State of Play :: Detroit

Words by: I Voice
Posted: 25/5/18 17:14

 The Detroit skyline.

Detroit has always been at the forefront of the electronic music landscape, but how has this proud musical city developed and adapted to all the challenges it has faced and still faces today?

Ibiza Voice speaks to Ted Krisko, booker of Marble Bar, one half of Visionquest / Play It Say It duo, Ataxia and back end management for My Baby Records, to give us a fresh insight into what is happening in this iconic city.

Ibiza Voice: Tell us about your club first of all?

Ted: Marble Bar is an intimate venue north of Detroit’s downtown. It’s situated in an area that is distinctly undeveloped, but that is quickly changing. Our weekends are focused on DJ driven dance music programming, while the weekdays feature a wide array of event styles, from rock shows, hip hop, spoken word, comedy & plenty of other community activations.

We have an indoor space that has a small theater vibe, with a balcony over the stage. Our outdoor patio has a greenhouse theme and is lined with shipping containers which are carved out for hang time that patrons enjoy to lounge in.

Our sound system is an Audio Integrated Services (creators of Void) Tactical Audio line array, installed by Detroit sound gurus, Audio Rescue Team. It’s extremely clear sounding, with incredibly warm bass, and the monitor rig is dreamy for the DJ. Our visual vibe is centered around marble adorning the wall front facing wall & of course a nice, long marble bar, with ornate wood working carved out around the balcony & trim. We generally keep the room with a traditional dance hall vibe, featuring a large disco ball hung from high ceilings. This accentuates the feel of a very open space, that beckons to people’s desire to feel free, with plenty of breathing room.

This year our festival weekend calendar is booming, hosting the Movement Official Opening Party with Ghostly on Friday 5/25 (Matthew Dear, Kim Ann Foxman, Recloose, Mike Servito b2b Derek Plaslaiko & more), Texture on Saturday 5/26 (Danny Daze, Lena Willikens, Randomer, Dr. Rubinstein & more), Sampled on Sunday 5/27 (Riva Starr, Harvard Bass, Kenny Glasgow, Mark Farina, DJ Heather, Chuck Daniels & more) and Where Are My Keys on Monday 5/28, a 19 hour bash starting at 9am on Memorial Day presented by us & Miami’s Electric Pickle, and hosted by Freakish Pleasures (Omar S, Osunlade, Move D, Tama Sumo, Marvin & Guy & many more).

 The interior of Marble Bar.

Where does it sit in the context of the city's scene?

Marble Bar is relatively new, we will be celebrating our 3 year anniversary in autumn. While we are certainly a new kid on the block, our programming has featured some of the world’s most premiere talent in house, techno & disco. We’ve hosted acts such as DJ Harvey, Carl Craig, Moodymann, Jeff Mills & Tony Allen, Camea, Virgo Four, Cosmin TRG, Octo Octa, Aurura Halal, Midland, Hunee, The Mole, Jennifer Cardnini, Detroit Swindle, Gerd Janson, Prins Thomas, Minilogue, Hito, & Francesca Lombardo to name a handful. There have been label showcases with rosters from iconic imprints like Metroplex, Perlon, FXHE, Visionquest, Keinmusik, Yoruba & Ghostly International. Plus we’ve had regular plays from club favorite’s Osunlade, Daniel Bell, Omar S, Tim Sweeney & DJ Holographic. 

We continue to feature Detroit headliners consistently, as well as bringing in international artists weekly. There is a strong presence by main Detroit local players, as well as a strong effort to include up and coming DJs that are working their way through the ranks. Our staple monthly events showcase iconic Motown brands in Funk Night, Motor City Soul Club & Haute to Death, and a personal favorite, 7 Inches in Heaven, where the DJs play 45’s all night long.

Additionally, the club hosts our own series focused on our city’s internationally known heroes, called “Detroit, the House of Techno”. I co founded this series with the club & Norm Talley, who helps us curate the line ups that occur bi-monthly. We’ve boasted talent like Eddie Fowlkes, Delano Smith, Terrence Dixon, Detroit Trio from Underground Resistance, Terrence Parker, Merachka, DJ Minx, Stacey Hotwaxx Hale, Rick Wade, Dez Andres, Mike “Agent X” Clark, Ryan Elliot, Brian Kage & many other notable Motor City acts. Ataxia also hosts our quarterly party called “Friday Night Machines” which has featured special guests such as Mathias Kaden & DJ Tennis alongside our resident Night Machines crew, E Spleece, Abby B & Stephanie Szud


Which clubs / promoters are getting it right? and wrong?

We would consider TV Lounge aka TV Bar to be our sister club. All of our staff frequents their establishment, which is less than 3 miles away from us. This club set a precedent in Detroit for creating a comfortable atmosphere for party people in the city. Their talent offering ranges from the heaviest hitting internationals to Detroit icons, as well as club residents and local upstarts. Our admiration for what they do goes beyond words. Myself & Rickers of Ataxia have been TV Bar resident DJs for 9 years, cutting our teeth there and along for the ride as they’ve grown. I also co-host the annual “OK Cool” Movement Afterparty there with My Baby & Dax Presents, which happens every year on the Sunday of the festival. This year we’ll have Eats Everything, Ardalan, Delano Smith, Ralph Lawson, Comsin TRG, Eddie C, Tara Brooks, & more!

