Techno is an subgenre of electronic dance music which is started in Detroit, Michigan in theUSA during 1980s. The first time ”techno” is used as a term was in 1984. There are manystyles of techno but Detroit techno is one of the pioneers of the subgenre.Detroit Techno is influenced by African American music and also Chicago house, funk,electro, electro jazz. Artist such as Kraftwerk, Giorgio Mordor and Yellow Magic Orchestra’sfirst attempt to electronic voices in genre, affect the sound of subgenre ”Detroit Music”. Allthose bands we talk about are from Europe countries.
Detroit techno started in America. Thatis why it has futuristic and fictional themes relevant to life in America’s capitalist society.Because of lack of documentation of Detroit techno music, there is a gap in its story betweenthe days of Motown and the rise of tecno in the mid 80.
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Tale of techno started early 80s Detroit, three friends – Juan Atkins, Derrick Mayand EddieFowlkes creating ‘Belleville Three’ . Radio channels which were playing everything fromKraftwerk to Funkadelic was also influenced the period and it became so popular suddenly.Juan Atkins put all these influences together and he created the form Cybotron. In his labelwhich was named Metroplex, he released the song ”Techno City”. It was the first time itmade appearance as ”techno”.
It was followed by the compilation Techno! The New DanceSound of Detroit, which was released in 1988 on Virgin, where England and soon Europediscovered the work of the three super talented artists. England, Belgium and Germany wasone of the most influenced countries by techno music’s repetitive kick. With time, theyadopted and developed the music in their own styles. Ever then, dance music never stoppedwith the participation of youth.MotownMotown was an important label which was closed its recording studio in 1972 and it openedin Los Angeles. Citys music culture started to go down with Motown’s closing. Detroittechno’s beginning started to give a live to music culture in Detroit.
has been the motortown’s live music business. An industry which includes as a principal ingredient one of themost active and diverse club scenes to be found everywhere in country.There were no fewer than ten top flight music spots thriving (to one degree another) in thecity, places like Watt’s Club Mozambique and Henry’s on Fenkell (”The Strip”) and otherwest side spots like Lowman’s West Side Club, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge ,King’s Row:Highland Park’s Pretzel Bowl and the east side blues havens Ethel’s Lounge.What it means it that people who was frequenting these places generally get a choice ofseeing one of the six to ten different , extremely talented performers on any weekend night. Alarge majority of the artists were national recording acts, most were black, all play eitherpopular r, jazz, blues or some combination thereof- and many had deep roots and largefollowings in the area. So the town jumped on the weekends, if you were around any of thesehot music pots.In 1960s, one of the hottest spots in the town was the 20 Grand, opened by Motor city label,institution which had been operating on the near west side at Warren. It had been in operationfor 20 years.
Aside from its incredibly story, what further distinguished the 20 Grand had anewly rejuvenated booking policy in the periods time which had major talent visiting the clubeach and every weekend.Eli Fountain who was talent coordinator for 10 years, talked to a magazine which waspublishing in the 60s. She claimed they were aiming to bring new and young people into theirclub. They wanted to create something dynamic rather than ”sure shots” every once inawhile. The sporadic appearance of ”sure shots” at some clubs comprises their entirebooking policy, reflecting the main failing of the scene: a general inconsistency and shakinessof scheduling. Many clubs did not know very much about the process. With its closing,Detroit was thrilled and had to start a new era.
With disco musics becoming a popular genre and a mainstream, funk bands held precedencein Detroit scene. There were also R band who also involved with trumpets, drums, guitars,pianos and vocals. When strings were added in, they created a beautiful base for Disco music.A Detroit DJ Felton Howard claimed that If ”you took classical and put it with a funk bandthat had a full piece, you got disco,”.
Club owners became aware of the new explored sound and they got attracted easily especiallyMotwon’s lineup was always first they checked. The 20 Grand made funk music turn intodisco music. There is an also economical fact about the situation. Bands had more teammembers which meant they cost more money. Also their equipments rental were expensive.In the other hand DJ’s were generally just one person and they costed less money than bandsfee. DJ’s also had all the popular records on the playlist so there were less need for bandsanymore.
