In honor of our 14 year Anniversary party this Saturday, August 2th, Paxahau team members Jason Huvaere, Jason Clark, Chuck Flask, and Sam Fotias recount details from some of the memorable moments in Paxahau history. You’ll also find soundcloud links and photo galleries from some of the most fun we’ve ever had.
Early Days of the Webcast (1999 -2002)
In the early days, before they threw events, Paxahau was an idea. And then it became something like a pirate radio station…
Jason Huvaere recalls, “Jason Clark and I had just returned from our hiatus on the East Coast and we brought with us the Paxahau vision, the Paxahau idea, and we knew that we wanted to immediately get back into promoting music and promoting Detroit. Keep in mind that’s when the underground scene here had ended and the actual party scene here was very challenged.
We began with a weekly webcast that we took very seriously and Sundays were like the staple. What we’d do is invite a friend or a DJ that we knew over to the house on Sundays, usually do two shows where we would do like a really short intro, ninety minutes, and then right into another dj set. Sometimes we would schedule it around a barbecue, depending on the weather, sometimes we would do webcasts as after parties of some other events. But the whole thing started right there in the basement, and that’s how we began to build our archives and that’s how we began to learn the technology and that’s how we began to build the website and the brand.
That was really the beginning of the Paxahau project and, looking back, it was a funny project, because it was always about six to ten guys sitting around the basement every single week complaining about the lack of women; but the music was spot on.”
Jason Huvaere: “Looking back on it, it was definitely appropriate for the times. It was like being able to do a pirate radio station, except that it reached the entire world and it wasn’t illegal. It was really a special time for electronic music, technology and the internet all in one.”
“Listen to My Hooves” with Kooky Scientist at Motor – Feb 15, 2002
This was the first party for Paxahau, with a special dark and comedic movie theme. They took the 3 rooms of Motor and transformed them, ranging from Fred Gianelli in the front to Chuck Flask playing bluegrass til close in the back.
Huvaere remembers, “That was when we decided that we were gonna get back into doing parties again, theme parties and, you know, we still are kinda really movie fans, so a lot of our language and one-liners all come from offensive comedies that we’ve struck a liking to over the years.
“Listen To My Hooves” actually came from Tom Green’s movie “Freddie Got Fingered” and in the movie he creates this short animation that, you know, is some ridiculous plot-less silly thing, but those are the kinda things that would give us these little comedic breaks at that time and, you know, there was a scene where he had this animation with this weird centaur that was saying, “listen to my hooves, they’re crazy” and we sampled it. Tom Newman sampled it and made a techno song with it, and all the elements combined – it just all made sense to do a fun theme party. We made t-shirts and we had three rooms going, I mean, it was really a fun night.
“And if you look back at a lot of our party fliers, a lot of them have movie elements to it, all usually comedy, we don’t try to get too serious with the movie opinions. There’s just things of that nature where we just try to remind ourselves what makes us laugh and try to keep fun in it.”
P.E.M.F. at Panacea (May 24 – 27, 2002)
Paxahau begins promotions at Panacea, first with a weekly house event called Volume with resident DJ D Wynn, and culminating in P.E.M.F., a weekend long event coinciding with the DEMF, that included Ricardo Villalobos’ stateside debut.
Jason Clark remembers “Everyone was feeling like the festival was going corporate or something. I think we felt maybe odd that we weren’t included in the festival to some
degree, so that was our reaction was to do four nights of our own programming. It was definitely the biggest undertaking that we had done at that point. Of course, the fact that Ritchie had one of his Control parties on the Sunday night was definitely the highlight of the whole weekend. …”
Paxahau 4 with Zip and Sammy Dee at the Works – August 30th, 2002
The first anniversary event for Paxahau, featuring extended sets from Perlon’s Zip & Sammy Dee gives Paxahau a more solid footing.
Chuck Flask remembers, “Paxahau 4 was the first anniversary party that we did after the last night at Motor when Motor actually closed for the first time. Zip and Sammy Dee played at the Works, they played all night, it was one of the most influential sets that I had heard at that time frame. Around that time period in 2002 and 2003 was when techno was changing and morphing into, like, minimal tech-house. So, and that was a really fresh sound, being used to listening to hard techno all the time or like actual Detroit electro, not what they call electro- house now. That night was really based on the music. It was a raw, dirty party.”
Tinnitus with Luciano at the Works – October 25, 2002
In a great year for music, (the emergence of micro-house, the development of minimal, the popularity of electro clash), Paxahau threw another trailblazing party which featured the Detroit debut of Swiss & Chilean minimal techno star Luciano.
Sam Fotias recalls, “Both Dandy Jack and Akufen played great sets. But then Luciano went on and played live and it was crazy. It was a great set, he was totally feeling it and he just kept pounding on his gear, running drum patterns and stuff up there. And we were all standing behind him, and Akufen was turns to me and says, “Oh my god, this guy’s crazy. He’s gonna play for hours!” He played for three and a half, four hours live or something like that. And it was great, it was such a fun party.”
