For many on this side of the pond, electronic dance music is new to the charts and radio, coming over here through popular European producers David Guetta and Tiesto. Yet, more than 20 years ago, such sounds originated here, and Kevin Saunderson was one of the pioneers of the Detroit techno sound.
As one of the Belleville three, along with Derrick May and Juan Atkins, Saunderson has put out several releases over the years under multiple names, including Kreem, E-Dancer, and Inner City, and through his label KMS Records. Kreem is behind single “Triangle of Love,” while Inner City came together by accident. Saunderson was referred to singer Paris Grey for a backing track, and debut single “Big Fun” emerged from that session. The track, in fact, became one of many hits for Inner City after it was added to compilation Techno – The New Dance Sound of Detroit. “Good Life” and debut album Paradise followed.
Even with 12 top 40 hits on the U.K. charts, Inner City went on hiatus in recent years. However, Grey and Saunderson came back together over the past year and released single “Future.”
How did the Inner City reunion come about?
Kevin Saunderson: Inner City got back together because my main singer Paris Grey, her daughter graduated from high school and she felt like she was ready to go on the road. We did a couple tours, some dates, and she was re-inspired to continue recording and traveling the world. We had had a nice hiatus. So, that’s kind of what led it to happen again.
What are your plans for releases with Inner City?
Kevin Saunderson: For releases, we’re going to play it by ear – nothing particularly planned. We’re going to make records, because we like making music, and if there’s something we want to release, we’ll release it.
What plans do you have for Inner City, in terms of performing?
Kevin Saunderson: We’re touring right now, throughout Europe, with two singers, Paris, and myself doing the computers, kind of programming, a drummer, and a keyboardist, so we’re doing that most places. Some places we do PAs, but just in general, it depends on the kind of event and how big it is. Sometimes, it’s me, Paris, and Ann [Saunderson], and sometimes, it’s just Paris and Ann.
About your label, going back 25 years, why did you decide to start a label?
Kevin Saunderson: I decided to start my label ‘cause I wanted to have control of my music, and nobody to tell me how to release it, what to release, when to release it, and I can have freedom of expression of music. That’s what made me start it. Then, it turned into more than just my music. It turned into me helping other Detroit artists – and that’s what happened. A lot of people came from my label from Detroit.
How did your label evolve over the years?
Kevin Saunderson: Over the years, it evolved right from the beginning, releasing, in early ’87, releasing my stuff –“Triangle of Love” and The Sound, which lead into “Big Fun,” coming out on KMS, as well. And then the artists like Carl Craig, Derrick May released some stuff with me – just many different artists: MK, Chez Damier, Ron Trent. And it really was, just, the springboard for a lot of other people who didn’t have their own labels at the time. So, over the years, it evolved like that, some great classic records. We released a few records that weren’t from Detroit; they were from Amsterdam, like Orlando Voorn’s Fix Flash, a couple tracks out of the U.K., Nexus 21, so, you know. Now, we’re more into the digital world, even though this release will release more, we’re going to have vinyl, physical CDs, and the whole package.
I’m still releasing records, still releasing new talent, not active like releasing a record every week or two weeks, but, you know, we pick and choose.
Did you think your label would last this long?
Kevin Saunderson: I had no clue my label would last this long. To be truthful, no, not once it started, I didn’t think it would. It wasn’t really a thought – it was my love of what I was doing. I didn’t know I was still going to be into music. Obviously, I have stood the test of time.
KMS Records put out KMS 25th Anniversary of Classics. Should listeners expect any more releases for the label’s 25th anniversary?
Kevin Saunderson: We’re going to have a special release. Like, the CD’s coming out, and we’ve got vinyl coming out, with six different samples. And, then, we’re going to have a Ben Sims edition, re-edits of a few tracks, too, which is going to be cool.
Where do you plan to go with KMS for the future?
Kevin Saunderson: Just release my music, release E-Dancer album, and other artists – just like I’ve always done.
Electronic music has recently become more popular in the U.S. What’s your perspective on this?
Kevin Saunderson: I think it’s become popular because of David Guetta, Afrojack, all of this other music that’s coming out. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s very commercialized, and everyone’s in for it for the money, promoters, everyone who gets their hands in it. But that’s America, for you. But, in the end, it helps the underground, too – gives people more awareness – and they should’ve been there a long time ago, because, for every underground, you have an over ground.