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Interview: Detroit Grand Pubahs

“Make your thighs like butter baby, easy to spread”. There’s a word for tracks like that- sleaze.

Needless to say this isn't meant to invoke negative connotations. More to point out that, in the same way Lil Louis' orgasmic French Kiss had prudish types blushing while stomping their feet, Detroit Grand Pubahs' timeless Sandwiches is a full-on suggestive dancefloor assault.

Which is no surprise, considering Paris the Black Fu and The Mysterious Mr O- the craftsmen behind the release- made a name for themselves via the outrageous. Adopting alter egos, donning masks, and doing all the things cool DJ types don't generally do is about as refreshing as underground electronic music gets, and as such became their remit.

But there was a problem. Oliver Way and Mack Goudy, as the duo are also known, were far from a joke. Their combined production work touches on almost every aspect of US dance, from more muscular sounds in keeping with their native Detroit, through to quality electro fare and funk fuelled numbers.

So in 2011 the disguises were removed, false names dropped, and a brand new imprint, Engine Room, established as an outlet for ‘proper techno', with launch singles seeing Sandwiches reworked by names like Dave Clarke and Ben Sims. Meanwhile, on the other side of the beats, Detelefunk, the pair's other label, continues to concentrate on more broken sounds.

Clearly there's much to be discussed then. As such we were more than delighted to learn that Messrs Way and Goudy were on hand to answer a few of our questions about their latest business venture, while explaining how they were criticised for having a sense of humour, and expounding on the state of affairs in modern synthesized music.

Hi Mack and Oliver, hope you're good today. What's been keeping you busy recently, apart from Engineroom of course?

We've been recording a lot of new music for Engineroom, moving countries, studying and researching gear for possible future purchases and preparing for culinary school.

Fair enough. The new label then, why set that up?

We wanted to focus more on techno as that's what we DJ when we're playing out. Our other label, Detelefunk, was much broader in the style of music we were releasing. The label will continue but will only be for our more funk-based projects, Engineroom will be techno- it was just to differentiate.

So why did you decide to kick start with remixes of Sandwiches?

It's our best-known track to date so what better way to launch a new label. We had many people over the years asking to remix that track so we decided the time was right.

The artists on the three re-edit releases are impressive- Dave Clarke, Ben Sims, Marc Romboy, Mr Jones... How did they get involved?

Dave Clarke was one of those people over the years that had said he would like to have remixed it. As for Marc Romboy, Ben Sims and Orlando Voorn, we work with them all closely and we love their music.

In terms of the future of the new label then, what should we expect to hear from Engineroom next year?

Lots of new music from ourselves, and others we've been in contact with.

You've been quoted as explaining the reason your alternative identities have been dropped is because "you can only tell a joke for so long”, but don't we need someone to give us a break from all this serious stuff?

We agree that we do need someone to do that, but we don't want to be the only ones. We've been criticised for years by other producers and journalists (believe it or not), who don't really appreciate what we were doing and it can really wear you down. Not only that, we felt it was time to show a different side to things and not get too caught up in our own joke. We started to not take ourselves seriously at some point.

So can we expect your music to be more straight-faced from now on?

Yes and no. We'll still put a bit of humour into our tracks from time to time, either in the title or the vocals. Take the tracks ‘Test tickle' or ‘G-I Jane (Demi Mort)', which means half-dead in French. They're both serious techno tracks but the titles are funny to us.

Obviously Engineroom is positioned as a techno imprint, do you think this is a good time for the genre?

Yes, the techno coming out at the moment is excellent. The tempos over the years have slowed down to around 130BPM so there is a broader spectrum of music to mix and experiment with.

With regard to electro and electronic funk right now, how healthy would you say the production scenes are there?

Real electro (not electro house which seems to have nothing to do with either) seems to have gone quiet, we don't hear much. But then we just got the new album on Rephlex by Dave Monolith, which is outstanding, so there must still be people out there interested. The Detroit electro / ghetto tech scene seems to have stopped, but who's to say it's dead? We have a few in production now.

Onto more pressing matters, it's Christmas pretty soon, some might expect you guys to have some pretty outlandish plans?

We are playing in China for New Years Eve so will be leaving to head over there just after Christmas. Really looking forward to that, never been there before and heard a lot of great things about the scene. We've also set electrified barbed wire in the chimney for unwanted intruders.

And, finally, once the festivities are over, is there anything major looming in 2012?

More music, culinary school, possibly opening a bar! Lots of ideas in waiting… Oh, and more videos.

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