Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Detroit Techno Maestro Henry Brooks: Staying True to the Underground [INTERVIEW]


The notoriously visceral and otherworldly DJ/producer often known as Henry Brooks is on fireplace proper now and destined to make his mark on techno as we all know it, whereas staying true to the underground.

Scorching off two emotive units over Motion weekend in Detroit, Brooks is working towards endurance, staying targeted and grounded whereas touring internationally and pursuing his passions. It’s a balancing act, “penning a brand new blueprint for darkish dancefloors in all places,” whereas enjoying reveals, making authentic music, and managing his personal occasion sequence, Anatomy.

As for his distinct sound, Brooks “attracts inspirational firepower from the traditional, dizzying elixirs of techno elite like Jeff Mills, in addition to many trendy techno artists — all of the whereas staying true to his personal distinctive genuine expression as an artist, which interprets to every authentic launch and membership set.”

Each time we expertise a set from Henry Brooks, his sound evolves and shapeshifts, leaving us breathless and impressed. His Motion 2023 set on the Underground Stage was no exception, as he busted out two hours of brutal rhythms with darkish undertones contrasted by his playful demeanor behind the decks. The hypnotic and complicated aspect of Brooks we heard after hours earlier within the weekend shifted into his signature; driving, high-intensity techno to open the ultimate day of the competition correctly.

We had been grateful to meet up with Henry Brooks on this very special day and hope you get pleasure from listening to what’s happening in his world.


After enjoying in so many new locations around the globe, how does it really feel to be again in Detroit this weekend?

It feels nice to be again in Detroit for Motion! 

Getting back from Europe, I undoubtedly really feel extra completed as an artist. I’ve reached a aim of mine that I’ve had for years, to journey abroad and play over there – and I’ve performed that. I really feel impressed after being uncovered to completely different scenes after which coming again to America and wanting to construct issues in sure methods or alternative ways in Detroit. 

It undoubtedly modified me as an individual and as an artist. I’m feeling very impressed, additionally musically. Watching different DJs play in Berlin obtained me to replicate extra on how I can evolve myself as a DJ and producer. I’m in a position to perceive completely different crowds higher and have realized the best way to navigate completely different kinds; matching what the group is resonating with, however whereas additionally staying true to what I need to play myself. 

Final yr you performed Motion’s Detroit Stage and now you’re again on the Underground Stage, full power! What are some shining moments from the previous yr?

This previous yr has been about elevating my profession and having the ability to do that virtually full time now. What has modified essentially the most since I performed Motion final yr is having the ability to journey extra and getting increasingly gigs. I signed to an company after Motion, launched two different tracks, labored lots on manufacturing and have some extra tracks popping out quickly as effectively. 

How did your Motion 2023 units go — the testpilot afterparty and your correct set within the Underground?

Each of my units throughout Motion weekend had been superb! They had been each fairly completely different from one another as I needed to cater to every occasion I used to be enjoying. Saturday I opened for testpilot, so I dialed issues again somewhat and performed extra hypnotic and groovy. Monday on the competition I put the pedal to the steel and was in a position to go all out, setting the tempo for the remainder of the day on the Underground Stage. It was an incredible weekend general.

Do you bear in mind what your first Motion was like?

Yeah, my first Motion was in 2016 and it was a life-changing expertise for me. I used to be nonetheless pretty new to the scene and I used to be in a position to take up the completely different sounds and kinds that had been current on the competition again then – and general broaden my horizons with numerous kinds of home and techno.

When did you first fall in love with techno — was it at Motion?

Yeah, I formally started to fall in love with techno itself at Motion. Earlier than then I used to be undoubtedly extra of a home head, however as soon as I went to Motion and was uncovered to extra techno the style began to develop on me. Once I began out DJing, which was solely simply a few months after my first Motion, I used to be primarily enjoying home & tech home. Nonetheless over time, I began enjoying increasingly techno, till I reached the purpose the place I made a decision I solely needed to play techno. It was a pure development.

You’re a pure, so passionate and devoted to your craft. What retains you laser-focused like that? 

What retains me targeted is solely holding on to how a lot I really like this music and love expressing by the tracks that I wish to play, striving to inform a narrative in each set. It’s only a nice type of expression for me.

What conjures up you to create your finest work?

What conjures up me to create my finest work is that I’m considerably of a perfectionist, so I’m at all times making an attempt to higher myself and do higher than the very last thing I did. I’m additionally making an attempt so as to add my very own stamp on techno and my very own model and style as a producer into the style so I can construct a set of music that’s uniquely me.

What are a number of the challenges you face as a DJ/producer?

