How big can dance get? The superstars speak

Jason Bentley, moderator: How important was it for you guys to maintain your label as an identity?

Tony McGuinness, Above & Beyond: It's interesting, 'cause I don't think anything we've done has had a five year plan. We've just kind of accidentally started out as team of three people, and that turned out to be a great idea. We started our label just as the major labels were stopping signing dance music.

For an awful lot of our fans, they feel very passionate about the label. They'll have the label logo tattooed on their back, and I think it's unlikely they'd have a picture of me tattooed on their back.

Tony, Above & Beyond: “I can’t imagine anyone with a tattoo saying ‘EDM’ on their arm. That's why we need sub-genres."

Jason Bentley, moderator: I think everyone on this panel was drawn to this music through its sense of community. I'd like a few of you to describe that first place, the first club scene, where you felt like you found a family. Richie, I'm curious about that for you.

Richie Hawtin: I was living in Windsor, Canada, just over the border from Detroit. It was a small town and I was one of the weird alternative kids wearing black. After a while, we wanted to find people we connected to. That took me to Detroit. I found my way eventually to a nightclub called Majestic where there was a DJ called Blake Baxter playing. It was '87, '88. I don't know if it was the whole 'peace love unity' thing with everyone hugging. It wasn't like that.

I remember going into the Music Institute where Derrick May played and it was a dark room with huge speakers. Everyone was kind of into their own thing. I still don't believe electronic music is for everybody – I think it's obtuse and left of centre, and that's what I felt in that family in that moment. We've got something special and it's not for everybody.

Jason Bentley, moderator: What drives a 16-year-old to go from Windsor to Detroit to find this underground space?

Richie Hawtin: Well, there were a lot of kids from Windsor who definitely would not go over to Detroit. Some parents wouldn't let them. This was a couple of years after Detroit was the murder capital of America. You're in a small town and you look across the river to this big city that looks like Gotham: scary, dangerous, cool, futuristic. And it was just attractive. I found deeper, weirder music there and made new friends. I stumbled upon Derrick, Kevin [Saunderson] and those guys as they were just starting to break, and found myself in the middle of a revolution.

I was really into the Sex Pistols and the punk movement, and I read about all the things that happened in '79, Harrow Road and all that. And I would go to the Music Institute and think, man, I might be in the middle of a new thing like punk. We're sitting here now 25 years later, there's a whole industry and money flying around, but we've just been doing what felt right all those years. There's no book, no charts, no game-plan, no exit strategy.

Jason Bentley, moderator: Rebecca & Fiona, tell us about your scene where you came up back in Sweden?

Rebecca: We started off having our own club. We weren't DJing at that point. We were bringing our friends there to play, and everybody sucked so bad and their music was so lame and cheesy. We were like, “We want heavier music!” Then we started DJing ourselves, digging for new music. Then we found ourselves in our own little community.

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