When I first heard Drexciya, what I loved was how absent but also ever present identity was from their music. I never really thought of Gerald Donald, James Stinson and DJ Stingray as being African-American. After looking under the hood of their music, noting the funk influences and the mythology, which has been labeled a sort of "Afrofuturism", I became fascinated with the power of Detroit underground in general. The minimalist aesthetic of their albums and music and relative anonymity of their press releases are classic and iconic representations of what techno music originally was, something that was intended to be anti-celebrity and anti-corporate.
I see these pioneers of Detroit techno as being kindred spirits, embracing instruments that were British, European, and Japanese in origin (i.e. Roland, Oberheim, Korg etc), abandoning the norms of other Detroit music (guitars, organs, acoustic drums). I relate this experience, being Native American and having defied the expectations of my Navajo and Pima family, embracing influences along the lines of Nietzsche and Bataille as much as I have rejected the water drum and the sweat lodge.
Drexciya's inclusion of a personal mythology makes the music that much more special and fascinating as a whole. Many of their records have these aquatic references and underwater themes, I think this particular type of personal reinvention is essential for negotiating these times we live in, where an emphasis on identity has been taken to the levels of toxic pride, group think, and collective narcissism; all fueled by semiocapitalist marketing tactics and memes. Identifying as an individual and building a world up inside oneself is more important than ever. Drexciya developed this personal myth about an underwater species and their albums revolved around that mythology. It's a sublime metaphor for what Drexciya may have wished for themselves and for what they actually were, a pair unique underground musicians.
James Stinson died in 2002.
I've included this link to a great mini-documentary on the Detroit scene.
Composer, Artist, Writer