Inner City Talks ‘We All Move Together’ And Diversity In Dance Music

Today, Detroit electronic music group Inner City released their first album in 30 years, We All Move Together. The body of work’s lead-track by the same name features an inspiring and powerful monologue from Idris Elba on the history of dance music and Inner City founder Kevin Saunderson’s contributions to the evolution of the genre as he is considered one of the progenitors of techno. Indeed, the album as a whole is done in true Inner City style: it’s meaningful, soulful and uplifting. 

According to Kevin Saunderson, the idea for the record stemmed from hearing his son, Dantiez Saunderson, play a track that reminded him of Inner City and the kind of music he used to play years ago. “It kind of had these choruses like I did back in the day. [It] just reminded me of me. I was joking around with [Dantiez] and said, ‘hey you ripped me off.’ And from that conversation, I thought why don’t we try to redo Inner City?,” Kevin Saunderson says. Most Popular In: Arts

The group was then reformed, but with some new members as it is now comprised of Kevin Saunderson, Dantiez Saunderson, and lead vocalist Steffanie Christi’an—though they do invite guest vocalists on to record sometimes, such as ZebrA OctobrA and Elba. Although We All Move Together is the first release by the group in 30 years, Kevin Saunderson says it is similar to their three previous albums as it was created to “make people feel good.” 

When asked what the title of the record means to them, Kevin Saunderson says: “To me, it means people coming together on the dance floor, coming together politically, [and] coming together to unite as one and doing something positive.” 

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“One thing that I hear Kevin say often, which resonates for me, is that he makes music for everybody,” Christi’an adds. “It doesn’t matter what kind of group that you’re in front of. You can be in the city of Detroit, in a club in London, [or] somewhere in Berlin or Australia: everybody is going to move to the music that he and Dantiez has made. There’s unity in the music there.” 

Inner City performing at Kala Festival.
Inner City performing at Kala Festival. Courtesy of Kala Festival. KALA FESTIVAL

The concept of the album’s name carries more weight these days given the current climate in the United States with the Black Lives Matter protests, and Kevin Saunderson notes that the album is “coming at a time in need.” He, Dantiez Saunderson and Christi’an all agreed Black dance music artists are often not given the same opportunities as white dance music artists, citing that music festival lineups tend to be whitewashed. Christi’an adds that this happens in genres outside of dance music, except for R&B and hip-hop because they are considered to be “Black music.” 

Kevin Saunderson adds that this can discourage Black artists from wanting to create dance music because they won’t feel inspired or influenced by a genre where very few, if any, of the artists look like them. He says that the industry has the potential to change this by hiring more Black agents in agencies and booking artists who create different sounds from the ones often heard in the mainstream space. He adds that the underrepresentation of Black dance music artists is predominantly a problem in the United States, citing that his big success for Inner City initially came in Europe when he should have been more recognized within the United States. 

“The history of electronic music and techno was created and ignited by Black artists here from Detroit,” he adds. “It’s important to be known we’ve been doing this for years. We haven’t always gotten credit for all the hard work we put in. There have been artists, companies and managers who have manipulated our sound. It’s one thing being inspired, but I believe they purposely left Black artists out. So I think it should be known now that this has been going on.”

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