As Black Lives Matter protests rage on throughout the world, DVS1 has spoken out against an attitude held by some techno fans. The Minneapolis DJ and producer has defended Detroit techno icon Jeff Mills‘ recent shift in online presence as a means of contributing to the bigger conversation on race and dance music.
“Jeff Mills, who is one of the leading black techno artists in the world, one of the founders of UR (Underground Resistance) and a leading voice in music as a true art form, recently changed his profile picture to a Black Lives Matter image,” wrote DVS1 (real name Zak Khutoretsky) in a Facebook post. “After posting this image, many people have gone on to argue that “all lives matter” and jumped to say they are leaving his page because he has posted that as his image.”
Rather than vilify specific social media commentators, Khutoretski touched on techno’s legacy in “art and revolution,” explaining why responding with “all lives matter” can come across as tone deaf. He wrote, “Imagine if every time you complain about an ache or a pain in your body to someone, imagine if the person you asked for help, instead of hearing your pain and acknowledging it, simply responded with ‘What about me? I have pain too!'”
To know Mills’ place in techno’s revolutionary history is to understand why Khutoretski takes issue with fans dismissing the techno veteran’s voice in particular. As Selector recently explored, Underground Resistance were arguably the biggest reason the genre belongs in any conversation about protest music.
The label and DJ collective branded themselves with themes of militant uprising, posing incisive social commentary about the whitewashing of black music. Routinely performing in ski masks with the underlying mission of empowering young, African-American men, their artistic statement is eerily relevant amid the tumultuous events defining 2020 thus far.
This isn’t the first tike Khutoretski has spoken about the Black Lives Matter protests. Being that they erupted in the wake of George Floyd‘s apparent murder at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, he and fellow Minneapolis artist Dustin Zahn were among the first figures in dance music to voice their advocacy.
Mills has not publicly addressed any of the comments on his recent Facebook posts himself.