Only in the Midwest – and really, only in a city like Detroit – could you find a producer and DJ like Marshall Applewhite.
Applewhite has released music on Clone, Scuffed and two LPs on the dangerous Detroit Underground imprint, as well as his own Junted and Yo Sucka! labels. His catalog is bursting with guttural lo-fi electro, experimental jack tracks and techno that smells like burned out diodes. And his sound jumps, record-by-record and in the most pleasing fashion, from aggressive EBM like “Advance Beyond Human” to 2017’s “Go Home,” which sounds like a legit lost DJ Funk classic. This is no throwback: his label, Junted, emits a wild, freak’d output of new sounds that nobody knows they need until they hear them. And then they do.
Rarely does an artist bio better sum up its subject than this: “If EDM is drug music,” it reads, then “Marshall Applewhite is the anti drug. Every 16 year old on molly would run from this stuff. Every person who understands underground dance music though – they will get it, they will love it.”
Anyone who thinks new methods or new gear is ruining the music has a bad take on what this culture is. We are people who push limits and use what we have at our disposal to make strides over other arts.
What came first for you – making music or DJing?
I began with making music, doing live PAs, then eventually started collecting records and taking gigs as a DJ.
Do you remember the first gig you got paid real money for?
My first real money gig was Movement in 2012. Still not a huge fee, but definitely a game changer as far as confidence goes.
Who inspired you when you were younger?
Musically I have always been inspired by rap producers like Dr. Dre and Timbaland. Growing into my teens I started developing a love for more boundary pushing musicians like Bjork, Aphex Twin, Kid606 and the like.
Listen: Marshall Applewhite – A 5 Mag Mix #86
Is there anyone that inspires you today, listening to them strictly as a DJ?
Currently I cannot get enough of DJ Stingray and Kaytranada.
What makes a good DJ over a bad one? Where does your personal taste and affection lie?
In my opinion, a good DJ really pushes music I haven’t heard, plays it with confidence and makes their set interesting. A bad DJ to me is someone who just plays by numbers, which is just so boring. In terms of my taste, a set has to have a good balance of vocals and grooves. I absolutely cannot sit and listen to DJ who plays a one-sided set.
Who is your wildest unsung Detroit DJ?
By far – BY FAAARRRRR – the most unsung DJ in Detroit is Problem Child. She shows a level of knowledge and confidence of any seasoned veteran DJ, has a track selection that goes way beyond here age and really knows how to work a floor and move air.
How much of your set is determined before you show up at the gig? How much spontaneity is there?
Typically I will play at least 90% original material, so that is the only thing planned out. I just like to play off of the crowd, whether it’s 5 or 500 people in front of me. I like to throw curve balls into my live sets to see how much the crowd is really paying attention.
What sort of turntables or gear are you most comfortable with? If you have a rider, what’s on it? And if you don’t, what would your rider say as far as mixer or turntables?
I personally prefer 3 CDJs and a Pioneer mixer. I’m not particular on the model of any of the gear, I just really like the feel of Pioneer mixers. The Xone EQs are too convoluted for the way I play and I refuse to play on rotary if at all possible.
How do you find new music? Are you constantly digging through your old records? What’s the method to your song selection?
My primary method of finding new music is just stuff sent to me directly. When it comes to playing out, if it’s not made by me, I usually play selections from my Junted label.
What is the method to the madness of Junted? To me, if I could answer first, it feels like the quintessential Bandcamp label – that you’re the only guy in techno (actually not true, Will Azada does as well) who gets this medium. That it’s not another beattraxsourcejunotunes storefront but something totally different. But how do you run it and what’s your method and aesthetic?
For as long as I have been into IDM it has always been a goal to get in with the Rephlex label. With Rephlex disbanding, I started my own home for a niche of oddball dance music. Some of it is playable, some of it is just for listening, but it all has its own voice. I really strive to take music from friends I believe in who are doing something different musically. The one commonality is texture.
Bandcamp works because the bandcamp consumer tends to follow a more varied selection per label than a singular sound.
What can you tell us about this mix for 5 Mag’s mix series?
This mix is a collection of almost all never before heard songs from yours truly. Everything in the mix is original content, with the exception of the last track. Also, its a bit faster than most of my previous work under the Applewhite alias.
This is my favorite question but I think our readers might be getting sick of it: Do you think the best days of DJing are ahead or behind us? Do you think the culture will survive technology & popularization, and has the latter made DJing better or worse?
Techno is the root word of “technology,” so anyone who thinks new methods or new gear is ruining the music has a bad take on what this culture is. We are people who push limits and use what we have at our disposal to make strides over other arts. I am in no way taking away the skill and determination that mixing a beautifully constructed all-wax set takes to put together and the time it takes to get there, but there is no reason to condemn an individual for using the tools at their hands. The first time I played Movement I used a Gemini II controller with Virtual DJ, perhaps the worst combo of gear ever made, and I received zero complaints.