On the western border of Corktown off of Michigan Avenue, there is a non-descript warehouse with no windows, a loading dock and enough doors that lead outside to meet standard building codes. According to the warehouse owner, it was once part of a string of buildings used in steel fabrication. Remnants of the train tracks that ran along the back of the building are still evident, although they were put out of use long ago when the interchange for I-75 and I-96 were completed.
On the first floor is a garden supply store that seems to hold anything you could ever need to make your garden grow. The second floor looks like an electronic music zealot’s dream … a few large soundboards, a setup that has room for four DJs to mix together freely and enough amps to blow the walls down. Normally it is home to Burst LLC, a group who does the lighting and sound at music events around the region.
Their second floor space is transformed every Sunday night when it becomes the studio for Burst Radio, billed as Detroit’s premiere electronic station. It’s a day where a few musicians pull together a few of their friends and produce at least three hours of the best live homegrown electronic music Detroit has to offer. Hosted weekly by Immerse and Harley from Detroit, the show always features a guest artist so they can show the music world the home of techno is relevant beyond the success of the Movement Festival.
Both hosts have their own motivations for doing the radio show, but it is safe to say they both enjoy a weekly opportunity to create together. The Burst Radio streams live in part to make sure Detroit techno is available to the world. Having the live show every Sunday gives them both a chance to hone their craft.
While Immerse and Harley from Detroit take the music very seriously, I appreciated the time they took between sets to answer my neophyte questions. I know I like London style Drum and Bass, but I rarely ventured far from that genre until I had the chance to cover the Movement Festival this year. My friend Norman Witte III, aka DJ Meph, introduced me to several artists that pushed my musical boundaries, so I’ve been on a tear to learn ever since.
Immerse is a lot of fun to talk with about the music itself. He is trained in classic piano and voice, so his orientation is very different from many artists. We talked about how he selects the music he samples and how much he enjoys playing a live PA set. Since he plays a lot in Dallas, we also talked about the struggles Detroit DJs sometimes have in getting local paid gigs.
That was a topic I discussed at length with Harley from Detroit as well. He performs in Philadelphia a few times a month because he has found the hunger for good Detroit DJs is strong. Watching Richie Hawtin in the early 1990’s convinced him to stop being a Top 40 DJ and really learn how to create music … something he thoroughly enjoys.
Music is the main draw for fans of Burst Radio, but they also invite friends to sit in and listen while the music is streamed live. The night I went with DJ Meph to visit and film an interview, they decided to pull out a Slip and Slide so everyone could have a little fun between sets. It was also the night I got pulled into a conversation about everything from metaphysics to trance with Rex Sepulveda, a long standing denizen of Detroit’s electronic scene.
From the heart of a drab looking warehouse comes some of Detroit’s best electronic music. And quite a bit of fun, too.
Video courtesy of Detroit Underground