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Alan D. Oldham has been called “Detroit Techno’ Renaissance Man” (Muzik, UK). A lifelong cartoonist and graphic designer, a young Oldham published his own comic book “Johnny Gambit” in 1987 to local notoriety. Hired that same year by his childhood friend Derrick May to illustrate several memorable pieces for the new Transmat label, this led to Oldham’ first involvement in the fledgling techno scene.
Besides his art and writing, 1987 also saw Oldham’ radio debut on Detroit’ WDET-FM with the long-running “Fast Forward” program. Originally meant to be a free-form rock, jazz and fusion show, Oldham’ passion for both local and international electronic music gradually took center stage until it finally bcame the only radio program in Detroit to feature techno and house music exclusively. The early cassette, reel-to-reel and four-track material of such(now) well-known international artists as Underground Resistance, Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin, Octave One, Anthony Shakir and Richie Hawtin made its on-air debut here, as well as being thr first and only show to break international acts like Moby, Joey Beltram, 808 State, LFO, Front 242, Nitzer Ebb and others in Detroit.
In 1988, Oldham graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in Radio-TV-Film.
In 1990, having finally produced his own EP at a friend’ studio, Oldham sold the project to a small Dutch label whose fax number he found in the bins at Record Time. His pseudonym for the four-track project was Signal to Noise Ratio on the small Dutch label, Djax Records. After the release of the EP, label boss Saskia “Miss Djax” Slegers hired Oldham to create the graphic identity of Djax-Up-Beats. Ten years on, Djax dominates the Dutch techno scene and Oldham’ trademark visual style still defines the label.
In 1992, Jeff Mills left Underground Resistance to become a solo act. “Mad” Mike Banks, needing an immediate replacement DJ for a month-long Australian live tour, tapped Oldham for the job. Without rehearsals, Oldham took the leap of faith that changed his life. Jumpstart into infamy. Leaving his increasingly-thankless WDET airshift behind forever and adopting the onstage persona of DJ T 1000 (taken from the shape-shifting liquid metal cyborg in “T2”), Oldham began rocking decks for UR and never looked back, setting the stage for subsequent UR “assault DJ’” Rolando and James Pennington.
Upon returning from UR’ triumphant Australian tour, Banks again tapped Oldham’ many talents, this time asking him to create a label to be distributed by a new company that Banks was organizing, a distributorship that would with in a few years come to dominate the Detroit landscape: Submerge. Oldham agreed and his second and most successful attempt at a label, (the first was the disastrous Technika Records in 1989) would be called Generator.