The word 'legend' is bandied around far too lightly these days, but Kevin Saunderson, a producer who's been there since the beginning, warrants that accolade more than most...
SIX PERSONAL PRODUCTIONS
Inner City - Good Life
"We had to follow up Big Fun and I
don't think we could have done any better than this. Trying to follow
up Big Fun was quite daunting but not only was this quicker and
easier to make, we had the basics done in about an hour and a half
and it went on to become a much bigger record."
"The first successful vocal record
I made. I never wanted to just make underground instrumental club
records: I was inspired by people like Chaka Khan and Stephanie
Mills, so making vocals was important to me from the beginning. Big
Fun was about my second shot at it and it led on to me having an
actual career in music for 20 years!"
"This was a bit of a departure for
Inner City. We were in the studio doing a cover of Back Together
Again for 6x6 Records and we had a bit of extra time, so we just
started messing about and this is what came out. It only ended up as
an Inner City record because it was recorded on an Inner City budget
but it was good to change it up anyway."
"This is a favourite because I've
got all my favourite singers on the one record. Paris [Grey] was the
lead vocalist; Rachel [Kapp] who sang all the Reese Project stuff was
there; and then Ann who was my wife at the time wrote it with Paris.
The whole crew is on the one record and it came out really well."
"This is my favourite E-Dancer
tune without a doubt. When I made it it just had so much character
the way the strings work and the 'cries' as I call them... it's
quite a unique record."
"This was basically like 'I'm
going to make a record for the Paradise Garage' and it WAS played at
the Paradise Garage. It's a real simple record, just this one sound
with some drums under it but it got real big in New York and hearing
it at the Garage was just amazing! It was a dream come true, the best
feeling in the world."
SIX DINING RECORDS
Hans Zimmer - Now We Are
Free (Gladiator Theme) (Decca, 2000)
"This is a great mood-setter. It's
just a beautiful creation and it gives you that dining vibe, I guess!
I don't know, this is kind of a different situation for me, so I was
just thinking what's kind of nice to hear and you can chill out and
sit and eat. It's not like these are records I listen to every day."
"I've never seen the movie, I've
only heard the soundtrack. It's just nice atmospheric background
music; it sets moods it makes you feel good. It's stuff that you feel
almost subconsciously. It can just be on in the background yet you
still grasp a vibe from it."
"Just a great piece of music that
sets a great vibe... that's about it, really."
"Obviously Grace is unique anyway,
but this song is one that, when I was a young man in college, or
maybe just after, if I wanted to chill out and invite a girl over to
eat, this is one of the songs I'd have on my list to chill out and
dim the lights and, well, you get the idea."
"The same as above, and obviously
there's a message in the lyrics there too! Peech Boys had their own
unique sound and vocal style and it just works as a record."
"This switches things up a little
and lifts the mood, it's for when you're finishing your dessert and
getting up and leaving the table."
SIX SOOTHING RECORDS
Norman Connors - You Are
My Starship (Buddah Records, 1977)
"Just a real nice tune, and very
soothing... I can't really describe it any more than that."
"Just for that main vocal hook
which always just grabs you. It's one of those records that just
holds onto you forever. When I started making music, it's because of
records like this that with Inner City I created tunes with so many
vocal hooks and musical hooks. This is what inspired me. And it's not
only soothing, it's a great dancefloor record too - it can work both
"A lot of George Benson's records
are pretty soothing - too smoothing at times! But his style was real
original - it definitely had its moments, its place and time."
"Oh come on, how the hell you want
me to say anything about this tune? It just fits, man. It just
"Jose Feliciano is a Puerto Rican
guitarist and this is a folky kind of track that's really soothing
and really beautiful."
"This is more of a dining record
maybe, but yeah, it's soothing too. It's just a real nice tempo kind
SIX INSPIRATIONAL RECORDS
Stevie Wonder - Living For The
City (Tamla, 1973)
"If you're a young black man
growing up in Detroit - even though I'm kind of from New York as well
- you look at Stevie and he was a young black guy from Detroit too,
plus he was BLIND... how could you possibly fail to be inspired? Plus
the lyrics are so positive as well."
