Keith ‘K-1’ Tucker aka Optic Nerve, a classically trained musician since his grammar school days, began his career playing cover versions of Detroit’s electronic godfathers such Cybatron and Model 500 with childhood friend Tommy Hamilton. The live ensemble achieved local renown for combining break-dancing, and Tucker's mobile DJ-ing while manually playing repetitive, high-speed synthesizer basslines. They later became known as Regime, then RX-7, and finally, in 1994 they became Aux 88.
His first 12" EP was a collaboration with Juan Atkins and Jesse Anderson, under the name “Frequency” in 1990. Aux 88 released the album "Bass Magnetic" and were the first group to revive Electro in the mid-to-late 1990s, credited with eventually inspiring the genre known as electroclash. By the mid nineties they were widely recognised for developing their own unique sound know as Techno-Bass, a fusion of influences from Detroit techno, electro, Miami bass and trance.
As co-founder of Puzzlebox recordings in 1996 with Anthony “Shake” Shakir, Tucker also joined the tradition of independent dance music publishing and vinyl record pressing in Detroit. He utilized, along with other artists, the National Sound Company vinyl lathe which was used to produce the records of legendary Detroit Soul labels such as Motown.
We caught up with the true Detroit legend himself ahead of his set for Socialeyes this Saturday.
Your first experience of music was through classical training. Who were the composers that first inspired you?
Peter Ilyich, Tchaikovsky and Franz Schubert.
How does the way you approach classical music compare to that of Electronic?
Melodic moods and strings bring about the emotion of all classic Detroit techno tracks of Optic Nerve and Aux 88.
How did you meet Tommy Hamilton? What were you doing at the time?
Met Tommy at a high school talent show he was in a local dance troop callled the devo dancers i was a dj for a rap group called maximum technique
You've produced under numerous monikers including Aux 88, Optic Nerve, KT-19941, RX-7, Sight Beyond Sight, Black Tokyo to name but a few. What drives you to keep moving forward?
Well as much bad music that is out there now, you can always find something that sounds great or still be motivated by some classic tracks.
We have always made a point to do the music the way we like and branch out with different styles to keep a fresh ear on electronic music.
What's next for you? What are you working on at the moment?
Aux 88 has just finished six new Black Tokyos EP's. I have been finishing up the last of four new Optic Nerve EP's as well as doing quite a bit of production work with some new styles. Me and Tom have decided to spend more time in the two studios as well as a lot of remix work coming up.
As someone who's been part of it from it's infant stages, how do you feel about the recent upsurge of electronic music in the US?
Well its always a plus when your own country can finally acknowledge it, but its still not embraced as it is in any other part of the world. Its getting there. It's really a wonderful thing that people stumble on to via friends who tell them to come check out their favourite artist and once they here it there hooked.
If you had to give your music a personality, what would it be?
Aux 88 and K-1 would by pureeeee electronic funk.
Optic Nerve / Black Tokyo beautifull dance and mind music.
What is your favourite piece of studio equipment? When was the moment you realised the beauty of it and which of your tracks did it most influence?
Well the Casio cz-1 and Cz 1000 was our weapon of choice and taught us how to create sounds. It will always be a special part of our history.
How has Detroit influenced your sound and your approach to music?
Detroit has influenced every thing in my life from how I work in business and how to conduct myself in the music world.
What do you think of the London music scene?
London has all ways been a bit strange in the sense that I have played so many times but only in passing through to go to other countries. The people have all ways been wonderful to me.
5 records of all time?
Parliamnet Funkadelic Everything
Strings of Life
Juan Atkins everything
K-1 plays at Socialeyes, part of the Found Series on Saturday 29th September.
Check the facebook event here