Urban Tribe, Mystic Tribe, Drexciyan Dj Stingray, Dj Stingray 313, or simply, Dj Stingray – Sherard Ingram is a name now synonymous with modern dance music, and especially, that of the Detroit flavour of electro-inflected techno music.
From his days spent knocking up bedroom mixes with the young Kenny ‘Moodymann’ Dixon in the early ’80s, through his short time as Drexciya’s official tour dj, to the now legendary outfits disbanding following founding member James Stinson’s untimely death (he was just 33) that has lead to an increasingly busy career of late, Ingram has spent the best part of 30 years within the inner circle of Detroit electronic music.
With a number of 12″ releases on labels as diverse as Planet-E, Rephlex and Clone, plus a full artist album as Urban Tribe (alongside Carl Craig, Moodymann and Antony ‘Shake’ Shakir) released through James Lavelle’s now defunct Mo Wax imprint in the late ’90s, the man has a depth of experience in body moving music, and with his swift selection style in the booth, is ready made to ride the recently awakened wave of interest in Drexciya and all it’s affiliates.
With his appearance at the aptly titled Black Atlantic Instra:mental album launch this weekend, where he’ll play alongside Kassem Mosse, dBridge and the heavily indebted UK bass headliners, we grabbed at the chance to email the man himself to get his take on the current climate in bass music, and beyond.
Interview/ Josh Thomas
Dj Stingray – for anyone unaware of you and what you do, could you introduce yourself and give us an insight to what you do within the music industry?
No problem my name is Sherard Ingram from Detroit, Michigan and I have been spinning and/or producing electronic music at various points within the last 1.20888 × 107 minutes.
Many artists such as Drexciya, Daft Punk, MF Doom, SBTRKT have opted to conceal their identities for various, yet similar reasons. Can you talk us through the reasoning behind your mask?
In my case the mask came about as a suggestion from Mr James Stinson so I just followed through with it. I think when you combine the mask with the music it creates interest and I think it’s a statement against the personality cult mentality. The music has to do the job of keeping people engaged, not my looks alone.
You’re probably best known as the tour Dj for Drexciya. What kind of influence did your time with the
band have on you?
We never actually got to tour because of the unexpected transition of Mr Stinson, but their (his) music influenced me as producer and Dj. My impression of him was a no nonsense, hard working man who was always pushing the envelope and had a vision and meaning behind his music. The brief time we spent working together had a strong influence on me and opened doors creatively and on a professional level.
The first Urban Tribe album ‘The Collapse of Modern Culture’ was produced with the help of a few friends of yours, including Carl Craig, Moodyman and Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir. How influential has it been to know these Detroit figures?
With the success of your colleauges comes pressure to do well. So I would say that I am driven to maintain a strong standard that I believe each of them have created, and push the envelope as well as carve my own niche.
Many people have been crying out to get their hands on ‘The Collapse of Modern Culture’ vinyl, are there any plans for a re-issue?
I think it’s possible, but it has to be done correctly and I have been researching how to go about it – stay tuned…
You’ve been known for collaborating with various artists over the years, who would be the dream artist to work with?
Adrian Sherwood, Rob Hood, Autechre, Basic Channel, Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins… that’s just for starters!
What have you got coming up release-wise for the rest of the year, and what has your label Micron Audio got lined up?
There’s been a delay because I really want vinyl releases and of course today vinyl is very expensive. I’m very hesitant to be a digital only label, so I have to build up the infrastructure to get some records out there. As far as artists you can check out the Micron Audio soundcloud page – but there will be releases forthcoming in any event.
You have previously released music on Naked Lunch, which has been home to the likes of Instra:mental, Boddika, TRG and Scuba, to name a few. Do you like what the UK bass scene is creating at the moment?
If what they’re doing is called ‘dubstep’ then yes I’m cool with it. To be honest I have only just recently become familiar with the style. I’ve always tried to proceed slowy with buying into the genre theme. If its good electronic music then I like it and if has a good beat it gets played in my sets period.
Your musical direction seems to be almost parallel to some of the music being produced within certain realms of mutant bass music within the UK and further afield. Are you aware of any influence your sound is currently having?
I’m not sure if I have an influence but if so that’s great! The UK is always coming up with catagories and sub genres – I think it comes from a British cultural need to have things nice and tidy (joke).
You’re playing at Black Atlantic presents, Instra:mental album launch, you looking forward to this one? Is there anywhere particular in London you like to play?
Yes I’m looking forward to the Black Atlantic function. I think it’s my first LP release party, plus I get to check out Kassem Mosse. London is my New York – I’d like to play anywhere in London where the people enjoy my set and the sound system is ace.
Dj Stingray plays at Black Atlantic alongside Instra:mental, Kassem Mosse and dBridge this Saturday 8th April, at the Citipost Building, London. You can find more details over at the facebook event.