You are about to hear the first podcast of a series called the Detroit Electronic Quarterly (DEQ) Mixpod. Founder and Publisher of DEQ Magazine, Vincent Patricola, is your host. This episode is a very personal vinyl record discussion with the legendary musician, vocalist, producer, Detroit’s son and community leader Amp Fiddler.

The interview took place in November of 2021 and we heavily mourn his passing. It also includes cameo commentary from DJ Dez Andres, DJ Minx, Diviniti, Gabe Gonzalez aka Gonzilla, Joe Mason and Alia Benabdellah.  Amp’s ties are infinite and you’ll hear stories about Dez Andres, Sundiata OM, Eddie Fowlkes, J Dilla, Neco Redd, Kenny Dixon Jr. aka Moodymann, Slum Village, Wajeed, Q Tip, Dames Brown and many more.

Rest in Power Amp Fiddler by Alia Benabdellah

On Saturday, February 3rd, 2024, Detroit came together to celebrate Joseph Amp Fiddler. First, at the Fellowship Chapel for a memorial service on W. Outer Drive, then with a repass in the form of a musical gathering at the Detroit Circle Center. I often feel fortunate and deeply grateful for the love I received in Detroit over the years – for all the unique human beings I met in this beloved city from many diJerent life paths, sharing common values of generosity, creativity, and laughs no matter what. This Saturday was the occasion to reminisce on the love and magic that unified Detroit through the celebration of one of its most amazing souls. One last Waltz for a Ghetto Fly. And to quote Sly Stone, time needed another minute.

I met Amp through DJ and producer Alton Miller, then at various clubs and music events in the city, where he was playing or coming to enjoy the music. I saw similarities between Amp and Alton, including their kindness, hospitableness, and open-mindedness to diJerent cultures, people, and music. Like DJ Dez Andres, one of Amp’s closest friends and collaborators, another virtuoso producer from the D, said during the memorial, Amp Fiddler had a kindness with strangers that were unique, clashing with another Detroit attitude that is more like “if I don’t know you, you not welcome.” I met that attitude, too, but most of the time, it feels more like self-protection than anything else. Amp did not need self-protection; he was selfless. This word, selfless, came back several times during the memorial to describe him. Numerous artists, family, friends, and oJicials went to the desk to express their love for Amp, their history with him, musical and human, their deep admiration for his kindness, their profound esteem for his creative mind, their deep respect for his humbleness and their love for his unique personality.

The ceremony was beautiful. It was a celebration of Amp in all of his facets, blended with diJerent forms of arts, and conducted by Detroit figure Chris Campbell. From music to poetry and painting, artists were creating throughout the ceremony. This celebration was an artistic journey, and musician DeSean Jones and his Urban Art Orchestra musically guided us. Many moments when friends and family came to talk at the desk were artistic, blending homage and poetry, words, and music. Several poets came to express their love for Amp with a lyricism that uplifted the audience. Poet Jessica Care Moore let her flow run free to pay homage to an artist, but mainly to a friend who helped her bring a piano across her house for her son while already sick – one of the many beautiful stories about Amp heard this day. The ceremony was grave, too; closest friends and doctors gave their memories of the disease and the devastating eJect it had. Yet, everyone talked about how Amp transcended the pain to continue caring for others, like artist Drake Phifer explaining that Amp was worrying about his blood pressure one day he came to visit him while being in insuJerable pain himself. This strength inspired many, and it was powerful to hear so many people reminiscing about it.

For someone like me, who comes from diJerent cultures but at the same time from a background that shares similar values, a moment like that strikes for his spiritual importance. Seeing a city come together for one of its own is beautiful and unique to Detroit. This is reinforced by how unique Amp was, too. It is a day where you contemplate, reminisce, you are grateful for music and people in your life, you think about life on a much higher level, and you feel incredibly fortunate to have been in such a unique being. It is powerful for a community to unite through love and music to celebrate a human’s life. This day will stay in the memory of many, like the most beautiful spiritual celebration given to Joseph Amp Fiddler.

