Alton Miller Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Alton. Let’s start with some of your early musical memories which inspired your path to DJ’ing and producing? Are there a particular songs heard on the radio, or elsewhere, that struck a childhood chord with you?

Hello and how’s it going Magazine Sixty. Yes indeed there were lots of songs that pulled me right in. As a very young kid I listened to the radio every day when I was preparing for school in the morning. In the 70’s every there was fusion of different genres of music being played on the stations that played R&B. I was listening to lots of James Brown, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Stevie Wonder. Bands and artists at this time were very prolific and it seems like the tunes just kept coming. Too many songs to list but I do remember that the things that peaked my interest were fusion. Steely Dan and Parliament Funkadelic. They were and still to this day are masters of fusing different styles of music that created their own sound.

Your new single is: From The Future EP on Roots Underground Records. Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks? Do you have any favourite software/ hardware you always use in the creative process?

I have been using Logic for a very long time. It’s the simplicity in using the software and the sound that I get that keeps me loyal. I use the Retro Synth that come with Logic religiously. I most always start with programming drums first and create melodies from the way the drums flow. Everything starts from the drums.


You have mentioned Ken Collier and Luomo being an important influence. Can you tell us about the music he was playing and what is was about the club that left such an impression?

Ken was a pioneer. He was our Larry Levan. That 1st impression is the one you remember and last the longest. Going to Luomo was my 1st experience inside a true dance club. The sound, decoration, people and the energy that I experienced that night and at that age was life changing. Ken was playing post-disco dance music along with New Wave and imports from Europe and it was incredible. The music reflected the times as it always does.

How would describe the legacy of the Music Institute in Detroit’s history? Are there any lessons you feel could be applied to today’s club culture?

The Music Institute was ground breaking as we bridged the gap between the iconic dance club and the future of things to come, that being Techno and how it became a worldwide phenomenon. Keep it simple. It has always been about the music and the sound. They are the only elements that matter. If those 2 key elements are done well people will commune in the spirit of dance which is the highest form of expression. Without that there is no party. It does not matter how many people. I have played to 40-50 and we got down!!!!!

Seth Troxler said recently that he felt a lot of European dance music was more cerebral, less about Soul. How do you see it?

I have heard and played some incredibly soulful music coming from Europe. There is still incredibly soulful music coming from Europe. I think it’s more about the individual artist and what they are saying artistically. You find what you seek. Do black people make soulful music? Yes we do. Do Europeans make soulful music? Yes they do but not in large numbers. Soul is about what resonates within.

Outside of Dance Music what other Art inspires what you do – in terms of any writers, poets, film-makers, painters etc?

Everything!!!! You said it. Writers, films, painters, dancers. Everything. I can’t make music if I can’t feel the expression that from one’s art or things that I see or experience every day.

(Pre-Covid-19) Where do you get your music from, are there any record stores you would recommend, or is all on-line these days. What are your thoughts on music streaming and the ways artists are able to make a living from music?

All over the World. I really love Moods Music in Atlanta. When I am there I always just go and sit, listen and take in the vibe. It’s a beautiful store!!! Cosmic Arts in Brooklyn is a super dope store!!!!! Again the vibe is spectacular. I buy music that resonates to me and speaks to me as an artist and a DJ. Everything does not speak to me and hence I have never owned a huge record collection. I buy things on-line as well. I think it’s a good thing if an artist can make money.

And finally. What things are you most looking forward to in 2021?

A continued and fruitful musical journey!!!! I finished my album for Sound Signature last year so looking to get things moving in regards to making it fly. Hopefully Covid will cease to keep me from plane hopping and playing some tunes in a city, country, village, town, island near you!!!!


Niko Marks Q&A

Hello Niko and welcome to Magazine Sixty. Your brilliant new album “Day Of Knowing” is such an exciting journey through many different styles and moods. And that bassline from the opener “Crank Shaft” is an absolute killer! How long did it take you to make the album?

The “Day of Knowing” album was actually two and half years in the making.

Can you talk us through where the inspiration came from and then how you created one of the tracks from the album?

The inspiration for the album came from having a desire to bring all the genres that I’m influenced by under one umbrella.
With the track “Crank Shaft”, I started with a chord progression that was almost jazzy but because I wanted it to fit the dance floor, I reflected on how the late, great Bernie Worrell would play smooth, jazzy and even classical chords atop of a funky groove so I began playing around with different bass lines until I found one that felt good and helped the track to flow.

Can you describe your studio set-up to us?

Yes. My studio set up has a few analogue pieces which include two Nord keyboards, Roland V-Synth XT, Roland 700NX , some NI products, Yamaha HS7 and, BX5 monitors and a Mackie ProFX mixer. Lately, I’ve been out of the box experimenting with software developed by Arturia. I’m also using Ableton, Logic and Pro Tools DAWs. The set up changes depending on what project is taking place and sometimes different pieces are brought in to replace others. I like having the flexibility.

What is your favorite instrument? Do you own one?

My favorite instrument is my voice. It’s the one that I got for free.

How do you feel about the importance of musicianship in today’s Dance music?

I feel that having musicianship in today’s dance music takes the genre to another level.
For me, it’s paramount to my sound and helps when engaging with an audience. It gives diversity to my performance. I’m more captivated by a performance that has someone playing an instrument as an accompaniment to the dance rhythms.

This is your 44th studio album, which is quite an achievement in today’s transient world. How do you approach your working day and what do you do to relax outside of the electronic environment?

I approach each day with an open mind, making sure my thoughts are clear in order to receive positive vibrations, be it musically or interacting with fellow musicians, producers. Checking for sessions with other producers as well as handle the business as it relates to U2XProductions Detroit. Outside of the electronic environment, I find pleasure and relaxation in drawing, painting, exercising, reading, nature walks, bike riding and traveling.

How would you describe Detroit’s musical culture at the moment?

Detroit’s current musical culture, from my perspective, seems to be gaining momentum in the way that it once had. Examples include several new projects, some of which I’m a part of due out later this year. Because of the current situation that faces Detroit, the passion of many music makers is at an all-time high, which usually results in new forms of music and revolutionary ideas. With dance music and its worldwide appeal, it’s only natural that attention be focused on Detroit where the techno sound has its origins.

There is talk of music becoming more political again with the inauguration of Trump? Do you see that happening?

Yes, I do. In fact, as an artist, I feel a responsibility to occasionally speak to certain issues that affect the masses. Furthermore, the voice of the artist is what many people will hear via music – whether it’s on radio, internet, TV or stage performance.

Who are your favorite vocalists?

Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, Nancy Wilson, Al Jarreau, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bono, Bob Marley, John Lucien and a few more.

And finally. What are your plans for the remainder of 2017?

I plan to continue recording and touring to promote the album. There will be more collaborative works with other artists. I will also be completing material for the BXT project along with Amp Fiddler. Most of all, I plan to continue growing spiritually, mentally and musically.

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U2XProductions // Detroit, MI USA