Where We Land: Catching up with post-Michigan Electronic Music Collective (MEMCO) projects in Ann Arbor and Abroad
The Michigan Electronic Music Collective (MEMCO) started as a small community of techno-loving college students and has shifted and expanded throughout the years into a cultural force and community within the Ann Arbor and Detroit music scenes.
And I’m not just saying that because I’m the organization's current president.
Started in 2013 as Michigan Electronic Dance Association, or MEDMA, the now MEMCO allows University of Michigan students and the local community to learn about the Detroit origins of techno and creates safe spaces to listen to and dance to this music and teaches members how to DJ.
Even when MEMCO members leave Ann Arbor, there is a bond that connects them to the town forever, and these alumni take their experience and knowledge from the collective into their own new ventures. Over the past year, past MEMCO members have started labels, continued music projects, and involved themselves in their new communities while always remembering where they came from.
On November 20 at Club Above in Ann Arbor, the current MEMCO crew is throwing its annual Triple Threat party with Maize Collective and WCBN-FM featuring Shigeto, Paul Simpson, Miguel Cisne, and Kilala in the DJ booth.
But first, here's another kind of triple-threat: an update on a trio of post-MEMCO projects:
Moods is a community-curated mixtape series by techno fans, DJs, producers, and bookers who show their roots and origins outside of the genre. It's a space to show where these artists came from and explain why that matters.
Moods is one of the most prominent ways that the MEDMA/MEMCO community remains entwined. Daniel Sharp, previous president of MEMCO, founded Moods in 2017, and the first season began with MEMCO alums Lorelei and Fabiola. Moods asks every person who gives a mix, “Where, geographically, are you from?” Many times, the person has a connection to Ann Arbor. Whether they began here or ended up here, the influence of Detroit and Ann Arbor is present throughout each mix. The fourth year of mixes started off with a selection of tunes by previous MEMCO president Miguel Cisneros.
Finjams on 8-Ball Radio
8-Ball Radio encompasses a variety of musical sub-genres and talk radio, providing a unique experience from hour-to-hour, seven days a week. 8-Ball Radio also engages with the community through live broadcast events such as music shows, festivals, lectures, and political gatherings, art exhibits, and neighborhood meetings.
Previous MEMCO president Jordan Stanton made his return to New York after graduating from the University of Michigan in 2020 and it didn’t take long for him to find a music community in 8-Ball Radio. In the midst of quarantine, Stanton asked previous MEMCO member and producer Gilad Granot to start a radio show together: Finjams—named after the finjan, a Turkish coffee cup. The two had experience DJing together in MEMCO and on WCBN’s Crush Collision show where they bonded over music as well as their love of coffee culture and Middle Eastern cuisine. Stanton, coming from a more electronic music background, and Granot, a classically trained musician, love to share different genres of music and the stories behind the songs. They’d hang out in the 8-Ball chat room with friends and listeners during their radio program, but more recently, the two been inviting friends and family over every Sunday for the show, accompanied by a food spread and coffee. Their goal is to strip away the idea that having a radio show is a private and heady endeavor by involving friends and community members on the program while creating a cozy space to hang.
none/such is an independent and dynamic label and collective based out of Frankfurt, DE, and Ann Arbor, MI, USA. The label’s creative output primarily consists of underground electronic dance music, experimental music, and visual art.
MEMCO alumni Leo Zabudkin and Sam Franz didn’t take any time off from DJing and producing, and shortly after graduating, they founded none/such, an interdisciplinary and international label and collective founded in Ann Arbor. The label has been taking off, keeping its roots both in Ann Arbor and going abroad to Germany where Leo is from and currently lives. none/such has released compilations for non-profit organizations like the Detroit Justice Center and the Detroit Defense Committee, and also has released albums, singles, and EPs by producers No Author, Bielefeld Murder Boys, and Jack Withers.
Though they’ve all moved on from MEMCO, the people behind Moods, Finjams, and None/Such have continued to collaborate. Recently, Moods and Finjams teamed up in NYC to put on a community event with DJs, free coffee, and a pop-up record store. Finjams radio has hosted None/Such and MEMCO, and the label continues to feature MEMCO members and alumni on their tapes series.
MEMCO continually proves itself to not just be a student organization that throws parties, but one that builds a lifelong connection to Ann Arbor.
Katy Trame is a student, poet, and music writer for Pulp and The Michigan Daily.
MEMCO, Maize Collective, and WCBN-FM present Triple Threat at Club Above, 215 N. Main St., Ann Arbor, on Saturday, November 21, 9 pm to 2 am featuring Shigeto, Paul Simpson, Miguel Cisne, and Kilala in the DJ booth.
➥ "A.N.G.E.L.I. and Scary Steve team up with Jordan Stanton for the 'They Take IV' music video" [Pulp, September 2, 2020]
➥ "Impulse Ann Arbor" documentary explores the present and history of the town's techno-music scene" [Pulp, December 4, 2019]