I will remember from the memorial the immense gratitude emanating from so many for Amp’s music, his tremendous knowledge of everything production, and his generosity in sharing it all. J Dilla’s mom saying that J Dilla would not have done music like he did without Amp. T3 from Slum Village saying the group would not have existed without Amp. DJ Dez talking about how Amp’s teachings forever influence his production. And so many others expressing the same genuine gratitude. During the ceremony, many people insisted that Amp was not only a music genius, but he was humble about it. All talked about his devotion to others, how he would give a hand anytime he could, his accessibility, and his generosity. Amp’s talent was only equaled by his kindness. Balancing both is a master skill that few have, especially at this level of popularity. Amp always did it with grace and elegance.

More than a few paragraphs are needed to describe Amp’s influence on Detroit and the world. DJ Dez encouraged people to check the vast discography of Amp Fiddler and listen to the music of diJerent artists and groups he worked with. You will be in awe to see his art’s diversity while tracing his soulful funk signature. A thought that struck me in December 2023 when DJ Dez curated a fundraising event at Spot Lite, gathering many musicians who played with Amp. Just that night, the amount of rich and diverse sounds, musicians, and singers who performed indicated Amp’s broad palette of influences.

On my tiny level, I am grateful to have heard Amp Fiddler play on so many diJerent occasions in Detroit. I will particularly remember Ian Finkelstein’s residency “Duality/Detroit” in May 2022. The vibe that night had something magical. The perfect combination of sounds, people, and elements. A warm, clear night – one of the first of the season, announcing the upcoming festival weekend with a powerful energy. People were out, winter was finally behind us, and everybody was happy to gather around a unique quartet of musicians: Amp Fiddler, Dez Andres, Amir Edwards, and Ian Finkelstein. We witnessed some musical enchantment that night, in awe of the cosmic soulful sound played, including a cover of “If You Want Me To Stay” from Sly And The Family Stone, with Amp singing, that I still vividly remember. Sly’s and Amp’s music share many similarities to me. Sly, one of the best musicians to ever grace this earth, contributed to the development of funk by enriching the sound with diverse elements and a unique, warm, striking voice. He produced some of the best albums of all time and greatly influenced countless artists. Many things Amp did, too, with the same unique voice, in another space and time that allowed him to blend his sound with other elements rooted in electronic music and Detroit. Amp was undoubtedly the Ultimate Electronic Amplifier of Funk Music.

With grace and courage, Tombi Stewart, the love of Amp’s life, expressed a genuine and powerful love that allowed the highest energy to spread. Tombi has such a class and an infinite kindness; she has “le port d’une reine,” as we say in French – the bearing of a Queen. A Queen who was there every minute for his King, no matter how hard the disease and its consequences. In those moments, you put your life on pause to take care of someone else’s life like it is your own. You need a selfless soul to do this, which Tombi shares with Amp. We are thinking of her in this long and challenging path that is grief, especially when grief is entrenched with grave and painful memories of disease. We often say that you need to grieve the disease before being able to grieve death itself. And this path takes time.

The memorial was followed by a repass, where people gathered at Detroit Circle Center to eat and to listen to Will Sessions, playing alongside Detroit musicians Dez Andres, Marcus Elliot, Jon Dixon, and Allen Dennard. In France, sharing good food is a beloved tradition, sitting at the same table with the people you love and sharing time, laughs, and thoughts. Eating together favors a unique cohesion, decreases stress, and increases the feeling of belonging. A feeling that was very much present at that moment. People were sharing food, lots of love, and delicious cakes. And like any gathering in Detroit, music is a big part of it. On this day, when we were reunited for something grave, yet for a celebration of life, musicians played music that nurtured the soul with such a powerful, enveloping feeling. It’s incredible how a few music notes manage to speak directly to your soul. The power of music was undoubtedly present in the room, allowing you to express things you couldn’t sometimes put in words. Musicians and organizers allowed us to commune especially. Friends and musicians blended on the dancefloor for an essential moment of love and spirituality in dancing.

Like DJ Dez rightfully noted, Amp could have lived at any period of history and gone with the flow. His unique way of perceiving, feeling, hearing, and producing music, combined with his huge generosity, made him an exceptional artist. He allowed many artists to benefit from his knowledge and bring this teaching with them for the rest of their lives. Joseph Amp Fiddler is undoubtedly missed, but he lives forever in so many people’s minds, souls, and music on this planet and beyond. And he’ll always be walking 7 Mile like a King. DJ Dez said during the memorial that the City of Detroit should recognize Amp and that a monument should be built celebrating him. It will only be fair, considering his massive influence on the defense. Hopefully, this will happen soon.

Alia Benabdellah