Derrick May (musician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Derrick May (born April 6, 1963), also known as Mayday and Rhythim is Rhythim, is an electronic musician from Belleville, Michigan, United States. He was an only child[1] born in Detroit and began to explore electronic music early in his life. Along with his Belleville, Michigan high school friends Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, commonly known as the Belleville Three, May is credited with developing the futuristic variation on house music that would be dubbed "techno" by Atkins.[2]

Early life[edit]

May met Kevin Saunderson when the two were fourteen. May had decided not to pay Saunderson after losing a bet and, one day at school, Saunderson punched May in the face, knocking him out cold and giving him a concussion.[3] After the altercation, May and Saunderson became best friends.[4]

During high school, Saunderson and Belleville High School classmate Juan Atkins were fans of DJ Charles "The Electrifying Mojo" Johnson.


May's career started his production career in 1987 with the release of a record called "Nude Photo" (co-written by Thomas Barnett), which helped kickstart the Detroit techno music scene. A year later he was following it with what was to become one of techno's classic anthems, the seminal track "Strings of Life," which was named by Frankie Knuckles.[5] It "hit Britain in an especially big way during the country's 1987-1988 house explosion."[6] It became May's best known track, which, according to Frankie Knuckles, "just exploded. It was like something you can't imagine, the kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. Mike Dunn says he has no idea how people can accept a record that doesn't have a bassline."[5] The song was featured in video game Midnight Club: Street Racing[7][8]

In the documentary about the Detroit techno scene, High Tech Soul, May notes that he saw people in Italy wearing Underground Resistance shirts and was surprised at the group's success outside of Detroit. He says, "People were going crazy over Underground Resistance, and it was like they weren't even there."[9]

Recently, May produced the music for the film of the popular fighting video game Tekken.[10]

For two years, in 2003 and 2004, he was given control of Detroit's popular annual electronic music festival, originally conceived by Carl Craig and Derrick May, now operated by Paxahau. He named his event Movement, replacing the Detroit Electronic Music Festival along the city's riverfront.

Derrick May also still maintains a steady performance schedule, playing internationally many weekends. A pioneer of techno, he produces what he calls Hi-Tek Soul or "George Clinton meeting Kraftwerk in an elevator."[5] He has also cited Yellow Magic Orchestra, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Ultravox as influences.[11]

May contributed to BBC Radio 6 Music's 6 Mix in May 2013.

Selected discography[edit]

With X-Ray

  • "Let's Go", 1986

As Rhythim is Rhythim

  • "Nude Photo", 1987
  • "Strings Of Life", 1987
  • "It Is What It Is", 1988
  • "Beyond The Dance", 1989
  • "The Beginning", 1990
  • "Icon" / "Kao-tic Harmony", 1993

As Mayday

  • "Sinister" / "Wiggin", 1988

As Derrick May

  • Derrick May: Innovator, 1996
  • Derrick May: Mayday Mix, 1997

With System 7


May appears in a documentary film High Tech Soul (2006), which investigated the deep roots of techno music alongside the cultural history of Detroit, its birthplace. High Tech Soul focuses on the creators of the genre — Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson — and looks at the relationships and personal struggles behind the music.

External links[edit]


Media links[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Derrick May Biography
  2. ^ "Derrick May Bio, Music, News & Shows". Retrieved March 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ High tech soul. Dir. Gary Bredow. Plexifilm, 2006. Film. High tech soul. Dir. Gary Bredow. Plexifilm, 2006. Film. (24:37).
  4. ^ High tech soul. Dir. Gary Bredow. Plexifilm, 2006. Film. High tech soul. Dir. Gary Bredow. Plexifilm, 2006. Film. (26:39).
  5. ^ a b c "Interview: Derrick May - The Secret of Techno". Mixmag. 1997. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Bush, John. "Derrick May". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Midnight Club: Street Racing [Greatest Hits]: Information from". Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  8. ^ "Midnight Club: Street Racing - Credits". allgame. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2013-12-27. 
  9. ^ "High Tech Soul". 2006. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  10. ^ [2] Interview: The List (Issue 594) - Derrick May, January 17, 2008
  11. ^ "Derrick May on the roots of techno at RBMA Bass Camp Japan 2010". Red Bull Music Academy. YouTube. September 20, 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2012.