Kelli Hand, also known as K-Hand; one of the most important pioneers of Detroit techno has died.
Her passing was confirmed by friends on social media accounts on the evening of August 3rd. ‘The First Lady of Detroit’ was known for house and techno induced frenzies, filled with warped percussion and acid.
She first founded the label UK House Records; in 1990, producing a four-part EP Think About It from her Etat Solide alias. The liner notes for the EP gives special thanks to ‘Underground Resistance’ – after Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, Mike Clarke, Mike Banks, visited her house during its production.
‘UK House Records’ would later become ‘Acacia Records’; named after a street in Detroit; her home city. ‘Acacia Records’ pioneered and released multiple records associated with Detroit’s ‘Second Wave’ both house and techno.
As Techno moved across Europe, K-Hand released on a then young ‘Warp Records’ in 1994 and 1995. A personal favourite is the track ‘Global Warming’- the continued European diaspora of Detroit techno would go on to influence producers and DJs alike. The contrast of house and acid, jacky, a glorious techno jam centred around a menacing baritone voice that repeats, “This is a global warning.”
K- Hand regularly played around the world in her later years – to which I had the pleasure of seeing her in February 2018 in Glasgow at Sub Club. I can still remember her playing Emmanuel Top – Acid Phase; a classic acid track with a distinct 303 bassline. In her later life, K-Hand released on Tresor, !KZ, трип and several other labels. Since 1995 K-Hand had released a total of seven studio albums up until 2020; she was still very much active in a scene that she helped create.
K-Hand’s legacy is over 25 years of contribution to both House and Techno, she arguably was the first woman to contribute to the genre; paving the way for subsequently many other female DJs and producers. Her music is timeless and will continue to be for years to come.