Published on | by CCPAR0
Miss Djax | Interview | Techno
Version Español | Pica Aquí
The CCPAR speaks with Miss Djax a strong and leading force in Techno music. Here is what she has to share with us!
After running a successful label and with a high level artist career. How has this journey been on a personal level?
I cannot imagine my life without music, it means everything to me. Music makes me happy.
We know that you have always been open minded towards various styles of music and that you first started DJing hip hop, after that you started to focus on a new and different sound: House. How was the transition from those styles to spinning Techno and Acid records?
Actually I did not start DJing with hip-hop but with disco and funk. As a DJ I am always looking for the newest underground electronic dance music as I wanted to surprise my audience. So it has been a logical evolution that I went from disco and funk to new wave, hip-hop, hiphouse, new beat, electro, house, acid and techno.
If you would not visited Chicago and Detroit do you think you would follow the same road in the music industry?
Yes, for sure. My goal was to give new artists a chance to release their music on my label. There was so much great music that was not released because it was too underground and as a DJ and label owner I could give that music an audience by releasing it on my label and playing it in my sets.
How do you find interesting the differences between the Chicago and UK acid sound? How do they complement each other?
Acid has it roots in Chicago. The Chicago acid sound is groovy while the UK acid sound is more harder and straight. I like them both.
How does it feel nowadays to be part of a whole movement that ignited the Nederhop genre, where rap has had a relevant space for rapping in the Dutch language?
It always feels good if what you do get’s recognition. Nobody ever signed or released a hip-hop band who was rapping in Dutch language until I did in 1991. Their lyrics were very outspoken en radical. Underground and right in ya face. The radio banned them because of their lyrics. Many people did not understand that I signed this band but I believed in them, just like I did with many other unknown underground artists. And I was right, they became very successful and it was the start of a new genre called nederhop.
We are curious to know how you discovered 24 K. Why did you choose them to be the first band to release? What made you think that your faith in them would pay off?
I discovered 24K when I was working in a record shop in my hometown Eindhoven. They came to the shop to buy records. One day in 1989 they gave me a cassette with some tracks they recorded at home. I played the cassette and I was blown off my feet! They were amazing! They sounded like Public Enemy (which I was a big fan of). That’s when I decided that the time was right to start my own label. This band had to be released! My mom provided me a loan of 10.000,- and I booked a studio. I knew I was taking a big risk but I wanted to release this amazing hip-hop band. I pressed 1000 albums and they sold in a few days. That was how it all started.
Sadly, in spite of the title ‘No Enemies’, the rise of Dutch HipHop tumbled down. The envy and a feeling of competition started to show up. It could be something that you might experience across the years in different phases of your career. Even though, you started many ways of cooperation. For instance, with the legendary Warehouse label from Armando. How difficult has it been to turn competition into cooperation? How cooperation has helped to push your label business and artistic career further?
24K and some other Dutch hip-hop bands have been very successful in the early nineties. But Nederhop (Dutch spoken hip-hop) is still very popular nowadays.
I must say, and I am happy about this, that I personally never experienced bad competition as I always follow my own path. I do not follow trends. I just do my own thing without being part of a certain scene. That made me very independent, which I like a lot. It would make me nervous if I would have to compete. I have always been the outsider and I like that position.
Djax-X-Beatz and Djax-Break-Beatz marked another chapter of Djax records. When these two new divisions were born back in 1997, Djax lifted up its position at the Dutch music market and both in 1997 and 1998 Djax Records received the Dutch Award for being Best Record Label. How do you see the present and future of these two divisions?
Currently these two divisions are not active. Djax-X-Beats was for trip-hop, drum & bass etc. On Djax-Break-Beatz the beat-creators of my hip-hop groups could release their beats, breaks and samples so others could spin or sample those. As with everything that I released on my labels I gave 100% artistic freedom to the artists.
Also very important to me, is the artwork. I am working since 1990 with Alan Oldham (Detroit) who has made all the illustrations for the Djax-Up-Beats releases and five Miss Djax comics (comic number 5 will be released in 2015). For my hardtechno releases (Inferno, Hell’s Bells etc.) I worked with Ed Repka, a very famous illustrator from the USA who also illustrated the albums for Megadeth. The art for the Djax-Break-Beatz series is done by Zender.
You have mentioned before that Love Parade from ’95 to ’98 was really great and your two appearances on that mega tower at the end of the Love Parade as well. You were there to run for millions of people and it is additionally transmitted simultaneously everywhere. Could you please tell us which experiences have you had during the last decade where you got the same fulfillment and great feeling?
The experience of playing at the Victory Tower at the Love Parade is a feeling that cannot be replaced by anything else. The original Love Parade in Berlin was such a special event that cannot be compared to anything else nowadays. But for me it does not have to be a big event to give me a great feeling, when the right vibe is there it’s always a great feeling.
