Casting His Spell on Radio
Wizard radio programs are legendary for extremely fast mixing, beat juggling, and scratching. His style was incredibly fast because of his innovative use of recording and playback equipment.As one of the figure heads of Detroit Techno, Jeff Mills provided the foundations of musical diversity and eclecticism that many Detroit musicians would carry with them and renegotiate in profound and lasting ways for decades to come. The Wizard imparted sonic eclecticism to complement that coming together
Mills would prepare some pre-recorded segments at home and play them on his radio show using a four-track recorder, while simultaneously using two or three turntables to mix records along with the pre-recorded segments. For many years, listeners did not know Mills was using a four-track recorder and thought they were hearing records mixed only on two turntables. Using a variety of playback equipment allowed Mills to play a set on the air that sounded much faster than was humanly possible.
Jeff Mills, personifying the Wizard, played a significant figure in Detroit radio of the late 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. As described by producer Todd Osborn, the Wizard impacted Detroit with his technically precise and impossibly fast mixing style.
Who is Jeff Mills?
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.
Mills is the founder and owner of Axis Records, a record label he founded in 1992. The label is based in Chicago, Illinois and is responsible for the release of much of his solo work.
Mills has received recognition for his work both as a DJ and producer. Eminem mentioned Mills in the lyrics to a song and he was knighted Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. 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.