Aaron-Carl

As one of the most legendary and prolific of Detroit artists and label owners, Aaron-Carl made a name for himself not just through his own works, but also remixing many popular names like Aux 88, Underground Resistance, and DJ Bone to name a few, also founding the very successful "Wallshaker Music" imprint in 1998, along with its sister company Cherry Juice Recordings based in Amsterdam. 

 

Starting off his career after being noticed by Underground Resistance boss Mike Banks, Carl would be signed to UR sub-label "Soul City", where he recorded the songs "Crucified", a beautiful and soulful House tune, as well as 2 mixes on 12" vinyl; making him an overnight success in Detroit and abroad. William "BJ" Smith of Posatronix, comments about Carl's first time overseas: "I remember one time we played in Paris. Mike Banks sent Aaron on the tour (this was his first time overseas). Needless to say his show was jaw dropping. Right then and there I think everyone on the tour knew that Aaron-Carl would be a name everyone would know, and no one could ever forget."

 

Though great times were indeed beginning for the artist, it would be his next record, "Wash It/Down" who would truly put him on the map; primarily "Down", which is still considered a Detroit Techno Bass, House and Techno classic simultaneously, and would strip the artist of anything that wasn't who he was at his core: A greatly talented, dedicated, Black Gay man. Of this he would never make any pretense, and would in fact build his career out of being exactly who he was; in all its forms. 

 

His classic hit "Down" would later be revisited on Metroplex Records in 1998, where it would be remixed by DJ Marquis w/ Juan Atkins on the keys, as well as DJ Di'jital, and "The People Mover". His hit "My House" from his newly founded Wallshaker Music, would also be picked up by Josh Wink's label Ovum Recordings, placing Aaron-Carl on the Billboard Top 40 Dance/Club Hits, and again placing him on the map; this time to a mainstream audience and as one of the names to look for during the height of the Rave scene.

 

While most of his career was comprised of Soulful House music and Techno, the few Techno Bass productions he would record, like his release on Afro Syntrix, and this in many ways including "Down", would propel him above and beyond the constraints of genres and their often limiting boundaries. Aaron-Carl was, as a musician and a person, someone who lived by defying those limits. Smith explains that to him and many around him, what was admired about Carl was "his work ethic, his drive, and his persistence. Un-apologetic and brave, he expressed himself and his message through his music".

 

Throughout the rest of the 90's and 2000's, Aaron-Carl would proliferate his work throughout the House, Techno and Electro communities, greatly expanding on his own imprint Wallshaker Music, releasing a plethora of classic 12" releases; even collaborating with Detroit veterans Benjamin Hayes, and Scan7. Aaron-Carl would also get busy with the remixes throughout his career, most notably perhaps "Hardlife" on Underground Resistance, as well as Aux 88's "Rated A.U.X", not to mention T. Stringer and G. Mitchell's "Round and Round" to name a few.  

 

In the early part of this decade, Carl had begun working on his new project W.A.R.M.T.H. International, which is a project who's goal is to "Honor the past, reclaim the present and ensure the future of Detroit Electronic Soul", as the mission statement claims on the company's Facebook page. The project also incorporates a weekly radio show, of which its mixtapes can be found on their Soundcloud page. Carl had also been featured as the vocalist, something he was very talented at, on Scan7's "4 Types Of People", as well as Ronnie Foster's "Savior"; both which were released on 12" vinyl in 2010.

 

Unfortunately, Aaron-Carl passed away in 2013 after succumbing quite rapidly to Lymphoma; something unexpected even to the artist who seemed unaware of anything  up until the days before his death. While at the hospital, Carl kept his fans up to date with the progress, with his last public transmission on video saying "For years, I've noticed I was 'hated'. Now at this time in my life, I realize that I'm actually loved". At the news of his illness, and especially after his death, fans and colleagues alike from around the world gathered online to show their respects for someone that was truly, in every sense of the word, Loved!

 

Aaron-Carl lived by his passion and courage to be not what was expected of him, but what he felt he should be in his heart. Something clearly felt through his music, and seen in his drive throughout his entire career and life as a person in his community; which as Smith puts it, came through as "very humble, strong in his belief system, and loyal to his city". Tom Linder of Detroit Techno Militia also comments that "Aaron-Carl was an inspiration to everyone around him. His charisma and drive to make great music continue to inspire me today. I will never forget his amazing sense of humor and love for the music".

 

Long live Aaron-Carl, in our hearts and through his music! Rest in peace our dear friend. 

 

 

 

Written by: Santino Fernandez

Edition: 
June 2015