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Kevin Saunderson

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Kevin Saunderson
Birth nameKevin Maurice Saunderson
Also known as
  • Tronik House
  • Reese Project
  • Essaray
  • E-Dancer
Born (1964-09-05) September 5, 1964 (age 59)
OriginNew York City, U.S.
Occupation(s)DJ, record producer
Lisa Swift
(m. 1990; died 2000)
Rachel Metro
(m. 2009)

Kevin Maurice Saunderson (born September 5, 1964) is an American electronic dance music DJ and record producer.[1] He is famous for being a member of a trio, along with Juan Atkins and Derrick May, who came to be known as the Belleville Three, who are often credited to being among the pioneers and originators of techno: in particular this act helped define Detroit techno, the earliest style of this music genre.[2] Born in New York, at the age of nine he moved to Belleville, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, where at Belleville High School he befriended the other members of the trio.

Early life[edit]

Kevin Maurice Saunderson was born on September 5, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York.[3][4] He spent the early years of his life in Brooklyn before moving at around age 10 to Belleville, Michigan, a rural town 30 miles from Detroit. Saunderson first met future Techno pioneer Derrick May 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.[5] After the altercation, the two became best friends.[6]

During high school, Saunderson and Belleville High School classmate Juan Atkins were fans of DJ Charles "The Electrifying Mojo" Johnson. Atkins and May soon became serious about mixing others' music and creating their own, but Saunderson pursued other goals first, studying telecommunications and playing football at Eastern Michigan University. Atkins had begun recording with Cybotron in 1981, but it was not until 1987 that May followed suit and made a record. Initially concentrating on becoming a DJ, Saunderson was inspired to create his own music after watching the six-month-long process as Atkins and May completed "Let's Go."[7]


Atkins shared his technical expertise with Saunderson, and those early sessions led to a track called "Triangle of Love".[1] "I used to wake up in the middle of the night, go into my studio – which was in the next room – and lay down the ideas as they came to me. At the time it was all about experimentation and being a college kid," Saunderson writes on his web page autobiography.[8] "Triangle of Love" was released under the pseudonym Kreem on Atkins' label, Metroplex.

Inner City[edit]

Inner City is a Saunderson collaboration that came about "by accident," according to Saunderson. In 1987 he recorded a backing track in his home studio, but needed lyrics and a female vocalist. His friend, Chicago house producer Terry ‘Housemaster’ Baldwin, suggested Paris Grey. "Paris agreed, flew into Detroit, came up with lyrics and ‘Big Fun’ was born."[8] Saunderson filed away the tape until, months later, UK dance entrepreneur Neil Rushton came to Detroit in search of music for a compilation album, Techno - The New Dance Sound Of Detroit for Virgin Records. Rushton included "Big Fun" on the album. It was soon released as a single and became a worldwide smash, only to be outsold by Inner City's follow-up single, "Good Life." A debut album, Paradise, soon followed. Over the years, and after three albums, Inner City had nine top 40 hits in the UK and two top 20 albums, with combined sales of more than six million.[8][9]


In the E-Dancer project Saunderson creates music that is "more underground." The first E-Dancer album, 'Heavenly,' was released in 1998 to critical acclaim; Spin named it “one of the ten best albums you’ve never heard.”[8]

Reese bass[edit]

The bassline of Saunderson's 1988 track "Just Want Another Chance" (released under his "Reese" pseudonym on Incognito Records),[10] became very influential in the jungle and drum and bass music genres.[11][12] Notable releases incorporating the "Reese Bassline" include Renegade's "Terrorist" (Moving Shadow, 1994),[13] "Pulp Friction" by Alex Reece (Metalheadz, 1995) and "Sonar" by DJ Trace (Prototype Recordings, 1998).[14] The bassline itself was performed by a Casio_CZ_synthesizers#CZ-1000 using phase distortion synthesis.[15]

Later activities[edit]

Saunderson continued to develop his record label KMS. "The aim is to help and develop new talent and more importantly to continue to create and release great music," wrote Saunderson.[8]

Saunderson also sponsors traveling youth baseball teams, and helps coach and manage one of those teams, the Metro Detroit Dodgers. As of 2005, his son was playing on the baseball team A Green.[16]

On May 15, 2007, Saunderson made his Second Life debut performing live at a mixed reality event, celebrating the Grand Opening of Detroit Life - The Motor City inside The Metaverse. The same year, Saunderson compiled a mixtape for Triple J, an Australian radio station.

In November 2012, his mixing board was to be on display at the newly renovated Detroit Historical Museum.[17]


Saunderson has worked under a number of names, including the following:

  • E-dancer
  • Esseray
  • Inner City (originally Inter City)
  • Kaos
  • Keynotes
  • Kreem
  • KS Experience
  • Reese
  • Reese & Santonio
  • The Reese Project[1]
  • Tronikhouse
  • The Elevator

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 283. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  2. ^ "LIVE: Life Fest"[usurped]. Chart Attack, August 28, 2001 Review by: Darrin Keene
  3. ^ All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music. San Francisco: Backbeat Books. 2001. p. 445. ISBN 0-87930-628-9. OCLC 46456357.
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (1998). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Vol. 4 (3d ed.). London. p. 2696. ISBN 1-56159-237-4. OCLC 39837948.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  5. ^ High tech soul. Dir. Gary Bredow. Plexifilm, 2006. Film. High tech soul. Dir. Gary Bredow. Plexifilm, 2006. Film. (24:37).
  6. ^ High tech soul. Dir. Gary Bredow. Plexifilm, 2006. Film. High tech soul. Dir. Gary Bredow. Plexifilm, 2006. Film. (26:39).
  7. ^ "Kevin Saunderson – Deep Space Radio". Archived from the original on 2016-06-09. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  8. ^ a b c d e [1]
  9. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 269. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  10. ^ "Reese - Just Want Another Chance". Discogs. 1988.
  11. ^ Reynolds, Simon. Energy Flash: A Journey through Rave Music and Dance Culture. London: Picador, 1998. ISBN 0-330-35056-0, p. 421
  12. ^ "5 Ways to Make a Killer Bass Line". Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  13. ^ "Reese Bass". Attack Magazine. 18 October 2012.
  14. ^ "TRACKING THE HARDCORE CONTINUUM || the Reese bassline|| with DJ Lush". Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
  15. ^ Warren, Emma (30 March 2024). "Kevin Saunderson is the past, present and future of techno". MusicTech.
  16. ^ "Kevin Maurice Saunderson & Family + KMS Records Special Feature - The Groove - 2013-06-22". CKCU.
  17. ^ "Arts | Detroit Free Press". 5 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-07-05. Retrieved 26 June 2021.

External links[edit]