Beats Beyond Barriers: The Tec-troit Story of Resilience and Revolution in Detroit’s Underground Music Scene

Beats Beyond Barriers: The Tec-troit Story of Resilience and Revolution in Detroit’s Underground Music Scene

February 19, 2024 Off By Editor

Mike Moggi Mannix Interview, Editing, Design 


In the heart of Detroit’s electronic music labyrinth, Tec-troit founder DJ Roach unravels the complex journey of thriving within this vibrant scene.


Mike Moggi Mannix, Editor, in an enthralling two-part exposé, delves deep into dialogues with DJ Roach and Moses Malone, providing an exclusive look into the throbbing heart of Detroit’s underground. The first installment zooms in on DJ Roach, dissecting the foundation and spirit of Tec-troit, the city’s seminal underground techno festival, and spotlighting the minds that sculpted its underground legacy. The sequel delves into Moses Malone’s ascension within the scene and his crucial role and partnership in Tec-troit.

DJ Roach emerges as a central figure in Detroit’s dance music community, sharing his extensive journey filled with passion, persistence, and an unwavering commitment to showcasing the genuine, raw underground. His story is a testament to resilience, mapping his progression from a solitary organizer to forming an indispensable alliance with Moses Malone, another festival visionary from Port Huron.

Through this narrative, not only is DJ Roach’s personal saga of triumphs and trials illuminated, but it also casts a wider lens on the dynamic and sometimes tumultuous electronic music landscape of Detroit.



Mike Mannix: Good to finally talk, after REOSC hooked us up man, congratulations, by the way, on getting that Spirit Of Detroit award for your contribution to music in Detroit. That’s pretty cool.

DJ Roach: Thank Mike. I’m very excited about that. It was a surprise to me. I was shocked they asked me, you know.


Mike Mannix: Well, there you go. You put the hours in, man. Pretty cool honor from your own city to recognize you for your contribution to music.

DJ Roach: I thought it was awesome, man. I mean, I still think about it, you know, every once in a while I’m sitting here like, wow, I can’t believe I received this award.


Mike Mannix: The magic of dance music!

DJ Roach: Yeah, that blows me away. This music, is like a sixth sense, you know, the feeling around it, it makes me feel good.

Keeping it underground and working with real people like REOSC when he was in Detroit, thanks to him for this interview” – DJ Roach

REOSC @ DJ Roach

Mike Mannix: Thats it man, and why we work with him in Dublin. So what sparked your interest in music?

DJ Roach: Well, do you know, my dad was a musician. He had his own band Conjunto y Los Magnificos Siete, and they made a record, it was released in the late 70’s. I have a couple copies, it’s on a 45 record. We always had instruments around the house, drums and guitars, my parents owned a club it was cool.

Plus growing up with my siblings Sylvia, Lola, Lee (Junie), Roland and there different tastes in music I was able to listen to all genres of music, So, I had all these inspirations for a strong musical foundation.


DJ Roach at 313FM Detroit

Mike Mannix: That’s a good foundation.

DJ Roach: Yeah, in my teenage years, I listened to radio shows a lot like Electrifying Mojo and the ‘Wizard’ Jeff Mills almost every day.

The Wizard would do mixes throughout the week and I would always have a cassette ready to record his mixes. That’s where we got our inspiration. But when I say we, I mean my brother, DJ Rolando.

Our festival started as a dream in a park and grew into something we never imagined, despite the odds.” – DJ Roach


Mike Mannix: What year was that?

DJ Roach: Yeah, the eighties, you know, 84, 85. So then around 88, 87 is when we got the idea that we wanted to start DJing We officially launched in 1989 after practicing everyday for a year in the basement. Before I had the turntables we used to mix with tapes, on tape decks, we would record the Wizard’s show and record on another tape deck and kind of mix them together, talk about cheesy.

But yeah, we were trying our best with what we had. I remember our first DJ performance I was probably 11 or 12 years old, it was my cousin’s birthday party. It was awesome.

When I first bought my turntables I was into hip hop a lot, you know, like the Fat Boys and Run-D.M.C. That changed quickly to dance music. And being from Southwest Detroit’s mainly Hispanic community that meant lots of Latin freestyle. Which was one of the things I would do in my hood is mix dance music and Latin freestyle acappella at neighborhood house parties, you kids today call them mash-ups I called it mixing acappellas back in the late 80’s.

