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Interdimensional Transmissions Celebrates 21 Years of Music

by Movement Correspondent Ashley Zlatopolsky

In 1994 on a rugged island at the Westernmost tip of Ireland, Brendan M. Gillen heard ancient voices in his head.

While standing atop a cliff next to a historic church altar, he had a revelation as ocean water splashed onto his face. “They were talking about my life,” he says. According to the voices, he wasn’t on the right career path. “They told me that I should pursue music.”

And pursue music he did. Born from that moment was record label-party promoter collective Interdimensional Transmissions, named after the voices in Gillen’s head. “I dedicated myself to doing this music and the voices started appearing again,” he says. “They stuck.”

The music he made, which was influenced by the likes of electro-clash outfit Drexciya and London performance artist Leigh Bowery, leaned into both an experimental and electro edge. The collection was then submitted to Detroit Techno pioneer Carl Craig for consideration. “He was like, ‘I really dig this experimental stuff, but this electro stuff is too Detroit street,’” Gillen recalls.

Craig took hold of the experimental material while the electro material made its way onto Interdimensional Transmissions’ first release. “I had no idea how well it would do,” Gillen says. “What we thought was going to be a small record—1995’s Subsonic Vibrations as Ectomorph—ended up being a huge record internationally.”

Even the record’s physical features defined the mysterious nature of the label. Clear vinyl mixed with black vinyl, it had a smokey appearance that still allowed distinct elements to shine through. “That record was our personality,” Gillen notes. “We never put out our pictures, and if we did, we put out false pictures.”

The record also included liner notes and locked grooves, made famous by Detroit master record cutter Ron Murphy. “[Locked grooves] became a Detroit radio mix show staple,” Gillen says. A locked groove, which is a continuous loop of music the length of one full rotation of a record, was a common feature of early Detroit Techno records.

With songs in regular rotation on Detroit radio stations such as WJLB, Interdimensional Transmissions branched into the city’s music culture, from media to the underground. “Our goal was to make Detroit Techno for Detroit—music that balanced what we thought was so great about Techno but also talked to Detroit,” Gillen describes.

In 1997, label co-conspirator Erika Sherman, who Gillen met in Ann Arbor four years prior at the student-run radio station WCBN at the University of Michigan, joined Interdimensional Transmissions. “It was an instant friendship,” he recalls. “An opening came up in touring and I needed another member for Ectomorph. She had been formally trained in music, but she was also a super deep jazz person so I knew she’d be able to bring something new.”

Growing alongside Interdimensional Transmissions was the storied Detroit rave scene. “Raves started happening in Detroit—it was strange because the crowd was really special and the music was specifically about Detroit,” Gillen says. At the time, he was playing a blend of acid and electro. “There was something about this time period—these raves—that was greater than the sum of the parts.”

“These raves were Detroit outlaw spirit,” he continues. “They had a mixed crowd with mixed race, mixed gender, mixed social classes and mixed sexuality.”

From the rave days through the present, Interdimensional Transmissions has made it a mission to shape each of their parties into a fully immersive experience. “We put a lot of effort into transforming the space and making you feel something when you come into the space,” Gillen describes.

Their day-long showcase at Movement on Saturday will be no different. With a stage decked out in traditional Interdimensional Transmissions manner—flowing curtains and the likes—the label will shine a spotlight on the best it has to offer.

To celebrate 21 years of music, programming will include Israel Vines from Techno sublabel Eye Teeth; an all-new, all-hardware and all-analog live show from the recently reconvened Ectomorph; No Way Back veterans Carlos Souffront, Patrick Russell, Derek Plaslaiko and Mike Servito; longtime collaborator Claude Young; and edit gurus Gay Marvine from Bath House Etiquette and Scott Zacharias from The Fantasy and Secret Mixes Fixes.

“[Interdimensional Transmissions] is no longer just a word-of-mouth thing,” Gillen notes. “The rest of the world is starting to catch up.”