Derrick May

This Saturday, Chibuku Shake Shake will be celebrating eight years at the top of Liverpool’s club scene and, never people to do things by halves, Team Chibuku have assembled an absolutely stellar line up, headlined by one Derrick May. The man who, in short, helped invent the genre of techno

As part of the ‘Belleville Three’ with Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, May pioneered the techno blueprint in the mid 1980s by taking the electropop of Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and New Order and fusing it with Chicago house and his own experimental synthesiser work.

His 1987 release ‘Nude Photo’, on his own label Transmat, helped kick-start the Detroit techno scene. A year later he followed it up with what was to become one of techno’s classic anthems, ‘Strings of Life’. But, disillusioned by the increasing importance of drugs to the dance music scene, and obsessed with achieving perfection, May has not released any original solo recordings since 1993. Though he has produced numerous remixes, worked on video game and movie soundtracks and continues to DJ around the world.

The question has to be posed then, why, with such obvious talent and such an astonishing back catalogue, he doesn’t continue to release his own work?
“A lot of people make music,” May explains, “but not many of them are finishers. Most people don’t really understand what the finishing technique is, but it’s when you honestly tell yourself that you believe you’ve done the best you can and this is the best it can be. I can’t finish a track knowing that somewhere along the line I don’t feel comfortable with it. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t release much music.”

His future projects remain shrouded in a constant air of mystery, a Hi-Tek soul mix compilation he is creating for Ministry of Sound is definitely imminent, and film work is also in the pipeline, but he remains cagey on the details:
“Right now I’m involved in a very exciting project, something that will certainly grab your attention, but I’m not at liberty to discuss what it is. It’s not that I don’t want too, I just can’t mention much more than its work for a film, and an exciting and big one at that.”

Talk then turns to Chibuku. May’s perfectionism might mean we don’t get as much as we’d like from this Godfather of Detroit, but he promises us what he does deliver will always be his utmost, and it shouldn’t be any different this Saturday night: “I’m always excited to be appearing amongst my contemporaries,” he says, “it’s always something that gives me great satisfaction. But either way, I will always give you my best; I will always give you excellence, I don’t deliver halves.”

By Kenn Taylor

Saturday 15th March,

Chibuku Presents: the 8th birthday,


Wolstenholme Square,



£18, £16 NUS

Tel: 0151 708 5125

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s