From Chicago house producer Lil Louis to soul music great Marvin Gaye, the Detroit techno pioneer tells us the songs that influenced him
Soundtrack to my life: 5 songs that influenced Stacey Pullen
One of the fathers of Detroit’s techno music scene is coming to Dubai. Stacey Pullen, renowned for his dance beats which blend ethereal, spaced-out sounds with taut and rolling rhythms, will perform at The BPM Festival at Dubai super-club Base on Thursday. The event is part of a three-month series of shows featuring DJs on the international techno scene. With dozens of releases and remixes, Pullen’s body of work has spawned a new generation of artists, particularly from the Motor City, who aim to take the genre into an even more adventurous route. But to understand the secrets of Pullen’s sounds, we need to ask him about his influences. Here, he talks about five songs that have helped to shape his life and career.
A song that reminds me of my childhood That’s the Way of the World by Earth, Wind & Fire (1975)
I am seven or eight years old and growing up in Detroit. I am at my auntie’s house on the weekend, and the family are playing cards. One day, I remember, in the background, there’s this music playing which is Earth, Wind & Fire. The thing about that song is the lyrics are really talking about important issues and about being socially aware of your conscious. Whenever I hear this song I need to sit down and listen to this track in full no matter what I’m doing. I sit and remember that time when I was so young and being around the family. It is a really good feeling.
A song that made me want to hit the turntables French Kiss by Lil Louis (1989)
It’s the most classic dance track you can think of. It has this breakdown which is so uplifting and energetic and when that beat comes in, people just go mad. I can remember myself on the dance floor just losing it while listening to this. We are talking about the late eighties, when techno was getting known. I also played this song in one of my first ever Djing gigs, at a local school dance.
A song that changed my career Tsunami by Stacey Pullen (2001)
This song was a turning point because it took me out of the dance world and put me in a different category. This is because the album that I recorded at that time was kind of based on the jazz movement. I was reading about John Coltrane and Miles Davis and those influenced me. Being part of the Detroit techno world, everything was based on what was going to move the dancefloor. I wanted to make music from a different perspective and find different inspiration. This song helped me be more creative.
A song I wish I’d written Celebration by Kool and the Gang (1980)
This is the most feelgood, most positive and uplifting track ever. It could be a celebration of anything because emotions affect people’s lives. I’ve always believed music has this power to make people forget about the negative aspects of the world or in life in general. Music speaks in power and in numbers. So, hearing a song like that for three to four minutes is important.
A song that makes me cry What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye (1971)
I remember looking at television at this programme called Soul Train in the early seventies. It was a dance show where people wore the latest fashions and they danced to the latest R&B music. I heard that song on the show. The song also spoke about the killings that’s going on in inner city neighbourhoods. It’s a call for us as humans to sort of snap out of this and make sure that we don’t continue on this path of destruction. And when I also think about the tragic way Marvin passed and what he still wanted to do, it gets me emotional.
Stacey Pullen performs at Base, Dubai Design District on February 1. For details email Bookings@BaseDubai.com