Imagine a man figuring out what’s going on with electronic music, its philosophy and the engagement that it must have on persons of all ages and eras. It’s just brilliant how this musician, label owner and in all sense a truly artist, investigate all fields of music and arts to see how electronic can be a part of it, completely, gathering all the precise elements to handle a genre to do both, dance and listen. I\’m talking about Jeff Mills, of course.
Jeff Mills: “My calculation was simple. I figured that all the music lovers of past eras will grow older, move away from the physical response of dancing to music because the rest of their lives would need more attention, more time and management. However, the affection and love that once carried them throughout the long nights on the dancefloors would not only maintain, but that relationship might actually grow more intense as time marches on and the asset of fond memories of our pasts would cherish and valued even more. Considering this type of music lover, I looked to Electronic Music to examine if the genre had produced enough non-danceable material that might accommodate such a person. While researching, I soon noticed that the majority of works of Electronic Music are designed for dancing and dancefloors. Music for clubs, where there is a especially prepared atmosphere for dancing and moving audiences. Dance music speaks a special language and I love it for that, but I could see that this special language falls short around the other hours of the day because the average person listens to music more than they dance to it. From this understanding, I then searched to find Electronic Music that mainly designed for listening. The result of my find was minimal and practically to the point where anything that did not have a driving dance beat fell into a category entitled “ambient”Unconvinced that this really does not serve for a better understanding of music, I thought of a plan to create a project that addresses this very subject head-on. One evening while searching for music, I kept running across selected of works of certain artists that had fusing classic jazz into their tracks. Either by sampling or by having live musicians play along with the tracks. The ideas were impressive, but the recordings could have been better if only the musicians were in a proper studio with access to the right production set-up. With this idea in mind, I continued to discreetly follow the work of a few artists for about 2 years before I became convinced that it would be time to approach one of them with this idea. Of these artists, the common thread was that they all knew the precision Electronic Dance Music, but also the freedom and looseness of Jazz.My plan was to ask the artists if they would be interested in recording an album for my label Axis Records. We would create a budget and give the artist the time and ability to go into any studio they choose to record their music and select any musicians/players/soloists that they would like to record and work with. The objective would be to create something new and different.In the winter of 2018, I contacted the American keyboardist/artist Byron Blaylock a.k.a. Byron The Aquarius. I was convinced that he had all the qualities that might be needed to create a groundbreaking album and after a few discussions we agreed on a game plan that would stretch over about 1 ½ years. Over a two – day period, we recorded the album in Atlanta, Georgia at the beginning of 2020 at Patchwerk Studios. As this current virus pandemic took hold of many societies and brought many people’s work and lives to a halt, we also were caught off guard, but found a way to salvage the production process to continue the mix-down sessions of Byron’s recordings. Using a web-based audio sharing app, we managed to mix-down the entire album from 3 different US cities. Chicago, where the studio and engineer Steve Kovacs is based, in Alabama where Byron resides and in Miami, Florida where I live. For the occasion, I had made a similar hi fi set-up that resembled what the studio was using in Chicago. In real-time, the three of us listened, edited and mixed the entire album until Byron’s satisfaction.The album is a fantastic mix between Soulful House and Jazz Music with a touch of Blues. Might hope was that with each live musician Byron engaged with would result in something different and this was definitely the case. For instance with Veteran Drummer “Lil John” Roberts, the tracks of Byron became more loose, but because the technique of “Lil John” is so precise, the tracks have a steady foundation where just about anything would sound great upon. With Trumpeter Dashill Smith and Flutist Rasheeda Ali (both recorded at different sessions), the tracks graciously parted to accommodate these sounds, almost as if they were made especially for their solo parts. The bass player, Chocoalat, who is initially from Brasil gave the tracks a latin samba feel that was wonderfully unexpected.As the producer, one of my goals was to feature the artist in the best possible way. Making sure all tracks bare his characteristic imprint, spirit and design”. The overall goal was to create something that bared the traits and signs that would catch the attention of a music lover. Someone that has danced themselves into a relationship with music that is unconditional and undeniable”.