Robert Hood at Pressure

  • The List
  • 12 January 2007

Southern discomfort

Internationally renowned DJ Robert Hood takes David Pollock on a musical odyssey from Detroit to the Deep South.

Starting off their own personal clubbing years with one of those metaphorical bangs we do all so enjoy, Pressure have coaxed a customarily splendid line-up together for their January event. It’s a classy roster, with Dave Clarke headlining, regulars Slam making an appearance, and high quality supporting DJs in Andy Weatherall, Tom Middleton, Ivan Smagghe and Silicon Soul.

Yet among such a bill of familiar and guaranteed-to-rock names, one might stand out as being a little less familiar to the majority of Scots clubbers. Not that Robert Hood’s place in dance music’s history isn’t assured, however. He was a founder of the seminal Underground Resistance collective in his native Detroit alongside ‘Mad’ Mike Banks and Jeff Mills, but has latterly concentrated on his own M-Plant label. Among the others he’s recorded for are Axis and Peacefrog.

‘I really got into making music and DJing around 89, 90’, recalls the laid-back Hood. ‘I had met Juan Atkins already, but just through my day job when I was doing some sleeve artwork for him. He inspired me at the time. The Detroit scene was already there, I remember it was about 1985 when I was listening to Electric Crazy People on the radio, guys like Derrick May, Juan, Kevin Saunderson . . . There was an underground scene and a college scene at the time, a lot of parties. It wasn’t even called house or techno then, it was just progressive music.

‘When I first met Mike Banks he let me play him a tape, and he liked the drum programming on it. They were doing a compilation and he asked me to do a couple of tracks for it, so we went to Jeff Mills’ house to record them, I remember, and that’s where I met him.’

The year 2004 saw Hood move to the much more peaceful climes of Arizona, as his wife is from there and the family got a good deal on a five-acre plot to build their own house. Ask Hood why he left Detroit, and the answer, he says, will be buried deep within the set he’ll be playing here.

‘I’ll be playing, for the most part, what I call my Grey Area sound,’ he says. ‘It’s sort of desolate. For want of a better world, it’s minimal. Even when the sun’s out in Detroit there’s a grey tone in the atmosphere. There are abandoned buildings and houses but still some nice neighbourhoods, there are corrupt cops yet still some good people, man. It’s extremes of black and white, and when you put it all together it’s gon’ come out grey.

‘It’s the same situation in the world, looking at the war in Iraq and even just getting on a plane every other weekend. You gotta watch out. Now I’m a city boy, but being down here in the Deep South is where God wants me to be. We’ve been taken out of our comfort zone and now we live on a dirt road. But y’know, I speak to some older white guys who may have been racists in the past, and we’re shaking hands by the end. One of these guys told me we’re here to add to the sum of human kindness, and that’s what I want to do with my music. Even without lyrics, you can sing a song with the high hat that goes straight to people’s hearts.’

Pressure is at the Arches, Glasgow, Fri 26 Jan.

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