DJ 3000: From Detroit Techno to Albanian Roots, Bridging Musical Worlds
DJ 3000 talks to SIX AM about creating his moniker, new album, and founding Motech Records.
December 4, 2023 at 12:00 AM PT
Hi DJ 3000, thanks so much for talking to SIX AM. How are you doing?
I'm doing alright, thank you for asking! Lately, I've been quite occupied with the launch of my latest album, "Mezë." It's been a whirlwind of activity, especially with the four vinyl releases that are part of the album's rollout.
To start things off for those that don’t know, how did you come up with the artist name “DJ 3000”? Is there a significance behind the meaning?
I started DJ'ing in Detroit and got my first big break through the "Somewhere in Detroit" mix series by Submerge Recordings. This mix series was where the world first got to hear me as DJ 3000. Up until then, I'd always performed under my given name. But it was 'Mad' Mike Banks, the co-founder of UR, who felt I needed a DJ name. At that time, both UR and Submerge had just moved their headquarters to 3000 W. Grand Boulevard in Detroit. In honor of this move and to represent my role in bringing the sounds of Submerge and UR to audiences worldwide, I was given the name DJ 3000.
You’ve just released a massive 20 track album 'Mezë' you have musical roots tied to Detroit but the album is also mentioned as having influence from your Albanian heritage. Can you share some insights into how you approached blending these two seemingly distinct musical worlds and what message or feeling you aim to convey through this unique fusion?
Absolutely, blending my Detroit roots with my Albanian heritage in 'Mezë' was a deeply personal and intentional process. Detroit's music scene has always been a part of me, shaping my sound and style. Yet, as I delved into my Albanian heritage, I found beautiful parallels between the rich, soulful beats of Detroit and the intricate melodies and rhythms of my homeland.
The fusion in 'Mezë' isn't just about merging sounds; it's about weaving together narratives, emotions, and experiences. I wanted to create a musical bridge between these two worlds, showcasing the similarities and celebrating the differences. Each track is a tapestry of influences, where the raw energy of Detroit techno meets the intricate traditional sounds of Albania.
Through this fusion, I aim to convey a universal message of unity and cultural harmony. Much like how food serves as the universal "glue" that binds life together, 'Mezë' binds together culture, music, and family. It's a story that transcends mere heritage; it's about the rich tapestry of life itself.
So it’s been a 10-year gap since your last album, what inspired you to return to focusing on releasing vinyl and your new album? How has your approach to music evolved during this time?
The 10-year hiatus between albums was a period of profound exploration and growth for me as an artist. During this time, I found myself immersed in various musical ventures, experimenting with diverse sounds, and refining my craft behind the scenes. While I wasn't actively releasing albums, I was deeply engaged in the music scene, absorbing new influences, and honing my skills.
The inspiration to return to releasing vinyl and crafting a new album stemmed from a convergence of experiences and a rekindled passion for storytelling through music. I felt a calling to share a new chapter of my artistic journey, to encapsulate the evolution of my sound and experiences over the years.
My approach to music has evolved significantly during this hiatus. I've delved deeper into the essence of storytelling through sound, focusing on creating immersive experiences that transcend the mere notes and beats. There's a newfound depth and maturity in my approach, an amalgamation of my diverse musical explorations and personal growth.
The vinyl format, with its tangible, nostalgic quality, felt like the perfect canvas to present this evolved musical narrative. It's a return to the roots of what inspired me initially, coupled with a refined perspective and a renewed commitment to crafting music that resonates on multiple levels.
Ultimately, this return represents not just a comeback but a rebirth—an evolution that embraces the past while pushing boundaries toward a new musical frontier.
You are the founder of Motech Records and mentioned that Motech Records took a 5-year break from strict vinyl releases. What prompted this shift to digital and what motivated the label to return to focus on vinyl releases now?
The shift to digital five years ago stemmed from the evolving music consumption and distribution landscape. It was a time when digital formats surged, offering convenience and accessibility globally. Motech Records adapted by embracing digital releases alongside vinyl, broadening our audience reach.
However, amidst this transition, I found myself longing for the tangible essence of vinyl—the warmth, the ritual of playing a record, and its unique artistic presentation. Vinyl embodies an irreplaceable authenticity that deeply aligns with the label's ethos and my personal connection to music.
I've always exclusively DJed with vinyl. When Motech began in 2002, it revolved around vinyl. I missed its authenticity and tactile nature. Reverting the label back to its vinyl roots felt like a natural progression, echoing Detroit's legacy of vinyl output. I yearned to shift away from digital and refocus on releasing more of my music on vinyl—a return to what feels genuine and authentic to me.
Could you share some details about your upcoming vinyl projects and what fans can expect from them? Are there any specific themes or inspirations behind these projects?
Absolutely! I'm super excited about our upcoming vinyl projects—it's like diving into a treasure trove of heartfelt creations. We're breaking down the Mezë album into four separate vinyl EPs, each its own world of beats and melodies.
One of these projects is deeply inspired by not just my Albanian roots but also draws from various ethnic cultures. It's a musical tapestry woven from diverse traditions, blending them into a vibrant mosaic of sound. I'm excited about the cultural celebration this project represents, inviting listeners on a global musical journey.
Another project pays homage to the authentic pulse of Detroit's soundscape but with a modern twist. It's about capturing the essence of the city's musical legacy while infusing it with fresh, contemporary elements. The aim is to create an evolution of those iconic Detroit sounds that still resonate powerfully today.
Beyond these, I have more vinyl plans brewing for spring and summer. I'm aiming to keep a steady flow of vinyl releases coming, each painting its own sonic picture. It's an exciting journey, and I can't wait to share these musical tales from around the world and the heartbeat of Detroit's ever-evolving sound with everyone.
Thanks so much for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to share before we sign off?
Thank you for having me! I'd love to extend my gratitude to all the fans and supporters who've been on this musical journey with me. Keep an eye out for the upcoming vinyl projects—they're a labor of love, each track crafted to resonate with you on a deeper level. And to everyone out there exploring new sounds and embracing the magic of music, remember that it's a universal language that connects us all. Stay tuned for more beats, more stories, and more shared experiences through the power of music. Cheers!