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Dean Millson Interview: Privately putting the FUNdation into FUNctions

Author: Sessles
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Dean Millson is becoming one of Melbourne's most prominent DJ's and, even more importantly(for him), he is a good friend of mine ;) I thought the timing was right to delve deep into the Millson mind (and I know Dean likes it deep) to see what makes this human clock tick. Dean's well known to tell a good story, (often the same one he'd just told five minutes previously) so I thought it'd be nice to share the antics of Dean Millson with the public and see what's made Private Function and his DJing career so successful.

Clearly, Dean's a very open and welcoming person who generally doesn't like to typify anything and thus named his night 'Private Function' for it's irony as it's "anything but 'exclusive' or 'private'. I recall Dean telling me that he started Private Function because he just wanted to DJ, and the best way to do it (and possibly only way as who else would give him a gig-) was his own way. This is the reason why I named him my DJ hero).

The first Private Function was held around Christmas time and has been held the same time of year ever since. "Pre 2002, the crew at Substance used to run a party on Christmas night called 'White Substance' that became a bit of an institution," Millson explains. "As we kind of took up the baton from Substance once their nights were no longer running, we thought it would be a good idea to continue the tradition! Another convenient thing is that it basically falls on our birthday as our first party was held on December 27th 2001."

After running for 4 years, Private Function has been continuously popular, as has Dean himself, playing at such events as Gods Kitchen, Sasha and the upcoming Sunshine People. Being one of his groupies, I was wondering what kind of people he's experienced in the last 4 years. "Unfortunately I'm not nearly popular enough for groupies," he modestly admits. "In terms of PF, we have had a rather loyal following for some time. It's maybe only in the last 12 months that I have noticed there have not been as many of the old faces around, but these are replaced with new ones as people get older and decide that heading out most weekends is not really for them anymore."

And then there's the people who have no idea about the quality of music Dean plays and put in requests. "I had someone ask me to play Elton John - Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me once. Although judging from that I doubt they were a fan. I don't necessarily mind people asking, but generally it's not going to happen as you're working towards a point in your set and have things worked out a bit. However, there have been occasions where a request has given me an idea, or reminded me of a track that I had otherwise forgotten about, but in general I don't recall doing requests for those reasons." When asked whether he's been known to make requests himself he admitted that he was "guilty as charged."

Private Function has held it's 'progressive' theme throughout it's time, but with house and electro becoming more prominent and of a higher quality I asked what direction Private Function's music would go in. "Private Function will always be a 'progressive' night. While there is a certain 'sound' that is generally associated with the term, I have always defined it as an approach to DJing that incorporates a number of styles. In that regard, the music will always evolve. The most progressive music around at the moment is at the tech-ier edge of the scale (see Chris Fortier's 'Balance 007' for example). In the end Private Function is defined by the DJ's that provide the music, so it's really up to them. Everyone has always had a slightly different take on what 'progressive' is, which keeps it interesting really."

When asked whether his own style of music has changed he agreed that it had. "When I started out I was really into very deep progressive house, went through a rather melodic stage, onto progressive breaks and now I think I'm enjoying the deeper side of things again, but on the techier