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R E M N A N T S  O F   A   P E R I O D I C A L

C O N _ V E R S A T I O N S  
dego, part 1 (1994)  
dego, part 2 (1994)  
  carl craig (1994)  
jeff mills (1995)  
dan bell (1994)

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Todd Sines Talks to

cArl crAiG

Interviewed by Todd Sines, Summer 1994
Transcribed Dec 95 by Edward Luna

where does the inspiration for your music come from?

c-uh...well, it's kind of hard to say. I mean, it's my surroundings, like with every other musician or writer or whatever...like for instance, there's a song that's called "At Les." When I did that I was looking at the Detroit River...it's all, it's a whole bunch of different factors that can come into it, you know. Like when I did my music back when I first started, I was doing it in my bedroom, it was just kinda like, you know, the desire to do the music.

t-when did you start music?

c-when was my first release, or when did Istart?

t-well, both.

c-well I started with electronic music around '88 I guess, and the first record came out in '89, Ithink...but I had always been into music. I had been a guitar player before.

t-oh really.


t-what was your first record?

c-uh, first song I did that was released was "Elements" by Psyche...it was on the Virgin "Techno 2" compilation.

t-how do you think making music would have changed for you if you didn't have like a computer-based machine, like sequencers, or whatever? Would you have made music if you didn't have those machines?

c-well, I only started using a computer--an actual computer--about 3 years ago...and before that I was using the hard sequencer. If I wasn't using a sequencer at all it would probably be more...uh, maybe R&B. I'd still try to keep that electro-electronic-type feel to it, but a computer has helped with the sequencing a whole shitload.

t-so you would still be using electronic instuments...

c-yeah I think so...but the style would probably be different. Because when I play guitar, I play more...um, I mean, I was a big prince fanatic.

t-he he. So what made you go from guitar to keyboards?

c-well my cousin had made a song with Juan Atkins a long time ago called "Technicolor," and it was kinda like...he had a Sequential Six-Trak, and like a 909 and some of the other things around there, that I played around with a _little_ bit, and then...I had always loved electronic music also like Kraftwerk, and--


c-who's that?

t-oh, man. you need to hear him. He's just as influential as anybody else. He does like Moog versions of Debussy...that kind of thing. He's really worth checking out.

c-I had never heard of him...but there were other things like Harold Faltermeyer, "Axel F," was a big influence at that time, and then...

t-Art of Noise?

c-Art of Noise I liked a whole lot...and Yellow Magic Orchestra...that kind of stuff. also some Depeche Mode, and other things that had come--because when Kraftwerk came out with "Computer World" I was in grade school. I think I was in 6th grade something like that. I mean, it was a big deal. I loved that album. That was like the album that I just totally loved. and then with R&B, it was like Prince and Parliament...those were probably the major influences R&B-wise... Slave, that kind of stuff. So I mean, it's funny that it went this direction because it could have gone in any direction.

t-ok, obviously you sometimes either sing a sample over top of the music that you do, of like your own...is it of your own lyrics of some other stuff, like..."Chicken Noodle Soup," or--

c-oh yeah...things like "Chicken Noodle Soup" are like--

t-like off the Psyche EP that you did, in 1990, on Transmat?

c-oh, "Crackdown"?


c-yeah, it was just like some French that Sara Gregor was singing, or talking over the top...so, most of the other lyrics that have been used have been original. There might have been something, uh--

t-like "Jam the Box?"

c-well "Jam the Box" is original too. It was a sample of an original voice.

t-of who?


t-oh, I was about to say...I remember a friend saying he had the album that was originally on. [Ed. note: the album referred to here is a 12" electro/hip-hop single from 1984 called "Jam the Box" by "Pretty" Tony Butler, on Miami's Music Specialists label...unrelated.]

c-no. I dont know where "Jam the Box" came from, if someone else used it...as far as I know it's original voice.

t-from who?


t-oh, it is! OK, wow. that's just you I assume. Correct?

c-(pause) uh, could be.

t-he he.

c-so anyway...um...

t-a lot of people look at the Carl Craig sound as a "Detroit" sound, but it's a Detroit sound that's kind of truer to the classical, techno-based stuff like what the "three greats" did, and as opposed to going into a more mechanical techno-industrial feel like Underground Resistance and Plus-8 and those kind of labels who really haven't touched the kind of stuff that you do in terms of melody.

