Dr Mu (born Noël Fuchs: 1962-2014) was a hard trance/techno DJ and record producer.
Born in Strasbourg on 20th December 1962, he moved to London in the mid-80s: a Goth Punk who would stand on Trafalgar Square and charge tourists £1 per picture!
Not many people knew he was French. He looked more Nordic than Gallic and his accent wasn’t too strong, at least not in the loud venues in which he worked.
His music career took off in the mid-90s, when he became a resident DJ at two major clubs in London: Heaven and Turnmills, as well as a guest DJ across the UK and Europe.
Dr Mu’s style was tribal, yet melodic. The music he played had a dream-like quality to it and at the same time it compelled you to get up and dance. Over a two-hour set, he’d take you on a journey through life!
The music he wrote himself and co-produced with his friend Seb was rather dark, but also humorous.
Be Silent (1996), for instance, inspired by the film The Exorcist, featured the priest’s voice saying “Be silent!” and “Do it again!” to the possessed little girl.
In Qaanaaq (1996) the two main themes were an Inuit folk song composed by an elder from the town of Qaanaaq in northern Greenland and a melancholic keyboard melody by Dr Mu.
And NDN (1997) featured the chanting of Native Americans, a passion of Noël’s since childhood, along with Bette Davis’s voice saying “It’s going to be a bumpy night!” (from the legendary All About Eve).
I’ll never forget the day I met him, back in ’95, at a techno matinée in Soho: the tall, handsome Viking I’d been waiting for all my life! We were always an unlikely couple. The gaps in age and height were substantial and we came from contrasting musical cultures: English punk rock and classical music. Siouxsie and the Banshees versus Skrjabin.
Techno music brought us together, as it did for countless other people from very diverse sociocultural backgrounds and walks of life. Turnmills in the 90s was more than mere clubbing: it was a spiritual experience! Meaningful, enduring friendships were formed within those walls – something that doesn’t tend to happen at your average nightclub.
Besides punk rock and hard trance, Dr Mu loved Dead or Alive and the KLF, You Spin Me Round and What Time Is Love? being two of his favourite songs. His very name was inspired by the KLF’s original name: The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. In the late 80s, the band had shaken up the world of pop music with the controversial use of the digital sampler, with which they copied bits of existing music and pasted them onto a new, often humorous context.
With more of a sentimental side to him than he cared to show, Noël also liked Édith Piaf and other singers of chanson française – within limits, though, which I’d occasionally push by playing some really soppy song just to tease him. Je suis malade by Serge Lama, for instance, never failed to get on his nerves.
Among his best-loved movies were Abigail’s Party and Personal Services and he was a big fan of John Waters and Divine’s films. But his favourite actress was the legendary Jeanne Moreau, who once famously said, “I always thought I would die young, but now it’s too late.”
The last time I saw him, a few weeks before his passing, we watched two short films from the 1950s: Le Balon rouge (The Red Balloon) and Crin-Blanc (White Mane), by Albert Lamorisse – both so movingly beautiful that we were left speechless for a while.
Dr Mu passed away in his home in London on 29th September 2014. His untimely death left a big void in the lives of those of us who loved him. But his legacy lives on and his music will keep on rocking dance floors around the world for many years to come.
The following lines were written in French by Noël’s old friend, Simone, who read them out at his funeral. Some of their beauty has been inevitably lost in translation.
Your familiar figure in the middle of the dance floor has disappeared forever You’ve left the darkness for the light Now we only have questions, memories, regrets I remember the shy, tall boy with the blue jumper I met in school The forbidden nights, our first concerts, first spliffs And the music, even then, the music I remember the Gothic creature, huge mohican, lying back in my car racing into the night To the music, always to the music I remember the boy with the checked shirt, Tintin of modern times And the music, always the music I remember the DJ dancing behind the decks Goosebumps, ecstasy, the night at 130bpm Wonderful, magical, ephemeral moments But the night can be a cruel, ungrateful lover Sleeplessness, shadows, fears She caught you in her web We stood there powerless, incapable of pulling you back The night took you away And yet, the young boy with the blue jumper, the Gothic creature, the boy with the checked shirt, the DJ all keep coming back as if on a loop Just like the music, always the music
Ta silhouette familière au milieu du dance floor a disparu pour toujours Tu as quitté l’ombre pour la lumière Il ne reste que des souvenirs, des questions, des regrets Je me souviens du grand garçon timide au pull bleu rencontré au lycée Nuits clandestines, premiers pétards, premiers concerts Et la musique, déjà la musique Je me souviens de la créature gothique, crête de 30cm, allongée dans la voiture filant vers la nuit En musique, toujours en musique Je me souviens du garçon en chemise à carreaux, Tintin des temps modernes Et la musique, toujours la musique Je me souviens du DJ dansant derrière les platines Frissons, extase, la nuit à 130bpm Moments magiques, merveilleux, éphémères Mais la nuit est aussi une maîtresse ingrate et cruelle Peurs, insomnies, ombres Elle t’a pris dans ses filets Nous étions là, impuissants, incapables de te retenir La nuit t’a emporté Pourtant, le jeune garçon au pull bleu, la créature gothique, le garçon à la chemise à carreaux, le DJ reviennent en boucle Comme la musique, toujours la musique