It's Good to Be Differ-Ent
Don't Be Afraid
DJ Bone is Differ-Ent.
But then again, he always has been. A pioneer DJ and producer hailing from Detroit, whose technical skills are perhaps only equalled by the upper echelons of the city's most advanced techno trailblazers, he's nonetheless forged a path only of his own. Eschewing commercial expectations, scene pressures and anything other than his own exquisite taste, Bone has earned a vital, dedicated audience while remaining comfortably and individually underground.
Despite his stellar reputation, Bone's recent studio activities have steered him towards a new, altogether more personal direction. In late 2015, Differ-Ent's arrival on Don't Be Afraid with the 'Differ-Ent(Hrall)' EP paved the way for its follow-up, 'M.O.M.:' both were forceful slabs of psychedelic outsider techno, with the latter taking on a tangible emotional resonance as it honoured the memory of Bone's late mother. 'M.O.M.' quickly became one of the label's best celebrated and widely played releases. Bone, typically self-sufficient and known to turn down remixes for huge clubbing brands, was impressed by the Bristol label's honesty and persistence. As he continued to rock parties internationally, Bone set to work on an LP embracing his deeper, darker and more cerebral side.
Not that 'It's Good To Be Differ-Ent has found Bone veering away from the dancefloor. It's like, the natural vibe for me is always going to be funky, admits Bone. It's going to swing, it's going to have that element of soul. But the Differ-Ent vibe is almost angrier. Determined, perhaps is a better word. I would typically just go to the studio when I had an idea. To the point where I say, 'OK, I'm going to do something, I'm going to make it happen.' But the process for Differ-Ent...it's kinda methodical. It's borderline predictable. But the thing that makes it Different is that it could go any which way at any given time. And it can be harder edged usually, or it can go in a soundtrack direction.
Film plays a significant influence on the landscape of Differ-Ent, with the record's more melodic flourishes sometimes designed to evoke the doubtlessly imaginative chase sequences swimming around Bone's mind. If Bone's usual movements are 'Do The Right Thing', his Spike Lee joint, then in his own words, 'It's Good To Be Differ-Ent' is his tribute to Paul Verhoven's 'RoboCop'.
The only way I think the album evolved differently was the electro stuff, recalls Bone. I was excited about that. Because that was a different type of electro as well. It wasn't a normal, 80s funk kinda electro. It completely separates you. It's still for the dancefloor, but it's almost as if it shakes you to dance, rather than coaxes you.
'It's Good To Be Differ-Ent' certainly feels powerful, mastering a mix of Drexicyan tones and drums that align more with a newer wave of house and techno experimentalists. Many of these, from Hodge to Ø/Phase, have been an influence on Differ-Ent, all sharing what Bone describes as a unique affinity with creepy shit. It's his thunderous, occasionally paranoid but overwhelmingly positive contribution to a forward thinking European scene he has come to relate to on a par with his native Detroit.
Much of ''It's Good To Be Differ-Ent' has been inspired by Bone's frustration. Frustration with the modern political system as well as the creative conservatism of his own scene. In the studio, he has created a unique riposte. But the commercial pressure Bone has always avoided is only growing stronger. Is it harder than ever to be truly different?
It's harder for the majority of people, observes Bone. For me, it's really easy. I've been preparing myself for this for years.