Flying High with Detroit Techno Legends Octave One


At the end of 2016 Detroit techno twosome Octave One — the musical union of biological brothers in rhythm Lenny and Lawrence Burden — presented the world with their gallant nine-track album, Love By Machine, on their own 430 West label. Since they began their musical exploits in the Motor City in the ’80s, they’ve become an internationally beloved entity. On the strength of their 2000 breakthrough smash “Black Water,” the Burden Brothers have slowly won a legion of faithful fans who are aligned with their manifesto of evolution and progression.

The culmination of the sound they’ve been refining since back in the day is etched between the ebullient grooves in Love By Machine. Thematically, the album explores what they believe to be is the illusion of connection in the digital age. But no matter how you slice it, the album is full of floor rockers.

Fresh from remixing Devil’s Advocate “Way of Life” — an older project helmed by the Baron of Techno Dave Clarke — out on Record Store Day, we caught up with the Burdens and asked them about their current tour and what they have in store for their homecoming set at Movement Festival over Memorial Day weekend.

Where are you right now? Where did you come from and where are you going next?
Right now we are on a flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam. Onboard WiFi, a gift and a curse! We are seething out on 14-show 40-day tour of Europe and the UK. Rotterdam is first up on the schedule.

Have you discovered any young artists or new labels during your recent travels?
We always discover new artists on our travels. Many of the opening DJs at the clubs we play are from the local scene in whatever area we are in and it’s always good to hear new talent and veterans from the different cities. Many of the festivals we play feature new producers and DJs from all over the world.


What has been the reaction to Love By Machine?
Very good, thanks. We have had to rethink the development of music now that we are so busy touring. We’ve learned to begin the composition of new music wherever we are and whenever it moves us. In the past, our studio was where everything primarily began. Now it’s where we complete the ideas. It has proved to be both challenging and rewarding.

“Playing at home almost means something special to us. We get to see old friends and family; it’s a recharge that we look forward to. There’s nothing in the world like the Detroit vibe.”

Do the tracks take on a life of their own when you begin performing them live?
Absolutely. Now we play music in the different places and [what] we play chang[es] depending on where we are are and who we are playing for. It’s really an interesting thing that most times we don’t have control over. It sometimes feels like the music is a living being. It also makes it difficult sometimes to recreate moments that we enjoyed and possibly want to add to the final production of a record. Sometimes you just don’t remember how you did a particular thing live or it just may not translate well to a studio recording.

What was the biggest lesson you both learned from making the new album?
Not to try to overly produce or polish our music. We have access to some many cool toys for music production, but you can easily get lost trying to use everything to make it better. More and better are not the same things. What we did on this album is to go back to some of our original production processes — back to a time where we didn’t have so much. We found the recording and mixing of this new album was the most fun we had in the studio in a long time. It just flowed organically.

You’re doing a lot of touring this year. Is there one place in particular that you are excited to visit?
We are always excited to play our music out. Some places we don’t have the privilege of returning to very often. This time around we made some rare stops in Australia (even doing one festival in the outback), Singapore, Brazil, as well as making our debut in Columbia and Malaysia.

You’re playing Movement Festival in Detroit in May. Tell us why this will be a special gig for Octave One?
Playing at home almost means something special to us. We get to see old friends and family; it’s a recharge that we look forward to. There’s nothing in the world like the Detroit vibe.