An Insight Into Jeff Mills: The Techno ‘Wizard’

Detroit laid the foundations for the techno culture we all love and appreciate in today’s clubbing scene. Take the time to thank and acknowledge the people who paved the way, with one notable character being Jeff Mills.

Name: Jeff Mills

Image credit: Discogs

Date of Birth: 18th June 1963

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, USA

Occupation: DJ, composer, record
producer and a member
of the Techno Collective.

Career started: 1980s

Known as: The Wizard

Jeff Mills was a part of the second generation of the Detroit techno scene, his predecessors being the likes of Ken Collier and Staacey “Hotwaxx” Hale. He progressed away from the disco movement and towards a dance/synth techno collection. Mills then joined forces with Mike Banks to create Underground Resistance, where in an interview with Red Bull Music Academy Lecture in Berlin in 1998 he states how they founded this collective by looking at what others were failing to do in Detroit. He saw how legends like Kevin Saunderson was mixing more commercial stuff and thought “the original idea of Detroit techno was being lost”, so they decided to be bolder and do everything everyone else didn’t do.

This progressive idea, focusing on more experimental music which would elicit a self exploration and an independence, is what helped establish himself in the techno industry, drawing interest in Germany where he went on to have a residency in Tresor, the infamous Berlin club (yes, you’ve not done Berlin right if you haven’t been). When he relocated back to the US but now to Chicago, he set up his own record label, Axis, where he continued to create and produce a number of albums including Time Machine (2001) which was inspired by the H.G. Wells novel The Time Machine and Metropolis (2000), a score written from the influence of the silent film with the same name; he was heavily inspired by sci-fi and how these realms can take techno into the future. Additionally, he produced two DVD’s, which delves deep into his electronic capability and way of thinking, called the Exhibitionist and the Exhibitionist 2.

Jeff Mills is a techno pioneer, preserving his Detroit roots which has influenced many DJs who are about today, focusing on escapism and catering for a both crowds who appreciate techno and who love to dance. He is an influential Black musician, producer and composer, who has helped establish himself as one of the faces of the techno culture we have in our clubbing scene today because of his trailblazing persona.

Caris Dollard

(Image credit: electronicbeats)