Motor City: A New Generation of Detroit DJs Is Set to Scorch the Dancefloor

Detroit is most commonly associated with the old guard of techno — Jeff Mills, Carl Craig, Underground Resistance. They remain more relevant than ever, but those in the know are paying attention to the new school of Detroiters, a cadre of young folks making waves with their heavyweight productions and DJ sets.

Jay Daniel is one such producer — barely above the legal drinking age, he already has the world taking notice after releasing a couple scorching techno records and being booked for DJ sets around the globe. He's often found DJing alongside his friend Kyle Hall, another young Detroiter whose stock is rapidly rising. Daniel's productions stand out for their simple elegance — they're no-nonsense, no-frills hardware jams that pair hard-hitting bass drums with enchanting, haunting melodies, possessing a rawness and immediacy that makes his tracks feel human and relatable.

He's also an excellent DJ — his debut performance at Detroit's Movement Festival in 2012 caught the eyes and ears of Boiler Room, which described him as “one of the most exciting discoveries made in Detroit” on the strength of that set alone. Joining him is Natan H, a Chicagoan now based in L.A. who produces dubbed-out deep house. Sure Thing resident DJ Aaron J will kick the night off, setting things up for the headliners.

Other worthy parties this week

Housepitality presents Shawn Rudiman, El Gato, and more at F8, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18. Free before 11 p.m. with RSVP, $10 otherwise;

Housepitality can always be relied on for throwing a solid mid-week party featuring house DJs from all over the world — some big names, some lesser ones. This week, it's featuring something different, a live techno performance from Shawn Rudiman. Based out of Pittsburgh but long affiliated with techno crews in Detroit, Rudiman has been quietly producing his machine-made techno since the late 1990s. Unlike most techno producers, Rudiman is, at heart, a live performer — his natural environment is in front of a crowd, behind a table of hardware. What sets him even further apart from the pack is that Rudiman is an improviser, capable of summoning ruthless melodic techno forth from his machines with nothing planned ahead of time. Joining him is El Gato, the stage name of Chris Leath, a local DJ and producer who has been quietly producing off-kilter techno and house for some time now. Housepitality resident Mike Bee will hold it down in the back room.

New World Order presents Vin Sol, MPHD and more at Slim's, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 19. $18-$20;

New World Order is a new party in town with a particularly interesting (and timely) concept: throwing dance parties with dialed-in sound in nontraditional dance-party spaces. Given that our city suffers from a dearth of midsize clubs, this can only be a good thing. The party launches at Slim's, traditionally a rock and metal venue, but one that should suit itself to a dance party quite nicely given its top-notch sound system. Music will be provided by a handful of local DJs: Vin Sol is headlining, riding high from the release of several new records, including a split with Matrixxman (Daddy Issues) on local record label Icee Hot, and a new release on Dutch stalwart label Clone (Off The Chain). Joining him is MPHD, one of Lights Down Low's resident DJs who also produces acid-flavored retro house tracks. Rounding out the bill are Fritz Carlton, a young producer and recent transplant to San Francisco, and Jeremy Black, New World Order's head honcho and resident DJ.

Four Sweaters presents Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts, Marc Schneider and more at Monarch, 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 21. $10-$20;

Irregularly-occurring party Four Sweaters is celebrating its second birthday on Saturday by playing host to the cleverly-named Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts — the stage name of the one Guillaume Coutu Dumont (there is not, in fact, a family of Coutu Dumonts backing him up). Guillaume's musical career started in funk and jazz bands, but he later fell in love with electronic music — since 2006, he has dedicated himself to his own quirky brand of tech-house. His past life as a band member is apparent in the array of percussion he uses in his tracks, paired with simple, super-catchy bass lines and uplifting melodies. He's performing live, too, so even if you're already familiar with his catalog, expect surprises and something new. Joining him is Marc Schneider, a long-active German DJ affiliated with the Circus Company crew and record label (home to Guillaume, Seth Troxler, Dave Aju, Nicolas Jaar, and more). Last but not least, party residents Bells & Whistles will be opening up the proceedings.

WERD. featuring Dave Siska and more at Monarch, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 22. $5-$10;

Many of the well-regarded local DJs who call San Francisco home have a storied and interesting past that extends well beyond our fine city. Dave Siska is one such DJ — he earned his chops in Chicago, beginning in the late '90s, with a radio show he ran with a fellow DJ, Matt MacQueen. Over the years, that radio show grew in popularity, and eventually they brought it onto the web and dubbed it Sonic Sunset. Siska's range is broad, but his foundation is the melodic, warm techno that came out of Detroit and the U.K. during the early- to mid-'90s along with the deep, dubby sounds of Basic Channel, the Berlin school of techno — the kind of music that delights the brain as much as the body. WERD resident Zoz will warm up the dancefloor and get the night started off right.

Related Stories