Archive: Jeff Mills discussing ‘When Time Splits’

ARCHIVE is a new series on the Hybrasil blog, featuring interviews from my time working as a journalist and radio broadcaster. Recently I began revising various interviews from that time period and discovered some incredible content which I felt should be shared.

Opening the series is a lost interview with Detroit Techno pioneer Jeff Mills discussing ‘When Time Splits’, a collaboration with Mikhail Rudy. Originally conducted in April 2015, Jeff discusses composition and collaboration in a unique way  that only he can. 

What is the primary concept behind When Time Splits?

The objective this performance was to show examples of how music (Classical and Electronic) could react to a visual component, the film “L’Enfer” by Henri-Georges Clouzot. These were theories that Makhail and I discussed at length as we imagined the various ways of what would happen in Time were split into parts. Parallel time.

When did you and Mikhail Rudy begin working on this project?

We started about 6 months ago. He has a wonderful studio in Paris, so we would meet there for sessions.

How did you both go about composing these pieces?

I create compositions based off our discussions. Presented and explained them to him. He listened and referred them to pieces and scores of classic composers, in an effort to create the basis on which he’ll re-construct the track. Once, the keynotes were discovered in my compositions, Makhail worked with those to create the composition, using my original as the underlay. So, determining the common links in notes and chord structure was how we found common ground in which to build upon.

Were you familiar with the film by Henri-Georges Clouzot, “L’Enfer” (1964) before you began working on this project?

No, I wasn’t aware of this film. It was referred to me by the director of L”Auditorium du Louvre, Pascale Raynaud. She recommended it because it was a film that was unfinished and unseen by the public and she thought it would be the perfect visual for such a performance in the similar fashion.  The film was never completed and Clouzot died before its completion, but it’s an incredible collection of out-takes consisting of many visual artworks by opt artists of the 1960s.

Was there a mood in the film that reflects in the music you and Mikhail presented in the Louvre?

I think so. The film has very obscure scenes, so I composed the compositions based on what I was watching. Translating how I felt. In the performance, Makhail and I wanted to create that same type of atmosphere as in the film, so the stage was barely lit. Moody and obscure.  

Did presenting this project in the Louvre itself influence you and Mikhail musically in any way?

Yes of course, we had to factor here where we were presenting this concept. We pretty much discussed the direction long before we took the stage, so we knew exactly what type of atmosphere we were looking for. We treated it with a higher amount of formality that such a place like Le Louvre should require. It is the museum of museums.

How does one explore the idea of commonality and parallelism through music and visual imagery? What challenges did you face in composing that?

We looked at all the ways that Music generally speaks together and dismissed them. We redefined tempo, scale, texture, inflection, etc. We match contrasting aspects together in hopes of creating something new –  something worth discussing.

Have you taken any inspiration from this project that will lead into future ones?

Yes. I had always work in contrasting tempos. Meaning, un-sync’d tracks working together in different tempos, but I learned a lot from working with Mikhail that gave me many ideas of what to explore in my future works.   

Are you working on any new Orchestra projects at this point in time? (April 2015)

Yes. I recently wrote and created a score entitled “The Planets”. Referencing Holst’s “The Planets”, I thought that maybe I try to approach his idea, but with more scientific information of the new discoveries of our Solar System since the creation of his score in 1918. It’s being arranged and translated now by my friend and composer Sylvain Griotto. 

To keep up to date with Jeff Mills and his latest releases/projects visit the Axis Records site HERE