash. But despite it’s sudden success, Paris hung on to her job as a sales assistant in a Chicago store – only quitting when the follow up, “Good Life” outsold “Big Fun”.
The third single “Ain’t Nobody Better” retained Kevin’s techno-logic microchip feel, topped by Paris’s soulful voice. Their debut album, “Paradise” cemented this prosperity and highlighted the Detroit techno blueprint.
In 1993, INNER CITY parted company with their label, Virgin Records. The label released the “Testament” “93” remix album to celebrate their time together. Also in that year they were voted, by the readers of Mixmag Magazine, the “Best International Act of the Year” and a “homecoming” deal with their manager Neil Rushton’s SIX6 label was finalized. Another UK Tour followed in August ’93, including a headlining appearance on the Reading Festival’s dance stage and the top slot at the European Dance Weekender in Paris the following month. It was also at this time that Kevin’s work with his other group THE REESE PROJECT was greeted with equal glee by journalists and clubbers alike.
To date, INNER CITY have had 12 Top 40 hits in the UK, as well as having had two Top 20 albums, with combined sales of more than 6 million. Inner City have also achieved many awards for outstanding accomplishments, such as ‘Best Dance Act in the World’ by DMC in 1989 and 1992. Inner City have also received 4 Gold singles, 1 Gold Album and 1 Platinum Album.
Meanwhile, Kevin’s alter ego E-DANCER produces Techno Music, pure and simple. Created for a savvy audience by an original master. E-DANCER’s first full length LP entitled simply “Heavenly”, has hooked audiences and critics alike. Even more mains-stream music publications were compelled to take notice. For example ‘Spin Magazine’ cited “Heavenly” as ‘ONE OF THE TEN BEST ALBUMS YOU’VE NEVER HEARD’. Odd praise? Perhaps. But accurate nonetheless, for rarely has a record so “underground” in both profile and content. Indeed, “Heavenly” is a ‘Must Have’ in any Detroit Techno collection.
With his latest two productions, Inner City ‘Say Something’ (Concept) and Reese Project “This Means That” (SuSu) both providing late summer 05 hits in Europe, it all reaffirms Kevin’s standing as one of the ‘INNOVATORS’, and a leader in the industry.
One of the most exciting movements for Kevin of 2005, was his new title which has also given him one of the biggest challenges of his career, the Producer of FUSE-IN, the newest reincarnation of Detroit’s 6th electronic festival this Memorial Day weekend at Hart Plaza on May 28th, 29th and 30th, with an outstanding line up which included Mos Def, Ken Ishii, Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson, Green Velvet, Ritchie Hawtin, Underground Resistance, Alexander Robotnick and many more. As Kevin states “What we’ve done in our history in Detroit with techno is a result of a love for all kinds of music, I don’t want this just to be a techno event, I want techno to be the foundation and for people to realize how powerful Detroit has been and still is, I want to put on a good show with good artists so people can be inspired by the music”.
During 2005/2006 We celebrated 20 years of Kevin Saunderson’s music Productions with FUSE-In Presents Kevin Saunderson/Elevator World Tour- The tour featured both House and Techno DJ sets plus a live show incorporating all his most popular productions from 1986-2006. This included tracks from E-Dancer, Esser’ay, K S Experience, Kaos, Keynotes, Reese, Reese + Santonio, , Tronikhouse, Intercity, Kreem,
Inner City and The Reese Project.
The live show featured stunning visuals, and crystal clear audio, taking the audience on a breathtaking journey through the roots and soul of Kevin Saunderson from house to techno and back again. These live shows gave Kevin the opportunity to entertain and inform his audience on his unique history. This incredible body of work, which for the first time will be under one umbrella, clearly defined and clarified the artistry of the man they call THE ELEVATOR. True to his dream, Kevin Saunderson elevated the deep sound of Detroit Techno and took it from the underground into the hearts and souls of music lovers the world over with his Inner City and The Reese Project recordings. These live events will surely be remembered for years to come as a celebration of the one of the greatest ambassadors for techno to come out of Detroit.
In 2007 Kevin is back in the studio working on new productions, and remixes. The first to come out of the box, was a stunning re-working of Claude Von Stroke’s “Who’s Afraid of Detroit” which received 5 star reviews and plaudits from every corner of the globe.
Kevin is set to relaunch his seminal KMS records label with a series of 12” releases throughout 2007. Watch this space