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Jeff Mills on the future of music: “Having a physical DJ standing behind a setup could disappear”

In a new, in-depth interview, the techno wizard talks all things future…

Jeff Mills has given his thoughts on the future of music, among other things, in a new, in-depth interview with London’s Fabric nightclub.

In the extensive interview posted on the Fabric blog, the techno wizard talks at length about the future relationship between technology and music; artificial intelligence; the hybridization of electronic and classical music; and his NTS Radio show, ‘The Outer Limits,’ a collaboration with NASA that explores intergalactic theories, parallel realities and the intricacies of time and space while showcasing Mills’ love of sci-fi-inspired electronic music. 

Check out some of the highlights from the interview below. 

On the importance of programming:
“…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.” 

On his radio show, ‘The Outer Limits’:
“The shows are about improvisation of electronic and classical, so anything can happen. Music doesn't have to be played like normal radio. Music can be really wild, and really unrestricted…when I’m planning with the guest musicians, we can experiment unconditionally. In breaking away from the composition, we’ve moved from the standard way people listen to radio. And by making all new music, and sound effects, it allows us to explore the maximum of our imagination.”

On the hybridization of electronic and classical music:
“[My show] 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.” 

On the relationship between music and technology in the future:
“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…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 cannot, because they’re two different people. The character of a person might become a feature of the music.”

On the relationship between humans and technology in the future:
“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.” 

Read the full interview with Jeff Mills on the Fabric blog, and revisit the 10 moments that defined Jeff Mills.

For more on Fabric, read our in-depth overview on what the club’s reopening means for the future of London nightlife and relive the 10 moments that defined Fabric. 

Photo source: Fabric blog

Photo credit: Jacob Khrist

John Ochoa is the editor-at-large of DJ Mag North America. You can find him living his best life on Twitter.