This weekend, a documentary all about the origins of Detroit techno will finally be unveiled. Premiering at the Pitchfork/Tribeca Film Festival in New York tomorrow, God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines has been no less than 12 years in the making.
But what version of Detroit techno will the documentary cover? Will we finally get to see the truth about how this genre emerged to the world – through equipment purchased with the proceeds of a credit card scam in the 1980s? Or is this just yet another film which will give an outing to the tired, mostly mythical old story about the so-called Belleville Three?
Ears To The House is happy to reserve judgement on that matter until we’ve had an opportunity to see the documentary for ourselves. But one person who has been pondering the question is Michael James – the journalist who first revealed many of the sexual abuse allegations facing Derrick May. And no matter what you think of James himself, the one undeniable fact is he was there when Detroit techno was becoming Detroit techno.
He’s written a long, open letter type post on his Facebook page. Feel free to read the whole thing yourselves, but he details how he called the film’s director, Kristian Hill, to ask if he’d made changes to his film in light of what has been unearthed over the past few years about the genre’s less than savoury origins. The reply was supposedly “Mike, I’m telling you, I did the best I could.”.
When combined with the revelation Hill also told James that “I can’t make the movie you want me to make”, it sounds to us like the lawyers started combing over the documentary once the idea of covering more recent developments was explored.
As we said earlier, Ears To The House is remaining open-minded on the matter for now – but these developments, along with a post by James yesterday urging everyone to ask the big questions aren’t exactly filling us with confidence…