Def Mix turns 20! | Skip to main content

Def Mix turns 20!

Def Mix turns 20!

Happy birthday, Def Mix! It's official: the original house music organisation has turned 20 this year.

The DJ agency and management company represented by Judy Weinstein and 4 of the hottest DJs on the planet - Satoshi Tomiie, Frankie Knuckles, David Morales and Hector Romero – are celebrating 20 momentous years shaping and guiding the house music industry from within and without. To celebrate, they're embarking on an epic world tour, including a Def Mix weekender at Turnmills on May bank holiday weekend. "This year we're picking out about 10-15 clubs where there are at least two rooms," confirms Weinstein. "The guys will all tour with the Def Mix banner, everything will be branded that way, but there will be some events where all four play together. That's exciting!"

Weinstein, a stalwart of the music industry, has been described as the most powerful woman in dance music, and started one of the first DJ record pools 'For The Record' in 1978, from which such legends as Larry Levan and Jellybean borrowed and traded the hottest disco tracks and mixing techniques. In 1987, she banded together with David Morales to create Def Mix Productions, the first of its kind: a self-sufficient super DJ agency and management company, which projected the idea of the Def Mix brand, quickly becoming synonymous with the very essence of house music. Shortly afterward, Frankie Knuckles joined the team, and Satoshi Tomiie was discovered by Knuckles in Japan and persuaded to come to NYC. Hector Romero, in-house label boss for Morales Definity Records and Tomiie's Saw Recordings, joined the DJ partnership in '94.

They introduced many innovations. Under their auspices, the Def Classic Mix was born – a patented form of ultra soulful remix originally by Knuckles, where the source artists would be given club-ready, credible remix makeovers, sometimes utterly transforming the original tunes into entirely new cuts. Remixes followed of almost every superstar artist eager for some club rotation – everyone from Bjork to U2, Eric Clapton to Seal. Satoshi Tomiie sees the birth of the Def Classic Mix and Red Zone Mix as a real dance music turning point. "In the early days when house was getting more popular, we crossed the boundaries between underground club music and mainstream pop music. We brought a swinging, dark underground feel to the pop. That's something that had never been done before, and it opened doors for a lot of people."At the same time, the core of DJs continued to bolster their reputations as some of the very best on the planet, and continue to play worldwide gigs constantly. Def Mix parties around the globe continue, with this year's huge birthday blowout only the latest example.

Weinstein points out the reasons why the Def Mix has remained so relevant. "We introduced a Def Mix sound. Nowadays you don't find the quality, there's all these different formats and it's almost like the more noise the better. We had that very clean, heavy bottom, you could hear the vocals. We changed it back then. Now we're attempting to keep up with the time. With someone like Satoshi, he's making the times. It's interesting watching David doing a hybrid of what he comes from, and where he's going. And we find Frankie being the truest to the format of house which he helped create. And Hector, he just plays it all."

"It's really satisfying to have made it to 20," confides Judy Weinstein. "I think a lot of start-up companies don't make it past their first 2 years. I remember when I first started the record pool 30 years ago, someone told me that most small companies fail, but when you get past 5 years, you're gonna make it. I do remember counting the five years, and then when the fifth anniversary happened, I thought, we're gonna make it."

Plans for the future include a triple CD of Def Mix greatest hits, and simply keeping on keeping on. "We want to make it to 25 so we can have a silver anniversary! We have so much love for each other and respect - That's the best part of turning 20."