- 27 Oct 16
Legendary Detroit techno DJ Jeff Mills is on his way to Dublin for an extra special not-to-be-missed performance with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. By our clubbing correspondent, Will Kinsella
On October 30, Jeff Mills & the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will deliver the Irish debut of “Light from the Outside World” at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. Mills was the first DJ to collaborate with an orchestra back in 2005, when he performed with the Montpellier National Orchestra, directed by Alain Altinoglu. Subsequent projects such as “Where Light Ends” have sold out shows in France, Holland and Australia. The BBC instalment at the Barbican, meanwhile, sold out within eight hours.
Mills was an influential radio DJ on WJLB (Detroit) during the 1980s, performing under the pseudonym “The Wizard”. He could be heard cutting electro with hip hop, Miami bass, classic new wave, early techno and house. He was once reprimanded for playing Public Enemy, which was at the time deemed controversial content.
In 1989, he founded the militantly political music collective Underground Resistance (UR) with Parliament bass player “Mad” Mike Banks. After UR, Mills founded Axis Records. Robert Hood, who also left UR at around the same time, went on to release his seminal album Minimal Nation, which became the blueprint for minimal techno. Within a decade, the genre would take off across Europe.
Axis has been the platform for a multitude of projects – there has been a series of concept albums and EPs, including Something in the Sky. The Exhibitionist DVD series, meanwhile, offered a behind the scenes view of the DJ art form. Then there are Mills’ cinematic and orchestral projects; he truly is the embodiment of artistic ambition that reaches far beyond the world of DJing and studio production.
Mills introduced his latest orchestral engagement, Planets, in 2015. The project was a tribute to ‘The Planets’ by British composer Gustav Holst. An elegant musical tribute to each one of the planets in the solar system, the piece was first broadcast in 1918 during the final weeks of World War One. Mills’ recording of Planets was brought to the famous Abbey Road Studios to be mixed, and will be released via Axis.
My first exposure to Jeff Mills was back in 1998. A friend showed me the Exhibitionist DVD when I was thinking of buying turntables, and also gave me a bunch of bootlegs of his WJLB radio shows. Watching that DVD was one of the defining moments of my life. It showcased a level of performance, art and excellence I didn’t know existed, and would forever set the benchmark for me as an artist.
In 2012 I launched my first club night, Apocalypse Now. Apocalypse was a series of parties counting down to the end of the Mayan Calendar, with the visuals and artworks taking influence from Mayan prophecy and ancient Sumerian texts. We brought Mills over for the opening night. At the time Jeff hadn’t performed a club date in Dublin for over three years, so the show sold out – and close to one thousand people were left outside. It was a phenomenal night. I’ve thrown many crazy parties in my career – but that was the craziest. On stage that night, Jeff’s manager asked me if I would be interested in doing an Orchestra show – and that’s where the story began.
From that moment, it has taken the guts of five years to get to this point; there has been a lot of back and forth between all parties. However, Mills has agreed to a limited, one-time only broadcast of the show, on RTE 2FM, which will air during the Christmas schedule. The broadcast agreement alone took months of negotiation.
For those who picked up a ticket, we look forward to welcoming you to what will be a landmark night in the history of Irish electronic music. Thanks for your support and thanks also to everyone who came together to make this performance a reality. Enjoy the show.
• Jeff Mills & the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will deliver the Irish debut of “Light from the Outside World” at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre on Sunday October 30.