Carl Craig on Movement, his new documentary and aging like Leonard Cohen

Adam Graham, The Detroit News on

Published in Entertainment News

DETROIT — Carl Craig turned 55 on Wednesday, and he'll celebrate his birthday weekend in Hart Plaza with thousands of revelers at Movement, the annual Memorial Day weekend electronic music celebration, where he's due to perform on Saturday night (and well into Sunday morning at an after-party at Spot Lite Detroit).

Then next month, before heading out a string of European tour dates, he'll be in New York for the Tribeca Film Festival, where the documentary about his life, "Desire: The Carl Craig Story," is set to host its world premiere.

The Detroit techno innovator has no intentions to slow down anytime soon, but his ears might have different plans: the internationally renowned DJ has long suffered from tinnitus, and he opens up about his history of hearing problems in the documentary.

"I could lose my hearing before any type of planned retirement," says Craig, on a video chat from Ibiza earlier this month.

He takes every precaution he can, but being around loud music is a job hazard it's difficult to avoid, and problems like those he's experiencing are common in his field, more so than many are willing to admit. "A lot of us are in denial," he says with a laugh.

So he soldiers on, just as he has for decades, a quiet but powerful force in the dance music community.


He's a reliable presence at Movement, where he tends to be a part of the annual festivities, and this year he performs in a lineup that includes Fatboy Slim, Dom Dolla, James Blake, Ludacris, Tee Grizzley, Idris Elba and dozens of others. "We have a relationship where they know if they need me, I'm there," says Craig, who has played every Movement since 2011. "It's not a situation where I expect to play every year, but if what I do fits within their vision, then I'm there."

The festival "really feels like the first day of summer," says Craig. "Even though it's not, it feels like it should be. If it was actually on June 21, the first day of summer, I don't think it would have the same impact."

It was at Movement in 2022 that cameras started following Craig around for "Desire," which is directed by Swiss filmmaker Jean-Cosme Delaloye. It's the story of Craig's life, from Cooley High School to the world, and the filmmakers talk to his parents, other family members and his colleagues and show how he came up in Detroit in the wake of techno pioneers Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins. (The title comes from the mid-'90s track that Craig recorded under the alias 69.)

He says the trust he put in Delaloye (2020's "Harley") required him to take a leap of faith, much like he does in his own compositions, but unlike those, he wasn't in control of the finished product. "I'm just the subject," he says.


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