When you think of Detroit techno, you might traditionally have thought of Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Jeff Mills, and the like. But as regular Ears To The House readers will know, the traditional story of what happened in The Motor City is under scrutiny like never before – conjecture, personal insults and dubious legal threats are all they offer in return.
What hasn’t been under the microscope much so far – because there are only so many hours in the day – is the role of 59-year old Jeffery Eugene Mills. Today, the man once known as The Wizard is increasingly a parody of himself, playing gigs for the likes of MDL Beast Soundstorm at $100k per time – whilst posting utterly tone deaf responses to the onslaught of criticism from his own fans, incensed at his apparent greed.
A source in Detroit told Ears To The House that “Jeff’s gone full business techno in the past year or two. The pandemic really hit his bank balance. He has a lot of bills to pay. So when MDL got in touch and offered him that kind of money, I think he was a little desperate. It opened a lot of doors for him, so I don’t think he regrets it, even if it annoys a lot of people.”.
There was, however, a time when Jeff Mills was a less abrasive and more humble character. In this recently rediscovered interview that he did with Top DJ Mag all the way back in 1997 – and no, we’re not sure why it’s in black and white, either – the softly spoken Mills certainly said one or two unexpected things…
It appears Jeff Mills is not from Detroit after all, but from Chicago – this is straight from the horse’s mouth! What isn’t exactly clear is when he moved to Detroit – but we do know he attended Mackenzie High School at the city’s Wyoming Avenue, which he left in 1981. He also admits he left Detroit for the dizzying heights of New York in 1989 before heading back to Chicago in or around 1992.
Of course, Mills is perfectly entitled to live wherever he chooses. As an American citizen, he has no less than 50 different states to pick from. But the fact he’s moved around so much does somewhat undermine the story that those people who claimed to represent Detroit techno were doing it for Detroit – and remember, this was filmed in 1997, when the Belleville Three myth and the rest were alive and well.
We can’t help but think that most of Detroit techno’s most widely lauded names quietly wish that the internet had never been invented…