Some DJ sets pay homage not simply to older music, but to the DJs that introduced it to them.
Take Minneapolis’s Tek Fox. Born Neil Fox, he grew up in the western suburbs (Wayzata and Plymouth) and currently lives near Powderhorn Park. Fox started going to parties in 1993—right as the rave scene began picking up steam in the Twin Cities—but only started DJing three years ago. “I got into DJing after I kicked an opiate problem I'd had since 1996 after a rugby injury,” he notes.
Fox has a couple of modes as a DJ, both of which “focus on the history of what got us to where we are now.” Mode one is dance-floor classicist: “I play lots of disco and funk and soul edits along with early house music and acid house. I try and find the vibe Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, and Ron Hardy were bringing. I feel that it’s my job to remind our scene of its roots. I try to sound like I am in 1987 at the Music Box or Paradise Garage.”
In the other, with the Headspace Collective (THC), the loose conglomerate that Fox co-founded with Brandi Rasmussen and Elaine Marigold Avery, he “digs into a more psychedelic vibe: lots of ’60s and ’70s acid rock mixed with ambient and IDM like the Future Sound of London and Aphex Twin.”
“It was so different and futuristic sounding to me as a 15-year-old,” Fox says of discovering dance music in the mid-90s, and you can get an idea of what he’s talking about on his most recently uploaded set, Acid Nostalgia (February 21, 2018). An hour-long trip down memory lane, the set’s thirteen selections are a one-stop selection of vintage ’80s and ’90s classics, many of which hark back to the DJ’s own beginnings in the music.
“I first heard Phuture, DJ Pierre, and Orbital all on Scott Hardkiss mixtapes I bought at Cynestasia back in the ’90s,” he says. Acid’s foundational group, Phuture, get four selections (including “Acid Tracks,” the record that started it all), with one apiece from Phuture co-founder DJ Pierre, and Orbital (with a track from In Sides). Hardkiss, the late San Francisco DJ, also appears (as God Within). The result is kinetic as well as educational. “This mix is a look to the past to try and see a way forward,” says Fox.
In addition to DJing locally—Communion, Honey, Club Underground, Gamut Gallery, and Even Furthur are a handful of credits—Fox works sound for Cuts at Lush every third Wednesday. “It’s got the great, inclusive vibe we go for,” he promises.
First Friday Rendezvous
With: Eli Ruffer, Wild Flower, American Cream, Tek Fox
When: 9 p.m. Fri. Apr. 6
Tickets: Free; all ages; more info here
Are you a Twin Cities dance-music DJ? Michaelangelo Matos wants to hear your latest set. He writes about recent mixes by local DJs (and DJs making local appearances) every Thursday for City Pages. Tweet to his attention: @matoswk75.