Detroit is “not going to go along with what everyone else is doing” – and yes, for all that history, its scene has new artists growing. Here’s a look at an essential local label and community hub.

Red Bull Arts New York sends us this short film on what artists are doing at Portage Garage Sounds, “a multi-disciplinary creative space that includes a recording studio, ceramics practice, and more.”

It seems some inspiring stuff. It’s a shame that so many places around the world are unable to come together in person right now, but maybe a lot of what they talk about here is a good template for dedicated online spaces, too. (That’s especially true for the USA, given its situation with the pandemic.)

There are some familiar faces and sounds in this video – DJ Father Dukes and producer Shigeto make an appearance. (Hi, Zach!)

So what about those local sounds? Well, let’s listen, because – they’re great. Here’s the very dirty, very irresistible sound of Pablo R. Ruiz:

And really giving you a more complete documentary portrait of what this space is about, here’s a longer look at what the space and label are about:

Wait, that’s Jakub Alexander doing the interviews, aka Heathered Pearls, who many of us know for his wonderful ambient productions (see Ghostly). Small world, or else… Detroit is haunting us, basically.


Boutique label service and champion digital distribution partner Symphonic took a journey with us into Detroit, Hamtramck and the world of Portage Garage Sounds. This mini-doc features behind the scenes (BTS) footage of the recording of “S Transporter 3”, the Portage Garage building, a record delivery to Todd Osborn at Technical Equipment Supply, food prep for Monday is the New Monday (MITNM), the magic of Archer Record Pressing, pre-glazed bowls at Hamtramck Ceramck, and much more. Additional footage of the boys Ben, Vinnie and Zach talking about the label. Black Noi$e at our house. Andra DJing at Monday. Our friends eating Julian and Devin’s food. The Shigeto Live Ensemble at Movement in happier times 🖤

Directed by Devin Williams
Produced and Edited by Alexander Gao
for CA$$AVA Creative Lab

Interviewer Jakub Alexander
DP Peter Herold
1st AC Jack Anderson, Robert Laenen
Sounded Recordist Andre Bottesi, Cruce Grammatico
Colorist Elisa Nousiopoulos
Special thanks to Archer Record Pressing, People’s Records, The Mill New York, ZelooperZ, Julian Spradlin, Andra Ozburn, Ian Finkelstein, Marcus Elliot, Dez Andrés

Music featured:

Todd Osborn – “Ambget”
S Transporter – “S Transporter 3”
Todd Osborn – “Z Lock”
Charles Trees – “Acja (12″ Club Mix) feat. Marcus Elliot”
Shigeto – “Detroit Part II (I94 Mix)”
Black Noi$e – “Fight Riff”
Spencer & Saginaw – “*b_W (AmbACiD Version)”
Pablo R. Ruiz – “Bad Hombre”
Josef Deas – “What She Wants”
Black Noi$e – “V98.7”

I can get behind that playlist.

“I think it’s worth it to be physical” sure takes on different meaning in these virtual days. Uff.

In addition to this video, there’s a lot more going on as part of the Art Mile, a digital exhibition across Detroit organized by Reyes I Finn and Cultural Counsel (in partnership with Red Bull Arts, in case you’re wondering why they got mentioned). Some 60 local organizations and spaces are involved in that effort – with virtual events making up for the lack of real ones. Omar-S played the opening party, no less.

Some other features:

A keynote with curators Jova Lynne and Tizziana Baldenebro and exhibiting artists Sabrina Nelson and Graem Whyt tackled the role of the art worker and labor:

And take a virtual tour of the Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum:

I am, uh, still sitting here in Berlin and our Berlin-Detroit connection is more than a little weak at the moment – I barely hear planes overhead any more. So Detroiters, if you’ve got more to add on this, always glad to hear from you. And people in cities less known in electronic music than Detroit, as well – we like you, too.