Mike Mannix: Nice one man.


We had legendary DJs play for us, not for the money, but for the love of music.” – DJ Roach

Mike Mannix:  You needed to push yourself, a little bit of hard work is essential, to earn your place, or it used to be before social media.

DJ Roach: Yeah. I really like pushing people and passing on the knowledge I have and finding those people that are going to keep on it like one of my students you may know is S H A W E S C A P E.

He wanted to learn to spin vinyl. I worked with him and he took the time and effort to get it down, he’s a great DJ, actually I’m spinning with him tonight. Also, our last two students, they played for our festival this year, Tec-Troit. When we asked our students, what do you want to learn on, they both were like “vinyl?” So the six-week course we did with them, all they did was practice on vinyl which was amazing! It’s great to see people succeed and grow.

DJ Roach

Mike Mannix: Nice one. They obviously respected that tougher medium to train themselves on. Tell us about the Tec-Troit logo is wicked.


 I realized I needed a team to bring this vision to life, but finding the right people was a challenge.” – DJ Roach


DJ Roach: I’m telling you, I got the best designer. Edgar Torres, he’s the man, he’s amazing. He’s been my designer since the beginning of Tec-Troit. He’s designed all my logos, even my record label logos. The logo is a microchip symbolizing electronic music, future music.


Mike Mannix: You got great talent around you.

DJ Roach: Everybody that’s a part of this organization feels like they belong and they feel like they’re fighting the good fight with us.

They work real hard and put in the time and dedication. Unfortunately some of these new artists coming up don’t want to put in the work they want the instant fame and instant pay. Some people let their egos get in the way of there success but whatever, you know?


Mike Mannix: It’s like a poker player exposing the cards to you straight away because you know where their heart is!

DJ Roach: Yes man! I’ve had legendary DJs that came out to play for us with no problems because they know what we’re doing. They know what Tec-Troit is about.

We try to keep passing it on and finding good young artists to work with. My partner and I are always searching for talented unknown artists for the festival, it’s a year long process.


Politics in music is real. It’s not about how good you are; it’s about who you know.” – DJ Roach


Mike Mannix: Tell us about Tec-Troit’s inception.

DJ Roach: The idea grew in part from going to DEMF now Movement when it first started here in Detroit, the first 3 or 4 years it was free. So, it was a great thing, then they started charging and the prices kept going up over the coming years making it unaffordable to the hard working folks in the city that can’t afford to pay for the festival.

DJ Roach

Then Harmonie ParkParadise Valley was getting renovated, I was talking with Heather Sutphin manager of Coaches Corner across the street from the park, saying we should throw our own Detroit Electronic Music Festival here and keep it free and all ages. I believe we all should all be able to experience Detroit Techno and if there is a price tag on it I feel like your pushing people away.


Mike Mannix: What year?

DJ Roach: This was in 2010. And she said, “Yeah, we should.” And I was like, “Yeah, I don’t know what to do, you know, how are we going to do this?” You know, kind of joking around. And it actually took off from there!

And the next year 2011 we got a permit to have an event there. It was so cheesy the way our set up was initially, but whatever, we had to start somewhere to push this thing we call Techno!

Mike Mannix: And the best thing is to start like that, man, if you had the balls, and see what happens.


The city threw every obstacle in our way, from permit denials to unexpected financial demands.” – DJ Roach


DJ Roach: Man, it was crazy. We started looking at a lot of the local artists to book, the people that grind it out day to day in Detroit that were overlooked by other festivals. So we ended up doing it and we held it during movement weekend the first year but we didn’t do good at all, we had a few hundred people.

DJ Roach

Mike Mannix: So you called it Tec-Troit?

DJ Roach: Yes, Tec-Troit Electronic Music Festival.


Mike Mannix: And can you tell me about the logistics?

DJ Roach: Well, the first year it wasn’t hard because they didn’t know who we were. We had to fill out a form or something I can’t remember It was basically like we’re having a picnic in the park and you can use our grounds for a picnic or birthday party. That was it, as it grew the city and other entities took notice a few problems would arise every year.


