On September 9, audiophiles celebrated 909 day. What better way to celebrate the iconic drum machine than speaking with a pioneer of techno? Underground Resistance‘s own Jeff Mills, a king of the archetypal Roland TR-909 drum machine, took Mixmag through the history of the revolutionary machine. Mills is the perfect producer to talk about the product. For proof, watch his critically acclaimed Exhibitionist 2 documentary.
In the interview, Mills takes a deep-dive into his history with the 909. Readers find out how he discovered the legendary equipment, why he thought it was so special back then, its sounds, and his musical process. He mentions the pureness of sounds that come from the 909. There’s an art in its minimal nature, denoting there’s not a lot producers need to add to the sounds to make them sound great.
In 2017, Roland released a TR-09, a miniature and more affordable version of the original 909. Click here to read Jeff Mills’ full interview with Mixmag.
It’s Voodoo Magic and all that jazz for Jeff Mills‘ electronic jazz quartet Spiral Deluxe as the group looks ahead to the release of their next record on Mills’ own Axis Records imprint. A five-track offering crafted in single takes over a two-day span, Voodoo Magic will debut on Axis on September 7.
Mills will continue to carry out his drum machine and percussive duties on Voodoo Magic, while fellow Spiral Deluxe constituents Gerald Mitchell, Yumiko Ohno, and Kenji ‘Jino’ Hino round out the quartet’s sound on the keyboard, Moog Synth, and bass and vocals, respectively.
Voodoo Magic’s inclusion of a remix crafted by none other than Detroit’s own deep house sonic spinster Terrence Parker further sweetens the news of the album’s impending arrival.
From DJing with Slum Village back in the day, to playing congas, to rocking the MPC and making some of the most soulful house around, Dez Andrés is one of the finest that Detroit has to offer. Andrés had a jam-packed Movement weekend filled with afterparty appearances, contributions to Shigeto‘s set, and even his own set at the Stargate stage with a live band featuring a who’s who of musicians such as the likes of Ian Fink (Scott Grooves’ keyboard player). His timeless classic “New For U” sounded so fresh with live instrumentation as it wafted over Hart Plaza.
2) Psychedelic Research Lab – Keep On Climbing
Eris Drew was one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend and she definitely delivered on the hype. Playing a moody, tension-filled set at RA’s Underground Stage before Helena Hauff, the smartbar affiliate ripped through her wax-filled set with poise and passion. Building deep grooves and maintaining the crowd’s attention, this classic rave track from Scott Richmond and John Selway, together as Pyschedelic Research Lab, was a highlight, sounding fresh as ever. Perfect timing to drop the track too, as Kim Ann Foxman’s Firehouse label is re-releasing it with a set of remixes from Deetron and herself.
3) Floorplan – Let The Church
Whenever Carl Craig takes the stage at Movement, it’s must-see entertainment. The Planet E don commands a crowd so well, especially in Detroit, and started off his set on the mic preaching Detroit Love. As his set progressed into thicker and more energetic cuts, this one from fellow Detroit-er Robert Hood and his daughter under their Floorplan moniker made a huge impact on the crowd. Hammerings drums gave way to a tweaked-up gospel vocal for pure techno madness and a big reaction.
4) Paul Nazca – Memory
Laurent Garnier hardly ever makes an appearance stateside, which made the legend’s Sunday closing slot at Movement extra special. As his two-hour set reached its peak, he dropped a monstrous record which he and Sven Väth have supported heavily throughout the past couple years: “Memory,” by Paul Nazca. The song’s classic edge and cunning central hook whipped the audience into a frenzy with each post-break, and felt like the perfect selection for the moment.
5) Jeff Mills – The Bells
One simply cannot do Movement, or celebrate Detroit techno in general, without the ever-iconic Jeff Mills single, “The Bells.” Its synth stabs and clanging melody that embedded itself deep into electronica’s psyche so many years ago could be heard throughout several sets during the festival — from the Underground to the Stargate stage — and each play sparked joyous looks of recognition and subsequent madness. It’s pure, raw techno that defines the genre itself, which is why the single remains fresh and widely rinsed today. To top off the festivities, techno founding father Juan Atkins also paid homage to his colleague by kicking his set into high gear with the classic.
6) Prince – Head (Hazmat Live cover)
Taking place at Detroit’s fabled TV Lounge, Soul Clap‘s annual House of Efunk party is really a can’t miss — the lineup is always packed with a diverse set of heavy hitters, the vibe is so fun and jovial, and the curation of set times between the outside patio, side alley, and indoor club is just perfect. When the magic hour came and the sun started to rise, Detroit’s own Hazmat Live took the reins with a seriously impressive live house set, filled with drum machines, samplers, analog keyboards and vocoder talk box vocals. The diversity in his live set was fantastic, as he peppered in his own take on classics such as The O’Jays “I Love Music” and Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover”. Keeping the purple theme going, his dubbed out version of “Head” was blissful at whatever morning hour it was (we forget, ha).
7) Aretha Franklin – Never Grow Old
The newly re-positioned Pyramid Stage was a highlight for many during Movement weekend, and with due reason. Looking out on the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario, the Pyramid Stage was not only arguably the most scenic of the stages, but also packed a serious punch with it’s lineup. Radio Slave was a name we were super excited for, and he delivered a diverse heavy-hitting and funky set that got the final day festers pumping and moving. Dropping unexpected bombs such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax, Radio Slave also paid a cheeky homage to Detroit’s Robert Hood, breaking down his set to go into the velvet-y vocals of Aretha Franklin’s “Never Grow Old” which Hood famously sampled on his techno version of the track with the same name. The angelic vocals were uplifting right when the crowd needed them, and then was followed up with Hood’s banger “Baby, Baby”, a perfect tip of the cap to one of Detroit’s legends.
8) Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M
Wu-Tang Clan were one of the most sought-after, and unifying forces of Movement; no matter one’s musical preference, attendees flooded the main stage en masse for this legendary reunion. They celebrated their 25th birthday as a group at the festival as well, to add to the fervor. Naturally, they couldn’t go without performing some of their most well-known classics to their packed and adoring crowd. “C.R.E.A.M” was one such single that they pulled out of their archives, which proceeded to be met with supreme hype from viewers.
9) Regal – L’Éternité (Charlotte de Witte Remix)
Many are in agreement that Charlotte de Witte destroyed the Underground stage during her sub-closing set on Monday. In addition to earth-shaking techno she unearthed for the affair, the rising Belgian talent also threw in a few of her favored productions as well. One of these was her sultry remix to Regal’s “L’Éternité,” which was strategically placed within her mix to up the momentum. The original’s French vocals captivated the sweaty onlookers, while thunderous kicks anchored feet to the ground.
10) Maceo Plex & Maars – Mutant DX
Maceo Plex and his wife Christine Maars of the Odd Parents are electronic royalty, and thus a collaboration between the two is bound to be brilliant. Their recently-premiered “Mutant DX” shows off all their chemistry as producers and as lifetime collaborators, and serves as a nice, grooving tune that’s raunchy enough to rock a festival dancefloor as hard as a club. When Maceo played it during his set closing the Pyramid stage on Day 1, madness ensued as gazes remained transfixed on the hollow synth pangs flowing out of the speakers.
Techno stalwart Jeff Mills is preparing to launch a six-part radio series in partnership with the London-based radio station NTS and NASA, known as Jeff Mills: The Outer Limits.
Conceived and curated by Mills, The Outer Limits is a 60-minute musical program which will explore “the intricacies of time and space.” According to the show’s NTS site, it will be “articulating theories and probabilities of the cosmos in ways never explored before. “
Shows will bring an array of guest musicians, artists, curators, and critically acclaimed experts specializing in classical music, jazz, electronic music, space, and other art forms.
The first chapter of The Outer Limits explores the different theories behind the black hole and airs at 2 PM GMT on January 17, 2018, here. Learn more about each episode and Mills’ latest endeavor here.
Jeff Mills: The Outer Limits’ Episode Schedule:
Chapter 1: Black Hole- January 17 Chapter 2: Apollo 18- March 14 Chapter 3: Star People- May 30 Chapter 4: TBA- August 15 Chapter 5: TBA- September 26 Chapter 6: TBA- November 28
Most film historians consider the 1902 classic A Trip To The Moon as one of the first science fiction movies ever made. Therefore, it’s perfectly fitting that Detroit techno legend and fellow sci-fi fan Jeff Mills will be the one to re-score the silent film.
A Trip To The Moon was written, directed, and acted by George Méliès, and was revered for its production and theatrical value in the way it portrayed moon exploration. Its new Jeff Mills-written soundtrack becomes the third of its kind by the magnate, who’s also scored classic sci-fi hits Woman In The Moon and Fantastic Voyage.
Jeff Mills’ work for the film can already be heard in the re-released versions, and a separate CD of the soundtrack will come out in 2017.