You said in an interview with Zack Rico on Beatport that “the nineties were the golden years of rave in general and that includes techno too. The best labels, releases, and parties were in those years, it was all fresh, new, and exciting. And indeed the nineties were the golden years for Djax Records too, as in that decade I achieved so much”. How would you describe techno nowadays?
After those golden years for Djax Records, how does your label fit into today´s music industry and electronic music scene in general?
Real techno after 25 years is still the underdog. For the mainstream people techno is too difficult and monotone, it has no vocals and no commercial arrangement.
When vinyl got taken over by digital downloading I lost a big part of my interest in running a record company. I miss the whole process towards a physical product. So I decided to mainly focus on my own productions instead of running a digital record company. Of course digital releasing has many advantages as it’s easy and anybody can start a label or make a release but it has nothing to do anymore with running a record company like in the old days.
Regarding techno music, in February this year, you mentioned in an interview with the blog guest zone that “Change is difficult to describe. 25 years ago it was new and now it is no longer new”. Has techno suffered any kind of commercialization during the last years?
Techno is one of the last original styles that have not been commercialized (yet). There are still underground techno parties and in 10 years techno and acid will be there too I think. The only risk is that if the mainstream producers gonna use the name ‘techno’ the mainstream people will think that this is real techno, which is not of course. The same thing happened with the names ‘electro’ and ‘drum & bass’.
You have also said that techno and acid will never die. What is your role in keeping techno and acid alive?
I will keep on producing and playing techno and acid as long as I can
You have history with hard techno as well. Since back in the days you were sharing stage with DJ Rush, a hard techno ambassador. In 2008 ‘Still Dominating’, together with Human Resource and ‘Stereo Destroyer’ in co-operation with Marshall Masters became international hardtechno anthems.
Most recently you have produced tracks with Pet duo as Pet trio and also performed with them. You have witnessed and played an important part in the development of this style of music. How did you first get involved with hard techno music?
I have always played hard fast techno and acid. Back in the nineties it was however not called hardtechno but techno or rave. After the year 2000 a split occurred in the techno scene: techno dj’s started playing harder techno (then called schranz) or started playing slower techno (then called minimal). Since I was always playing hard anyway I fitted perfectly in the harder techno scene. Just like DJ Rush who was also always playing hard and fast with lots of energy.
You told guest zone that “Hard Techno is quite a bit to a close, many producers have stopped the hard techno. You can not any time to come up with the same line-up, those who are left of them are playing more industrial hardcore and that has nothing to do, for me, with techno anymore. They are good DJs but I cannot book them for Djax it Up”. What do you think hard techno needs to increase the diversity and innovation within the genre?
I think that hardtechno has lost in popularity because at a certain time so many badly produced bootlegs got released. Many pop tracks got turned into a schranz version by simply pitching it up and place a simple schranz beat under it. It all sounded the same and the BPM got faster and faster. Then some great producers stopped producing/playing hardtechno and that really was a loss for the hardtechno scene. Currently hardtechno is going back in the underground which is actually not bad as maybe it then can go back to what it was in the beginning.
Can we expect a Djax Records anniversary album?
I recorded 10 new tracks in the first half year of 2014. The style is a bit different from what I previously produced. These tracks are slower in tempo (around 130 bpm) and they sound much bigger as they where mixed on a huge analogue mixing desk. The style is of course still techno and acid with old school sounds but I also experimented with modern big room and EDM sounds.
I am not sure if I will release these tracks as a album as nowadays people are not buying albums anymore. They download only the tracks they like. So I first will do some single releases, each accompanied by a cool video. Two months ago I released Overdrive and my new single/video Forbidden Dance has just been released. I am thinking of releasing some tracks on vinyl too in 2015. And I have a brand new Miss Djax comic by Alan Oldham which I will release in 2015 too.
As a really keen and open minded person toward various styles of music…What music do you listen to in your free time, away from work as an artist and label manager?
That depends on what I am doing. Most of the time I do not listen to anything. When I am relaxing I like Chinese Tai Chi music. I also like to listen to Massive Attack, Portishead or Enigma. And sometimes I take some old disco or new wave records out of my record cabinet (I have ± 4500 records at home) and mix them at my turntables.
There are too many things we have to say about you. It is hard to resume but to sum it up… You started your life in the industry as a DJ while working in a record shop. From Mayday and Love parade you have played in numerous events and toured the world. You have been producing, remixing and making albums since 1989. You have been running your own and successful label for 25 years now and received awards as recognition of your DJ skills, your artistic career and the label business. Is there anything Miss Djax hasn´t done?
Of course there are things that I have not done. There are also some big chances that I got offered but did not take. A few times I got asked to present a TV program or to take part in a big TV show but I did not do it. In 2008 I even was asked to take place in the jury of the X-Factor. Maybe it was not such a smart decision to turn that down hahaha 😉
We are really grateful for having the opportunity of interviewing Miss Djax and we wish her all the best in her future projects!