Detroit Techno Pioneer Kevin Saunderson On Reviving Inner City: 'We Were Ahead of Our Time'
Detroit Techno Pioneer Kevin Saunderson On Reviving Inner City: 'We Were Ahead of Our Time'

Twenty-five years after reeling off a string of No. 1 dance hits, Inner City is alive again.

After a mid-00s hiatus, Detroit techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson has reactivated the group that kept clubs moving to the grooves of "Good Life," "Big Fun," "Ain't Nobody Better" and "Do You Love What You Feel" and others -- eight Top 10s between 1988-94. Last year the group released a new single, "Future," on Britain's Defected Records, and went back into the studio in early March to record more new material -- certainly some singles and possibly an album, according to Saunderson.

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"We're going to be as active as we were back in the day," Saunderson tells Billboard,. "There's going to be a strong push over the next couple years of us putting out material. We've got to love what we do and feel it, of course, but I don't think that's going to be an issue. It feels natural, what we do. And maybe it's a good time for America to catch up to us a little. I feel like America missed the boat with us back in the day, but we were ahead of our time. Maybe it's a little more balanced now."

Saunderson says Inner City's break was primarily due to singer Paris Gray, who wanted to take time off to raise her daughter. "That was her main commitment," Saunderson explains. "Being on the road, some people don't mind that, but Paris didn't want to. She wanted to enjoy her life with her daughter; she loves Inner City, but it took a back seat. But when her daughter graduated, that opened the door up again. We did a few shows in Europe and the Movement festival (in Detroit), and that inspired her and from there we decided to keep going and see how it felt."

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Saunderson isn't yet sure how Inner City's new music will be released. He "won't say never" to physical releases, but Saunderson notes that "times have changed. People have all these iPads and iPods, iPhones and all kinds of gadgets. (Physical product) is not a necessity. It's not used as much. Maybe if we do the album we'll put out CDs, but for singles there'll definitely be no CDs."

In addition to Inner City, Saunderson is also celebrating the silver anniversary of his KMS Records label and production company, which he commemorated with a performance at this year's Movement festival as well as a late-night party at which he was joined by fellow Detroit techno luminaries such as Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Eddie Fowlkes and Carl Craig. "Twenty-five years and still going, still making music," says Saunderson, who bases himself in both Detroit and Chicago these days. "A lot of artists from Detroit came up through my label and were inspired by me. We're going to celebrate the fact that the label and myself have been around that long."