by Ryan Meehan
Big Joe Hix and Dj Southside were both born and raised in Detroit,MI. Both were educated in electronic music during the early 90’s in Detroit’s underground scene. Playing early “warehouse” parties is where they met. Long time friends, they decided to join forces in 2005 to form the Midnite Jackers. Since their first release these two have been making their mark in the house music scene, with releases on Exchange Bureau Music, Coyote Cuts, Bang Tech 12, MoHouse records, and Open Bar music. Their tracks have found support from Mark Farina, T.Linder, Derrick Carter, Hugh Cleal and Bryan Jones, Dj Seoul, and Chuck Daniels to name a few. They have been featured on Dave Clarks “White Noise radio” and recently on Mark Farina’s “Urban Coyotes” mix cd.
RM: Where did the name “Midnite Jackers” originally come from? Does that name work in your favor when it comes to acquiring that set time?
Southside: The name Midnite Jackers comes from a few different places. I first came up with the name back in 1997 when I first heard of Detroit’s infamous radio jock from the mid 80’s the Electrifying Mojo. He used to have a fan club of sorts called the Midnight Funk Association. So the name is sort of a nod to what he brought musically to Detroit. He would play all the cutting edge music of the day on his show. He is also accredited with giving artists like Juan Atkins,Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and the early Detroit guys their first chance to have their music played to the masses. The second place the name comes from is most of the parties in Detroit in the early 90’s didn’t even start till 12:00am. The third is the old school Chicago term to dance or Jack. Basically it means we dance at midnight. Most parties start to get hype around midnight so yeah…
Joe: Ya the name doesn’t having anything to do with stealing or any sexual innuendos. It has helped us get time slots according to the name though. I think promoters just like to give us a hard time when we ask what time we play “Midnight! ..Duh!” LOL
RM: You recently played the Movement Electronic Music Festival at Hart Plaza in Detroit…What was that whole experience like for you as performers? In a city that has had very public economic problems, how do you think that Detroit continues to be such a major player in the development of the electronic dance music culture?
Joe: Playing Movement was an absolute BLAST!! We had an amazing crowd for our set and it was also live streamed. We got messages from around the world from people who tuned in to watch us play. Was pretty cool to be able to have friends and fans that couldn’t make it still be there with us. Paxahau is an amazing company to work with. They treat the artists so well. From catered food to being as accommodating as possible. This was personally my second time performing there. First time for the both of us. To answer the second part of the question… Yes, things do suck economically here but there is such a distinct vibe in Detroit. Detroit has such a rich history of always prevailing. I think there is kind of this aura that you feel when you enter the city. Even though it may look decaying you can just feel the life bubbling underneath everything. I think this is where a lot of artists gather their inspiration from. The possibility of things that can be.
Southside: Like Joe said Movement was amazing!! Paxahau is bar none one of the best promotion companies in the world!! Their attention to every detail shows! Quick shout out to everyone at Paxahau and their tireless effort in putting together this amazing event! As to the second question I think Joe pretty much hit the nail on the head.
RM: Your track “Wanna Play” from the Coyote Cuts Volume 10 compilation has a very serious disco feel to it…When you’re going through samples do you ever try to completely take yourself out of what is going on from a rhythmic perspective on the original track so you can focus on what YOU think the beat should sound like?
Southside: Sometimes we do. At a first listen some of our tracks may sound like bootlegs, but really we have kinda taken what we feel are the best parts of a sample or track and rearrange them to fit our needs. If its putting vocals out of order or skipping verses entirely. We skip breakdowns all the time to add our own interpretation of the track.
Joe: It just depends on what we are trying to convey with the track. Sometimes their are just certain elements that are just so dope you cant mess with perfection.
RM: What type of software do you use to make beats? Do you have multiple programs that you use depending on what type of track you’re constructing or do you pretty much stick with the same one?
Southside: We use Abelton as our DAW. We do use some plug-ins for bass, drums, etc. and no we aren’t gonna tell ya what plug-ins. That’s a secret! 😉
RM: What’s the biggest mistake that you think DJs make when writing dance music?
Southside: Personally for me it’s thinking more is more. Some of the most classic tracks ever written are no more than a simple drum beat, lead, and bass line. You don’t have to add a billion sounds to your track. Sometimes the simpler you make it the more rich it will sound. Also levels!!! Quit trying to push everything in the red. Red means stop for a reason. You’re just distorting the sound at that point.
Joe: Going with what Paul said using cohesive sounds. Everything needs to blend well. Things that sound slightly out of place at home are going to sound WAY out of place in the club. Keep it simple, keep it fun!
RM: What would you say is your all-time favorite sound to use…all the way from the 303 up until the second you answer these interview questions? What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed when it comes to your preference of sounds over the years?
Joe: The classics!! 909 and 808 drums! Made in the 80’s and industry standard for a reason.
Southside: I agree with Joe. Also a big fan of Moog synthesizers. As far as preferences over the years go, I don’t think it’s the sounds it’s just knowing where they come from now. Music production is an ever evolving thing. I just like deep rich warm sounds. The kind that just make ya smile!
RM: Where does EDM go from here? What contribution do you feel that you two can make that other performers might not have to offer?
Joe: You know, it’s hard to say where EDM goes from here. You’re always going to have new genres popping up. I think the biggest thing we bring to the table is knowledge. We have both been DJing for almost 20 years now. We care about where the music started and where it’s going. You have to know your roots to be able to push yourself forward.
Southside: Like Joe said knowledge. You have to know the reasons people did things in the past. From why they did tracks this way or that way. If you don’t know the “why” you’re never going to understand the “how”. Too many fly by night producers just in it for the money. They will come and go just as quick. We love and breathe this music! That’s what has given us the longevity that we’ve had. You can’t fake the funk.
RM: What’s up next for the Midnite Jackers in the remainder of 2013? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
Southside: We have a bunch of things in the works. We are currently starting our summer tour. We will be playing our last shows in Detroit June 20th (89.3 WHFR) June 21st (Tech-Troit) which is a free 3 day event, and June 22nd Konkrete Jungle at The Works. Then our first stop of the tour will be June 29th in Rock Island, IL at 4play Sportsbar for the House Nation guys, July 13th in Fort Wayne, IN July 21st in Toledo, OH, taking a month off to relax then we are off to Milwaukee, Philadelphia, NYC, and Cincinnati in September. Trying to keep busy.
Joe: Just trying to travel a bit. We also have a few releases we are working on for Coyote Cuts, Full House Digital Recordings, and Doin’ Work records. Those will all be coming out in the next few months.
RM: Check out Midnite Jackers on Saturday, June 29th in Rock Island at 4Play Sportsbar. It’s a great place to come have a drink and dance to the best live EDM artists from all over the country.
Midnite Jackers on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MidniteJackers
Midnite Jackers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/midnitejackers
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