Mike Mannix: Did it start as a one-day event?

DJ Roach: 3 days with around 30 DJs, maybe 35 but then the next year we added another stage and then we added a third stage in the following year. We were pushing 70, 80 DJs for three days including the after parties. We have always had a mixture of legendary and up and coming DJs so we mixed them all together.


In the end, it’s all about bringing people together through music, no matter how tough the journey.” – DJ Roach


And we’ve done that for the last 14 years. I was like, we got to get some of these great legendary underground DJs that are not headlining other big festivals. They should be headlining our festival. I mean,

I would take Detroit’s Drive Train [Soiree RecordsInternational boss] any day over some of these other headliners


Tec-troit Logo


Mike Mannix: I totally agree with you, Derrick is the man.

DJ Roach: Even like Gary Martin TEKNOTIKA, he headlined one of the Saturdays for Revenge Vinyl. I was blown away. It would be nice to see them on those big stages across the world, if you give these DJs the opportunity, they’re going to crush it every time!


if you give these DJs the opportunity, man, they’re going to crush it every time” – DJ Roach 


Mike Mannix: Because people like you and me don’t control the top tier of the fucking system. And we have the same issue here in Dublin. So many good DJs and producers that play in the local venues and bedrooms are better than a lot of the so-called fucking A-listers. So respect that you’re giving those a fucking chance in Detroit is great, man.

DJ Roach: When our crowds started getting bigger, other entities were really paying close attention, They pushed contracts, on local Detroit artists that were playing their festival to not play any outside festival a few weeks before and after there event, I called it the “You can’t play music contract” I asked myself why does anyone want to stop music, it’s like they were trying to monopolize the festival game. I just paid it no mine and kept moving forward.


And then in 2016, they told me I can’t do it anymore. You got to find someone else. You’re getting too big. We had about 10,000 people over 3 days and they were overflowing in the streets.’’ – DJ Roach


Mike Mannix: Right, and that’s gunna get the cops moaning.

DJ Roach: Yeah, yeah! We had our fair share of issues dealing with city officials. That’s how it is sometimes, you just deal with it and move on.


Mike Mannix: Fucksake!

DJ Roach: We were going to do it in Roosevelt Park one year and it was cancelled the day before our event due to a monetary increase the DPD imposed on us. I couldn’t believe it, the day before, wow! And right away the community came together and we were able to secure a venue and host a successful event as scheduled.


Detroit Vibe Art Work Design Mike Moggi Mannix

Mike Mannix: Shit really happens.


DJ Roach faced significant challenges in organizing his events, including sudden permit denials and unexpected financial demands from the city.

DJ Roach had to reconsider his approach to organizing events, recognizing a need for strategic planning against what he perceived as deliberate attempts to hinder his efforts. In 2017, in response to these obstacles and the prohibitive costs imposed by the city.

DJ Roach moved his event to a more underground venue, transforming a private residence with a large yard into a secluded event space, accessible only through a dark alley, embodying the essence of underground culture. This shift to a true underground event was marked by a unique atmosphere.

COVID hit us hard, but it also gave us a moment to pause and rethink our strategy.” – DJ Roach

DJ Roach, facing significant challenges in managing his events, realized the need for a team around 2015 but struggled to find the right people, especially as because of lack of funding.

The turning point came when he partnered with Moses Malone, who was running his own festival in Port Huron and had more business acumen. Their collaboration was momentarily halted due to COVID-19 shutdowns. Despite the setbacks, including a moment in 2018 when DJ Roach considered quitting due to the overwhelming opposition aimed at stopping his music events, the partnership with Malone persisted.



This relationship, formed through their mutual involvement in the music scene, brought together their complementary skills and shared challenges. Their story highlights resilience and the power of collaboration in the face of adversity, underscoring the struggles independent music event organizers face from regulatory and financial hurdles.

Mike Mannix: How did you and Moses meet then?

