The 25th annual Detroit Music Awards are here, and what a righteous lineup they have this year! It makes sense they’d really do it up for such an auspicious anniversary, but we’re still darned impressed. The main honorees for the event — Friday, April 29 at the Fillmore Detroit — are award-winning composer and producer Dan Yessian, Motown Records’ late founding press officer and publicist Al Abrams, and multiplatinum superstar Kid Rock.
These honorees join dozens of musicians competing for awards and performances across a wide swath of local talent, including Victoria Reed, Tim Bowman Jr., Child Bite, and the Detroit Women’s Project. There will also be stirring tributes to both Glenn Frey and Marcus Belgrave.
To get in the spirit of things, Metro Times reached out to three participating artists: singer-songwriter Victoria Reed; Dirty White from the hip-hop collective Def by Stereo, whose debut performance will occur at the DMAs; and Andrew Dost from that band Fun, who won the Grammy Award for best new artist three years ago.
Metro Times: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Victoria Reed: I'm a singer-songwriter based out of Brooklyn, but I grew up in Grosse Pointe Park.
Dirty White: My name is Dirty White, one of the four emcees for Def by Stereo. I grew up in New Baltimore. I've been involved in music for more than 20 years now in various projects, most notably White Boy Ric. I took a 10-year hiatus, and came back to start DBS. I wanted to start a group full of veterans, to try to get back to the roots of hip-hop. Performing at the DMAs means that this project was a really good idea. I wasn't alone in thinking that hip-hop needed a project like this.
Andrew Dost: I grew up in Frankfort. It's a really small town with a great community, and everybody kind of looks out for everybody else. I've always felt tied to Michigan. And wherever else I've lived, I consider it home.
MT: How do you describe your music to people who've never heard it?
Reed: I usually tell people indie pop rock with a country lean. Though a lot of people hear a lot of different things! I get Americana, folk-pop, and so many others. So it might be better described as like "your favorite '90s alternative singer songwriter meets 2016."
White: Paying homage to '90s hip-hop groups, the boom-bap era: Tribe Called Quest, Run DMC, the Beasties, etc.
Dost: I'm pretty heavily influenced by '60s pop, but also love experimenting with modern sounds. I like the Beatles, I like musical theater, and I like Drake.
MT: Is this your first time at the Detroit Music Awards? What category are you nominated in?
Reed: This is my first! And to my knowledge, my record debut date missed the cutoff for nominations, but I will be there performing with my band.
White: I've won a couple awards in the past, and that's awesome. But it's an ultimate honor to rock the stage at the DMAs. It's always a great time, and it's nice to network with like-minded professionals in the business. My fellow DBS brothers Hush and Powerdise are both up for awards. And they get my full support, 100 percent of the time. I'm very excited for them.
Dost: I'm not nominated, but I'm performing a few songs. I'm excited to play in Detroit again. I've heard good things. And I love the theater. I'm honored to play there and to be a part of it.
MT: Please choose one song by a Detroit-based artist and talk about why that song is so important to you/what it means/what you learned from it.
Reed: There's so many great ones; it's way too hard to choose! I always used to be embarrassed to admit to liking Bob Seger, because my dad is in the band. But I eventually grew up about that and realized that great music is great music, no matter how biased you may feel in declaring your love for it. So I would probably have to go with a Seger track. "Still the Same" is the first song I learned to play on guitar and is definitely one of my all-time favorites.
White: "Angel" by Fatt Father. Because FF is further proof that we can be grown and do hip-hop. Fatt Father is sending an incredibly positive message, and proving that this is no longer a young man's game. We need more positive role models in hip-hop.
Dost: When I hear "Icky Thump" by the White Stripes, I feel invincible.
MT: If you get to sit down backstage at this event and have a heart-to-heart with Kid Rock, what might you two talk about?
Reed: Probably music, or maybe the time he made a surprise appearance at my older sister's eighth grade graduation party. My parents have been friends with him for years, so it'll be nice to see him again.
Dost: I'd love to just talk about food. I saw him on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and he seems to know what's up.
MT: What's next for you?
Reed: A whole ton of touring!
White: We will be hitting the studio hard to finish our first album The Collective, and gearing up for our first official show this fall.
Dost: I'm finishing an album, and scoring some films and TV shows in the meantime. It's been fun to have some time to experiment with music in a lot of different ways.
MT: Anything else you want to add?
Reed: I first started playing shows when I was going to school in Chicago and I ended up moving to New York straight from there when I was invited out to record, so this will actually be my first time playing with my band in Detroit. Which is crazy! It's long overdue and I really can't wait!
White: Please support real music. There is an up-and-coming Tribe Called Quest struggling to get by, around the corner. That band next door that is annoying you with their loud music, they are the next Rolling Stones. The problem isn't that any genre of music is dead or dying. It's that we all let it get to the point that a good chorus and proper clothes are considered good enough to make you famous. Support a Tech N9ne, Wilson, Def By Stereo, etc. in a world full of Nickelbacks.
Metro Times is a sponsor of the Detroit Music Awards this year. Both our associate publisher Jim Cohen and editor Dustin Blitchok are slated to present awards during the festivities. The 25th annual Detroit Music Awards is Friday, April 29 at the Fillmore Detroit; Doors at 6 p.m.; 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-5451; thefillmoredetroit.com; tickets start at $25.