The Exclusive Sessions: A journey into sound 

“In the beginning there was Jack, and Jack had a groove and from this groove came the grooves of all grooves.” So begins the ecclesiastical anthem of house (the vocal version of Larry Heard’s “Can You Feel it?”) and it pretty much defines the perspective of Traxx and The Exclusive Sessions. Who is Traxx and what is that Traxx does? Mel “Traxx” Oliphant is one of the most passionate and enthusiastic DJs to ever come from Chicago, a man who has been DJing for more than 13 years; when he spins there is nothing you can do but feel it. Recently he was made a monthly resident at Family (Tuesdays at Motor), and sometime soon his remix of DJ Hell for International DJ Gigolos will be released, his first move into production.

His style encompasses all that is good about electronic music from the perspective of a veteran who understands the roots, but much like someone like Shake, he tries to push the boundaries of where these roots can take us, combining amazing DJ skills with a deep knowledge and the ability to show you something new, even with something you thought you knew. Traxx is a true soldier of the underground, and he has chosen to include Detroit as part of his four-day celebration of life. Marking Mel’s 29th year of life, “The Exclusive Sessions” is a four-day blast presented in Chicago and Detroit, combining the best of the talents of the Midwest in a nonstop blur of amazing deep parties.

Not only is Traxx a true head, but he is a conduit of heads, as these sessions will prove. All too rarely do we see an event put together by an artist that is not created as a showcase for them, but is instead a showcase for what that artist believes in. Inspired by the DEMF (and 3x3), he has a lineup that reflects his diverse and adventurous tastes in music, with artists that embody innovation and uniqueness in sound. An exhibition in the expedition of new sound, combining the raw elements and allowing the artist’s own vision to light the spark. When asked why he included Detroit, the ever enigmatic Mel answered: “It’s my way of showing my appreciation of Detroit on the element of Jack.”

The sessions begin where the grooves began, in Chicago, on Friday, July 28. This night of theory will be at the club Rapture (located at 730 N. Green) and will be co-presented by Clear Entertainment, featuring LA’s John Tejada (Palatte/Seventh City), master of melodic techno, and Clear’s own Matty. The sessions reach Detroit Saturday, July 29, with the main event: The Sessions Exclusive at Motor. Showcasing the Midwest stronghold of sound, this night has headliners from Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, and Columbus, Ohio. Every room has very thoughtful lineups and each has been named with Traxx’s ever-inventive nomenclature; the main room being “the Revolution and End Reprise Environment” with Cajmere aka Green Velvet headlining, spinning a techno set. The room also features the first live set in four years from the brainiac power of Ohio’s Todd Sines and a DJ set from Detroit’s own Twonz. The next room has been appropriately named “The Jetset Mindtricks Forum” featuring Toronto’s Kenny Glasgow, Ectomorph and Traxx’s recording partner from Chicago Deecoy aka TDC.

The back room will be a study in deepness with Chicago’s Soul Foundation DJ’s Bjak and Swann, providing raw prehouse funk, the kind that feels like a more organic house. Insanely enough, the night doesn’t end there; an official afterparty will be held in association with Sharif featuring the talents of Carlos Souffront, Derek Plaslaiko and Scott Z.

On Sunday the sessions continue in association with Odic Force, at their Sunday night weekly Effexx on the outside deck at Hockeytown. This is the night of the deepest heads, venturing far into deep house and beyond through the minds of Theo Parish, Mike “Agent X” Clark, Mike Huckaby, Traxx and Brenda D (from the Chicago Soul Foundation), outside on the deck under the stars. Could be quite a night. On Monday the sessions move back to Chicago on the day of Traxx’s birthday, to “The Pontiac Cafe” featuring the Chicago debut (can you believe this?) of Theo Parish, as well as Traxx and Bjak. Just beating it.

Pitch’d is MT’s biweekly column devoted to Detroit’s BPM musiculture. E-mail to

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