DJ Roach: He’s going to be mad at me because I’m like, I don’t remember how we actually first met. I want him to read this. We’re going to leave that in there, haha. It was through music, man. I knew that he was doing a festival. So we would talk here and there. It was after he stopped his festival, I think two or three years, then he’s like, “I want to help you guys, okay?” But it wasn’t until after that, or during Covid when I didn’t want to do it anymore. There was a time I gave up, you know, 2018, right before COVID, I was like,


I’m done with this shit. I got everybody fighting us, wanting to stop us and wanting to stop music.” – DJ Roach

That’s what I didn’t understand. Like, how are these people trying to stop music, you know? It was very hard, very hard. It’s very trying on the family and everybody.

DJ Roach

Mike Mannix: But somehow you kept pushing and pushing and was consistent with it?

DJ Roach: Well, I hope so. I just told this to my partner, “I said we’re techno’s last hope, the last festival, nobody’s doing it like we’re doing it, you know?” I’m glad I stuck with it. I could have had some big sponsors that wanted to be a part of our festival. I turned them down because there values and integrity did not align with what I was doing, and they were offering whatever. I’ve said,


it’s not about money, it’s about music. You guys clearly don’t understand.” – DJ Roach


Mike Mannix: Your heart is clearly in the celebration of all the pieces that make Detroit techno so well respected globally?

DJ Roach: Yeah and

let’s mention these cats: Blake Baxter, Eddie Folkes, Derrick “Train,’Thomas Barnett, and so many others. Those guys, yeah, they are a big part of it,

and still, we don’t forget about them, you know? I know I mentioned it earlier but wanted to expand slightly that we used to listen to Jeff Mills and stuff when he did his mixes on the radio, but he has to be one of the true inspirations for my brother and I as kids back in 1984. They were closing the Stratford theatre in my neighborhood Southwest Detroit. They tore out the seats and said, “They’re bringing the Wizard here to DJ for the last hurrah.” It was a free event


we got to see Jeff Mills play six turntables. Me and my brother were just standing in the front row with our jaws to the ground, and we were just like, “That’s what we want to do.” – DJ Roach


DJ Roach: So some things in life take time, work and unbelievable dedication and persistence, right up till today. And just like our conversation, you know, when we were trying to talk awhile back, it wasn’t time. I’ve been telling my partner that we got to be patient, we got some pretty big things coming up. Like I say, it’s in God’s time, man!


Mike Mannix: Fucking inspirational Raul Rocha aka DJ Roach and Moses, what a team. The real example of the term ‘Underground.’

Moses Malone @ DJ Roach

Everybody that’s a part of this organization feels like they’re fighting the good fight with us.” – DJ Roach

DJ Roach and Mike Mannix sat down to unravel the saga of Tec-Troit — thats not just a festival, but a beacon of resilience in the face of the music industry’s capricious tides. This conversation, rich with the aroma of struggle, passion, and undying love for the beat, spins a narrative that’s as compelling as the music that fuels it.

Amid the backdrop of Detroit’s gritty skyline, Roach recounts the trials and tribulations of keeping Tec-Troit’s soul alive amidst bureaucratic snarls and financial quagmires. Yet, what shines through is not just the tale of survival but the celebration of a culture that refuses to be stifled by adversity. The festival, emerging from the underground like a phoenix from the ashes, embodies the raw, unfiltered essence of Detroit techno, a genre that has reverberated across the globe, influencing countless hearts and minds.

As the dialogue delves deeper, the synergy between Roach and Malone emerges as a cornerstone of Tec-Troit’s resurgence. Their partnership, forged in the fires of shared challenges, represents a meeting of minds and spirits, a fusion of visions that propels the festival forward. It’s a testament to the transformative power of collaboration, a reminder that in the realm of music, unity is strength.

The narrative takes a reflective turn, with Roach reminiscing about the pivotal moments that have shaped his journey — from awe-inspiring encounters with legends like Jeff Mills to the existential trials that tested his resolve. Through each anecdote, the essence of Detroit’s techno scene — its grit, its spirit, and its unwavering commitment to authenticity — comes to life, painting a vivid picture of a community that dances to the beat of its own drum.

As the conversation winds down, it leaves us with a sense of hope, a glimpse into the future of Tec-Troit and the enduring legacy of Detroit techno. Roach’s story, is more than just an interview; it’s a manifesto of perseverance, a declaration that despite the odds, the music will play on. This tale of Tec-Troit is not just about beats and basslines; it’s about the soul of a city and the unbreakable bond between those who keep its music alive.