Carl Craig is described as a creative visionary, a groundbreaking electronic music icon, an inspirational artist, an esteemed Grammy-nominated composer, a world-class DJ and an ambassador for his native Detroit. Yet the common thread that runs through Craig’s broad musical canon and creative projects is a resounding fascination with futurism. Carl Craig has cultivated a unique path as an artist, entrepreneur and civic leader, guided by his tendency toward forward thinking.
Releasing his first music in 1989, one of Craig’s earliest mentors and first collaborator was Derrick May, whose imprint Craig also released some of his early music on.
In 1991, wanting pure artistic freedom, Craig set up his own label Planet E and released ‘4 Jazz Funk Classics’, under the moniker 69, as the label’s first release. From here his wild exploration of sound intensified…
A Gemini true to form, with a mind that never sits still, Craig has released a diverse range of experimental and groundbreaking music under a plethora of aliases including 69, BFC, C2, Innerzone Orchestra (‘Bug in the Bassbin’ was credited as the spark that inspired the evolution of drum‘n’bass), No Boundaries, Psyche, Paperclip People, Tres Demented, Urban Tribe, Carls Davis and many more. He has also produced albums for the legendary Detroit Jazz collective Tribe, orchestrator / pianist Francesco Tristano and French producer Agoria and in 2013 he released a CD of music entitled ‘Meditation’, inspired by David Lynch’s transcendental meditation techniques. In 2015 Carl Craig released a collaborative album with Green Velvet, entitled ‘Unity’, bringing together the sounds of Detroit and Chicago.
Carl Craig collaborated with Les siècles orchestra, conductor Francois Xavier Roth, pianist Francesco Tristano and Moritz Von Oswald at Cité de la Musique in Paris in 2008. A meeting of techno and classical music, the concert recreated Craig’s techno masterpieces in to symphonic versions and was described as “historical”. Versus the album will be released in summer 2017.There will also be a tour alongside, as the Versus Synthesizer Ensemble, where Carl Craig will be joined on stage by five musicians, together interpreting the music from the album onto a synthesizer wall.
Craig also makes rare live performances as experimental outfit Trio with Moritz Von Oswald and Francesco Tristano, as Narod Niki alongside Villalobos, Luciano, Richie Hawtin, Zip and others, regularly does part live and part DJ with Luciano and occasionally brings keyboardists like Mike Banks (UR), Amp Fiddler and Tristano into the DJ booth with him for special one-off shows. He also improvised live music to an Andy Warhol film at the Unsound Festival in New York. In 2011, Craig went live as 69 for the first time ever, fusing masks, darkness and the music of 69. In 2012 he featured on the cover of Mixmag and was named as one of the DJs that rule the world in Rolling Stone. In 2014, Craig went live as Modular Pursuits, playing live jams on modular synthesizers, where people never know what to expect. In 2015, Craig was named in the top 100 DJs for Resident Advisor.
His remixes discography boasts some of the most desirable names in music – LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip, Junior Boys (nominated for a Grammy Award), Gavin Russom & Delia Gonzalez, Theo Parrish, Tori Amos, Can, Goldfrapp, Friendly Fires, Tom Trago, Slam, Caribou, Pet Shop Boys, Tiga, Boris Blank, Aphrohead, Unkle, Life & Death, Nicole Moudaber, tINI, Yello, Henrik Schwarz, and more. His remix of Caribou’s ‘Your Love will Set You Free’ was named as the first Essential New Tune of 2015 and received over 1 million plays on soundcloud.
As well as an outlet for his own productions, Craig’s Planet E imprint has given a home to a wide range of Detroit-based artists including Francesco Mora Catlett, Naomi Daniel, Flexitone, Jason Hogans, Kenny Larkin, Monty Luke, Moodymann, Mike Agent X, Oliverwho Factory, Niko Marks, Ezana Harris, Recloose, Terrence Parker, Reference, Kevin Saunderson, Big Tone, Tribe, Urban Tribe and Chaz Vincent.
Staying strong to his Detroit roots, Craig helped launch the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) in 2000 and remains a strong force at the festival today.
In 2014, Carl Craig began a new event concept ‘Detroit Love’, designed to bring together and support the sounds of Detroit and take a little of the techno brotherhood to clubs and festivals the world over. “My love for Detroit is my inspiration, my inspiration is ‘Detroit Love”, says Craig. Detroit Love launched at ADE 2014, in the underground recesses of Amsterdam’s North Sea Jazz club. Craig invited Detroit natives Recloose, Moodymann – who played a set encompassing disco, soul, house and hip-hop, and Mad Mike Banks to play keys over Carl Craig’s Moog infused 4-cd-deck closing set, which included live editing, sampling, scratching and looping of soundscapes ranging from ambient textures to masterful techno. A Detroit focused line-up, showcasing only a few of the sublime talent that Detroit has to offer, the launch was a special and unforgettable night for those who attended. Detroit Love continues to tour in select venues the world over, bringing the special Detroit magic wherever it goes, with standout shows in Detroit, Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, LA, San Francisco, Paris, NYC, London and Ibiza.
When Carl Craig explains his philosophy, his wry sense of humor seeps into his explanations of far-reaching concepts that merge worlds together. “I have a very special career. When I feel that I’m tired of going on the road I can go in the studio. When I’m tired of concentrating on the studio I can go on the road. I can work with concert pianists, jazz musicians or rock guys. Very few people have that range of interests. Very few people juggle a career that they choose specifically.” No one else can pull it all together quite like Carl Craig.