Motor City Drum Ensemble – DJ Kicks [interview & stream]

06.07.11, Words by: Charlie Jones

!K7 are this week releasing the next installment in their DJ Kicks series, which has been mixed by Cologne’s Danilo Plessow, or Motor City Drum Ensemble. Most famous for his ‘Raw Cuts’ series, a set of releases that approach sampling in house and techno with jazzy inflection and, as the name suggests, a raw soulfulness. There’s a warmth and care about the way those samples are treated which showcases a high sensitivity for what has come before. It’s a sensitivity that makes this new release such a strong and well crafted listen, a varied selection spanning from Aphex Twin to Peven Everett to Robert Hood, as well as new Motor City Drum Ensemble track L.O.V.E.. You can hear the first 30 minutes of the release here, and read a quick interview with Danilo below.

Motor City Drum Ensemble – DJ Kicks – 30 minute Preview by !K7 Records

How did you go about choosing the tracks that make up this release?

I had a very clear vision of what kind of mix i wanted to do, on the one hand show where the producer MCDE comes from, which music influenced me, and on the other hand to make the mix somehow special by combining these older songs with tracks i play in my dj sets often, such as mr fingers, robert hood etc..

There’s a lot of different areas of music covered on the mix. What do you think are the common threads?

I would say it definatly all falls under the category of “black music”, but then again, everything we listen today is at least based upon black music. I search for certain emotions in music and i think all the songs on the mix have a unique message or feeling of its own. I can’t stand music that seems lifeless.

There’s a new track from you on the mix. Could you tell us a bit about it?

Well it was clear that there will be at least one own track on there as its the tradition with the mix series to also include an exclusive tune of the artist. And this new track just developed really naturally – I had just moved studios and jammed around a bit.

Motor City Drum Ensemble- L.O.V.E. (DJ-Kicks exclusive) by !K7 Records

Your own work, like your ‘Raw Cuts’ series, makes use of a lot of samples. How do you go about choosing those?

I obsessively buy and collect records, and every 2-4 weeks i record samples off the records I bought in that period. So i have a massive library of my own samples, everything from 60s jazz over soul and funk over to progressive or krautrock. I only sample “vintage” stuff, thats sort of an ethic i have.. no drum hits from other producers, only stuff from a certain period, 60s-early 80s. A lot of new producers sample everything, tracks that are merely a few years old and i kind of think that this is a little over the top.

Are you planning on moving away from this sample-heavy approach?

I don’t want to repeat the Raw Cuts formula. I will still use samples but Raw Cuts has been based on a concept which I think I will stop for now. And I do definitely want to do more stuff myself, now that I have so much instruments in the studio.

What piece of gear could you not live without?

My 909 is very, very beloved. Quite sexy, too.

Your favourite place to pick up new records?

This can be everywhere, really. You just need to be lucky. Flea Markets tend to be the places where you get lucky most of the time these days, as record shops all have a computer to check prices.

What are you up to in the near future?

I ll be playing at the garden festival this weekend and will enjoy some days off after that, swimming, sunbathing etc. Finally!

Your current three favorite tracks to close a DJ set?

Gloster Williams – No Cross, No Crown
Stevie Wonder – All I Do
Vance & Suzanne – I Can’t Get Along Without You

!K7 released Motor City Drum Ensemble’s ‘DJ Kicks’ on 5th July 2011