Doogatron brilliantly channels the artistic spirit and creative legacy of the late Andrew Weatherall.
The Ypsilanti techno duo of Stevie Tee and Kyle (and occasional trio with Michael) seamlessly stitches midtempo acid house, breakbeat techno and dreamy shoegaze into their latest interstellar Weatherall tribute single, “Audrey Witherspoon.”
Out now via all streaming platforms, “Audrey Witherspoon” beautifully celebrates Weatherall’s illustrious career as an acclaimed U.K.-based DJ, producer and artist who remixed tracks by Happy Mondays, New Order, Björk and My Bloody Valentine. He also added samples, loops and mixes on Primal Scream’s 1991 Mercury Prize-winning album, Screamadelica.
“It’s named ‘Audrey Witherspoon’ based on a pen name he used for gig reviews he wrote prior to his production career. The sequenced acid house bassline coupled with the big shoegaze fuzz guitar and midtempo swagger reminded me a lot of the late ‘80s, early ‘90s second summer of love, ‘Madchester’ sound, so when Andrew passed, it felt right,” Tee said.
The nine-minute astral track also beautifully wraps fuzzy shoegaze guitars, scratchy hip-hop sensibilities, jazzy sax solos from Jamie Goldsmith and cosmic, reverby vocals into a nonstop club jam. (Tee also created a groovy “Gazing at Shoes” mix of music inspired by and taken from outtakes while recording “Audrey Witherspoon.”)
“‘Audrey Witherspoon’ was more in the moment with the two of us getting into a new workflow and trying to fill out as much sound as possible. Instead of Kyle just doing the drum machine or drum programming, he was also doing the bassline sequencing, and that freed me up to start playing guitar and getting into some tones,” said Tee, who also did the vocals for the track.
From ‘Beaches to ‘Nympho Wars’
Tee also added muffled, robotic and New Agey vocals to Doogatron’s “Beaches,” an eight-minute mesmerizing techno journey to another summer-filled dimension with hints of Carla dal Forno. Bursting with thumping bass, vibrant electric guitar strums and hypnotic, swirling synths, “Beaches” instantly permeates the sun-drenched spaces in our souls.
“On ‘Beaches,’ there’s a bedrock of drums and a bass synth along with a little layer that I had that’s triggered by the bass synth and Mike playing a poly synth. The guitar-vocal part of it came from a hooky day I took when I went out to Sterling State Park, which has some forestation, a beach and a rockwall with all this industrial stuff around it. I was just walking around there that day, and there were just these striking images. It reminded me of art movies I saw in high school, and I came back and recorded the song,” Tee said.
Released in April, “Beaches” also features a sublime companion instrumental mix to showcase Doogatron’s heady machine funk, synth freak-outs and majestic electronic improvisation.
“Carla dal Forno was an influence on writing the guitar-vocal part for ‘Beaches,’ and once I started mixing and blending it into the pre-existing Doogatron instrumental, it reminded me of other current influences like Health, Charli XCX, The 1975 and even a slight reminder of Sigur Rós at the peak of the chorus part. Not to compare us to these artists, but it’s personally reassuring to hear reflections of music that I love in our music.”
Doogatron also seeks an ironic form of influence on “NymphoWars” (stylized as“https://www.nymphowars.com),” which blends staticky electronic drums, swirling orbital synths, extraterrestrial-inspired vocals and palpitating bass over a five-minute atmospheric voyage. (There’s also an instrumental mix available.) The track’s title serves as a clever pun on InfoWars, a far-right American conspiracy theory and fake news website.
“It was a joke between us, and I was like, ‘We can make it like a URL and everything.’ When we had the idea, I went and checked the link of it, and I thought it was a domain available for sale. By the time we were dealing with our distributor, they were rejecting it, and Kyle was like, ‘You go on there, and it looks like an Angelfire GeoCities Pizzagate thing,” Tee said with a laugh.
‘Subsidized Time’ and Beyond
Outside of three new singles, Doogatron released a series of phantasmagoric beat-driven, floor-friendly EPs in 2019. Before & After Subsidized Time provides two thick slices of peak-time techno while The Rider EP includes satirical references to touring DJs. Other mind-bending EPs, including The Great Concavity & Convexity and the Middle of Nowhere EP, propel Doogatron toward deeper, richer and more expansive sounds from the Detroit techno underground.
“We were trying to tie these things together, and The Great Concavity & Convexity and Before & After Subsidized Time are David Foster Wallace references. I was reading ‘Infinite Jest’ while I was making those EPs, and it was a chance to draw a narrative on them. The way the music has emerged so far has been really organic, and it was jamming and recording a lot and having patterns emerge from that,” Tee said.
Those initial electronic improvisations emerged from Doogatron’s 2018 self-titled debut, which follows a nine-track disorienting synth-prog jam built on Detroit’s legendary techno scene. As a trio, Tee, Kyle and Michael fuse old-school analog synthesizers with new-school digital technology to beautifully mold techno music’s future.
“I’m glad at one point I did a big hard drive dump onto an external drive just because I’m ready to give it a remix. It’s not a total restructuring, but I already want to mix a couple of things. It’s such a learning curve,” said Tee, who’s inspired by Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin.
Doogatron’s learning curve dates back to 2012 when Tee and Kyle DJed for two years before switching to a live PA setup. At the same time, Tee recorded techno music with Michael as part of a separate project called Chill Spector.
By 2014, Tee’s two projects merged into a trio that recorded and performed a series of live shows together locally. During the next three years, Doogatron compiled several recordings, revisited early arrangements and formed the raw tracks that would become their self-titled debut album.
With a growing roster of spellbinding techno releases, Doogatron continues to write and record new material to keep bodies grooving and feet moving. It’s part of an infinitely evolving electronic expedition for one of metro Detroit’s rising techno acts.
“We’ve got a few different things lying around ready to go, and we want to do some more finishing touches. We also have a big 100 bpm, midtempo, weird kind of psychedelic session, and a bunch of stuff I recorded with Kyle that I’m looking at recording some vocals to after that fact,” Tee said.
“We’ve been playing the instrumentals just the way they were recorded and edited at some gigs, and some warm-up stuff just to test it out. For the last one we’re gonna do in October, I think we’re going to put it out on Halloween, and it might be a full-on, 30-minute track.”