Yel 1 with Speedy J at St. Andrew’s Hall – May 24, 2003
Yel 1 was Paxahau’s first large scale production, combining almost 3 parties into one at St. Andrew’s Hall on the Saturday of the festival.
Jason Clark recalls, “This was the year after PEMF, we obviously learned from our mistakes and realized that doing a party every single day of the weekend was, you know, we got burned out. So, let’s just do one super, mega-crazy party. And that’s what we did at St. Andrew’s. Speedy J was doing his super percussive, repetitive crazy techno and at that time in Detroit for festival there were enough people that loved that to really get a vibe going. Oh and it was the biggest sound system we had ever put together.” Jason continues, “It just sounded perfect in that room, it was something to do with the wood floor and the way they just threw the bass combined with the rear stacks that we brought in, combined with the already existing St. Andrew’s sound system. It was one of the best sounding things I had ever heard. And the party was just ridiculously packed, you know the time where you just look at the bar and you go, “Well, I’m not even going to go there.”
http://soundcloud.com/paxahau/05-24-1 (S. Walker)
Paxahau 5 with Kompakt – September 27, 2003
Paxahau held their 5th Anniversary in two locations, with one ticket. You came to the main advertised party and received a flier for the free second location afterparty. This was one of the last underground events from Paxahau.
Jason Clark remembers, “This was the one where we were using Time Square for a couple years there. So, it was a two part party, and it was definitely one of the last truly underground things we did, cuz all we did was announce the Time Square party, and we said, “You’re gonna get the rest of the information at that party.” So everyone goes there and we had a different flier there and then everyone went over to the Burst warehouse ready to party their faces off – and they did.”
http://soundcloud.com/paxahau/09-27-1 (M. Mayer)
http://soundcloud.com/paxahau/09-27-2 (R. Voigt)
Speedy J at the Burst Warehouse – October 11, 2003
Only a few weeks after their 5th Anniversary, Paxahau threw their final underground party at the Burst Warehouse.
Chuck Flask reminisces, “it was probably one of the craziest underground warehouse parties that we’ve done. It was basically the old-school Burst rig, because it was in the Burst Warehouse, so that was where the massive EAW rig lived. We had an opportunity when we worked with Burst back then that we could use the whole PA in their basement. So we were like, holy shit, this is crazy, because the basement was just a concrete room, no windows, no nothin’. So, there was like a doorway in, and that was it. And it was just a dark concrete room and we put a little bit of lighting in there, just so people could see. And we filled the place with smoke or fog, and Speedy J played for like four hours, and he started with an ambient setting and he took it all the way to “Three O’ Three” and all types of crazy tracks that were Detroit staple tracks that were never played live in Detroit.
Link to 303: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZKrRu7p_4c
Yel 2 with Collabs at St. Andrew’s Hall – May 29, 2004
Yel 2 saw Paxahau return to St. Andrew’s with the Butterfly Subs with the first ever Collabs show, with Chris Leibing on Turntables and Speedy J on gear, a complete chill out room upstairs complete with an ISDN collaboration with Monolake and Untitled in the Shelter.
Chuck Flask recollects, “The theme of the party matched the flier that Doug designed, which is what we did at our parties when we were doing decor and trying to make unique experiences in your regular everyday venues. At that time, we had Lee Curtis on the team, he was a carpenter before he became popular with Vision Quest (with Seth Troxler, Ryan Crosson and Sean Reeves).
It was Speedy J, Chris Leibing and then in the Burns room we did Biosphere, Deadbeat and Monolake. I don’t think Monolake was there, we did Dead Beat versus Monolake over the internet and we flew a screen that showed what they were doing together. In the basement, in the Shelter, we did Matthew Johnson live, for the first time in Detroit, Derek Plaslaiko, Mike Servito, Ryan Elliot and Matt Dear played, we partnered up with Ghostly for that party.”
Min to Max with Richie Hawtin at Panacea – July 4, 2004
For this Richie Hawtin tour stop Paxahau transformed Panacea into a literal Hot Box, while Hawtin debuted Mathew Johnson’s “Decompression.”
Jason Clark: “We had the help of Richie’s production team, which was mostly volunteers and guys like Rudy and Tim, guys that had been helping him do his parties for years and years. We took all this black fabric and hung it down from all the railings on the second floor to create this black box. And then we created a new DJ booth, covered that in black. It looked really cool, but it also created about zero air circulation. So, that combined with the fact that the air conditioning decided to break (on a really hot night!) made for an insane party. I personally love sweating like crazy, you feel renewed afterwards. This one was a sweat lodge.”
