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Kevin Saunderson/Inner City at Movement, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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When it comes to electronic dance music, especially techno, Kevin Saunderson’s is one of the first names mentioned.

He pioneered the former in Belleville, Mich., with friends Derrick May and Juan Atkins. He also helped take it mainstream with his group Inner City, whose first two singles “Big Fun” and “Good Life” topped on the Billboard Dance charts.

Saunderson is celebrating the 30th anniversary of those hits with a new edition of Inner City that’s playing this weekend’s Movement electronic music festival in Detroit -- and will be premiering some new band material Saunderson has been working on with his son Dantiez. He’ll also host a day-long Origins Elevations stage as part of the festival as well as an afterparty.

The beats are going on for Saunderson -- and they’re only getting stronger.

• Saunderson, 53, says by phone that Inner City’s 30th anniversary has crept up on him. “It doesn’t feel like 30 years. Time, as they say, moves quick. I can’t believe that it’s been 30 years since we released our first record, and here we are now, still releasing records. It’s gone fairly quick I would say. We’ve had some amazing times, amazing moments, great success through this 30 years. Hopefully there’ll be another 30 years.” He’ll be joined at Movement by Dantiez and new singer Steffanie Christi’an (replacing “retired” vocalist Paris Gray) along with longtime Inner City cohort Tommy Onyx and original band music director Dennis White, aka Static Revenger.

• Saunderson started Inner City as a kind of bridge between the electronic music and more mainstream dance and pop worlds. “Right out of the box I wanted Inner City to be a dance group that DJs could play in the club but people could also sing to and had a melody to it. It opened people’s eyes in all kinds of different ways. There are a lot of (people) who came in after us following our path and using those (electronic) elements in their pop songs.”

• The new era of Inner City was inspired by Dantiez Saunderson. “He’s been working on his production skills,” the elder Saunderson says, “and one day I heard him working on a track -- the first track we actually did together, ‘Good Luck.’ He sounded like me, to be honest. He reminded me of me, some of the melodies and the chords he played. I felt like, ‘Why don’t we continue Inner City and find a new path,’ so that’s what we’re doing.”

• The current Inner City has released another new song, “Heavy,” to DJs, and Saunderson says there’s more coming. “During the last year we’ve probably worked on seven, eight records. Our goal is to do this first live show in Detroit as a testing ground, and then go out not this year but next year and do a kind of 30-year anniversary tour and do about 10 big festivals and have records following. This is the beginning, a relaunch and all that. Everything is good.”

• Saunderson has been an active participant in Detroit’s electronic music festival since its beginnings in 2000 and even ran it, as Fuse-In, during 2005, helping it bridge out of controversy and into its current configuration with Paxahau. “The festival is strong. They bring in great talent. They spend a lot of money on that talent and production, something that’s important for longevity. They’re always looking at ways of improving. It’s diverse; The roots are still there, and lots of Detroit talent plays the festival every year. And they’re very involved with the community of our music, not just the festival. I’m happy with how the festival is run.”

If You Go

• Movement

• Noon-midnight Saturday, May 26, 1 p.m.-midnight, Sunday and Monday May 27-28.

Hart Plaza, Detroit.

• Tickets are $85-$470.

• Kevin Saunderson curates Origins Elevation on the Stargate stage, 1 p.m.-midnight Sunday, May 27, and performs himself at 10:30 p.m.

• Saunderson and KiNK will also perform at his KMS Origins Movement After Party at 11 p.m. Sunday at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Octave One, DJ Mix, the Saunderson Brothers and Keweku Saunderson also perform. Tickets start at $30. Call 313-833-9700 or visit majesticdetroit.com.

• Inner City performs at 9 p.m. Monday, May 28, on the Movement main stage.

Visit movement.us for full details.

Web Site: www.movement.us

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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