Jeff Mills requires no introduction, as we are used to hearing about him in the numerous articles around the world. He's one of our planetary superstars of techno, an unwearied hero of mega-raves and an ace of the three-deck mix.
Let's not forget that he's also produced influential singles like 'Sonic Destroyer', 'The Bells' and the heroic 'Purpose Maker' series. However, the man is more complex than he first appears, embodying an artistic ambition, which reaches far beyond simple techno music and is leagues ahead of his fellow DJs.??TECHNO STORY??Mills is part of the glorious history of electronic music. Born in June 1963 in Detroit (the historic capital of today's techno), Jeff is of the same generation as its illustrious pioneers (Juan Atkins was born in '62, Derrick May in '63 and Kevin Saunderson in '64).
His career is just as precocious as theirs, having built his early reputation in his town of birth, hosting his own radio show on local WDRQ and WJLB radios. With six shows a week, the young Jeff (under twenty years old at this point) was so talented on the decks that he was rapidly nicknamed 'The Wizard'. At this point in time, he happily mixed new wave, industrial music, electro-pop and the first Detroit techno and Chicago house.
But it wasn't until 1988 that Jeff got into music production alongside Tony Srock. Together they formed Final Cut, which was originally a house duo that soon evolved into a more industrial sound. It's also around this time that Mills met Mike Banks, another strong character of the Detroit music scene. In 1990, Jeff left Final Cut to found Underground Resistance with Banks and created one of the most mythical of all techno collectives. Even though the venture with Banks lasted only two years, they still had the time to produce (along with Robert Hood) 'Waveform' and 'Sonic', some of the most powerful singles in the genre.
In 1992 Mills became more individualistic and more preoccupied with aesthetic experiments than the more politicized Banks, who opted to leave Detroit for New York. Jeff then created his own label, Axis Records and collaborated with the Tresor label in Berlin. And so he commences his rapid conquest of the global techno planet, thanks to powerful music and a mixing technique as fast as it is ingenious. Alongside characters like Laurent Garnier and Carl Cox, Jeff incarnated the techno tornado, which was unleashed across the western world throughout the nineties.
Even if Jeff Mills has never stopped releasing minimal, obsessive and percussive records for the dance floor, his music is more varied than it first seems. During special parties his mixes combine house, funk and soul, appealing to those who had previously been resistant to his brand of techno. On CD or limited edition singles, Jeff's music is more atmospheric and melodious. Rhythms are muted, with swing bass, liquid sounds, ample synths and dreamlike keyboards revealing another side of his character, whose inspiration comes from beyond the clubs. His music is a strange and cosmic jazz, with the voluntarily symphonic and mysterious attributes of film music.
This former architecture student is also a film buff, '2001, A Space Odyssey' remains for Mills a model of the total work of art. In 2000, he embarked on the composition of a new score for Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' and admits attempting, by all means possible, to flee his 'techno wizard' image to return to his first motivation which feeds off utopia, futuristic thought and a real passion for the worlds and 'extraordinary scenarios' of science fiction. A year later, he signs 'Mono', a sculpture-installation dedicated to Kubrick's film, which is exhibited at the Sonar Festival at Barcelona. But it's even more recently that Mills has fused his love for music and image and reframed his DJing. In 2004 he released 'The Exhibitionist', which was the first DVD on his label Axis. It's a multi-angle filmed DJ set, allowing him to both approach video production and to beautifully complete his career on the decks. In the same year he gets hold of a new tool, the Pioneer DVJ-X1, a made-for-DJs DVD and CD deck. With this revolutionary machine, the DJ can manipulate sound and images at the same time. A new era opens for Mills, as for most of his peers. In 2005, everything accelerates. At the request of MK2 he composes a new soundtrack for 'Three Ages', the silent masterpiece by Buster Keaton. An amazing world tour follows, confirming his talent as a DJ and new VJ.??ELECTRONIC SYMPHONY??However for Mills, who has become a kind of techno multimedia artist, his adventures haven't stopped there. Although he's looking at producing new DVDs, he remains receptive to new experiences, like the forthcoming concert alongside the Montpellier National Orchestra, directed by composer René Koering. Following the experiment of the 'Hier, Aujourd'hui, Demain' symphony, the first collaboration between electronic music and a philharmonic orchestra, UWe and Rene Koering wanted to renew the experience in a different way with Mills. This time, an entire orchestra will be at the service of the electronic musician, as sixteen titles written and selected by Mills himself will be rewritten for 70 musicians. With Mills on stage with his machines, his most beautiful tracks will be interpreted at a free concert on Friday 1st July, on the 20th anniversary of Unesco's classification of the Pont de Gard as part of Humanity's World Heritage. ??This concert, released on DVD, as well as the CD of the original productions, brings together some of his most haunting tracks. We find melodious and spacious tracks like 'Imagine' and 'The March', deep and classy techno with 'Gamma Player', tracks from film scores with 'Entrance to Metropolis', and 'Keaton's Theme', avant-garde compositions (the 14 minutes of 'Medium C' and the obsessive 'Man From Tomorrow'). We can understand how he has inspired the composer René Koering. Without forgetting the dancefloor hymns 'The Bells', the unforgettable 'Amazon' and 'Sonic Destroyer' from the Underground Resistance era.. This is a concert and CD, which should definitively confirm the king of the decks as an authentic artist, a composer of his time.