There are a great deal of promoters that we support, whom we regularly work with as well. Amongst those who are our personal favorites are Paxahau (producers of the Movement Festival), Texture, Sampled, Interdimensional Transmissions, Freakish Pleasures, as well as younger brands like Raw Juice, BLDG01 & The Detroit I Love. 

Detroit has a proud and well respected musical heritage from techno to rock.

What's the best thing about the scene in Detroit currently?

There is a new energy on the dance floor, with people from all over the Detroit Metro area descending to the venues. It’s no longer a closed community, which Detroit was once known for. It maintains the intimacy that we’ve always enjoyed, with the lifelong techno family keeping a strong presence at the parties, while being open and inviting to new faces & feet. The feeling of elitism has diminished to being relatively non existent, as our community continues to grow together & evolve into something both continually authentic, yet full of fresh aspiration. 

Of course the annual Movement Electronic Music Festival in Hart Plaza is our global beacon of hope for dance music. It’s truly world class and the festival & after party line ups are standard setting for excellence. The locals, plus the people who come from around the world are true benefactors and also reap the benefits. The enjoyment factor is limitless, as the artists in town continually deliver their very best, and the production factors at the festival itself & after parties across the city are always stepping it up considerable notches year after year.

What's happening musically in the city at the moment?

Musically we are truly blessed with an extremely diverse music offering. We have plenty of traditional house & techno nights between venues like Marble, TV, The Works & Motor City Wine. There is a strong electro & acid techno presence from promoters like Texture & I.T. On the left field, world music & ambient side of the tracks there is a local series called Ambient Brunch that is aptly named, Monty Luke’s Coconut Babylon project that displays Dub Reggae, Roots and island style. Plus we get to enjoy funk & soul staples like Slow Jams & Marble’s previously mentioned Motor City Soul Club & Funk Night. There is also goth/industrial programs from the Something Cold crew at Marble & City Club always delivers nights for this flavor. 

On top of all of that, Detroit has some of the best rock, folk & indie shows courtesy of Party Store Productions, who book some of their events at Marble, as well as other noteworthy rock venues around town. 

Marble Bar's 'sister club' TV Lounge also offers a diverse palette of programming.

What do you think sets you apart from club scenes in other cities? 

There is a spirit of authenticity in Detroit that is unparalleled. We are one of the most well rounded communities for diversity and have some of the warmest, most inviting dance floors in the world. Locals here have deep respect for personal space, so you won’t find dancers bumping into each other or walking all over people at the party. There is a hunger here for quality like no other, and the programming in Motown seems to almost always buck the trends, favoring purist DJs & live acts, over the latest popular acts. On top of all this, Detroit sound systems bring an essence that is unmistakable, largely in part due to our colleagues at Audio Rescue Team, who are responsible for many of the best installs in the city.

What challenges do you face and how do you think these can be overcome?

Detroit has a 2am liquor law, that is controversial at best, and is facing a vote in the Michigan State legislature. We believe that extending the hours for licensing to 4am will create a space that is more attractive to tourism, both statewide & outside of our region. Our city has a notoriously late crowd, with most people often arriving after midnight to a dance party, which if operated in a legal venue, will have the crowd dispersing at 2am to find other means of continuing their evening out. If legal venues were allowed to serve later, it would create a safer space with people not being rushed out the door to venture further into the night.

How does the Detroit of the past compare to the present?

There is certainly no comparison. Detroit of the past was a place of notoriously reckless abandon, which fuelled it’s notoriety. The city itself suffered from poor neglect, with the city lights being all but extinct. There was a huge fear factor that worked to keep people from visiting from the suburbs and certainly from out of town.

In present day, Detroit has a thriving, bustling downtown, with that area & the neighborhoods surrounding the central business district all at full occupancy in living quarters. Our city lights are illuminated from the main areas of commerce to the neighborhoods, due to newly installed LED lighting that is built to last and lower cost to the municipality. The restaurant scene here is now one recognized as one of America’s finest and our city is becoming one of the most beautiful, walkable downtowns in the country. We still face misinformed press & publicity, often painting an unclear impression of what is actually transpiring here in present day. Let it be known that Detroit is beautiful, full of life, growing quickly and one of the most enjoyable places to live in and around.

Is it a good place to be an artist?

With an incredible skyline, beautiful street art, plenty of affordable housing, consistent music programming across all genre spectrums & a love for homegrown talent like no other place on earth, I would venture to say Detroit is an incredible place to develop, incubate and display one’s craft. 

What does the city need less of?

Expensive lofts. Newcomers to the city trying to change the local culture to adapt to their personal visions without respect to Detroit’s incredible heritage. Parking lots.

And what does it need more of?

Public transportation. Open minded people. Locally owned businesses. 


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