Mike Banks in the Cyberspace

In August 1995, an online post attributed to Mike Banks appeared on the 313 list and later on ele-mental.org. In this hard-to-find fragment, UR’s founder Mad Mike fleshes out the realities faced by Detroit-based techno artists in a growing and competitive global music industry. Here at Techno&Philosophy, we thought it was important to republish this extract. (N.B.: we operated minor edits to ease readability).

I don’t get out in cyberspace very often so please forgive my net etiquette or any words I may misspell, I do very much appreciate Robert Smith’s passionate defense of UR, but I am a fighter and in this instance, I will come out of the shadows in defense of my Label and what it stands for!

First regarding Drexciya, it hurts me just as much as anyone else who loves true Underground music from the source to see a group that UR as a Label helped lift from the streets into international underground acclaim. Don’t forget these projects on UR were not Drexciya’s first outings, their first outings on their own label did not farewell at all. You guys cannot imagine the type of time and energy both financially and studio wise that goes into making 4 trak material good enough to make a record out of. Matter of fact most people can’t make 4 trak projects into good sounding records, but at UR that’s what we did because I heard something in those traks - I heard some brothers who were using their imaginations to the max, I heard kids who were pure at heart and knew nothing of the international complexities of this music, I heard dreams.

It is very, very difficult to describe what it feels like to lose talented people the caliber of Jeff Mills, Robert Hood or Drexciya not to lose them due to arguments or disagreements, but to lose them due to the environment here in Detroit. It is a very difficult place to stay in especially if you have been abroad or know others that have been. After returning some people are never the same! Jeff Mills was a world class DJ a talent the world now enjoys. He had nowhere to play here in Detroit we would watch as DJ after DJ would come play Detroit and for all the hype could not rock the D, basically they could not hold a candle next to Jeff Mills. Jeff is extremely competitive so he really wanted to get out there and kik ass So when his chance came in 1992 at the Limelite club in N.Y he took it! HE knew and I knew that he would never come back! I never call Jeff a sellout cause he aint, the brother just did what he had to do because that was his chance to share his gift with all of you in peace. Rob Noise went with Jeff due to a life threating incident he had on 7 mile and we all agreed that Rob needed to get away and see the world to see another side of life.

You see techno for us is life-these brothers would never have had the chance to see the world and meet people of all different racial groups and ideologies if it wasn’t for this music period unless of course they did their 2 year stint in the military! When Drexciyas James S. made his statements about the caucasion persuasion and plus-8 they were made out of frustration, made out of living in a city ringed by 8 mile road a street most minorities don’t cross into at nite, bordered by Dearborn MI. A suburb that didn’t want Detroit residents playing basketball in its parks! Please understand there are 4 ways to Escape these boundaries. 1) Go to prison 2) Join the army 3) Leave and move somewhere else if you can afford it! 4) Substance abuse That’s the fucking way it is partner! So when guys from the city see young affluent white teenagers from the suburbs running around the city and not working particularly hard on inviting brothers to their sets yes it is gonna cause tension! It’s called cultural differences.

I cannot tell you how many times me and my crew were denied entrance to a party because there where to many Black and Mexican scary guys or gang members at the door!! And these kidz were supposed to be progressive! Unfortunately, 1 OF the guys from Drexciya was with us that nite and it was a nite he never forgot. Let me tell you prejudice hurts especially when its associated with the music you love and the city you were raised in. It is for this reason UR is in this war with the programmers - those kidz were by the sight of 20 heavily muscled brothers who yes some were gang members some x-members and now musicians, they were intimidated because the programmers taught them that all brothers that didn’t have on silver shoes and didn’t smile or laugh at bullshit jokes and small talk were probably criminals ask Mumia, Rodney King or Malice Green who effects programming has on people.

I am a very serious brother nothing that I do or have done with UR is funny or entertaining, I am not a clown and I will never tap dance on cue - I have never been pimped and neither has my company, the moves and strategies that I use are for one thing and one thing only - and that is to guarantee that the programmers agendas and stereo-types do not proceed into the next century!! Because it is these same agendas and prejudices that nearly exterminated my mother’s peoples (Blackfoot Indians) and forcibly enslaved my father’s peoples for 400 years - so believe me when I tell you UR some DEADLY serious shit!!!!

There is very little for me to smile and be happy about with the condition my people, my city, my EARTH - MOTHER EARTH is in. All I can hope is that music from our label can without words or explanations knock down all the barriers (racial, economic, religious, etc.) that the programmers have cleverly set before us in order to keep us from understanding that categories and definitions separate and with separation comes exploitation and profit! I hope you can feel what I am saying - as I stated earlier I am not very good on the net and I tried to explain as efficiently as possible what me and my label stand for so that there would be no misinterpretations or people putting words in my mouth.

I am 33 years old and fully capable of speaking for myself but I choose to use music because men have been talking for years but always with FORKTONGUE music is true and ultimately much more efficient than all written language to this date - tribal people have known this for thousands of years. WE are all tribal people but some of us have strayed away from the talk of the drum and they talk with words and languages that mean nothing! THE DRUM IS ALWAYS BETTER -

(please forgive the length of my response and thank you for this very unique forum of communication (consciousness) lets leave the racial issues out of this forum and out of the next century and most of all out of tekno music as it knows no boundaries not even logic - peace MAD MIKE UR Back into the darkness I go do not try to find me)

peace and stay low, stay strong - out MAD MIKE