Photo of AK by James Adams
Photo of AK by James Adams


Detroit's New Gen Talent

New Gen Talent #001 - AK




If you haven’t heard of Detroit DJ and producer AK yet, you probably will soon. As one of the hottest up-and-coming names in Detroit dance music, her musical style is very influenced by the city she calls home: since her early years listening to late-night ghettotech on the radio, she has always had a deep respect for the musical history and culture in Detroit. You can hear all of these influences in her souand, where she mixes aspects of throwback R&B and indie electronic with banging techno, drum & bass, and beyond. Her DJ sets are eclectic yet calculated, bringing an exciting and chaotic energy to her mixes and production that hit just right on the dance floor. On her guest mix for Life Tones with the legendary Whodat, for example, she is somehow able to mix Radiohead vocals into a Gucci mane verse, all over driving drum & bass style percussion. What more can we say? She’s got it.

Read on below for our conversation with AK, and be sure to check her out at UFO Factory on 5/26 and at Spot Lite Detroit on 05/28.

Why music, and at what point did you realize you’d be able to really do this?

Music has always played a huge role in my life even since I could walk, there’s always been a song playing in the background during the most important moments of my life. To be honest, it still feels surreal to think that I could really be doing music like this, it’s really a blessing.

How would you describe your relationship to sound?

Not to be morbid, but I can literally hear the blood running through my veins. Sound is deeply embedded in who I am.

How has your sound evolved since you first started playing out?

It’s crazy, it first started back in the 8th grade when I discovered Soundcloud, back when it was super underground. That’s how I learned how to listen deeply to music, and I was discovering stuff like Soulection and XXYYXX, as well as the YouTube channel Majestic Casual. Later in life, once I discovered drum & bass, my entire life changed. My style is a mixture of those things and more, and I feel like you can hear the evolution in my mixes and my production.

How do you approach building a set?

I tend to go off of the venues or events that I’m booked for. I still play what I want to play, but I try to create stylized sets based on the situation, starting by drafting a small playlist and then going from there.

How has where you were raised and/or where you are now based influenced your sound?

The old Saturday night mixes on the radio in Detroit, where they would play ghettotech, footwork, jit, those were so important to me. I also remember driving downtown with my family and seeing a bus rolling around the city blasting hard techno, that’s how I really discovered that side of music. I discovered a lot of the music I love through living in the city.

Who are some up-and-coming/underground artists we should check out

Kamau Baaqi, The AM, Blackmoonchild, and Huey Mnemonic.

What record makes you want to kiss/cry/smile?

Frank Ocean’s Endless, Sade’s Diamond Life, and Tina Marie’s It Must Be Magic, in no particular order.

What record would you gift to everyone you know if you could?

Sade, The Best of Sade.

What’s your ideal Saturday night out and what’s your ideal Sunday afternoon

Saturday: drinking a glass of wine at Paramita, Sunday: laying in bed eating chips.

Where is the best late-night food in the city?

White Castle on Michigan Ave (don’t judge me) and Grandy’s.

When you want to go dance, who do you go see?

The AM’s Hedonism party, a set from Stardust, or my best friend Blackmoonchild,

What is the geekiest thing you are secretly into?

The show “How It’s Made” and ax throwing.

What is coming up soon for you that we all should get ready for?

I’m opening the night at our Blueprint party at UFO Factory on 5/26, and also 1:30-3:00pm at the Underground and Black party on 05/28 at Spot Lite.

What party outside of the festival are you 100% at?

The AM’s Hedonism party at the High Dive on 05/27, and the Detroit Vinyl Room party at Motor City Wine on 05/30

What should someone expect when they come hear you play?

Expect to dance, so wear your good shoes and get ready to get sweaty!

Photo's by James Adams