Monday, September 22, 2008

The Electrifying Mojo. Detroit. Rock Lobster.

It probably comes as no surprise, but my favorite moments on the internet are the things that are as far removed from the internet as possible. Which is a clumsy way of saying, the internet gets better the closer it gets to tangible relationships, computer-less experiences, and pre-internet histories (NisN and RI embody this perhaps better than anyone). I've done some time writing and researching about purely virtual/internet phenomenon and I can only describe it as an awkward tautological depression.

As great as the interweb is, it's comforting to know so many things still exist within histories outside its purview. In particular, I have been wanting to write about Charles "The Eletricfying Mojo" Johnson and unless my research skills fail me, little is available other than a poorly written wiki page and some brief bios. A seminal Detroit DJ from the 1970s to the 1990s, the Electrifying Mojo was first a DJ in Vietnam where he was exposed to a myriad of global sounds. When he got back to Detroit, he had a nightly show and introduced the youth of Detroit to all of these diverse sounds, not least of which was Kraftwerk. All the founders of Detroit Techno (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derick May, Carl Craig, et al.) site him as a major influence.

My initial search for the Electrifying Mojo came from a quote I read from 'Mad' Mike Banks, ringleader of the Detroit Techno and Afro-Futurist collective Underground Resistance - "I think he ended gang warfare in Detroit with one band. A lot of guys will know what I'm talking about. That summer (1978) the gang warfare was at a height and Mojo would get on the radio and ask for peace, pray for peace, and then drop the B52s, man. "Rock Lobster". Truthfully, you can't be too much of a tough guy while doing the rock lobster."

While the accuracy of this statement is open to debate, the sentiment behind it is remarkable and embodies the way sonic narratives, including the most absurd and wonderful pop music, can activate new social realities.

Images: Ruins of Detroit courtesy of Yves Marchand & Roman Meffre.


Matt Cassity said...

Whoa, great photos.

Anonymous said...

Great Article. I was listening to some old tracks this evening and thought to search on him.

Mojo was a major influence my different music tastes. I have talked about him off and on since I moved away in 86'. It is great (and very rare) to run into the occasion native (outside of Michigan) that's heard of him.

Now I hand out this influence to the dancefloors of North Carolina as Electro, Industrial, FuturePop and the occasional, old skool track..

DJ Stowy