Carl Craig Fires Back At Festival Organizers Who Fired Him

Techno legend suing for breach of contract after being asked to step down as creative director.

Techno legend Carl Craig says that claims by Detroit Electronic Music Festival organizers that he missed deadlines are false, and he says he's suing them for breach of contract and defamation of character after being asked to step down as the event's creative director on Thursday.

Last week, Pop Culture Media, which produces the festival, told Craig that his contract was being terminated because he failed to deliver contracts to the city's Recreation Department in time to process deposits paid to artists to guarantee their appearances, according to the Detroit Free Press.

In a statement issued Monday (May 14), Craig said that such claims were false and accused the president of Pop Culture Media of failing to provide him with artist agreements until early April, which didn't give him enough time to finalize contracts. Craig was instrumental in organizing the first festival in 2000 and will stay in his position through the completion of this year's event.

The city and Pop Culture Media jointly present the free festival, which last year drew about 1.1 million people from around the world. This year, Ford Motor Company — which uses Detroit techno star Juan Atkins' "No UFOs" in commercials for its Focus model — signed on as a co-sponsor.

Pop Culture Media president Carol Marvin told the Free Press that as of Thursday only 55 of the 73 contracts had been submitted. Without those contracts, the city can't pay the artists' deposits, meaning they're not legally obligated to perform.

Marvin said she had paid one artist with her own money and said festival organizers hope to get deposits to the remaining artists this week.

Craig said his contract does not include any deadlines for finalizing contracts, and he pointed out that his position as a respected member of the Detroit techno community allowed the festival to attract artists on the cutting edge of electronic music. Craig added that he and his assistant worked around the clock to get contracts and performance agreements signed.

Neither Craig nor Marvin could be reached for comment. "I have chosen to be low-key about the pressures that I have endured over the last three months," Craig said in his statement. "A positive image and strong artist lineup for the DEMF have always been my main concerns."

Artists scheduled for the May 26-28 event at Hart Plaza include Derrick May, Atkins, LTJ Bukem, Tortoise and De la Soul.