Although nearly 20 years have passed since the passing of Drexciya co-founder James Stinson marked the end of the Detroit electro and techno project, many continue to interpret its mythology. The late artist’s widow, Andrea Clementson-Stinson, has written an open letter speaking out against those whom she argues “use it for their own agenda.”
According to a footnote in the Drexciya Research Lab post where the letter was published, Clementson-Stinson wrote it partly in response to a February Ars Technica article on the duo’s legacy. Among other things, the latter piece cites the fictional stories depicted in the liner notes of releases like 1997’s The Quest as afrofuturist literature a la Sun Ra – and accuses Dutch label Clone of “erasure of art” for failing to include them in reissues.
“The concepts and ideas of Drexciya as you know came from a basement in Detroit, Michigan in the early ’90s,” writes Clementson-Stinson in her letter. “Some have attempted to take Drexciya’s original concept and tried to make it their own or use it for their own agenda. However we can no longer remain silent as we like you to know that no one person is capable of relaying or expanding on the myth/story of Drexciya other than its creators.”
She continues: “Drexciya’s music was never supposed to be associated with race or a race war. Techno and electronic music bring all types of people from all worlds together.”
Importantly, Clementson-Stinson lists labels that she argues have represented the duo’s body of work with care – among them Clone. “To the record labels, [Underground Resistance], Clone, [Tresor Records] and Warp who have been supportive of Drexciya and both of their agents in life and in death, we want to thank you for assisting in keeping the music and legacy alive,” her letter closes out.
The mythology in question depicts an amphibious race called Drexciyans descended from the babies of pregnant African women thrown off of slave ships en route to the Americas. Although the duo said very little about these themes when they were active, James Stinson had separately spoken out against the perceived whitewashing of Detroit techno.
“As far as I’m concerned, Richie Hawtin, Moby and all the rest of ’em can do what they want, but don’t step into my house if you don’t respect it,” he said in a rare 1995 interview with Melody Maker. “Don’t even call what you do “techno!”
Surviving Drexciya member Gerald Donald has not publicly commented on the Ars Technica article or Andrea Clementson-Stinson’s open letter at the time of writing.