January 31, 2022

Delano Smith, at the heart of Detroit techno’s origin

Learn more about this legend before his performance at ATV Records on Saturday, February 12th 2022

Delano Smith is a DJ and producer who has been a part of the story of Detroit techno from the very beginning. Smith is considered to be one of the first DJs to embrace the turntables and mixing. “I started in the early ’80s,” he recalled, “pre-house, pre-techno, during the disco era between the years of 1981 and 1984.” Taking a hiatus from ’85 to ’93, Smith would see the beginnings of techno as a Black and underground progressive music culture, and later reemerge as a DJ after The House Sound of Chicago and Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit spread the Midwestern American sounds worldwide. As a DJ he saw an opportunity to explore his own creative vision within his culture and community before setting his sights on sharing his sounds abroad: “I don’t know if they called it progressive music anywhere else, but in Detroit, that’s what we called it. Progressive music fell under the umbrella of R&B…I don’t think post-disco was a term.” Smith imagined that a lot of synth-pop and funk music made by studio musicians would inspire techno, while older R&B and disco-inspired Chicago house songs: “House music was very loop-based and used a lot of samples, but Detroit’s version of electronic music was more synth-based with Roland TR-909s, 808s, and a lot of the old Yamaha synthesizers. I think Detroit definitely took a different approach to dance music than Chicago did.”

Enjoy this beautiful mix of selections by Delano Smith.

When beginning to make his own tracks, Delano Smith experimented with the classic 808 and 909 drum machines that built the house and techno sound, though he wasn’t a trained musician. He strived to create his own sound, pulling together many elements of sounds that he felt could express who he was as a musician. “Techno is more of a feeling and the grit of the sound and the rhythm and the melodies that you create from samples and simple plucks of delays,” he articulated. “It’s a completely different deal than regular house music if you’re not a musician.” Techno, in the new millennium, became more stripped-down and precise following the release of Robert Hood’s Minimal Nation in 1994. Smith’s productions bear a similar compressed and decisive formula. He pressed his first track, “Tribunal of Souls,” on Psychostasia, a record label founded by Detroit native Reggie Dokes. The new minimal sound also brought new interest as the internet became more widely accessible: “Back in the day when I first started, I actually had to buy a friggin’ drum machine and a synthesizer. Now, you could just do everything with Ableton.” More recently, Berlin label Sushitech reissued Detroit Lost Tapes, a triple-vinyl collection of previously unheard tracks by Smith. “My sound is kind of a niche because it’s really kind of stripped back from a lot of other types of dance music, but it’s my take on techno and how I feel,” he stated. “My sound is more kind of a groove.”

A beautiful classic from Delano Smith

Delano Smith at ATV Records

Saturday, February 12th, 2022 don’t miss the Detroit legend as Un_Mute, Blkmarket & Minimax present Delano Smith along with Ohashi at ATV Records. To have such an influential musician perform on one of the best sound systems in the city is a dream. This is a very rare chance to experience such an influential player in electronic music in such a perfect environment, you don’t want to miss out.

Join us for this special night with Delano Smith and Minimax resident Ohashi.