beat bike

A Q+ A with Niki Williams, who along with Chirs Holley and Drequan Benson, designed and built our very popular Beat Bike.

Where do your interests in electronic music come from?

I love all sorts of music and have always listened to lots, usually very loud, while in the studio, my first interest in electronic music in particular comes from WDET’s (101.9FM) The Progressive Underground with Chris Campbell, those two hours are the best. From a making perspective, electronic music the easiest for me to make since you basically only need to push buttons and twist knobs and set patterns. Making computer music is actually quite visual, lining up midi squares, making patterns, etc, it’s just like drawing and painting! The Detroit metro area holds a significant place in techno history, labels like Transmat and Underground Resistance of course pumped out the most primo dance stuff. Detroit’s influence on music in general is so huge, obviously, so the beats are ingrained in anyone coming from around here.

What have you been listening to?

I listen to a lot of stuff, I really value radio as a medium and in washtenaw county where I currently live we are so fortunate to have the most baller freeform radio station, WCBN-FM (88.3FM). Outside of that I have been really enjoying more ambient stuff, especially Bohren and Der Club of Gore.

What were your favorite parts of working in Brightmoor?

Working at DCH is a blast because of the students and folks there and the relaxed approach to making they foster. Chris and Drequan, two students who are trike experts and very cool guys were crucial in making the beat bike and taking me through the process of cleaning, stripping and re-building the trike we used for the project. The bike culture in general was so great, it brought me back to my highschool days and fixing up and personalizing bikes. Bart and Mike and their style of mentorship is superb and I learned a great deal from observing their interactions with everyone.

 What was the biggest surprise for you in the process of this project?

It is always a delightful surprise to hand someone a microphone with a strange voice modification on it and see where they take their vocal stylings. There were a lot of really funny, profound, exceptional things shouted, crooned and mumbled into the beat bike once it was powered up. I wish I recorded some of it because my memory is really bad.

Your hopes for the future of the Beat Bike ? For music on wheels?

Music on wheels is the past, present, future! The utopian environmentalist in me would like see the whole Detroit metro area become less about cars, more about bikes and more compact spatially. History really spread out and separated this region in a myriad of ways. Art and music are powerful magic. I hope the beat bike allows everyone to have fun, come together, goof off and build some memories together! It is super flexible and has a lot of sonic uses so I encourage it to be used for all of them.