Jeff Mills: “The difference between electronic and classical music is quite small”


Within his 35-year long career, he has definitely developed some strong music skills. Mills has always been pushing techno forward, taking the music well beyond its usual club and festival settings by collaborating with symphony orchestrasscoring films and even holding down a residency at the Louvre museum.

Jeff Mills recently shared some of his thoughts about the future of electronic music in an interview with London’s nightclub Fabric. You can check out some of his interesting views below and read the full interview here!

”How did you first land upon hosting your own show?

It actually happened by consequence. A case of being in the right place at the right time. This is back in 1983. I was in a club, a radio station came in to do a live broadcast, I just happened to be playing, and they realised the listener feedback was quite high. They thought it would be good to continue, and so they offered me a position.”

”You were only 20 at the time. What was the main thing you took from the experience at such a young age?

Even though I was young, I quickly learned that the average attention span of a person is about three minutes. So one thing is that you have to keep someone’s attention in that time. I also learned the importance of creating an architecture in your programming, so the music doesn’t stay at the same intensity. You purposely make your way to a point, and then bring it down again, and so on. Real programming is something.”

”You’ve worked extensively in film and documentary. Why did you look to radio specifically to present these areas of space?

I thought there should be a show that works like it worked in the 20th century. Everything was new. We should have something where you can hear the music for the first time, it’s not something that’s been released to the public already, where the story can be new, it can be very far out, and each show can be very informative. It can encompass electronic, classical, all forms of improvisation, literature, poetry, and all the things to describe the subject from many different perspectives. It enables me to display electronic music in a way that we don’t see so often. It’s not always danceable, it’s not always ambient, it can be something completely different. I think because it has such a wide range of what’s possible, it’s very easy to see that the difference between electronic and classical music, or any of these other genres, is actually quite small. If you listen to any of these shows you begin to understand that the differences are not as wide as one would think. That the way I improvise an electronic vision as opposed to classical is not that different.”

”Electronic and classical music have become increasingly intertwined in the last decade, something you’ve had a big hand in. How do you see electronic music fitting in with other art forms in the future?

I think there should be something like this already. There should be this experience where you can hear aspects of electronic music and classical, or electronic and jazz, or electronic and afrobeat. There should be these hybrids existing already, and there should be artists presenting these types of things. So I think it’s just a matter of time. I think a lot of the things that are happening right now should set a template of what might happen later on in the century. This idea of mixing things effortlessly, and coming up with a combination of two or three or four different things could become quite common in decades to come. The way we do this now, and our acceptance of this, will create a blueprint of what music will be like later. So it’s quite an important time, and I think it’s quite important that a show like The Outer Limits exists. I don’t know how long this subject is going to last, but I’m going to do it as long as I can.”

”How do you think new technology is going to affect our relationship with music?

I think in terms of electronic music, a lot of it will disappear. The machine, the drum machine for instance, will disappear, because computers will eventually disappear. They’ll be helping us, but the physical computer will disappear. I think from a classical point of view, where musicians are playing an instrument, those things will remain. But electronic music is quite different. We’re programming it, and these machines aren’t necessarily used in the programming. I think the physical computer will go away, and so will the machine. What could happen is that we find a way where our personality affects the music. Someone might create something in which one DJ can express themselves with music in a way that another can not, because they’re two different people. The character of a person might become a feature of the music.”

”Do you not believe, for now at least, humans are becoming increasingly dependent on machinery? We might need to overcome this first.

Well, I’m almost positive that many physical machines will disappear. The thing you hold in your hand, whether it’s a screen or iPad, will disappear. The average person’s environment will become simpler on the surface, but much more complex in terms of what technology is in this environment. This will have an effect on how we listen to music, how we look at art, how we look at dance. And how we look at all cultural things. It will have an effect on how we socialise, what the party structure will be like, and DJing. Having a physical DJ standing behind a set-up could disappear. I don’t know what will replace it, but I’m almost sure that it will be gone.”

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