Underground Stage at Fuse-in 2005
For the sixth festival, Kevin Saunderson invited Paxahau to curate a stage. Paxahau took care of all creative and logicistal operations, featuring 3 showcases, with Saturday being Mutek’s, Sunday for Tronic Treatment, and Monday being Paxahau’s own showcase.
Sam Fotias recalls, “We had a really good team and we had a strong production team. We were still an all-volunteer organization at that point, but we had a really good group of people that were helping us with stuff and were “team members”. We got the call from Kevin Saunderson, “Hey, I’m gonna do this this year, the Fuse-In and we’d really like to have you guys involved with one of the stages. What can you bring to the table?” And it was basically the first time that an independent promoter had been invited to produce a stage at the festival for the entire weekend. We were like, “Yeah, man. We’ll reach out to our resources, we’ll book it, we’ll curate it, we’ll deal with the production. Plug us in to the contractors with the festival and we’ll take care of it.
That was really, in regards to my position within the organization as the operations manager, one of the first events where I cut my teeth, just trying to understand the workings of the event. On that Monday, by the time Hawtin got on to headline down there, it was crazy. It was insane down there. And that was–I’d have to say by the end of that weekend, that was definitely one of the most prominent crystallizing factors in regards to us feeling confident–we had never ever thought about dipping our hands into doing the festival until after that weekend.”
http://soundcloud.com/paxahau/05-29-13 (Adam Beyer)
http://soundcloud.com/paxahau/05-29-14 (Ben Sims)
http://soundcloud.com/paxahau/05-29-19 (Marco Carola)
http://soundcloud.com/paxahau/05-29-16 (Christian Smith)
Paxahau 7 with Richie Hawtin, Luciano, Monolake and afterparty at 2500 Club – September 4, 2005
Paxahau’s 7th Anniversary was an introduction of the Berlin 24 hour party style to Detroit, where multiple events were held over the weekend, climaxing with Richie Hawtin tag teaming records sitting Indian style with Rich Korach.
We had the idea, basically towards the end of a group trip to Berlin and Ibiza , we were all sitting in this outdoor cafe somewhere and talking about the trip and we started talking about our anniversary party, we should do something cool this year. We were like man, we should do multiple days, we should have one be outdoor at this place and then have a full rager going on and then an afterparty–we had really good influence from Club Der Visionaire.”
Sam Fotias: “We were like, man it’d be so sweet,nobody had ever done that in Detroit, up until that point, the day party did not exist. People went to other people’s houses or whatever and after-partied, but nobody had done a party yet where the main party’s over and now we’re gonna go to this crazy obscure location because it’s 7AM and we can start drinking booze again. So, we had a relationship with people that owned the 2500 Club at that time and we went and looked at it and we were like, “Oh my god, this is fucking perfect.” It’s so ironic and it’s just great.”
Movement Festival – 2006 to Present time
This nation’s deepest Electronic Dance Music festival, helmed by Paxahau since 2006.
Jason Huvaere says, “before Movement 2006, our work was mostly still under the radar. We were not doing public work until that year – our lives completely changed and they have remained changed since.
In 2006, we were literally the last opportunity that the city of Detroit had to save that festival, they had tried producing this festival three different ways with three different promoters, and just ran into a lot of challenges.
And after eight weeks of heavy negotiations and heavy discussions, we came to an agreement – and that agreement came eight weeks away from the actual date of the event. So now, it took us eight weeks just to come to an agreement and now we only have eight weeks to promote it. And having eight weeks to promote an event that size is really challenging.
That first year we had great weather, the attendance was there, it was a success. It was a blessing of all the factors involved and since then we have never treated it like a part-time job, we work on the event all year round. We work with the city all year round on other events, but we never stop talking about Movement.
So our focus right now, obviously is maintaining the integrity of our production, always looking at artist programming and staying current with the current EDM-craziness, but also to our roots and staying an integrity-based music promoter.”
Detroit Techno Week – May 20 – 28, 2012
Mayor Bing declared via proclaimation that May 20th through the 28th is Detroit Techno Week in the city of Detroit.
Jason Huvaere: “Detroit Techno Week is something that we asked the Mayor’s office to recognize because we started to do more and more events earlier in the week. Some events have to do with some educational stuff, whether it’s the music program over at Youthville or whether it’s a lecture at the Detroit School of Arts, we’re trying to get more and more stuff out there earlier in the week.
There’s this element of conference that keeps lingering over, where people really want to do a small media event. When we started to look at all that, it became more than just the weekend. And we wanted to ask for some kind of recognition that we could basically share with those out-going communications and say, “Look, this is a fun thing that the community can recognize, the media can recognize, that people can be a part of.”
That really takes this legacy and turns it more into a week-long recognition with different formats that include all ages and all styles. Rather than just a three day dance festival that some people may not be able to understand right away. So I think this gives us an opportunity to ramp up into the weekend a little bit more maturely. And allow us to generate more take-away aspects, and some more long-lasting effects, with some of the younger people and some of the media opportunities.”