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Monty Luke: “In 2023, ‘I’m a DJ’ is as cliché as ‘I’m a yoga teacher’"

Photos by: Svetlana Sokolova

We caught up with Monty Luke, the raw, dub-infused house and techno DJ, to discuss his career up to today, compare the Berlin and Detroit scenes, and explore the evolution of the techno scene – as he puts it, “It’s too late for hopes and fears”

What did your musical journey look like up until today, and how did you get into Detroit techno and house?

"My musical journey is really the story of a never-ending quest. I'm constantly seeking, constantly yearning for the new and the contemporary, and learning new methods and incorporating that into what I do as a DJ. Growing up in Los Angeles and knowing the history and origins of House and Techno meant that at some point, my search would lead me to either Chicago or Detroit to learn more. I ended up in Detroit for a 10 year span (2008-2018)."

What about it made you get hooked? And what drives the passion today?

"I am passionate about sharing new ideas through music; this is what I love so much about being a DJ. In 2023; telling people you’re a DJ is about as cliché as saying, “I’m a yoga teacher” because so many people do it now. But for me, I’m still in love with the idea of sharing music with people and the exchange of energy and ideas it can bring about. This is why Panorama Bar is one of my favourite places to play. That room just oozes that energy. The ultimate goal is the facilitation of a VIBE. This is why I still do what I do."

You're also a label owner of Black Catalogue - could you tell us what inspires your releases?

"Black Catalogue is focused on shedding light on artists, many of whom are under-the-radar; many of whom are people of colour. This is not exclusively so, though. It’s basically a venue for me to present/curate/explore and ask questions through the presentation of the ideas of different artists(including myself). They might not all be club bangers, but they are all definitely interesting and thought-provoking music releases."

The techno scene has grown a lot - do you have any fears and hopes for it?

"As you know, there is a massive transition happening at the moment. For years, I’ve always likened what we’re doing now to the early era of Rock n Roll. Frankie Knuckles is our Fats Domino. Richie Hawtin our Bill Haley & The Comets… We are now coming out of that early era and into an era of exponential growth and popularity. Major labels are again showing interest, major investment is happening. The streaming phenomenon during the pandemic saw DJ’s and dance music become ubiquitous; this music was suddenly accessible to anyone with a computer or big screen tv connected to the internet. The visual aspect became as important (if not more so) as the aural. The growth and diversity has exploded; it’s no longer this thing of ours,’ it’s everywhere. It’s too late for hopes and fears; we just gotta mount up and hang on for the ride!"

From Los Angeles to San Francisco to Detroit and Berlin - How does the scene differ if we compare Detroit and Berlin? (Maybe you have something to add about LA and SF too?)

"Not too sure about differences, but the scene on the west coast and Berlin have some real parallels; in particular with the SF Bay Area scene there is a dedication to freedom, to diversity and non-conformity. For Detroit, I think most people in Berlin might be surprised to learn it’s not as active as the scene is here in terms of venues, events, etc." LISTEN TO MONTY LUKE’S NEW ALBUM - OUR IN JANUARY 2024


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