Growing up under the mentorship of Detroit’s legendary three — Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Kevin Saunderson — Stacey Pullen was on the right path for a successful and innovative role in the music world. Here he is now with countless releases and tours under his belt, and it was a pleasure to sit down at Movement for a brief chat.
What happened? [He’s on crutches.]
■ I fractured my ankle in Bali about three weeks ago. It happened on the first day of our 10-day vacation and we didn’t do anything; all I could do was sit around the pool and watch my daughter swim, but it was okay.
Did you have to cancel any shows?
■ No, thankfully it was after the gig so I didn’t have to cancel anything.
When are you off the crutch? How yo day play with that?
■ This is the fifth week, so hopefully another week and a half max. The first three gigs I had a barstool — perfect height — but the last few gigs I’ve been able to stand.
You have an after party tonight and another festival tomorrow. Is your schedule always like this?
■ Pretty much. I haven’t let up, I haven’t canceled or missed anything, and I’ve been very well taken care of it. The most difficult thing has been traveling on the actual airplane because the pressure makes my foot swell. Tomorrow is the last day I get wheelchair service… I’ve been having it from the time I get to the airport to the airplane.
You’re from Detroit. I’ve seen you at Movement; this is my seventh year, but I know people who have been coming since it was free…
■ Yeah, like 2001…
What was it like back then?
■ It was more homegrown. It was a festival put on by the DJs pretty much. Carl was artistic director and then we, as a collective of DJs, tried to curate it a little. Kevin Sanderson took over for one year, so it was in good hands but it still lacked a solid brand and then that’s how it came along and they fort of took it up to the next level. I’m glad to be involved with it.
So if I were to come not on Movement weekend, where would you tell me to go for music?
■ You would go to TV Lounge and then the Marble Bar.
If you had a vacation weekend, where would you go?
■ I spend a lot of time in Barcelona. I love Barcelona. If anybody wants to know where I am 20 years from now, that’s where i’ll be. I still love the city of New York. As far as a vacation place, Mauritius off the coast of Africa.
Do you have anything coming up you’re excited for?
■ I just finished up two tracks I’ll be testing out tonight. One is more of a peak track and one is more of a deep melodic groove. I still haven’t debated what I’m gonna do with it yet… probably send to a few labels to branch out from Detroit. And my tour schedule is about to be up and running. I’m going to Ibiza to do my residency, but I’m really excited about my new music coming out because I don’t really release much. I don’t want to release music just because I need to, I do it because I want to.
Is it hard to balance working on music and touring? Do you work on music while traveling?
■ Yes, it’s hard. If I’m working on something on the plane, it has to be almost finished where I can go in and tweak, not do any fresh programing or production. I get my vibes in the studio.
What percentage of your sets are your own content?
■ I have a difficult time playing my own music — I want to hear the whole thing in its entirety I don’t wanna mix. I just wanna listen to it. I’m my own worst critique.
What are you looking for when building your music library?
■ I’m looking for the groove. I’m looking for a super groove that’s gonna just make me wanna play more of that style. I’ve always been a melody guy too, but melodies only fit in certain parts so I’m looking for the best of the groove and for the melody to accent the groove as well. I’m not looking for the hit tracks; I tend to shy away from the tracks I know people are gonna play. I try to play something different at every gig.
Do you find that a lot of new music now sounds the same?
■ It does. That’s what normal people say about house and techno anyway, but we know.
Do you spend a lot of time digging?
■ Now I don’t dedicate as much time as I used to — now I’ll do it in two days and won’t do it again for a couple weeks. It’s too much. I get thousands of email promos.
How does that work? You have so many jobs to do.
■ I’ll spend three days once a month going through promos and whatever I don’t get, I don’t get but theres always going to be more. Occasionally I’ll go to a record store if I’m in that city and not jet-lagged.
What’s your biggest tip for someone trying to submit music?
■ Send it to me through a personal email, a SoundCloud or WeTransfer file where I don’t have to go through steps. I’ll send feedback, but I don’t wanna go back and rate it and answer all these questions — I just want to listen to it, click the link, and say I like it.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
■ My last job was working for an architecture firm and I’m really big on interior design. That’s my passion… vintage furniture, minimalistic, mid-century modern style of housing. I’d probably be some guy hanging out and trying to find the dopest furniture I can for people’s homes.