When Rickers and Ted Krisko join forces as Ataxia, they make music that embodies their hometown Detroit: rhythmic, soulful and uncompromising.
The duo’s debut album ‘Out Of Step’, released in November via Life & Death, is a powerful representation of the Motor City’s enduring influence. Blending sounds spanning techno, electro, breaks, funk and hardcore, it packs a punch while also going deep, taking a headfirst dive into its textural explorations.
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That approach reflects Ataxia’s background in hardcore and punk, and also the attitude of Detroit’s no-nonsense dance music innovators. The result is an inaugural LP that’s brimming with character and vigour. Guest features from local heroes Andrés, DJ Minx and Mister Joshooa are a cherry on the top.
To mark the release, we spoke to Ataxia about the record, and they curated a special playlist of tracks from their favourite ‘Techno Punks’. Read and listen below.
What inspirations are at the core of your debut album ‘Out Of Step’ and how does it feel to be releasing it?
The inspirations came from the touchstones of our punk and rave upbringings. Less about the direct musical influences, more about the cultural musing of our Detroit experiences. If you grew up going to shows and parties here, there was an essence of cult appeal that permeated throughout various “genres”, in Detroit, especially in the '90s and early 2000s, it was just the underground. - so the “genre-bending” nature of the album is infused in that cult-like mindset…imperfections twisted up with a dash of hope.
You'd be just as likely to go to a Suicide Machines show as you would going to see Plastikman or Slum Village. The crossover here was the allure of the city to the trove of suburbanites migrating to the city every weekend for shows.
When DJ Tennis signed our album to Life and Death, we had over a decade of friendship based around our mutual love and affections for our histories in old school punk and hardcore. This album is in some ways an extension of that energy, bringing influences from across the gap to the forefront of the project. It's cathartic to get a full length out there...the process was seemingly unending but was a huge inspiration to keep pushing this project through the mire of the world.
The record features collaborations with fellow Detroit peers DJ Minx, Andrés and Mr Joshooa - how was working with those artists?
At the risk of kissing ass (which is very unpunk) these are some of the nicest, coolest, chillest folks to work with in the game. The reason they’re loved by so many people is because their talent is backed up with a smile and lots of love. Detroit people just hit differently.
We are eternally grateful to Jennifer (Minx), Dez (Andrés) & Josh (Mister Joshooa) for helping us with their flavors on the album. It’s wonderful to have people who are heroic to us in many ways, be front and center with us on our first full length. Hats off to them, it’s an honor to be alongside these lovely humans in our discography.
What defines a ‘techno punk’ in your view?
Someone willing to experiment with noisy machines at the risk of failing publicly and letting the fuck ups be transparent without a care in the world as to how it’s received.
To make music for the sake of the music and the listener; as opposed to making it for what it will do for your career.
Having values that defy conventional expectations, and a willingness to be an outlier.
Can you talk us through your playlist.
The playlist is largely comprised of people from Detroit and across Michigan that we personally know, whose output reflect punk values, and have in many cases, come from the punk and hardcore scene themselves. Of course there are some other folks in the cut here that also are known to fit the bill, so to speak...
From the pure renegade vibes of Underground Resistance & Dave Clarke, to the electro synth wave sounds of Jimmy Edgard, electro punk titans ADULT., contemporary Detroit producers like ADMN & KeThu, with known punk lovers like DJ T-1000, Bileebob, Lauren Flax, of course DJ Tennis ('Repeater' ffs - this is a man after our heart)…these along with a good handful of people we guarantee don’t give a fuck and are all just happy to be making and playing music and do it in their own way, without compromise.
Thanks Mixmag for letting us make some noise on your channel!
'Out Of Step' is out now via Life & Death, get it here