The techno innovator discusses his storied career, from early releases on KMS and UR in Detroit to recent projects in Berlin.
Dubbed by his peers the Prince of Techno — a name he’d adopt briefly as one of his aliases — Blake Baxter is credited as one of the original innovators in the first wave of the Detroit techno sound. In the early ’80s, he was spinning a mix of R&B, soul and early house, and released music via Chicago house label DJ International. But Baxter was not a typical artist for the label, as he favored a darker sound, incorporating industrial and acid house into his productions, laying the groundwork for what would become techno. He signed to Kevin Saunderson’s KMS label as techno was taking off, and featured prominently on the compilation that introduced this new sound to the world, The New Dance Sound of Detroit. Baxter released more albums with Detroit labels Underground Resistance and Incognito Records, and eventually found a home on Berlin’s Tresor, where he would experiment with softening hard techno beats with R&B vocals, creating the tech house sound. On today’s episode, we listen to Peak Time correspondent Lauren Martin in conversation with this genre-defining artist, as he tracks the course of his journey from Detroit to Berlin, his love for Prince and post-punk and his experimental Dream Sequence album.