Amidst the flashing lights and swirling silhouettes of strangers, we clasp sweaty plastic cups brimming with overpriced cocktails. This isn’t a night for small talk; we’re here to dance. We’re making an everlasting bond with the sound stack. Commanding this pulsating dance floor, DJ Minx weaves enchanting sonic spells. Her techno prowess captivates not only her hometown of Detroit, but international audiences as well, making 2023 a milestone year for The First Lady of Wax.
Born in 1967, Minx began her DJ journey in the late 80s, spinning tracks at local Detroit haunts like The Loft, holding a pivotal residency at Club Motor, and becoming a staple voice over the airwaves, hosting long-running radio shows for WGPR and CJAM. In late 1996, Minx formed a collective of female musicians, producers, and DJs under the name Women on Wax, later launching a record label under the same title.
One of the label’s first releases came in 2004 with Minx’s “A Walk In The Park,” a song that was recently reprised in a remix from the DJ’s longtime friend, mentor, and Motor City icon, Moodymann. The camera-shy and genuine Detroit techno-scene ally adds a creative twist while preserving the minimal bass of Minx’s iconic 2004 track, stacking soulful chords and unraveling it into an auditory acid trip. Delivered through Insomniac’s house and techno imprint Factory 93, the remixed track is yet another fruit of the friendship between two Detroit mavericks.
Minx has been a recipient of the Spirit of Detroit Award, a fixture at the Detroit Movement Festival for over 20 years, and is now ascending to the peak of musical notoriety. 2023 has given way to a whirlwind of high-profile international gigs, with appearances at staple Ibiza club Hï Ibiza, Berlin’s storied Panorama Bar, Defected Festival in Croatia, and many more.
Ahead of her US and European tour, FLAUNT caught up with DJ Minx to discuss building a connection with the crowd, the appropriate time to leave the club, and The Twilight Zone.
When was the first time you fell in love with a crowd? And when was the most recent time you fell in love with a crowd?
The very first time I fell in love with a crowd was in Detroit. While playing a set, everyone was standing around talking. On the dance floor and near the DJ booth, folks were chatting. I looked up and hit the button on the turntable. Shut off the track. Everyone immediately looked at me...silence in the club. I didn’t have a microphone, so I yelled, ‘The next track I’m going to play is a banger. I absolutely will NOT play this track if you are going to keep jaw-jacking and not dancing! THIS is a hot track....DO you want to hear it?’ Everyone in the club in unison shouted, ‘YES!’ I said questionably, ‘Okay, I’ll put it on... but don’t make me stop this music again!’ I hit the button on the turntable and everyone screamed and danced the rest of my set...non-stop! Afterwards, I must’ve had a personal conversation with everyone in attendance. I got the most love that night.
Recently, I played a five-hour set at my residency in Detroit. I’m a house and techno DJ 99% of the time, but around midnight this particular night, I stopped the music and put on some hip-hop. Old school hip-hop. Eric B & Rakim hip hop. The crowd never missed a beat! They bounced through Run DMC and 50 Cent and back into techno. My heart was throbbing.
“A Walk In the Park” was initially inspired by the immediate environment around you. What are some domestic (or just innocuous) environments from which you draw sonic inspiration today?
Big time inspiration from music in coffee shops or airport lounges. I’ve heard elements or sounds that I can’t wait to sketch out on my iPad to add to something I’m working on.
When people want to have a good time, they come dance to you. Your work, it seems, is other people’s play. How do you personally navigate work and play?
I navigate work and play by providing music that the masses want to hear. I connect with them musically. Some of the places I’ve worked in are new to me, so I spend time exploring the city, different restaurants, and getting to know folks I’ve only spoken to via social media.
House music is ubiquitous these days, and many people seem to forget that it really originated as a Black, Queer genre. When you think about the house/trance music of today and of yesteryear, do you think it informed your understanding of your own identity? How has your own identity been reflected in your work within the genre?
The music I create comes from within. I have played and produced music from all types of artists and don’t feel it’s given me an understanding of my identity. It’s allowed me to expand my reach and do away with boundaries that were once present. If I feel it, it’s coming.
While you serve as a mentor figure for the artists in Women on Wax, I’m wondering: What have the artists on the label been able to teach you? What has Women on Wax given you?
Something I learned from artists on WOW: It’s okay to make changes while you’re working on fulfilling your dreams. Our music is timeless, universal, and it appeals to different people in all parts of the world. Step outside of the box and put out what your heart wants to share. I’ll NEVER forget that!
What keeps you up at night?
The Twilight Zone. For real. I could be exhausted but will wait until it comes on and watch it with one eye closed until the very end. I rest very well at night (after that).
The age-old question that plagues most partygoers: How do you know when it’s time to go home?
When the music stops, it’s time to roll out. NOT when the lights come on, because there’s a bit of time left there. You should hang out until the music is turned off and I blow you a kiss.
Photographed by James Adams
Written by Isaac Dektor