"Not so much the lyrics this time,
it's just inspiring the way he put it together. Watching him play it
as a kid, the energy and movement he put into it... it's inspiring in
a musical sense."
"Just an amazing record that
touched you in just about every way possible and really made you
think. It's quite a political record, too, but that's not something
I've ever really wanted to do with my own records. Our records are
more spiritually uplifting in the music rather than having a message
in the lyrics."
"The best record Derrick May has
ever made. I went to school with him, I grew up with him and I
watched him make this. It actually started out as a ballad! It was
this slow, beautiful piano part and those one-stab strings with no
drums... it was definitely inspiring to watch him develop that and
turn it into what he did. That was amazing."
"This was inspiring because it
came out in the early days of house but it was more than just a house
tune. It wasn't just driving, it wasn't banging, it was just this
beautiful piece of music with this vocal that floated in and out. Ron
Hardy or Larry Levan would play it on these amazing soundsystems for
like 15 minutes and you wouldn't get tired of it."
"To me, when I listen to this
today, this is the best piece of music that we ever put together. The
lyrics that Paris wrote, about when you see someone again and you
haven't seen them but you've still got that special bond between you,
I think they're beautiful lyrics and I think the music supports them
SIX DRIVING RECORDS
A Guy Called Gerald - Voodoo
Ray (Rham, 1988)
"I remember hearing this back in
the day as one of the first house records to come out of the UK. It
was kind of different from what everyone else was doing but it fitted
in well and it had its own place. It still kicks - it's stood the
test of time and it's just real good to ride on."
"This just a great driving tune.
To me a driving record needs to give you a boost, like if I'm driving
to New York I want records with energy records that will keep me
alert. This has that kind of energy."
"Slam had this hypnotic kind of
vibe, very melodic, very hypnotic, very underground. It seems to work
for them and it works well when you're driving late at night."
"A good party record with a good
vibe and nice vocals. It's one of those tunes that never really took
off but it's a great tune and I think it's been produced incredibly
"The Electrifyin' Mojo used to
have this radio show here in Detroit and that's where new artists
would break. When I first heard this I was sitting in my car at this
park called Belle Isle... I must have been about 17/18, around there
"It's all about the bassline with
this! A great track to ride on, it's just got that driving vibe to
SIX RECORDS YOU WISH YOU'D MADE
Kraftwerk - Computer Love
"This was just unique when it came
out and it still sounds unique now - it hasn't dated at all. It's
hooky, it's sexy, it's a record that inspired me and it's a record
that works now, which means it's a record made back then that would
work in the future!"
"We're back to the days of the
Electrifyin' Mojo again! I grew up in high school listening to
Parliament and Funkadelic and Flashlightin particular was a
massive party record a record that gave you energy. I'd be hearing it
thinking 'How the hell did they make a record like that?'."
"What they did here to me was make
a great Detroit record. I never really sounded similar to Derrick, I
never really sounded similar to Juan. Derrick could sound similar to
Juan and vice versa but I never sounded similar to either of them; I
tried to but I couldn't do it! And then 808 State came along and they
sounded similar to Juan and Derrick... they'd managed to do something
I couldn't do!"
"They had a sound that was
completely unique to them. Again, it was one of those records you
hear and you're thinking 'How did they do that? What were they
thinking and how did they do it?'."
"I know this is already on the
list but I actually use a bit of this in my intro piece when I'm
DJing, just a bit of the strings and the flute. I want to score
movies one day and if I score a movie I want to do a track like
"Again, how do you make a record
like that? How do you even think lyrically like they were thinking?
You gotta be on another planet to make a record like this. I'm not
actually sure that Juan is human to be honest with you. But the
album's great, the concept is just so unique."