HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Jeff Mills Interview

The man behind over 15 years in production of the highest quality Techno and a substantial amount of those years spent gracing the decks as a professional turntabalist wowing the crowds with his immense speed and ability, Jeff Mills has become a household name and is widely recognized as one of the greatest DJs of our time. The head honcho of the genre defining label, Axis records and its various sub-labels including Purpose Maker, Tomorrow and most recently 6277 (Mars), Jeff Mills has set the standard for others to only dream of achieving. With his latest album release, Contact Special, he has created a lot more than just a record but also an Ethos and a philosophy about life, where it starts and who else may be touching us from unknown worlds. While taking up a month long residency at Womb, during October, to celebrate the album launch in Japan he managed to find a small whole in his schedule to meet and talk with HigherFrequency about what has spurred him on this far, his new album and what is on the horizon.

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> Interview : Richard Isaacs


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Hi, First of all thank you for your time today.

Jeff Mills : Thanks.

HRFQ : You are here for another resident party at WOMB. Can you tell us the concept of the event this time ?

Jeff : Well it's called contact special. It is about coming into contact with something that is special, something different, and something alien and I suppose something they are not quite used to. The entire concept is basically about people coming into contact with something unknown. And as a result we all have to experience this whole thing from basically the same perspective and as a result we somehow become closer, the distance between us becomes closer. We are looking at something that none of us are quite aware of or quite expect, so that is basically what it is all about. Contact special and the residency it all comes to that, bringing people together.

HRFQ : You are featuring some guest artists to your show this time - Co-fusion, Scion, Sub Space and Elektrabel. Can you tell us why you chose them ?

Jeff : Well because all four of these producers produce music in a very pure and, I don't want to say simple, but the music they produce is very clear and produced with lots of emotion and not produced with the sense that they are trying to, well this is my take on their kind of music, but not produce in a way that it is evident that they are trying to produce something to make people like them or to make people love them or to chart or make a number one club hit. They are producing music from how they feel and their emotions, so I wanted to break away from what we did in previous years and focus more on that type of music content that had more substance, that is not so predictable, that the music has lots of character because the artist is wishing to say something. So that is how I chose these artists.

HRFQ : So it is all about substance and content rather than just beats.

Jeff : Correct and creating a party atmosphere. I mean we have enough of those type of parties and we have enough of those types of DJs that create those types of parties but not enough events and parties where it is really focused on people that really are trying to make people feel the same way they feel or you can really tell that they are composing in a way that they are really trying to extract their deepest feelings and relay them through the music that they are making and that is what we did here.

Jeff Mills Interview

HRFQ : History has shown us that mutual differences can unite races and nations that had previously been fighting. Unfortunately though, humans are still killing each other because of their differences. To us, Contact Special seems to be your harsh message about these circumstances... would we be right to think that ?

Jeff : It is, it is! It is very much based on how I see the world, what I see is happening. That the distance between people is going to be more and more because of our different technology, because of the way that countries are being ran and somehow it has divided the people between those have and have not's and it's just, I though that this would be an opportunity to approach the subject from a perspective that all of us must have some interest in life other than our own in this universe and having to address that question puts us all together as a human race, one human race, not different cultures. So it's one way of contributing to the discussion of that and I hope very much that it brings out the subject for discussions and if that happens then we have succeeded in bringing it into question.

HRFQ : So it has been done to create discussion ?

Jeff : It has. I mean I think that we win, or I win, if you simple understand what the project is about, that my job is done. I think all the things, you know, the residency, producing the album and the tours and everything, I think that I have won the prize if I can just get people to remember what the concept is about. It's about people coming into contact with something alien or unusual and if I can get people to do that then I have succeeded and that's about it.

HRFQ : The aliens you encounter in the story don't abduct you, nor attack any other humans, they just stay there and probably examine you. Unless we become united after knowing their existence, are they going to attack us in the next chapter ?

Jeff : I'm not sure of that, it really depends on the imagination of the individuals. I mean when you say aliens I'm thinking about the way some Americans think about people trying to get into the country so they can work. We think, as a country, as Americans, we think of those people as aliens. It's is basically the same as someone coming here from another planet and we look at those people in basically the same way, in the same perspective. You know, whether we play the same roles in the next chapter as we do in this chapter really depends on whether we learn from this chapter.

HRFQ : So it is undecided ?

Jeff : Yes it is. So it really depends on how much we are affected by what happens tomorrow and in the next coming months and when they read this and see this interview.

Jeff Mills Interview

HRFQ : Humans are hesitant to accept differences, especially when the issue comes to areas like race, religion and politics. But on the other hand, we can sometimes be quite tolerant of differences on a few areas, like music. Do you think music can still unite people ?

Jeff : In theory, yes sometimes. Well let me give you an example of a situation where it is very subjective I suppose. Take hip-hop for instance. On the surface you would think that yeah, I mean the culture is here in Japan and you see lots of people really into the hip-hop culture from America and other countries but if you look deeper into hip-hop and what it does, in a much deeper sense, it really, right now, at the moment, it degrades people. So yeah, on one hand it exports a certain type of culture to other countries that would not normally of had it before, hip-hop music, but when you look at it deep down, what really are they saying? What's the message about? So there' a pro and con to that particular situation. So I suppose the answer is yes and no.

HRFQ : Your "Exhibitionist DVD" certainly opened up the new era of music culture, and it was highly acclaimed as a phenomenal project that integrated audio and visual in perfect harmony. However, we have not seen significant evolution of this area, especially in the records shops, but there are lots of interesting audio-visual projects going on in the clubs and across the Internet. What is your take on that and what do you think are the biggest issues with audio-visual products ?

Jeff : I think that unfortunately that, well some people would say, it was probably a very risky thing for me to do. It really exposed a lot about how I felt and the technique of how I did it. It showed the mistakes, it showed the time in between, it showed everything and I think that a lot of DJs are not really willing to reveal themselves that much. So maybe with the possibility of those things happening, maybe we won't see so that much of it. Which is actually sad, I think, because it is a great way for people to learn about the different techniques. And I'm not too sure what that says about the majority of the DJs but that was all of our intent, to show everything, to show the way that we could visually explain what the DJ felt and the mindset and the timings. Audio visual products that can produce the two formats at the same time, I think that it is very much still in the infancy stage. I think that give or take a few more years for people to see things the same way they listen to music or to listen to sound. Maybe the technology on the internet hasn't allowed us to see and hear things so freely, there are still some difficulties there but in time we should be conditioned to accept them in the same capacity.

HRFQ : Last year, at your "Time Sensitive" project, you largely featured Pioneer's DVDJ-X1. Are you going to use this gear again this year ?

Jeff : Yes. In a different capacity though. Last year I was using them in a much more physical way where I was actually mixing parts of movies and mixing images together. This time I am using it to display things in a much more documentative sense I suppose. I am using it pinpoint things, certain pieces of film, loop it, stretch it, reorganise it, to present it so that the audience has the ability to hear it and understand it much more. So I am using it slightly differently this time.

End of the interview

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