Prototype 909 a biography
 or "Why does it take three people to make that stuff?"

In the early 90s Taylor Deupree, Dietrich Schoenemann and Jason Szostek were three friends who had been creating electronic music independently of each since the 80s. Their experiments in sound ranged from post-new wave to industrial dance music and ethereal electronica even releasing a few of these projects independently. By the start of the decade they had  become increasingly influenced by the emerging trends in club and rave music, especially the pioneers of Chicago Acid house, Detroit Techno and Benelux New Beat. Getting caught up with the new energy of the emergent techno trend, they were starting to get more directly involved in the "scene".

By 1992 they had all worked with each other in different combinations, Prototype 909 was simply a name given to one of them by Dietrich and Taylor. But in early 1993 Talyor got a TB-303 and Prototype 909 became a band when Jason was invited to join because the "old man" had some experience with the old pre-midi analog stuff that they thought might be useful. They quickly set out to put together some tracks all made exclusively with gear they had that was manufactured before 1983 (hence, they didn't even use a TR-909).

Acid TechnologyPrototype 909 Acid Technology

The result was Acid Technology released on Sonic/Instinct Records later that year. The album and group at their core were built on the idea that this kind of equipment lent itself well for improvisation thanks to the "live" way the sequences and sounds are controlled. Three friends working together on the same wavelength could operate as if they are six handed techno monster and could make music "playing" "live" in a way that rivaled any other production technique used in making techno.

November 1993 saw their debut live performance. From then until 98 they played at least 50 shows all over America, Canada, Mexico and Germany. In 1995 they released Transistor Rhythm Sonic/Instinct Records, an artistic progression for them as they integrated more digital techniques with their analog performances in the studio.  Even as they became more refined in the studio and had a few successful singles ("Love Sky", "Karma", "Believe" ), people were
increasingly drawn to them as a live act. Compared with some of the great live acts of that era, this three man team were unmatched in utter unpredictable energy and spontaneity. They in fact planned or rehearsed little and only rarely attempted to "recreate" anything they had done in the studio. A Prototype 909 show was guaranteed to be a surprise to everyone, including the band members themselves. This was a strange dynamic when you consider the cold calculation and adherence to rules that techno music increasingly came to represent and continues to suffer from to this day. The people's response to that contrast helped make Prototype 909 live a legend of the 90s. A live album Live '93-'95 and single on Instinct soon followed. But that was the tip of the iceberg as there were many "bootleg" tapes (some actually "official") floating all over the scene at that time.

Prototype 909 Transistor Rhythm

Prototype 909 live
During this time their live act got ever more adventurous. Working for appeal beyond the club and rave scene, they paired up with Stabbing Westward and opened up for Killing Joke on their east coast tour. An open air festival in Detmold Germany, and an electronic music festival in the mouth of a volcano at The University of Mexico with The Legendary Pick Dots were also among the highlights of this era.

By the mid-90s all the band members were becoming increasingly involved in other projects. Living in New York the three had separately and together been involved in the early days of the Rancho Relaxo Allstars, that group's live performances at The Limelight and the first CD on Disko B. Taylor was of course equally famous for his "chill-out" and ambient work as Human Mesh Dance, solo works under various aliases and techno and ambient collaborations with Tetsu Inoue and Savvas Ysatis to name just two. Dietrich was releasing solo techno and ambient works, working with Abe Duque in Facil, with Taylor in Unit Park (and other projects) and also becoming better known as a dancefloor dj. Jason had released solo ambient, techno and electro tracks on various labels as BPMF, and started the electro-revival label Serotonin Records with John Selway releasing tracks as Synapse with John as well.

Prototype 909 Joined at the Head

It would be an over simplification to focus on the time and pressures these projects represented as *the* cause for their eventual breakup, but that was certainly a part of it. Although the ironically entitled last album Joined at the Head (Caipirinha 1997) has some of their finest ever studio work ("The Kids Don't Care", "Noisefloor" ), one can also hear in this recording the balancing of the two main forces in the band's history: the spontaneous energy of the live improvisation vs the calculated precision of their studio creations. This balancing act was becoming more precarious as the members brought in their recently changing perspectives on sound and production to the group, or perhaps it was because the rave scene that had been such a fertile ground in supporting them was coming to its logical conclusion. Prototype 909 wasn't gonna be big enough for the three of them any more. They played some more live shows and called it quits in early 98.

All three of them went on do to great things, but nothing could quite compare to the joy of playing live together. After 8 years apart, making techno, ambient, electro and whatever caught their imaginations; that need to work it out, on the spot, on stage dragged them back together for a show in Detroit in May 06. They are still at it today and will probably continue for a while longer as they still haven't gotten it "just right" and because they keep changing their mind about what "just right" would actually sound like anyway.

links to more info

Taylor Dietrich Jason
hidden agenda

photo noe cuellar
photo Noe Cruellar