If Detroit techno had a Mount Rushmore, Kevin Saunderson’s face would be carved in granite alongside the other members of the Belleville Three, Juan Atkins and Derrick May. While Atkins and May are known as the originator and innovator of Detroit techno, respectively, Saunderson is often called the elevator for his role in bringing it to the mainstream. In the late ’80s, his group Inner City, which he formed with vocalist Paris Grey, topped UK charts with singles like “Big Fun” and “Good Life.” A stark departure from the more industrial work of Atkins and May, the pop-minded songs from Inner City’s platinum-selling Paradise, which was called Big Fun in the US, and subsequent albums soundtracked clubs and raves around the world, and inspired countless imitations. In his 30-plus years as a solo artist, Saunderson has recorded hard-hitting techno under several aliases, including Reese, Tronik House and E-Dancer. Much of that material has been released on his label KMS, which has also put out work from artists like R-Tyme, Blake Baxter and Chez Damier. In this episode of Couch Wisdom recorded at the 2018 Red Bull Music Academy in Berlin, Saunderson explored the history of Detroit techno, from his early musical experiments alongside Atkins and May to mainstream success with Inner City and creating the first ever dance remix.

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