live – vol. 037 : Neil V + Interview

This month’s mix feature is the Detroit Techno Militia member Neil V. He crafted a 1.5 hour mix that is sure to get your head knocking and feet moving! I’m so glad to have him on as a guest and hope you learn a little bit about him.

He has played around the globe, loves the city of Detroit, and you can catch him at two locations coming up soon (peep the interview).

In his interview, we talk about things like how he got started in music, when he joined DTM, what his kids think of him DJing, who to look out for in the scene, favorite international tour spots, deep dish vs thin crust, if he would rather fight 50 spider size tigers or one tiger size spider, and more.

Check out his mix – on SoundCloud now! I hope you enjoy his feature. How did you start DJing?

Neil V: It started while I went to my first rave in 1996 at the Packard Plant. I was dating a girl at the time that was friends with Tom Newman and he along with Dan Bell were on the bill for the party. My love for DJing took off from there. I’ve always been a music lover, before my focus on house and techno it was rap and r&b. I remember buying my first cheap ass turntables and two channel mixer. I had a friend named Jimmy who DJ’d take me under his wing in the beginning, and then I met Tom Linder in the late 90s and we have been friends since then – learning a lot from each other. You had your own record label for a while, right?

Neil V: Yes, Techno City Records. It was managed by my friend Jimmy and I in the early 2000s. We had a couple releases on vinyl and it didn’t last too long, at the time it was a lot of work to run a label with just two people. He and I used to play a lot of 2×4 sets. I know that now Tom and Bill [Detroit Techno Militia] are the main attraction for the 2×4 sets, but one thing that people may not know is that if Tom or Bill can’t make it then I am the backup guy. I have been tempted to start another label with everything being a bit easier being all digital, but overall I’d rather DJ and work on my own music. When did you join Detroit Techno Militia and what are some things you have learned from the crew?

Neil V: I joined in 2004. They asked me to join it as I was moving to New York City, and I lived there for about a year. There were some DTM members who did not live in Detroit and with me it would help them get some exposure in NYC. So that was my initial start. But I came home to Detroit shortly after and I have been a member ever since. 

What have I learned from them? I’ve learned a lot. If you’ve noticed, we all have different styles of DJing and the music we play. I’ve learned how to take those different elements from the crew members and incorporate them into my own sets. That and the aspect of being a big family are two things that I cherish. What are some of your favorite international tour spots?

Neil V: Berlin. That’s always a no brainer. Just because I mean, outside of Detroit, that’s the Mecca, right? There’s also a lot of expats there. A lot of Americans that we know, especially people from Detroit live there, so it’s always good to reconnect with them. Another one I would say is Columbia. Tom and I toured there pre-COVID and it was my first time there. We had a host who was one of the nicest guys that took us everywhere and I’d love to go back. What are some of your upcoming events?

Neil V: At the end of August I am playing for 5th Dimension’s Heater event, and I am playing Dally in the Alley with Bill and Dezi on September 10th. This year’s Movement you played in the VIP section with Bill and Tom, and then you also played at the Bang Tech 12 Friday night party at Bookie’s – how did it feel to be back?

Neil V: I think just being back was great. We had two years of not having it. It was crazy. I remember Memorial Day weekend in 2020 sitting outside on my deck listening to the Paxahau live stream with the kids playing in the sprinklers. Seeing everybody come back and hang out at the festival this year was just amazing. Sunday was always the busiest day to me but this year it seemed like every day was packed, especially at nighttime. Who is on your radar in the scene that we should look out for?

Neil V: I think he’s already made it – but Augustus Williams, who just got selected for a Berlin residency. I remember seeing him 10 years ago when he was just getting started and he just played at Movement for the first time this year. The other one to look out for is Henry Brooks. He’s made a big presence for himself pretty quickly. He’s the next one to blow up. What do you do for work?

Neil V: I work for Guardian Life Insurance in the dental insurance industry. I started with them in about 2007. Do I love it? Sure. It’s not what I thought I’d end up doing but it’s been a good career path for me. Bill and Tom [Detroit Techno Militia} have traveled around the world while having careers, and I’ve traveled as well but not to the extent that they have. But I ended up with a good job that pays the bills really well. If you would have told me 20 years ago that I’d have this job, I would have laughed. What are some hobbies that you have?

Neil V: I like to run and work out. I started running about six years ago. I have lost a lot of weight through the years, 320 at my heaviest and then hitting 219 a few years ago. The reason I picked up running was that you don’t see many overweight and dedicated runners. Do I love it? No. But people think I do. I’m nowhere near the level of Mike from Detroit Threads, though. Another hobby of mine is playing video games like sports games, first person shooters, and Animal Crossing. Also, spending time with my kids. You have a beautiful family! How did you meet your wife?

Neil V: Thank you! My wife is four years younger than me. I have a sister who she went to high school with. My wife did ballet for like 16 years, and then when she graduated high school she went to Pittsburgh to a performance art school on a scholarship for ballet. After being there for a year, she was like, I don’t want to do this anymore. So she came home and ran into my sister and then they were like, Hey, we should hang out, we like to go to parties and raves, let’s go. My sister would mention that I was a DJ, so they came out to some of my gigs. It’s funny because I couldn’t wait to tell my kids where I first asked their mom out at Mack & Bellevue which is no longer there because it burned down. We started dating in 2000, got married in 2009, and started having kids in 2013. What do you think is the best part about having kids and what do they think about their dad being a DJ?

Neil V: Having kids is a lot of fucking work. It’s a lot of work but it’s also very rewarding. Watching them grow up is absolutely amazing. I’m pretty public on social media about how my oldest son has non-verbal autism. Having kids but especially a special needs kid definitely changes you and the way you look at things. The best part is seeing the little rewards. I can’t wait for 30-40 years from now when my wife and I are old and having all the kids and potential grandkids coming to visit us. That’s one of the moments where I’ll look back and think “This was all worth it.”

The kids watch me work on music and DJ, they think it’s cool, but I know deep down inside they don’t think it’s that cool. They’re just little kids that don’t really understand it fully yet. What’s your favorite season and why?

Neil V: I love summer now because our house has a swimming pool. Summer is always number one with all the outdoor events and festivals. I also love the transition from summer into fall. What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?

Neil V: Smoking weed. Are there any shows you’ve been into lately?

Neil V: I’m a big comic book nerd so I’m into all the MCU stuff. Whatever is on Disney Plus. Deep Dish vs Thin Crust pizza?

Neil V: Deep Dish 100%. Would you rather fight 50 spider size tigers or one tiger size spider?

Neil V: That’s a tough one. I’d go with the one tiger size spider. I feel like I have a better chance with one thing.

Make sure you check out Neil’s Destination Detroit – Harmonie Park and his Recipe by Request (Lichen – Filipino Crispy Pork Belly).

Keep up with Neil V on his socials: