About Resonate Presents - Jeff Mills
Jeff Mills is an American DJ, record producer and composer. Thanks to his technical abilities as a DJ, Mills became known as The Wizard in the early to mid 1980s. In the late 1980s Mills founded the techno collective Underground Resistance with fellow Detroit techno producers 'Mad' Mike Banks and Robert Hood but left the group to pursue a career as a solo artist in the early 90s. Mills founded Axis Records in 1992. The label is based in Chicago, Illinois and is responsible for the release of much of his solo work.
Mills has received international recognition for his work both as a DJ and producer. Mills was also featured in Man From Tomorrow, a documentary about techno music that he produced along with French filmmaker Jacqueline Caux. He continued working in film, releasing Life to Death and Back, a film he shot in the Egyptian wing of the Louvre Museum where he also had a four-month residency. In 2017 the French Minister of Culture Jack Lang awarded Mills the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his services to the arts.
A 1981 graduate of Mackenzie High School, Mills started his career in the early 1980s using the name "The Wizard." He performed DJ tricks like beat juggling and scratching during his sets, some of which were pre-recorded. He had a nightly show called The Wizard at WDRQ and later at WJLB under the same name. He would highlight local techno artists, giving light to artists such as Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins.
In his early career, Mills managed numerous residencies in the Detroit area. He credits The Necto as the residency where he was able to experiment with new ideas in techno music. Mills played The Necto where he began incorporating concepts such as different equipment setups, including positioning himself on the dance floor with the people. For his radio DJ spots, Mills had a music spending budget to use for his sets. Mills would also drive as far as Toronto or Chicago in order to purchase newly released music.
Mills is a founding member of Underground Resistance, a techno collective that he started with former Parliament bass player 'Mad' Mike Banks. The group embraced revolutionary rhetoric and only appeared in public dressed in ski masks and black combat suits. Mills never "officially" left the group, but did begin to pursue his own ventures outside of the collective. Many of Underground Resistance's labelmate's early releases were the product of various experiments by Banks and Mills, both solo and in collaboration, before Mills left the collective in 1991 to achieve international success as a solo artist and DJ. The collective continues to be a mainstay of Detroit's music scene.
UR related the aesthetics of early Detroit Techno to the complex social, political, and economic circumstances which followed on from Reagan-era inner-city economic recession, producing uncompromising music geared toward promoting awareness and facilitating political change. UR's songs created a sense of self-exploration, experimentation and the ability to change yourself and circumstances. Additionally, UR wanted to establish a means of identification beyond traditional lines of race and ethnicity. Another form of UR's rebellion concerns the rejection of the commercialization of techno. This is evident in the messages scratched in UR's records, lyrics and sounds expressing economic independence from major record labels.
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