Stacey Pullen - Pullen The Right Chords
3D’s Cyclone speaks to techno/house producer Stacey Pullen about the difficulties of releasing his music, new recordings and what he’ll be playing in Australia.
Stacey Pullen is the dark horse of the Motor City’s electronic music movement. The DJ/producer came up with fellow Derrick May protégé Carl Craig but, despite disseminating seminal recordings, he’s rarely pursued the spotlight.
Pullen has long explored the nexus between ‘machine music’ and avant garde jazz. He was always less interested in the music’s sci-fi dimension than recontextualising Africa’s tribal tradition. Pullen is a futurist, albeit a romantic futurist.
In 1995 the sometime high school drummer presented his cult debut, The Theory of Silent Phase, on R&S via Transmat. He later signed to Virgin’s Science offshoot for TodayIsTheTomorrowYouWerePromisedYesterday, conceptual high tech soul.
Pullen, who presides over his own Black Flag Recordings, has often regretted that Today didn’t score a US release. “I listened to that a couple of months ago and I was like, Oh...” he says, still “sweaty” from a gym session. “I’m gonna see if I can re-release that on my label, but that’s dealing with Virgin Records. I could [re-release the album] with some money behind it, just buy my album back [laughs]. Unfortunately, they own the rights to it. Maybe I can license it from them or something like that.”
These days the Kosmic Messenger is recognised as one of the greatest Detroit DJs, traversing anything from drum n bass to hip hop to D’Angelo in his sets – and rejecting techno’s purism. Nevertheless, Pullen is determined to put out more original music. “I just finished a single for Black Flag – it’s gonna be my new one. It’s called Alive. I’m doing a final mixdown and all that type of stuff now, so it should be ready by the time I get to Australia. My first time testing it out will probably be down under, so that’s a good feeling.” He’s also mixing tracks for a commemorative project from Ralph Lawson’s UK stable 20:20 Vision as well as remixing Mike Monday on Om.
The DJ believes in constantly reinventing himself. In the past Pullen has namechecked urban influences, from the Native Tongues hip hoppers through to Timbaland and The Neptunes, but he’s now checking out a new generation of electronic producers. Pullen rates Germany’s Stimming, Switzerland’s Cadenza Records, and, of course, Carl Craig. He’s unmoved by the current crop of hip hop acts. “Now it’s all nursery rhyme music, especially here in America. I’m like, OK, enough of this already. How many times can I hear Soulja Boy-”
Pullen’s rediscovery of ‘techno’ has largely been spurred on by his joining the digital revolution, the DJ adopting Native Instruments’ Traktor program. It’s a significant switch for an auteur who values the physicality of DJing. Many a Detroiter refuses to abandon vinyl on principle. What made him come around- “I think it was a lot better once they sponsored me,” he jokes.
WHO: Stacey Pullen
WHAT: Plays Sneakerpeeps at Favela
WHEN: Saturday 9 May
MORE: paulstrangpresents.com / myspace.com/staceypullen