Eddie Fowlkes Talks To Robert Dietz


Following a collaboration between a new generation German Producer based in Berlin and an old school Detroit player, Robert Dietz decided it was time to start his own label; Truth Be Told. Having utilised his new platform to release the Radio Raheem EP, which features a track with Detroit legend Eddie Fowlkes, the two chat about how 7 Turn Arounds has vocals paying homage to Detroit and more…

Detroit is a city known for its rich musical heritage, in the early days, did the culture of the city impact the growing underground music scene, and if so, how?

Yes, because our club kids were from the city streets of Detroit. 80% of the kids were in college or in bound high schools. It was an exclusive Detroit urban scene.

In my opinion, us being kids from the 60s – early 70s, we knew the rich musical history of Detroit music and that transferred that into our own street sound, like Motown Records did. 

How closely linked do you think Detroit and Chicago are in terms of music?

We are familiarly linked by the soulful funkiness but, disco stuck in Chicago, where as disco came and went in Detroit. We were more into different sounds (drum machines, keyboards) than Chicago.

During the growth of the Detroit techno scene, had you visited Chicago around that time, and could you see strong similarities between the two cities?

Yes, but I couldn’t see strong similarities because Chicago is twice as big as Detroit and there were more multicultural underground parties than Detroit. 

What was the lead up to the weekend like for you and your friends? Were the majority of different social groups all going to Techno parties? Or were there other genres of music attracting people in the same way that Techno did?

The lead was hearing what was new from the urban streets of New York, Detroit, and Chicago, which DJ had the hot 12 inch. No, the social groups that attended the parties were preppy college kids. The only genre of music that made a huge attraction like techno did was Black radio and New York hip hop. 

What were the parties like? Do you have one specific memory that will always stay with you?

There were so many beautiful parties. The most memorable party era was when the average kid wanted to have a DJ at their party, specifically in 1980. Normally, they were the backyard parties. 

The Chari Vari party was the most memorable. Devo released their hit song, “Whip It,” and everyone would literally whip out their Devo hats and dance like Europeans on top of the roof. This was an eye opening sense of enjoyment including a mix of young African Americans and European music.

When do you think Detroit’s musical influence started impacting Europe?

When hip-hop emerged and distributors started making more money in 1987, it forced them to sell our product to different countries.

Do you see any similarities between Berlin today and Detroit in the 90s? What do you see as the main differences between yours and the current generation of producer/DJs?

There are no similarities between Berlin and Detroit now because a majority of Berlin’s parties have no melodies and Detroit can never be a city without melodies. 

This is an easy question, Melodies. We played more melody than the current DJs. At the end of the day, music is about melody, not dark uneventful beats. 

After minimalism took the techno spotlight for a while, in the last few years we have seen a resurgence of Detroit sounds, why do you think that is?

Music comes and goes in cycles consisting of melodies and soul. The underground music scene comes and goes. One moment it might be jungle. As it’s on its way out, soul and funk comes back in. Minimal music is on its way out, here comes the melody soulful music in, until the next music genre kicks in. And that’s the music cycle of underground. 

Do you think it’s harder to stand out today with so many more people making music and DJing? Or do you feel that internet and social media have provided an outlet for more people to get noticed?

The music business has always been tough from day 1. Whoever can adjust the best will always be the most successful in the music industry. With the internet, I can get to my customers quicker than 20 years ago. 

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

I would probably be in the stock market. 

How did you get your big break in music?

I wouldn't say I had a big break in the music business, but it was more being in the right place at the right time… Juan Atkins always said, "I was always at the right place at the right time."

What is the first and last record bought?

The first record I bought was Benny and Jets by Elton John. I've been getting so many promos at the moment I really can't remember the last record I bought. 🙁

Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?

Definitely a kick drum (all day and night)… That has been my whole entire life, hard and thumping!

TBT001 is out now via Truth Be Told Records.