c-I mean, the things I do are like an homage I pay to the the things that have influenced me. Kevin (Saunderson), Derrick (May) and Juan (Atkins) were influential before I started doing electronic stuff, and then there were the other people I mentioned that were influences, like Kraftwerk and so on and so forth...it's like Kraftwerk and Underground Resistance went on a different angle on things because Underground Resistance was in tune with things that were going on at the time, took it and molded it into their own sound, so it was something that was a little bit different...where I dont really say, "OK, well, you know, this is hot today so I'm gonna to take it..."

t-so music is not for the moment?

c-no, I try to make music for a while...for it to be where you could listen to it five years from now and go, "yeah, you know this is a really good song."

t-well if you listen to stuff off your first album...

c-right. So that's the whole scoop...just like you can listen to "Computer World" and say that's timeless, or if you listen to "One Nation Under a Groove," they still play THAT here in Detroit, and that's timeless, basically. "Flash," that kind of stuff.

t-do you do music that people don't hear that is more along the ambient lines, like the "A.R.T." EP that you did?

c-right. I mean, I experiment with a whole lot of different things, there are things that I haven't released that would probably just make people wonder WHY did I do it...it's a situation where I dont try to get attention held down to one type of genre. NaomI Daniel, who I produced, is a little different...it's more housey, [whereas] with Paperclip People it's different...with whomever. A Carl Craig project, or a Psyche project, or whatever...it's going to be different. actually there's tons of things that only close friends of mine who are like DimitrI from Amsterdam who plays at the Roxy, and Derrick, and some other people...have certain tracks that are only on acetate that will probably never come out. No one really knew that was me until it was out...until someone says, "yeah, that's Carl Craig," because it doesnt really sound exactly like everything I do.

t-where do you want music to go, and--you'd be richer if you knew this question--where do you think electronic music will be in 5 years?

c-I dunno. That's a real funny question because if you look at technology, "electronic music" to me, is the type of music that we do...but it's also rap, and it's also ambient..._R&B_ is even electronic music, you know? so...what I was reading just yesterday, about the people who produce En Vogue and Toni Toni toni & those guys...sampling used to be big, everybody used to sample James Brown cuts. But now everybody's gone to where they bring in their own musicians, and have them jam, and then sample the jam. Same thing with the Beastie Boys, they sample their own jams and then make them into their own loops. And I think that's probably where...some of the music has to go _back_ before it can go forward more. Like with the type of music that we do, it's going to have to go backwards maybe to some of the sounds that were being done...well it has been going back to like acid house days, but it might even have to go back further.

t-well some of the ambient music, like the David Morley EP.


t-his stuff is sort of like earlier Tangerine Dream...

c-yeah, David Morely is real good.

t-where do you want Planet E to go? As far as like the future is concerned...do you want to keep it like it is, or expand it more to do different types of things?

c-well I always want to expand, but the main thing that I _don't_ want Planet E to be is commercial. I mean I'd like to put out more records on Planet E. As more come through, if they pass the restrictive, hard measures--

t-which I'm trying to get through! (laugh)

c-(laughs) you know, if it's something that I feel will be good, and be good for the label, then I'm going to put it out.

t-what do you think of internet, and the recent surge of people who want to have information given to them _right now_?

c-it's real funny because, before, information was a big deal, but it wasn't AS big a deal...

t-why do you think that has happened?

c-it's sort of like tabloids have made it where information is more...everybody wants to know "what's going on." Like when 69 came out, everybody's like...or when Planet E came out everybody wanted to know who it is..."who's doin' Planet E, and who's doin whatever." and now, with internet, labels are giving information like what's going on and so on and so forth. I'd like to get involved in internet, but I just don't have the "know-how" basically.

t-what would you get out of using the internet?

c-well the first thing I heard about internet was that you could get sounds. Like Chick Corea might--

t-put up a patch...

c-yeah. that's the first thing that came to mind about it. But now, there are different organizations...like I heard about an underground network for musicians...

t-the IUMA...Internet Underground Music Archives...

c-yeah...uh, I guess that's what it is. There's a whole shitload of opportunity that it looks like internet can come with, and I am sure there's going to be something very soon now to fuck up internet.

t-well, I think things like America Online...the more commercial people who are making money at something that was supposed to be free and non-commercial...it's like, I dont have a problem with smaller companies like your own...but when people who have tons of money, they just like advertise it...it taints it quite a bit...


t-people are actually happy to see labels like Iridal and Kudos records pop up on the net because they know they are respected in the community...

c-isn't Black Dog on there also?

t-yeah, actually they sent me some email last week!