After the sound went worldwide, the phrase "Detroit techno" embodied a sonic aesthetic more than a place of origin. One of the early adopters and innovators of the sound, Orlando Voorn, first caught wind of the music in his native Amsterdam two decades ago. Since then, Voorn has quietly lived and worked in Seattle, bridging the gap between his adopted city, the birthplace of techno, and his own Dutch origins.

Voorn started his career as a hiphop/electro DJ, famously storming the stage after a second-place finish at the 1986 World DMC Championships. After that, he moved into electronic music production.

"I got into [techno] 'cause I did hiphop and got tired of nobody rappers that think money falls from trees," Voorn says via online chat (the reclusive producer demanded our conversation remain virtual). "So I figured out how to make a product by myself, no others needed."

Without the burden of collaboration, Voorn's output quickly won him attention stateside. The Detroit connection was initiated after only a few years, with Voorn eventually working with each member of the heralded Belleville Three, the inventors of techno.

"[Detroit producer] Blake Baxter came to Holland," he says of his initial introduction to the masters. At the time, one of Baxter's favorite tracks was "Solid Session," a Voorn production under the moniker Format #1. "I got to see him DJing that night, had a friendly talk, and two weeks later I went off to Detroit," Voorn says. "I brought tracks with me." Included in that batch of tracks was "Flash" (under the guise Fix), which was released on Kevin Saunderson's KMS Records. He also released an EP for Derrick May on Fragile, and collaborated with Juan Atkins as Infiniti, who he connected with through his releases on Lower East Side Records.

Sporting dozens of production aliases, Voorn's discography is a lengthy read, with the classic "Flash" standing out as part of the Detroit techno canon and the entire body of work revealing an appreciation for melody and stylistic variety. Decades of the production grind can wear down even the most creative producer, and Voorn is no exception, leaving Amsterdam in 2003 after becoming disillusioned with the scene. His destination: Detroit, where he lived before moving to Seattle in 2005.

"Detroit was cool for a year, but then I realized that it would be a hard pill to swallow to stay there," Voorn says. "It's a rough place. I lived there and experienced why this grimy sound got born. You can copy the beat, but you can't copy the realness of somebody living in a grimy-ass city like Detroit."

Since moving to Seattle, Voorn has focused his attention on production and A&R for his labels, Triangle and Nightvision. Four releases are being prepped for this month, evidence Voorn is looking to get quality music out to the masses, even if the music isn't his own.

"Right now I like to focus on just good music," he says. "I really don't care what your name is—if I feel it, you're in. A lot of artists or labels don't work that way. They'll jump on things because they [want] to get rich. I like my artists—all of 'em—and it motivates me to keep pushing the envelope." recommended

Orlando Voorn plays Sun Jan 20 at Oi Vay at the Baltic Room, 9 pm–2 am, free, 21+.