Brush up on the history of Detroit techno DJ and producer Blake Baxter for a bit and one of the first adjectives you’ll come across in many of his biographies and career summations is ‘underrated’. Of course, it’s not that Baxter is unknown to crate-digging historians and long time fans of dance music, or that he isn’t still active as both a live artist and a recording one – only two years ago, Baxter put together the 28th edition of the famed Fabric mix series.
Nor is it that Baxter was seen as an inferior to the Belleville Three of Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins, whose names came to pass as bywords for the entire Detroit techno scene at the time. In fact he was part of their circle, playing out at the city’s Music Institute club alongside them, and others who had started DJing the same style of music. It seems like an enviable position to have been in – and it probably was in almost every way – but in hindsight it might be cause to pity Baxter just a little. He was in on the ground floor, before the Detroit scene even managed to stretch beyond the city limits let alone take the world by storm, yet he and every other young DJ in the city had to live in the shadow of the trio who were viewed as the scene’s originators.
Although his recognition levels these days still don’t compare to the revered May or Saunderson, the fact he’s still in high demand two decades on – and that the Chemical Brothers’ famously reappropriated his track ‘Brothers Gonna Work It Out’ – has carved Baxter a deserved niche in techno history.
Cotton Cake at the Sub Club, Glasgow, Fri 21 Nov.