“Music has always been such a savior for me. It sounds really cliché, but writing it and listening to it kind of allowed me to escape. And although that might seem cowardly, I’ve always kind of believed in what it represents, a certain freedom that goes with music,” longtime techno producer Luke Slater told Selector over Zoom from his London home.
At its core, since its birth in the ’80s Detroit underground, techno has always been about freedom, self-sufficiency and experimentation—creating sounds of the future to get people moving. In that sense, Luke Slater has always been techno. In his early DJ days in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he was part of the U.K. dance contingent popularizing Detroit-inspired techno across the pond.
In 1989 he dropped his debut single, “Momentary Vision” (under the name Translucent) as a white label on his own Jelly Jam Records, a grooving breakbeat techno number. It would be two years before he dropped more tracks to shake up the U.K. techno scene, but he’s been on roll ever since.
To him, techno is best defined by its Detroit roots that first inspired him to produce it himself.
“For me, as an artist, it goes right back to the origin of house and techno, especially people like Juan Atkins,” Slater explained. “[In] 1983, he did ‘Clear’ by Cybotron, which really didn’t fit in with hip-hop [or] electro at the time. That was probably the first techno record I ever heard. And there was this kind of melancholy thing about it, but it had a lot of rhythm.”
“And then when house came along at the end of the ’80s, that was really the connection for me, that rhythm can come from machines,” he continued. “I loved that. That really bore into my soul.”
The British DJ and producer has kept himself busy exploring and expanding the nuance and range of techno with a prolific output over the past three decades. He has done so under a handful of aliases including Planetary Assault Systems, Clementine, Morganisitic, and The 7th Plain, to name a few.
As clubs remained shuttered with COVID-19 running wild, he was understandably uninspired to make dance music. In the first months of the pandemic he savored time at home with his family and worked on an experimental collaborative project with Anthony Child (a.k.a. Surgeon), KMRU, Lady Starlight, Speedy J and Tom Moth (Florence + The Machine‘s harpist) called DIALOGUE.
The project is composed of four spacious ambient musical dialogues (15-24 minutes long) between the artists that reflect the distance and uncertainty we all felt in 2020. “It was kind of really fitting for the time, but after that was done, there had to be more,” Slater shared.
He went on, “It was a hunger I haven’t experienced since I first started… I was just dying to get back to the events, to play, just to be out there again. And so that’s really how the [latest] Planetary album came about.”
After vaccines were rolled out to the public in 2021 and the possibility of DJing finally appeared on the horizon again, the creative flame within Slater was reignited. “When things looked like they were opening up, I wanted to go …….