An interview with Carl Craig
Bodytonicmusic.com talks to Carl about the past, present & future of life on Planet E...
Twenty years is a long time in any game but the constant changing styles and ephemerality of electronic music make it all the more impressive that Planet E has reached such a milestone. There have been a series of special shows & releases to mark the occasion and recently Bodytonicmusic.com had some quality telephone time with Carl Craig, label founder & creative driving force to talk about the past, the present & the future life on Planet E.
BTM.com: 20 years of Planet E, Carl, half your adult life. Why did you set it up initially?
C2: Independence really, tired of waiting on other folks to release my music & I wanted the control of release timing, distribution, artwork, everything really. Setting up the label gave me this independence to have control over my (and others) musical output.
BTM.com: You wear many of your musical inspirations on your sampling sleeve with artists such as Visage, Talking Heads, Stevie Wonder, Alexander Robotnick amongst those sampled on early releases. How have you seen those influences through the years in terms of impact on your own sounds
C2: The historical reference points still exist, growing up in early teenage years, artists & tracks such as Frequency 7 (Visage), Art of Noise, The Soulsonic Force were a massive influence musically. There was always a big influence in Detroit of the UK & European synth sounds so O.M.D., Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, Human League were regularly heard on FM in Detroit. I recently watched the Synth Brittanica doc - these guys were all huge influences on my sound & the sound of Detroit. This type of trans-Atlantic pollination has been going on since the days of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Hendrix. I mean Hendrix at the Isle of Wight is where he went super-nova. This exchange of ideas and music is a constant live idea. It’s still an important part of what I do working with the likes of Moritz von Oswald, Francesco Tristano, etc.
BTM.com: Moving on towards the present and this years’s anniversary, you’ve been doing some live shows as 69. Tell us a little why it was this project you returned to at this point.
CC: 69 was the first release on Planet E and in many ways it’s the most personal of all my projects. Doing the shows this year at Movement, ADE & coming up at I Love Techno was a way to book-end the past 20 years of activities, it’s putting down a marker....we didn’t do anything for 5 or 10 or 15 years but 20 felt important to celebrate something of what we have achieved. It was a special moment to play 69 live at Movement...I was working right up to a few hours before the show, adapting, changing, tweaking.
BTM.com: You decided to release an art-house type of box set on vinyl - how important is the medium of distribution to you as both an artists & a label-owner?
CC: It’s important to me I guess because I grew up around vinyl but it’s not like the past when you know the likes of KMS, Transmat could shift 15k just around Detroit & Chicago. Those days will not come around again. So, digital is so important to what we’re doing now even if we don’t always fully understand it you’ve got to be aware and on top of how technology & distribution is changing.
BTM.com: It’s 2031...what’s going on with Planet E?
CC: We’ll still be going along, rock & roll, releasing music...that’s the vision. Twenty years is a long time. I’m also spending more time on a foundation I set up in Detroit. It’s a way to educate kids about music. The radio doesn’t play what it used to and a lot of kids growing up in the hood, they don’t have access to computers, to the internet, to stumble across this music like we used to. Music on the radio in Detroit now sucks. I want to give some exposure to music to maybe inspire these kids to do music like I did. Hopefully in 2031, some of these kids from the hood will be releasing on Planet E - that’s a good vision to have!