On The Road With NPR Music: Chris Campbell At WDET, Detroit, Michigan

Beyond travel, we’re also big music fans here at Gadling; largely because music is a great way to get to know a place. This month happens to be Public Radio Music Month and we’re teaming up with NPR to bring you exclusive interviews from NPR music specialists around the country. We’ll be learning about local music culture and up and coming new regional artists, so be sure to follow along all month.

Today we’re checking out the scene in Detroit, and local host Chris Campbell has his finger on the pulse of all that’s progressive and underground. His playlist that he made exclusively for Gadling is full of tracks you’ve probably never heard, but certainly won’t be able to stop listening to. If you think Detroit is just a rap scene as depicted in “8 Mile,” think again.

Name: Chris Campbell

Member station: 101.9 FM WDET

Regular Show/Contribution BeatThe Progressive Underground w/Chris Campbell

1. When people think of music in Detroit, what do they think of?

Generally speaking, people think of Motown Records, but Detroit also has a vibrant techno/electronic music scene (it’s the birthplace of techno music) in addition to a burgeoning progressive hip hop and R&B scene as well. The electronic, future soul and progressive hip hop genres are the scenes that we tend to focus on during our show broadcasts.

2. How do you help curate the Detroit musical scene?

I curate the electronic music scene through artist/DJ spotlights, atmospheric mix segments and artist interviews, which are also posted through various media networks (WDET website, Sound Cloud, etc).

3. How has that scene evolved over the last few decades?

The electronic scene has had a curious evolution. It started out very strong back in the 1980s locally, but became a genre that was more cherished overseas – especially in the UK and Japan. Many artists who are looking to become even more established still focus on touring overseas, but there has been a concerted effort made to play/tour the home market and build up the scene locally.

4. What would you say is the most unique thing about your music scene?

The most unique thing – in my mind – is that the electronic scene is full of diversity, variance and a myriad number of styles. Stylistically, electronic encompasses subgenres such as deep house, chill, chill wave, down tempo, and future soul. It is a genre that is seeing a “boon” in the number of artists who are embracing it.

5. What are three new up and coming bands on the Detroit scene right now and what makes them distinct?

Tall Black Guy – Terrell Wallace aka Tall Black Guy is a Detroit artist/producer whose music spans a wide spectrum of electronic. We have currently been playing his album “The Brazilian Chronicles,” which is electronic music that is inspired by the history and music of Brazil. His uniqueness is displayed in his production work – groovy orchestral flourishes set on top of multi-layered rhythm patterns. He is truly a producer that approaches his electronic music with a sense of musical virtuosity.

Inohs Sivad – Inohs Sivad is singer/songwriter/producer/composer, who exemplifies the emerging future soul genre. Her music combines some of the foundational elements of classic soul (strong lyricism/writing) with some of the staples of progressive and future soul arrangements (organic and elemental sound textures).

Leaf Erikson – Artist/wordsmith Vernon Greenleaf aka Leaf Erikson is an artist who is on Detroit’s famed underground Butter Made record label. He has shared the stage with many regional and national figures and what makes his music exceptional is the merger of the melodic production with his sense of communal awareness and lyrical substance.

6. For a Gadling playlist, what are your favorite tracks?

The last four are not Detroit artists, but they are artists that we have broken in the Detroit market and ones that we play heavily.

“O Fim De Viagem” – Tall Black Guy

“Brown Suga” – Swiftus Funkellwerk

“Moving On” – Rick Wade

“Somewhere Else” – Inohs Sivad feat. Diamondancer

“Artificial” – Leaf Erikson

“Midnight” – Candace Nicole

“So Blue & Green” – Cecilia Stalin

“Listeriosis” – BadBadNotGood

“See With Me” – Jesse Boykins III

“Play With Me” – Princess Freesia

Listen to the complete playlist on Spotify.