TF Archives

Jeff Mills- I Make Mixing Mistakes Almost Every Night

Author: Benedetta Skrufff
Monday, January 31, 2005
There are minor mistakes that happen almost every night and major mistakes that happen maybe once a month: as a DJ you become better at fixing the problem and move on as quickly as possible, so that people don't notice; that's part of being a DJ.

Chatting down the line from a Cannes hotel, Detroit techno wizard Jeff Mills is the first to admit he has the odd bad night, though as one of dance culture's most technically proficient mixers he's happy to hold up his hands.

"If I stopped making any mistakes I should probably look at what I'm doing and start trying to be a little more adventurous," he continues. "I still love to play even if I may play less nowadays than when I was younger. But I'll always keep on DJing, even if just as a hobby."

Still one of the biggest name DJs both in both techno and dance music in general, he's happy to pass on advice, stressing the importance of focus for those wanting to step into his shoes.

"The sooner you understand what is it you really want out of the profession, the easier it becomes to achieve it," says Jeff. "If you want to become a superstar DJ, it's possible, but there are certain things you'd have to do."

Skrufff: Such as-

"I don't know, because I don't consider myself one," he replies.

"But if you want to have a long and healthy career, one crucial piece of advice I could give is this: you have to be able to accept negative responses from the audience and people in general, and rebound from that criticism as quickly as possible. I know so many DJs who have often been severely affected by an audience's negative response."

Coming into England shortly to DJ at both the End and Liverpool's Circus Club, he'll also be meeting his audience directly at Eukatech Records, when he personally opens an Axis Records merchandise shop at the Covent Garden store. As well as selling beach towels and sandals ("we've done some research to categorise the typical costumer who buys our merchandise, that'll be older male, student or just graduated from college', he explains) the store will be stocking his new album The Three Ages', his latest soundtrack remake, this time to Buster Keaton's 1923 film of the same name.

"The idea behind Axis Live is to come close to the people and reduce the distance between the internet and the customers," he explains.

"We have a steady stream of online costumers from around the world, and we planned to go into their cities to offer special things made for that particular situation, so we're producing very special records only released at that time and lots of other items displayed in the way we think they should be displayed, on the basis of a certain type of lifestyle and mentality they're based upon," says Jeff. "After London we'll be doing Berlin."

Skrufff (Benedetta Skrufff): As well as launching the shop, you're DJing again in the UK this February, what kind of show do you have planned for the gigs-

Jeff Mills: "It'll be an integration of sound and moving images alternating throughout the night. At times the video will take the lead then at other times it will be the music."

Skrufff: How much advanced planning typically goes into a DJ set; do you ever turn up with a stack of music and improvise, track by track-

Jeff Mills: "There's always a little preparation, typically I prepare the first ten minutes of the set and from that point it's very much about reading the crowd and playing music or showing images based on what I see and what I find interesting at that precise moment in time."

Skrufff: You're also set to release a new soundtrack to Buster Keaton's "The Three Ages", how different is your approach when producing music for soundtracks as opposed to the dance floor-

Jeff Mills: "I tried to prove certain things in that particular soundtrack. As a DJ I can approach producing music for films in multiple ways, the same ways I can program records for an audience, which is probably slightly different<