Hess & Harrison

May 31, 2024

Written by Callum.

Detroit duo Hess & Harrison talk to us about the culture of Detroit, collective performance, and the creative process.

A few months ago, debates raged around the German capital of Berlin after its nightlife scene received UNESCO World Heritage status for its contributions to the Techno scene. The decision left many in the techno community confused as to why it was chosen over the genre’s birthplace. Despite the arguments around cultural ties each city has with the genre, the fact remains that Berlin and Detroit are two sides of the same coin. Their creative communities, however, are driven by different factors. 

Passion for the genre, strong government support for its nightlife sector, and visa free restrictions for EU citizens have made Berlin a holy place for the Europe’s Techno community. The situation in Detroit however is different. For almost every perk Berlin’s scene has, the opposite can be said for its cultural cousin. Because of this, it may be the case that Detroits creatives are being motivated by something else.

Detroit’s resume for making quality music is quite frankly, second to none. From Motown to the Belleville Three, there aren’t many places that have had such an affect on the music world as Detroit. Maybe the desire to do the city’s history justice is the strongest motivator for this new generation of artists? If thats the case, it would be an incredibly large task considering the significance of its contributions. Maybe thats why the city continually pushes out those ‘serious’ artist types. Jack White, Eminem, Jeff Mills, Stevie Wonder. The list of artists who became famous for their insane approach to technique and skill are almost a trademark of Detroit artists.

In the current Techno landscape, Hess and Harrison are a pure embodiment of this culture. Like those pioneering artists before them, they too rely on a small impassioned community for inspiration as they compete to keep the heartbeat of techno pulsing through the city’s veins. This community, they proclaim, stays off social media and away from the mainstream electronic music culture. Instead, they opt to resist underground with their machines, twisting, turning, and resampling their way into the cultural fabric of Detroit’s Techno history.

Ironically, despite how fiercely the public like to argue about things on social media, the Detroit/Berlin connection is still alive and well, and just as strong as ever. This is evidenced by the duos recent outings at Berlin clubs over the last few years including Berghain and Tresor. Their upcoming release on Brooklyn-based label Blackcat Records symbolises what the pair are all about – serious and intelligent Techno. The 4-track EP continues their usual dub-inspired approach that has seen them gain the respect of the very best in the industry. With striking sound design and ping-ponging delayed chords, the EP showcases what is possible with space, rhythm, and groove as they masterfully reimagine classic Techno elements and make them their own.

How is the scene in Detroit motivating you currently?

Most of our friends and fellow musicians in Detroit keep their heads down, work hard in the studio, and stay off social media.  We collaborate, support each other, and share ideas.  It’s a truly special music community that motivates us to stay creative and keep releasing music.

What influence does the city’s culture have on your sound?

There is a rich history of musical endeavour in Detroit, from Jazz to Motown, Hip-Hop, and Techno. There is no shortage of inspiration and so many heavyweights in so many genres.  It pushes us to perfect our craft and release quality music that will hopefully stand the test of time.

What was the inspiration behind your current project?

We were in contact with Jack Russell (WhiteWolf / BlackCat Records label boss) for almost a year before we started the EP. Jack was sending photos and videos of the studio he was building in NYC. It got us excited to get out of our regular spaces and work with some of the fantastic gear he was setting up to create a new EP. There was a great shared passion for the Techno and Dub-Techno genre, and we were enthusiastic about the prospect of going to a professional studio designed for creating and exploring House and Techno. In the end, what sealed the deal for us was the idea of making a record in a traditional fashion where all the involved parties are in the same place participating in the process, letting all the characters of the wonderful analogue gear and in-person process shine through in the music. 

What is your creative process like in the studio? How do you two like to work together?

Our preference trends toward being together in the same creative space. That is one of the things that attracted us so much to working with WhiteWolf/BlackCat Records. We were able to come together in a professional studio over multiple days and have the majority of the technical logistics handled. This freed us up to be one hundred per cent focused on the creative aspects of making the record. Our approach when we work together is likely closer in spirit to Jazz improvisation or Dub Reggae production than present-day pop or dance music production. Once a general framework and groove have been established, the important task of animating those musical elements starts. Both of us are trying to design meaningful ways to interact in real-time and in response to one another in the studio.

WhiteWolf/BlackCat Records · BC002 – Hess & Harrison – Rogue Signal – Release date: 20th April 2024

You recorded each track of this project live. What is the attraction of working this way?

Increasingly for us, our interest is in the performance. Specifically, the instantaneous negotiation of shared momentum that is created by collective performance. It is a concept foundational to the history of Techno, especially Dub-Techno. When we commit to recording the composition in one take, there is a level of risk and chance that enters the process. We have to accept that it can’t be perfect and demands focus in addition to a physical and emotional intent. We must align ourselves towards a similar vision but be willing to allow space for one another to express whatever energy we individually bring to the collaboration. It also allows us to get out of our respective heads and steal from one another creatively.

What’s currently inspiring you outside of music?


For me, it’s my faith, spending time with family & friends, staying in the gym, & getting deep into nature.

I could go deep & heady & get into some of the books I’m currently reading, but I think the simple things that are the most necessary for a healthy life end up being the most profound forms of inspiration.


The process of finding balance mentally, physically, and spiritually. The struggle is real, happiness is an ephemeral “present tense” that I put in work to maintain. The inspirational part of that struggle is the novelty aspect, the challenge of newness, and the mutability of experiences.

What’s next for Hess & Harrison?

We have some solo releases we plan to focus on first. Once these projects are complete, we plan to get back in the studio for a Hess & Harrison release on DeepLabs & another release for our friends at Visionquest, for starters…

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Pre-order Rouge Signal here