Thursday, May 27, 2010

One on One with Detroit's Women DJs Part 2: Exclusive Q & A with DJ Minx

DJ Minx house girl at heart

Out of the hundreds of acts spread over the three-day festival (complete with five stages), there are only seven women scheduled to perform. We could be off by a few but it doesn’t keep us from asking – where are all the ladies? This question becomes especially relevant when looking at the history of Detroit’s electronic music phenomenon where women are absent from this success story.

Sure, we owe a lot of credit to the men who shaped the landscape of this musical generation (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Carl Craig, Jeff Mills, to name a few), but the emergence of Detroit’s electronic music scene was certainly not devoid of the female touch. For the final feature to conclude our Ode to Detroit Edition, we introduce Kelli Hand (aka K-hand) and DJ Minx (interview below), Detroit’s first ladies who are considered among the few female DJs who emerged during techno’s first wave generation. Inspired and mentored by pioneers such as May and Kenny Dixon Jr. (aka “Moodymann”) these women moved on to establish their own imprints, inspiring other women to follow suit and launched the career of several artists across the board.

These ladies are musical innovators who have been (and remain) integral to the character of Detroit’s unique musical subculture and opened the doors to the rise of women DJs. K-Hand and Minx boast a hefty discography of original productions as well as remixes for their own labels and various respected Detroit-based imprints, such as Third Ear Recordings and M_NUS. However, their contributions as role models and musical trendsetters are under appreciated (and often unknown) by the general fan base of Detroit house/techno enthusiasts.

For this feature, we wanted to give these influential ladies the spotlight they deserve. In these interesting and inspiring interviews we talked to them about what it takes to be a woman in today’s music industry and the challenges they faced breaking into it. We also used this opportunity to pick their mind about Detroit’s Golden years, Movement and their favorite records.

Below is our exclusive interview with DJ Minx, who will be performing at Hart Plaza on Monday, May 31 at the "Made in Detroit" stage. *click here to see our exclusive interview with K-Hand.*

Has it been a challenge for you being a woman DJ in an industry – particularly that in Detroit – dominated by males? Would you say there’s some kind of ‘glass ceiling’ out there?

Minx: It has been a challenge for me throughout the years. I feel that no matter how hard you work, the men dominate this music. That doesn’t keep me from pushing on a daily basis to bust out that glass that is seemingly keeping the females back! We just have to work harder at what we do. Think outside the box! Don’t be intimidated by what has been accomplished by our male counterparts, if you want to be successful in the music business, work it out! Don’t put limits on yourself. That “male-dominated field” term makes some women feel that they cannot achieve their goals.

Can you tell me a little bit more about your Women on Wax label? I understand it was a collective at first. What were your initial goals and what inspired you to create something like it? Are you satisfied where it’s heading?

Minx: WOW was a collective of women DJs that held events when I started it up, and I managed most of the women during that time. Jennifer Xerri and Magda were two of my first DJs. I kept hearing that the “next step” to furthering your career as a DJ was to start a record label. I turned that down a lot in the beginning but when Kenny “Moodyman” Dixon told me the same thing (probably 4 times), I went for it. Since I wanted to keep the Women On Wax name with me in whatever I did, I named the label Women On Wax Recordings. It was only fitting to do so. I am working to release three projects this year, two by Diviniti, and one by DJ Minx. I am doing two remixes that will be released this summer as well (different labels).

Do you think Detroit still stands as a capital of techno today?

Minx: Detroit has changed a great deal. We don’t have our pioneers here and creating music like they once were. The energy in the music isn’t the same. DJs spin house for the most part and the scene has gone down a great deal. When you’re a DJ from Detroit, people automatically think you’re a techno DJ. Folks that know the music have a sincere love and a high level of respect for our city and for those of us that play it. I miss that music. I need to go to my studio and work on a techno track tonite since you brought it up.

I’ve come across this quote lately by Derrick May. He said that techno "just like Detroit, was a complete mistake. It's like George Clinton and Kraftwerk stuck in an elevator." Thoughts?

Minx: Wow! Well it was a great mistake, wouldn’t you say? LOL!! I started SPINNING because of Derrick May’s energy and what he created on the dance floor while playing techno! Helluva concept too! Look at what it’s done for us.

What were the Golden Years of Detroit techno and how was that like?

Minx:“Golden years”? Between 1988 and 1995 was when it was at its high in my opinion. You could look forward to parties with heavy-hitters many nights a week, as well as tune in to an FM station to hear DJs mix live. People were always out hanging! Damn…those were good times!

What is it about house and techno music that intrigues you and keeps you doing what you are doing?

Minx: More than anything…it is the universal love that so many people share when it comes to this music. People from all walks of life can come together and party with no boundaries. The love is always there – as though I’ve been around the same people my entire life. Amazing!

Finish the sentence: Music is my…

Minx: DRUG! (I bet u knew I was going to say that). It nurses me to health when I am down and out and feeds my soul when in need of enrichment. It NEVER fails me!

I’ve never been to Detroit for Movement and everyone says it’s something I need to experience. What’s so special about it in your opinion? What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Movement?

Minx: Amazing! The people and love for the music is phenomenal! The festival? Four stages with performers from 12 noon to 12 midnight for 3 days in a row, playing your favorite music is enough for anyone to want to go. It is unbelievably fun! I hope u can join us this year!

And lastly, what three records constitute your “ode to Detroit?” Basically, what three records do you think capture the heart and soul of Detroit and its music? Please briefly (in 2-3 sentences) explain your choices.

Minx: “Strings of Life” by Derrick May, “Good Life” by Inner City and “Alleys of Your Mind” by Cybotron. You can play these tunes today and watch people lose their minds as if they were released the week before.

And one more for kicks: can you tell me how you chose your DJ name?

Minx: (laughs) I’ve been playing records for 22 years now. I got the name 23 years ago. I’d planned on using the name Mink until I went to the record store the following week (after selecting the name) and saw an import by “DJ Mink”. I didn’t want take anyone else’s name so went into the dictionary to find Mink in a different spelling. Came upon Minx and decided to use it. Didn’t know that people would think I was a damn flirt or wonder if I were the pert one after all these years! I’m a good girl (turning in my toes to face one another and crossing my wrists while batting my eyelashes)!

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