Motor City Cribs

On the stage, Charlie Slick is a full-on party-sensory assault, his electro-dance jams usually presented amid a light-show-soaked flurry of bubbles and glitter with audience participation. For one who invites so much chaos into his live shows you might be surprised to find his home is downright sedate (yet sweet) by comparison.

Charlie Slick's west side Ann Arbor apartment is a seemingly contradictory mix of the organic and electronic. On one hand, the sun-drenched apartment is almost overrun with thriving plants artfully placed alongside Charlie's outstanding thrift store art and furniture finds — not surprising given Charlie's day job at Downtown Home and Garden (an Ann Arbor institution, a stone's throw from the Fleetwood Diner).

In his downstairs lab, you'll see a slew of modified electronic instruments and a handyman's arsenal of power tools. Some are failed experiments (the keyboard modified to play like an accordion), but most are absurdly awesome triumphs of his imagination (the steering wheel bass synth controller, the 4-CD player ambient music generator).

"All of my instruments are [Rube] Goldbergian contraptions. Kind of like a ball rolling down a slide to hit the shoe to kick the bucket to catch the mouse," he grins. Indeed, Slick's instruments aren't the most elegant, but they are truly inspired. Not surprisingly, Slick names his creations creatively (his custom bubble machine is the Master Blaster for example).

For his new LP, Elron Hubbard (previous albums have included Edward Murphy and Walter Carlos), Slick has added '80s funk to his electronic dance mix. "Now I'm more influenced by Prince, Rick James or Michael Jackson. My earlier music was geared toward basement parties; as I started playing festivals, I felt like my music needed something more." Funk or no funk though, Mr. Slick can turn any venue into a sweaty, transcendent basement party.


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