Ears To The House is sometimes accused of obsessing over Detroit techno’s past – does it really matter if Juan Atkins was or wasn’t the inventor of techno? To which we say yes, the truth does matter – our sole agenda is good journalism and telling the untold stories in dance music.
We will, however, concede the point that we should focus more on Detroit techno’s present and future. Which brings us nicely to the topic of the mysteriously rising star Ash Lauryn – who represents Detroit from the safe distance of 722 miles away in Atlanta. Perhaps that’s just as well.
Fresh from recent glories such as narrating a BBC Radio 4 documentary on Detroit techno’s history and appearing at an event with the worst flyer this year – and there’s a lot of competition for the accolade – Lauryn is back, and this time, she’s on a very limited edition vinyl release. Currently selling at $30 a time is the NDATL Special Edition 2023 on New Yorker Kai Alcé’s label.
Here’s Lauryn playing the song “Underground And Black”, waxing lyrical about the likes of DJ Minx and Kelli Hand…
Would this be the same Kelli Hand whom Lauryn once dismissed as “one little black groupie friend”? The story is worth telling in its entirety, and reveals more about Lauryn than even she realises.
In October 2019, Russian DJ Nina Kraviz came under fire after getting cornrows in her hair. Despite the hairstyle first dating from around 30,000 years ago in the Franco-Austrian region, Kraviz was accused of racism and cultural appropriation – mostly due to the hairstyle now being associated with the Black community.
Lauryn was asked about the episode in a radio show – and unsurprisingly, she claimed Kraviz was guilty of racism. However, she then attacked her former mentor and friend Kelli Hand – who had defended the Russian DJ’s right to wear the hairstyle – as Kraviz’s “one little black groupie friend.”
And when Hand died unexpectedly in August 2021, Kraviz posted this very warm tribute on Facebook…
So, how did Lauryn respond to her untimely demise? With a tone of regret, it seems – posting that “we weren’t on the best terms by any means, but I never lost my respect for what you meant to Detroit techno”. No apology, and certainly no remorse.
It seems strange, therefore, that Lauryn is now praising her former friend – whose friendship she never bothered to try and fix – on a record. Rest assured that she’s getting paid for her efforts – one Detroit source who’s had dealings with Lauryn in the past reveals that “she thinks of herself very highly and gets paid highly too”.
If this is how Lauryn treats her supposed friends, Ears To The House doesn’t dare contemplate how she handles her enemies…