I feel one of many hardest challenges is looking for the steadiness of being each a DJ and producer. With the ability to make sufficient tracks whereas nonetheless staying on high of my DJ profession and touring, as a result of it undoubtedly takes a whole lot of vitality out of you. On the DJing aspect of issues, it’s about staying on high of present music. I by no means attempt to play the identical set twice, ever – so I’m at all times always discovering new music. Managing all of that whereas nonetheless making an attempt to handle my private life as effectively and discover the proper steadiness.

How a lot unreleased music do you’ve proper now and may you describe it? 

Proper now I’ve about three tracks absolutely completed which might be unreleased. A lot of the tracks I’m making at the moment are extra on the textural, percussive, and arduous software aspect of techno. I’m making an attempt to broaden my horizons as a substitute of simply making the more durable techno that’s extra based mostly round heavy melodies. I’m discovering new methods to push my sound design. Discovering a steadiness between hypnotic components whereas nonetheless maintaining issues arduous and industrial.

What’s the present state of your Anatomy sequence and the way forward for it? 

Anatomy is doing effectively. It’s been a little bit of a problem at occasions managing my DJ and producer profession and on high of that reserving artists and throwing occasions. However yeah, I’m undoubtedly going to maintain that going. I need to construct the scene in Detroit and convey artists who haven’t ever been right here or haven’t performed right here a lot. I’d wish to deliver by completely different kinds of techno that aren’t performed in Detroit as a lot year-round. So, yeah, undoubtedly extra occasions coming – I’ve a really thrilling one developing in July!

Do you propose on taking Anatomy to different cities?

Sure! I plan on taking Anatomy to different cities and constructing my model elsewhere for positive. That’s undoubtedly a aim of mine. Proper now, I need to maintain it primarily based mostly in Detroit, however do have some concepts exterior of town as effectively, which can be coming quickly. 

What was your expertise like enjoying abroad, together with the legendary techno nightclub Tresor Berlin? 

Taking part in abroad was unimaginable. It was nice to see what the scene was like over in Europe and the way occasions occur over there, the completely different crowds and having the ability to be part of these events. Taking part in at Tresor Berlin was insane as effectively. It’s like a really darkish, grungy basement with just some strobes and a few fog. The present venue has been round since 2007 and earlier than then, the unique location began within the early ’90s. So in complete, it’s the longest-running techno membership on the planet and it was an honor to play there.

You’re checking off so many accomplishments that DJs aspire to do – like your HÖR set, which was brutal by the way in which! What was it like prepping for that set, realizing it will be seen and heard dwell around the globe? 

Prepping for that set was a bit demanding, however I additionally didn’t need to overthink it. I grabbed a few of my finest tracks and a few new tracks that I actually favored, and put collectively a playlist of various vitality ranges and vibes as I at all times do. I picked the primary two tracks I used to be going to play forward of time  – and aside from that, the remaining was all impromptu and on the fly.

That’s very attention-grabbing when you haven’t any crowd to learn — and it’s not only a combine, it’s a efficiency!

Yeah, you’re utterly by yourself. It was a small room with only a mixer, some CDJs and two small audio system. It was somewhat nerve-wracking at first, nevertheless I’ve performed related dwell streams earlier than and after the primary three or 4 tracks, I obtained absolutely locked into my groove and was simply in a position to combine.

Flash-forward just a few weeks later to Charlotte De Witte KNTXT’s takeover in New York Metropolis. What was it like enjoying that present? 

Taking part in opening units for larger occasions can generally be hit and miss by way of if individuals come early or not, nevertheless this one was superb. It was a terrific crowd early on and throughout the first half-hour it was already beginning to refill actually fast. Additionally, enjoying b2b with Hiroko Yamamura was a terrific expertise. We meshed very effectively with our completely different sounds and kinds. We ended up getting an additional half-hour to play as effectively.

Do you’ve any desires or aspirations you’d like to talk into existence? 

Some desires and aspirations I’ve now are merely to play extra throughout Europe till I’m on the level the place I can shuttle abroad regularly. Additionally to play extra around the globe, Asia and Australia could be enjoyable locations to go to. Total to maintain broadening my scope of the place I’m enjoying whereas coming again to North and South America to proceed rising my fan base right here.

I’d additionally love play some main festivals like Awakenings, however proceed to remain true to extra intimate model underground golf equipment and nonetheless play a bunch of these. I don’t need to get to the purpose the place I’m so large I’m solely enjoying large festivals, as a result of I don’t need to lose the intimacy of smaller occasions.

What does it imply to you to be representing Detroit techno proper now?

It feels nice to signify Detroit techno and be part of the subsequent technology that’s pushing this style and elegance. I need to maintain pushing my sound and the model to new areas and at all times innovate – at all times including extra to the style.

Join with Henry Brooks

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