We sat down with Detroit natives, The Saunderson Brothers, to discuss all things Detroit and growing up in a family many might consider Techno royalty. Touching on their musical upbringing with Kevin Saunderson as their father and their mother as a vocalist in Inner City, Damarii and Dantiez Saunderson give us hot tips on the best new music spots in Detroit right now, their creative process and some of their favourite new rising talent in the scene.

The duo start by touching on their newest single and debut single on the label, ‘Sapphire’ which was recently released on Toolroom Trax.

Tell us a little bit about your new track, ‘Sapphire’. How did it come together as a track? And how did it come to be a release with us here at Toolroom?

Dantiez: So, Sapphire started off as a dub track. Absolutely no vocals. I was just kind of writing something on my laptop that I wanted to play for this festival we had coming up in a couple of weeks – we were performing there and some after parties, a festival called Movement Festival. We have it every year in Detroit. It’s huge, loads out of town acts play and Detroit artists. So, I wanted to play a peak time kind of banger in our set. I started writing it, then tested it out at Movement – went down pretty well. I was happy with it, but I thought it wasn’t done, I wasn’t there yet. So, it needed a couple of tweaks – sent it to Damarii. He added his flavour to it, added the vocal to top it off and that was it. We sent it back and forth a couple of times and tested it out after that, and we both were like, ‘Yeah, this is sick!’

Damarii: And definitely a track we thought we should send to Toolroom right away.

Dantiez: Yeah, I’ve been playing all the Toolroom Trax tracks in my sets already so I was like, oh yeah this fits. I already got the vibes from it. So I sent it to George and Danny, and within the week they were back to me and said they loved the track and wanted to put it out. Here we are.


What are some of your favourite local music spots in Detroit?

Damarii: There’s multiple good spots, we’ve got Spot Lite, they have a record shop in the back of it, I believe. We’ve got TV Lounge that’s been around forever – great club, great inside, great outside. A new club just opened called Big Pink – really digging there lately.

Dantiez: We’ve been doing events a little outside of the city at a place called The Bosco. It’s like 20 minutes outside of the city, but a really cool venue owner, atmosphere, all open air. We get to curate our own events there and bring some of the new talent in. And you know, that’s what we love to do, it’s just a vibe.

How do you guys tend to write and produce as a duo? Do you shoot stuff back and forth? Would you work together in the room? How do you tend to work?

Damarii: Usually, we’ll shoot stuff back and forth, so Dantiez will shoot me over something that he’s been working on that he knows sounds good for our Saunderson Brothers project. Then sometimes we’ll get in the studio together – multiple different ways, but those are the main two.

Dantiez: Yeah, I usually I usually start an idea on my laptop or in a studio or whatever if we’re not together. And then if it’s got that deep, dark, melodic kind of techie Saunderson Brothers vibes, you know, I’ll send it to Damarii and see if he’s vibing it. I can send it to him to add his magic and send it back. And you know, back and forth, until it’s done. Sometimes you need to finish it together in person.

Who are some of your favourite talent rising up in the scene at the moment?

Dantiez: There’s a bunch! We got Chicago’s Très Mortimer. Ben Sterling. John Summit – I booked him in Detroit, like, right before his kind of blow up. So, you know, that was really cool to see him, transform into this huge superstar he is now and he is killing it. Maxinne, who I think has releases on Toolroom. There’s a lot a lot of new talent and some Detroit talent – we got Invite Only who just had their first release on KMS records. Dope release, go and check that out. We got Botez from Detroit. Supply and Demand from Detroit also, which in my new alias I’ve just started with my friend and we have our first release coming on Realm Records in the next couple of weeks here. Stay tuned for that.

Damarii: You’ve got people at Shimza, Beltran, Will Clark, Dom Dolla, HoneyLuv, Joshua Turner who goes by JMT. Detroit has got some talent rising up and it’s nice to see.


What are a some of the tracks you love to end your sets on?

Dantiez: One for me which I’ve had in my mind for a while, is ‘Blackwater’ from Octave One. It’s actually about 20 years old. And I remember being in the car (because my Mum is on the vocals) and whilst she was recording the vocals and going through the whole production process. So it’s a really special track for me, deep and emotional, kind of like a Detroit anthem. And it always just, you know, ends those kind of like sunset sets proper for me. So that’s one for me.

Damarii: That’s a good one. One for me would be ‘Atlas’, and that’s actually a Carl Craig track but the Christian Smith Remix, I really vibe with that. I like my sets with a little melodic and you get a little deeper and you know, just keep it groovy but also have people thinking at the same time. That was a good one for me and also ‘Good Life’, of course, but the Ian O’Donovan Remix. It’s a very nice melodic take on the classic track.

You’ve got incredible music heritage in your family. How does that come into play for you guys as artists? Does your Dad get ears on all your tracks?

Damarii: Oh, yeah, we’re incredibly blessed to have the musical background and family that we do. Our Sad definitely gets first insight on all of the new tracks and we know if he’s digging it then you know, we have a good feeling about it usually.

Dantiez: Yeah, definitely blessed with the full Techno family. It’s been in our lives ever since we can remember. We went to the first Movement Festival here 20 years ago. I was in elementary school, fifth grade.

Damarii: There’s a picture of me and him in the water fountain. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there’s a big fountain in the middle of Movement, and we’re just drenched in it as kids. Really funny.

Dantiez:  We’ve had a studio in every house that we’ve lived in, so it’s always been around us. You can hear that in our music, I think and in our Dad’s music. Similar sounds – we both like using 909 drums a lot, and deep Reece basses. I actually got one in the in the track ‘Sapphire’, listen out for it. People might now know, but he actually created the first Reece bass, or he claims that – our father. His name back in the day was Kevin ‘Master Reece’. Also our Mum does vocals, that’s that’s how they met. Our parents met when they was on tour as Inner City about 30 years ago in London. They fell in love and came back to America. Years later, Damarii was born, I was born – a techno love story.

What continues to inspire you both as artists?

Dantiez: Just to be able to continue to release music on labels we love, like Toolroom. To be able to travel the world and share this music on different dance floors and bringing everybody together. There’s no feeling like it and it’s what we live for.

Damarii: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.

Dantiez: Inspiring others inspires us to go harder. So if we can, you know, inspire someone through our music or through our sets, that’s always a bonus.

What’s up next for you guys for the rest of the year and into 2024?

Dantiez: Getting together more Saunderson Brothers releases, trying to travel more, trying to just get more music out there as the Saunderson Brothers and just to continue to be inspired and to inspire others in this wonderful scene we got here.

Damarii: And, you know, to take a step back and spend time with loved ones and family and, you know, and just kind of live life to touch the grass. So that’s important too.