Smartblog Writer Zach Partin gets a few answers from a Techno legend.
Axis Records was formed in 1992 (correct?), and has released a steady flow of solid material since then.
The label hasn’t really had many transitions since 1992. We currently press and sell all original titles in the entire catalogues from the very first release (AX-001 Tranquilizer EP by H&M). This is quite rare as most labels eventually end up pressing their most popular releases. We think it’s very important that every title stays accessible.
Can you elaborate on the following projects?
Something in the Sky:
Something in the Sky started off as 12″ vinyl that quickly developed into a sub-label because the response we got from the concept was overwhelming. The concept of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) is something that touches many people. I had no idea that it would affect so many in such a way. Each 12″ vinyl bares 4 tracks that reflects the mystery and suspense of encounters with UFOs and/or abnormal things people believe they witnessed. The style of music is different as it only tries to simulate the backdrop of such events, not becoming a theme or description of what people have seen.
From the beginning, I realized that the music had to be different in the way it felt to listener, not so much emphasis in the it sound like. So many things in the tracks are unclear and uncertain.
What influenced you to make a project like Something in the Sky?
Partly my fascination with Science and my other interest in Science Fiction. I can’t think of anything more ethically humbling then to know that Humans aren’t the only intelligent life in the Universe. With this project, I’m trying to stress the context of time in which now humans exist. Only slight degrees of ignorance are enough to blind the World from the realities of Nature.
How does it also relate (if at all) to the Drummers Project?
It doesn’t. These are two entirely different projects.: One dealing with the unknown and undiscovered Life and the other emphasizing modifications of what DJs can do with a tool box of beats and drum patterns. The two are unrelated, as are many other projects that I’ve released and are working on now. The Drummer 26 Project was created because I thought it would be useful for DJs to have a large collection of Drum Patterns that they could layer, affect and modify to enhance their DJ sets. The Drum patterns were purposely made in simple ways so that layering them would be easier when using more than 2 or 3 Turntables and CD players.
Is there a pattern with your fascination of percussion?
I used to play Drums before I learned how to DJ, so I’ve always had an affection for the instrument. It was by understanding how Drum patterns and music scales worked that I could quickly learn to DJ and alter and modify the music on vinyl to appear different then it really was. I think by learning to play the Drums first before becoming a DJ would give anyone a clear and concise understanding on how music is made.
With both the release of Sleeper Wakes, and more recently, The Occurrence, there is a science fiction element, as well as a cinematic one. What are the influences behind these releases?
The Sleeper Wakes projects were mainly designed to display the ideas that in Techno Music, there are still many uncharted territories in which to explore. Almost from its beginning, Techno Music has been about Dancing and Club Music and Life. I’m quite happy with the way the genre has developed, but I can’t help to be reminded that there are other things we can do with the Music. Another objective was attempting to bring the attention to the aspect of Humans in Outer Space. The many different physical and psychological adaptations that we will encounter in the future as we search to colonize other Planets.
How long of a process was it to make The Occurrence?
Roughly 6 months.
Has scoring films influenced the process?
Yes, as well as Antique Pulp Fiction Magazines (between 1920 – 1960). I’m intrigued with the vision people had back then about the New World and Life they were about to embark on. The year 2000 was to be a Utopian Age, where all lives were jettison forward and transformed into blissful Nature. Though, the only thing I can’t remember about the turning of Century was “Y2K”, but that’s beside the point. Humans are super dreamers. We are designed to always search for answers and find new and better ways. Conserving and keeping things the same, I believe, goes against the nature of what we really are.
The Occurrence was released as a “hybrid disc,” with both Vinyl and CD sides. What was the motivation behind releasing your work this way?
My motivation was to make people see and realize that Music doesn’t have to be a meaningless debate over “this” or “that”. Simply, the more options we have to work with, the better chances we have to get people to come closer to the music. Formats do not dictate substance. If Music is good, then it’s good on any format.
Can you elaborate on the Tomorrow Plus X project that you’re working on?
Right now, I only can only reveal that it will consist of 30 White colored vinyl records that I’ll use for special Tomorrow Plus X DJ performances next year. I’m still in production and things are going as planned.
Any other new releases or projects that the world needs to know about?
At the moment, I’m finishing the 3rd and last segment of the Sleeper Wakes project. It’s titled The Power. [It is] a CD/LP that focuses on the natural human ability to modify and control Electricity. Others are a film soundtrack for the Science Music movie Fantastic Voyage (1966), a 12″ EPs on the subject of Time Travel titled The Transcendent and the other, Cyborg 2087. Something In The Sky Part 6 and 7 (SITS-006/SITS-007) and a few other projects.
Sound mapping the Solar System is still on the drawing board too.
The label also recently went digital. Was this a difficult decision, or more around the evolution of the label and a changing industry?
Well, a large of part of the industry and customers now mostly use computers, so providing certain releases on digital formats are more easily accessible. If any record label or artist chooses to remain in this industry for any extended length of time, it is logical to make Music available to anyone who wishes to have it. After Digital, it’ll something else so being open and flexible to adapt is wise.
Where do you see the label going in the future?
In the near future, we have plans to create more than Music. “Branding” isn’t quite the term, but we want to transform our ideas into other mediums and art forms that comprise of the same and similar concepts as the Music we’ve been releasing. We’ve just opened a new Downtown Chicago Office and are busy moving towards this expansion.
What can Smart Bar expect from your set?
The concept is Something In The Sky, so Tyrel Williams (DJ) and I are discussing and planning a program that will explore Ufology in a theatrical way. Should be a very interesting night.
Jeff Mills and Tyrel Williams perform at Smart Bar on Friday October 15th. You can purchase advance tickets HERE.