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 electronic dance music as we know it. On Memorial Day weekend, Detroit brings people from all over the world to celebrate the movement of underground music; where the outcome is bringing positive change to both music and the Detroit community. Sunday, day 2 of Movement Music Festival, I had the pleasure of interviewing brothers, Dantiez (22) and Damarii (24) Saunderson before their back-to-back set, which took place on Monday. I was able to dive deep into the Saunderson family history – from their earliest memories of techno- to the specific styles each has that make them unique. Dantiez has been producing and performing for 4 years, while this will be Damarii’s first big break. I noticed their unbreakable chemistry as they spoke, which transitioned straight through to the stage and then onto their after party. Both Dantiez and Damarii, with special appearances from Kevin himself, played a back-to-back set before Disclosure took the stage. It’s obvious to see that The Saunderson Brothers are not only continuing tradition, but also establishing memories of their own that will go down in Detroit’s history forever.
[LIS] So your dad is Kevin Saunderson, one of the original three pioneers in the Detroit techno scene. At what age were you exposed to this realm of music, and what was your first special connection to it?
[Dantiez] I’d say at like 5 or 6 and it was very vague. My pops used to have a studio where we lived outside of Metro Detroit in the suburbs. It was a little town called White Lake. I would wake up to hearing my pops producing techno. The upper right wing of the house was dedicated to it. I would say that would be my earliest memory.
[Damarii] His was 6 years old, mine was 9 years old, with three years apart. We knew what techno was but we didn’t naturally gravitate towards it. It’s something that as we grew older we just caught on. Watching him work in the studio was great for us growing up even though we didn’t realize it.
Was there a specific moment that made you realize you wanted to follow in your father’s footsteps to becoming a techno producer?
[Damarii] About 4 years ago, my dad took me on a trip to Ibiza, and the vibes out there changed my life. The parties were non-stop and I had never seen anything like it. So after that I fell in love.
[Dantiez] Yes, about 5 minutes after Damarii looked at me and said, “I want to be a DJ,” I thought, “Well I want to be a DJ too!” We have a very healthy and competitive brotherly edge.
How has the history of techno in Detroit fueled your career? Who are your biggest mentors that inspire you?
[Dantiez] The innovators of techno, like Derick May, Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, Eddy Folks. We grew up around them. Being around them and seeing them share their music with other people all around the world, showed me how it can change peoples lives for the better. It’s inspiring in so many ways. They are legends to us.
[Damarii] He pretty much said it all. When stepping outside of Detroit, I’d say Luciano is one of my favorite DJs and I look up greatly to him and his style.
How would you describe your style of music? And what makes you individual when being compared to your family members?
[Dantiez] I try to aim for more of a deeper and dance floor oriented feel. Sounds that get you moving. I have a few different personas so it’s hard to pinpoint my exact sound. You can definitely hear Detroit’s influence through its sounds. Growing up around my Dad, his style naturally rubbed off on me and seeped into my own style.
[Damarii] I define my style as dark and tech-y, groovy, and more melodic. I definitely got that from Carl Craig and my pop on the dark side.
What has been the most defining moment in your career?
[Dantiez] I had a couple of moments this year, 2015. One being a show I just did with Richie Hawtin, on his US Control Tour. He’s been going around to different college campuses educating and doing master classes to the kids to introduce techno music. It was great to be a part of that. Richie Hawtin is one of the people I really look up to in this industry so it was a big move for me this year. It was kind of surreal to me.
[Damarii] Actually this festival right here, this will be my biggest moment so far. Besides this, I’ve had a couple gigs in Canada. But this moment right here, is definitely the one.
What do you find special about Detroit and its connection with Movement and its music history?
[Dantiez] It’s Detroit! It’s my city, you can’t beat it. It’s the motor city, it started here. Were always going to have that vibe – the party don’t stop.
[Damarii] Detroit just has a special group of people in it. This is where it started. People actually love the music here, and it’s really cool to see.
[Dantiez] EVERYBODY WANTS TO PLAY IN DETROIT, DETROIT’S THE PLACE TO BE!
Movement 2015 – it’s right here, we’re doin’ it.