Kevin Saunderson is an American electronic music producer. At the age of nine he moved to Belleville, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit where he attended Belleville High School and befriended two students, De rrick May and Juan Atkins. Saunderson, with Atkins and May, (often called the “Belleville Three”), is considered to be one of the originators of techno, specifically Detroit techno. He is married to Sharmeela Lamarsha Saunderson.
Although frequently associated with Detroit, Kevin Saunderson spent the early years of his life in Brooklyn, New York, before moving to Belleville, Michigan, a rural town some 30 miles from Detroit. As teenagers attending Belleville High School, Atkins, May, and Saunderson were fans of DJ Charles “The Electrifying Mojo” Johnson and the pop, disco, and funk music he played. Atkins and May soon became serious about mixing others’ music and creating their own, but Saunderson pursued other goals first, studying telecommunications and playing American football at Eastern Michigan University. Atkins had begun recording with Cybotron in 1981, but it was not until 1985 that May followed suit and made a record. Initially concentrating on becoming a DJ, Saunderson watched the six-month-long process as May completed “Let’s Go;” he was inspired to create his own music.
Atkins shared his technical expertise with Saunderson, and those early sessions led to a track called “Triangle Of Love.” “I used to wake up in the middle of the night, go into my studio – which was in the next room – and lay down the ideas as they came to me. At the time it was all about experimentation and being a college kid” Saunderson writes on his web page autobiography. “Triangle of Love” was released under the pseudonym Kreem on Atkins’ label, Metroplex.
Inner City is a Saunderson collaboration that came about “by accident,” according to Saunderson. In 1987 he recorded a backing track in his home studio, but needed lyrics and a female vocalist. His friend, Chicago house producer Terry ‘Housemaster’ Baldwin suggested Paris Grey. “Paris agreed, flew into Detroit, came up with lyrics and ‘Big Fun’ was born.” Saunderson filed away the tape until, months later, UK dance entrepreneur Neil Rushton came to Detroit in search of music for a compilation album, Techno – The New Dance Sound Of Detroit for Virgin Records. Neil enthusiastically included “Big Fun” on the album. It was soon released as a single and became a worldwide smash, only to be outsold by Inner City’s follow-up single, “Good Life.” A debut album, Paradise, soon followed. Over the years, and after three albums, Inner City had about 12 Top 40 hits in the UK and two Top 20 albums, with combined sales of more than 6 million.
The E-Dancer project Saunderson creates music that is “more underground.” The first E-Dancer album, ‘Heavenly,’ was released in 1998 to critical acclaim; Spin magazine named it “one of the ten best albums you’ve never heard.”