Pax day

Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 am

You may have seen the Paxahau logo, been mystified by obscure artists called Autechre, Crackhaus, Deadbeat or Superpitcher, whose names are squeezed next to that iconic yin-yang symbol on glossy promo fliers. It’s a weird package that may appear off-putting at first, sometimes misinterpreted as elitist by competitors in Detroit’s often-political electronic dance music scene. Or, if you rarely venture out of the musical mainstream, this might be your first exposure to the atmospheric sub-world of the minimal techno the Paxahau logo implies.

But sit down for dinner and a glass of wine with Jason Huvaere of Paxahau, and you get the real message behind its oblique medium: It’s really all about the good times; and you’re welcome to join in.

Paxahau is, essentially, a promotions group with roots in Detroit’s vast party underground and cred that spreads across North America and Europe.

Paxahau specializes in presenting a live music experience. It’s not about the DJ or the records; it’s about sharing the party with as many people as possible. It might sound oh-so-groovy and utopian, but Huvaere brings it all down to a human level.

“Everything we do is built on friendship,” Huvaere says. “Paxahau is made up of all volunteers, people who love this thing as much I do. The artists who play at our events are our friends. We run it like a business but it’s all about keeping a community together.”

That concept is what has gained Paxahau a higher profile on the international stage, says Jon Berry, a veteran publicist who represents some of the world’s top techno artists. “Paxahau is run like a family business; a family that knows how to throw some of the best, most memorable parties in the world.”

On Labor Day weekend, Paxahau will celebrate its seventh anniversary. It’s a two-day event featuring three of the biggest names in techno and a barbecue that highlight the group’s association with next year’s Motor City Music Conference.

The lineup for Sunday’s show at the Masonic Temple includes Richie Hawtin, the Windsorite-cum-Berliner who might be dance music’s biggest draw anywhere. It also features Luciano, a Chilean-Swiss producer-DJ who played a scorching set at the recent Fuse-In festival; and Monolake, who once participated in a virtual, trans-Atlantic performance from Berlin-to-Detroit that Paxahau produced. State-of-the-art Funktion-One sound will power Sunday’s event.

The day before, Paxahau will have a barbecue at the Maltese-American Benevolent Society on Michigan near Rosa Parks. Luciano, Clark Warner, Mike Clark and others will play at this unique foodie-music event. Slow’s, a hip new eatery set to open soon in that neighborhood, will cater.

In the early to mid-1990s, Huvaere and professional partner Jason Clark began throwing area parties that predate Paxahau. Huvaere refers to this period as “the real underground.” He broke away from the scene and moved to New Hampshire, where he sold cars. (His father, Dick Huvaere, owns a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Richmond, Mich.)

He returned to Detroit refreshed, started a computer consulting firm called Catalyst Technology Services, and in 1999 began to deliver music in an entirely different format — via streaming audio on the Internet. Go to and a secret history comes alive in sound. The stream, made up of anonymous ambient tracks and dubby micro tech-house groovers, is accessible through Apple’s iTunes.

Recognizable among these gray, static waveforms are tracks by Berlin’s influential Basic Channel-Chain Reaction axis, which includes music by Monolake. Via e-mail from Berlin, Monolake’s Henke says: “As an interesting coincidence, I am currently working on some tracks which for me seem to go into the direction of that typical ‘classic’ Chain Reaction sound. I might play them in Detroit if I find the time to finish them.”

An archive of nearly every Paxahau event is also on the site. Click, for example, on “Thomas Brinkmann (live) June 1, 2000” and you’ll see the full, one-hour-and-20-minute performance at Motor. And there’s much more. Sets by Ricardo Villalobos, Vladislav Delay, Benno Blome, Baby Ford, the D. Wynn-Kevin Saunderson tag team, Carl Craig, Michael Mayer — six years of stellar programming all meticulously, digitally preserved.

The most recent postings are sets from the Underground Stage at this year’s Fuse-In festival. Paxahau produced a program that featured Hawtin, Luciano, Deadbeat and others.

After the Labor Day party, Paxahau plans more for this year. A September show by Berlin’s Isolee, whose We are Monster LP was hailed by insiders as an electro-house masterpiece even before it was released this spring; the return of Superpitcher in October (with first-ever Detroit appearances by German leftfield tech-stars Ada and Metope); and a Minus Halloween party with Magda and Troy Pierce. Paxahau is also consolidating its business offices and studio into a recently purchased building in Ferndale.

“I’m practicing getting up earlier in the morning so I can get everything done,” Huvaere says, checking his phone for text messages. “The schedule is getting pretty insane.”

More insanity is already on the schedule for 2006. Paxahau will program all the electronic music events, including live shows and panel discussions, for the second Motor City Music Conference. That’s in May, with the promotional launch at this weekend’s barbecue. Inroads to the culturally rich Euro electronic music marketplace are being put into place by Jason Clark, who moved to Berlin earlier this year. More relationships are being nurtured with key players at Cologne’s sprawling Kompakt nexus, the most influential dance music conglomerate in the world. More archiving, better equipment, crazier music, bigger sounds, new friendships.

“We’ll keep doing it as long as we keep having fun,” Huvaere says. “It’s a lot of hard work and it can get fucking exhausting. Why else do it unless you totally love it?”


The MC2:Electronic BBQ is Saturday, Sept. 3, at the Maltese American Benevolent Society, 1832 Michigan Ave., Detroit.

Paxahau’s 7th Anniversary Party is Sunday, Sept. 4, at the Masonic Temple Fountain Ballroom, 500 Temple St., Detroit. Go to for all the info.

Walter Wasacz is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]