Detroit’s own Bruce Bailey has been captivating audiences for decades with his unique blend of electronic music, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. An iconic figure in the underground scene, Bailey’s passion for people and music has driven him to become a sought-after DJ and producer. In this exclusive interview with BLAC Magazine, he shares his journey, experiences, and achievements, offering a glimpse into the life of one of Detroit’s top electronic DJs.
The Beginning: Finding Inspiration
Bailey’s love for people and music fueled his curiosity about the role of DJs in uniting both. Witnessing the electrifying atmosphere created by DJ Ron Scott at a backyard party in the ’80s, Bailey knew he wanted to be part of that excitement. This realization propelled him into the music industry, where he found his true calling.
Detroit’s Evolving Underground Scene
As a prominent figure in Detroit’s underground scene, Bailey has witnessed its significant transformation over the years. From damp warehouses to million-dollar venues, the city’s rich musical history and unique gritty style have set it apart from other electronic music scenes worldwide. Becoming a Detroit brand, professional DJ, and promoter has given Bailey the opportunity to leave corporate America behind and pursue his passion full time.
Memorable Festival Experiences
Bailey has performed at some of the world’s largest festivals, including Movement and Charivari. His most memorable festival experiences include opening for The Jacksons at the Music Hall Festival and his debut performance at Movement, where he played in front of a supportive crowd of friends and fans.
Accolades and Achievements
Receiving recognition from nationwide publications such as Ebony Magazine and Native Detroiter Magazine has been both fulfilling and inspiring for Bailey. His commitment to local and international performances sets him apart from other DJs in the industry. With strong local fan base support and a keen understanding of what music fits different venues, Bailey has created a formula for his success and longevity in the industry.
Creative Process and Productions
As a producer with music released on Open Bar, Kolour Recordings, and Defected Records, Bailey strives to create timeless tracks that resonate with partygoers for years. His perfectionist nature and a busy performance schedule have resulted in a carefully curated catalog of music. Bailey looks forward to releasing new projects and collaborating with some of the biggest names in the business.
A Special Connection
In the ’90s, Bailey sold mixed tapes of his shows at Club 246. One of his regular customers, Wally Safford, turned out to be purchasing those tapes for music icon Prince. It was a humbling experience for Bailey, who never had the chance to meet the Purple King, but the revelation served as a reminder of the impact an artist can have on others.
We See You Bruce Bailey
Bruce Bailey’s story is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance. As a Detroit DJ and producer, his unwavering dedication to the craft has left a lasting impact on the electronic music scene, both locally and globally.
Q&A with Bruce Bailey:
BLAC: What inspired you to become a DJ and how did you get started in the industry?
Bruce: I’ve always had a love for People and Music – while growing up in Detroit DJs kinda became the glue that united both and that intrigued me. I remember going to a backyard party in the 80s and a DJ named Ron Scott (current owner of Savannah Blue Restaurant) was the DJ for the evening. There was a huge crowd at a corner house of an oversized backyard in Rosedale Park and he playing “one record” for like 20 minutes. He kept starting it over to the crowds glee and continually sent them into a frenzy – that was my Ah Ha moment as I realized that i too wanted to create this type of excitement for my colleagues. The consistency of recouping that feeling on a monthly basis was my motivation thus propelling the start of my musical journey …
BLAC: You have been a prominent figure in Detroit’s underground scene for many years. How have you seen the scene evolve over time, and what do you think sets it apart from other electronic music scenes around the world?
Bruce: The scene has grown – well lets say grown up as we all have aged over the decades of following the music and become professionals in various careers. Going to damp warehouses and venues that were lets say shabbily put together has more so grown into partying at million dollar spaces, hotel lobbies, creative venues and substantial clubs that have are owned and financed by our personal friends. What sets Detroit apart from the other cities in the US and around the world is our musical history. We as a city are heralded globally in the creation of a genre (Techno) and arguably had a hand in the beginning of (House Music) in many eyes. Artists from Detroit have a gritty style that really engulfs fans and a distinct edge in our different performance styles that’s captivating. For me to have become a Detroit Brand, Professional DJ & Promoter simultaneously on virtually a daily basis keeps me youthful – as I left corporate America in the mid 90’s while doing this for a complete living since 1999. The evolution of the music switched when local artists became able to create records via computer and got to forgo the steep studio fees that kept a lot of talent at bay.
BLAC: You have performed at some of the world’s largest festivals, including Movement and Charivari. What has been your most memorable festival experience so far, and why?
Bruce: You know what – playing my first of 3 performances at Movement has to be up there with one of my most memorable Festival performances of my lifetime. Tons of my friends came out to support – the weather was excellent and I certainly didn’t disappoint.
But, playing the Music Hall Festival as the DJ headliner opening up for The Jacksons had to be my fondest memory. Growing up a ginormous Jacksons fan it was truly an honor to not only open but due to circumstances get to perform an extended set (in my Hometown) in front of a capacity crowd was mesmerizing. A performance I’ll never forget!
BLAC: You have been named “One of the Cities Top Electronic DJ’s” by Ebony Magazine and received “The Entertainer of the Year Award” from Native Detroiter Magazine. How do you feel about these accolades, and what do you think sets you apart from other DJs in the industry?
Bruce: It’s always fulfilling to be recognized by your peers – but, when nationwide publications pick up your career story its even more inspiring. What sets me apart of from others in my industry is that I‘m an International Talent that also concentrates on my Hometown performances. Unlike others that have main goals of seeking globally notoriety I decided years back to obtain consistent shows here in Detroit and around the United States. Having played over 5,000 shows I routinely perform in front of hundreds of locals 3–4 times weekly all while traveling to multiple cities for a dozen or so shows annually. Its just something others are able or more so willing to do consistently. Having such strong local fan base that will follow me around Detroit and into the Suburbs is key – all while commingling my Corporate Accounts with individual venue owners creates what you might call my secret to success. My longevity with venues is tied to financial gain, where most artists are overly concerned with consistently pushing all new music I’ve learned how to differentiate what music fits in which venue on certain days – thus creating return customers and higher revenue generated events – yeah, and that’s the key ingredient venues need for survival.
BLAC: You have also worked as a producer and have had music released on Open Bar, Kolour Recordings, and Defected Records. Can you tell us about your creative process when producing music, and what do you hope to achieve with your productions?
Bruce: The majority of DJ produce music to gain notoriety in hopes of getting booked for global performances. For me when it comes to music I wanna create timeless tracks that excite the partygoers for years on end. Something distinctive but catchy that people would love to dance to. I’m more of a perfectionist thats why my catalog isn’t filled with countless offerings. With my uber hectic performance schedule I basically have time to actually get in the studio once weekly and kinda been working on tweaking several incredible projects I’ve started. Definitely looking forward to releasing some of these gems to the public later this summer along with some co productions and remixes from some of the biggest names in the business.
A specialist tidbit most aren’t award of – in the 90’s when i held one of Detroit’s Longest Running House Music Nights @Club 246 I would sell mixed tapes of my previous weeks shows. There was a special customer how would pop in and buy all my latest edition mixes his name was Wally Safford (international drummer). Years later I became privy to the information that Wally would buy my music for one of the worlds most notable Music Icons, Prince – and they would play my my mixes in Prince’s Tour Bus as they traveled across the country performing shows. Yeah, came to know that Prince was actually a huge Bruce Bailey Fan. I never got a chance to meet the Purple King but was totally blown away by this incredible story – I always treat everyone with respect as you never can know how many people / fans you touch as an artist.