Talent in Detroit: Aaren Alseri

Aaren Alseri

Aaren Alseri is extremely talented. Professionally known by his stage name, Ronin Selecta, Alseri lived overseas for a while and moved to the Detroit area thirteen years ago. At the age of six, Alseri began playing piano. He studied at the University of Michigan and majored in music for a short time. In 1995, Alseri became interested in electronic music. He was bitten by the techno bug and it stuck with him.

Ronin Selecta came about as his handle nearly twelve years ago, and it happened by accident. The first mix tape he did in 1997 had artwork designed by an artist who was inspired to use an image from a Frank Miller comic book (preceding 300) from the early 80s called Ronin, and the name ended up on the cover of Alseri’s mix tape. People in Ann Arbor assumed that was his DJ name. He was asked to play at an event called Solar and Ronin was the name put on the marquee, so it stuck. Alseri admits that he couldn’t come up with anything better, so he kept it. “Selecta” comes from Jamaican dance hall culture, and there was a time when Alseri decided that he wanted to do something different, so he put it up during that event. No one knew what it meant at the time and they thought it was his last name, but it’s just another word for DJ.

Alseri enjoys listening to drum and bass primarily, so he is drawn to deep house music and broken beat. He’s particular about techno music and he enjoys listening to live jazz every chance he gets, even a solo piano to take a break. He believes inspiration comes from listening to other forms of music. “Everyone says they listen to everything, but that’s not true,” he says. “You can’t listen to everything. There’s so much [music] out there that most listeners have yet to uncover. We live in a digital age where you can go online and find and discover so many different artists and different genres that you probably have never heard of; even then there’s so much out there. I find myself constantly looking for more stuff just for a change of pace, even; a different mood, or time signature. I search for new stuff all the time.”

Konkrete Jungle Detroit is an important project for Alseri. Konkrete Jungle originated in New York as the longest-running drum and bass event. Now there are chapters nationwide and in other countries, including one here in Detroit that Alseri started as a platform to showcase what he felt were sounds of drum and bass that are particular to the vibes of the city of Detroit. Producers have drawn a lot of inspiration from the city for more than a decade. Alseri wanted the Detroit chapter “to be specific as far as style and approach; like other music from the city; like funk and house music.” Drum and bass music from Detroit “has its own identity and stands out.” According to Alseri, “the kind of drum and bass jungle we play here is completely different from the rest of the country or even like on a global scale. You can tell what people from Detroit play as opposed to [anywhere else]. If you listen to a DJ from Detroit and someone from a different city, you can tell the difference. The overall vibe is different. It’s deep. It’s dark. It’s very dance floor oriented but it’s just got this bit of soul; it’s not really cheesy like some of the music you hear from other cities. It falls in line with all the other styles that come from Detroit producers. It has its spot. Konkrete Jungle was long overdue.”

Alseri is also an A&R Representative for the record label Scripture and is very excited to have that opportunity. He is also featured on Bassdrive.com, an Internet radio station that highlights drum and bass artists so that the right audience gets to hear them. Both ventures allow Alseri to try out material and help other artists in the process. Konkrete Jungle Detroit holds events every other month. You can find Aaren Alseri, aka Ronin Selecta, on Facebook and find out about Konkrete Jungle Detroit on his page.

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