In the VIP area on Saturday (May 28) Skrillex -- the 23-year-old dubstep artist who performed after drum'n'bass pioneer Goldie -- notes, "I'm definitely the odd man out on the bill, which is cool."
Skrillex's recent rise to fame on the festival and club circuit is hardly a flash in the pan. In fact, he's been making music since he was nine years old and toured with a hardcore band at 16 before his foray into more experimental bass music. Although not from Detroit and much younger than many of techno's originators from the city, he has a real appreciation for Detroit's music, as many of the artists do who make their way from around the world to each year to what was originally known as the Detroit Electronic Music Festival.
"People know about it all over the world," says Skrillex. "Detroit is the birthplace of techno and you have so many artists coming out of here."
Marc Houle, an artist from across the border in Windsor who is good friends with superstar techno DJ Richie Hawtin and signed to his label Minus, spent many years making music and partying in the Motor City. "Detroit is such an important place, and we took it for granted when we were younger," he tells Spinner, following his set on Movement's Beatport Stage.
"And then something happened in the late-1990s when the parties stopped happening. Then this festival came along and every year it's like a beacon, reminding people we're still here. Thank God for this festival, because without it that history would have been completely gone. So this festival is important to keep that notion alive that Detroit is extremely important."
"Techno is now around 25 years old, and it's at a point now where what's being made is a whole other animal that I don't think anybody could have imagined," says Ambivalent, another artist on Hawtin's Minus label who performed on the Beatport stage.
Ambivalent explains there's been several waves of techno following the genre founders like Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, and admits he was most influenced by artists farther down the line, like Plastikman (Hawtin's famed production moniker), John Aquaviva and Dan Bell, who took Detroit's original sound and revised it.
"I am many steps removed from what was originally developed here and there are other artists who are coming from Detroit who are also making things that are completely fresh," he says.
This year, the festival's diverse lineup included very few of techno's early stars aside from Carl Craig who performed as 69 live, Hawtin, DJ T1000 and Claude Young. Other more mainstream acts like Fatboy Slim and Sven Vath nicely complemented the off-kilter beats as did music from the Swedish band Little Dragon and Flying Lotus.
"Electronic dance music has penetrated mainstream culture in a way that is unique," says Ambivalent. "In the late 1990s, there was a lot of hype about this music, but it never really took off. But now my mom calls me and says, 'Hey, I heard techno on the TV today.' Even the Top 40 charts are influenced by the sounds of electronic music. And for anyone who loves this music, you have to appreciate that this is a powerful thing, that it has transcended something that was always thought of as underground in the US."
It's festivals like Movement that are slowly but surely helping to raise the profile of electronic music in North America.
"Movement has grown from something that was very ad hoc, small and grassroots to something that's very big, established and popular," says Ambivalent. "People travel from all over the country and the world to be here. That shows a level of penetration into the mainstream culture that a lot of us wouldn't have imagined six or seven years ago."
Those on hand at Movement this year witnessed a mix of new and mature music fans dancing to the many sounds on offer. When other festivals like Coachella are booking big electronic acts such as Deadmau5 and Plastikman Live, along with popular bands and pop singers, it's clear that electronic music is in the stars for the future.