By the end of the decade, disco’s explosion was finishing especially following 1979s DiscoDemolition Night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. However it did not mean that dance musiccome to an end.Pioneers of Detroit TechnoIn Detroit, high school students began coming together under social clubs and throwingdance parties in halls under labels such as Courtier, Chiaparell, Charivari and so many ofthem, all named after Italian clubs and designers at the periods. The music was still fresh andmixing with two turntables and a mixer was getting more and more populer. Disco music gigswere everywhere full of young people.Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Eddie Fowlkes to the origins of a genre. In 70s earls whenJuan Atkins was ten years old, he was so passionate about music that his father gifted him aelectric guitar. He says ‘One day when I came home from school, there was this guitarwaiting for me.
I loved Jimi Hendrix, and the first Parliament Funkadelic records, Sly Stone,guys I watched on TV and tried to imitate.’A while later, Juan returned to school in Belleville which is 50 km away from Detroit. Hestarted to stay in his grandmother’s home. It was a pretty suburban place and it wasn’t easy tocome by troubles. His grandmother had a Hammond B3 organ which Juan Atkins playedoftenly. He was going to the music shop where there was a room with synthesisers in. He wastrying to create weird sounds so that he decided to buy a Korg MS10 but he had to beg to hisfamily for it. They bought it and it was the first electronic instrument of Juan Atkins.
At the same time period, Eddie Fowlkes also started to interest in music. He was living in thecenter of Detroit. He was crazy about jazz, soul and disco music. When he was kid, he waslistening mostly soul but with his uncle’s returning back to USA from Vietnam , he learnedjazz music and get into it.
His grandfather and also his neighbors were mostly listening blues.Detroit was full of different music played all over. With his sister he went to one of the discomusic event organized by school and he really liked it and decided that it was his thing. Theywere playing playing some disco from the New York based label Prelude Records.
How djsused turntables influenced him and he wished to be a part of it. For christmas he asked hisfamily to buy him a mixer. He was 15 years old at time, in 1978. When he got the turntable,he closed himself to his room which was in the cellar and made his first mix with a tapeplayer. When school started, he distributed his cassettes to play in people’s car. In that time,everybody was willing to be a DJ. On his cassettes there was also Elton John and discorecords all buyed from record store which wasn’t far from his home.
The owner of the shopwas Eddie Kendrics who was one of the members of the band The Temptations.The other legend, Derrick May had a similar childhood. He was also born in Detroit.
Hestayed there whole his life. His mother raised him alone because his father was gone fromhome and he was visiting home once in a while. Like Juan Atkins, his was also a big fan ofElton John.When he left for college in Belleville, he met Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson who wasliving alone because his family moved to New York. They became really good friendsbecause also they had similar taste of music. Juan prefered to run his own company. Herecorded his demos in his bedroom. He used two Kenwood cassette players and pre amplifiedmixer.
He recorded the Korg MS10 with electric guitar and a bass. For percussion, he useddrum tracks from an pre recorded drum rhythms album. From one cassette, he played thesounds through the mixer before recording them on the other tape.
He says ” ‘I wouldn’t stopthis kind of back-and-forth between the two cassette players before I had finished with asong. And in the end I made myself a demo with four or five songs on it. And at that point Iwent to university, to Washtenaw Community College”He started taking music classes and everybody was in agreement that Juan has talent. RichDavis who was Vietnam Veteran invited him to play together. He was so surprised becauseDavis never accepted playing with other person until he discovered Juan’s demo.
RickDavis’s home was all black except the lights of keyboard, sequencers and drum machine.Rick was ten years older than Atkins. He had so many equipments and records at his home.He was also a intellectual man.
He was like a teacher to Atkins. They both liked sciencefiction a lot. From their futuristic discussions they decided to put their group Cybotron name.The name comes from the futurist author Alvin Toffler, from whom he borrowed the terms’cybotron’ and ‘metroplex.’ For Juan Atkins’s label they decided on ”Metroplex”. The firstCybotron record was released in 1981 with name ” Alleys Of Your Mind”.
It was releasedby Deep Space label which is started by Derrick May and Juan Atkins. It was clear that therecord was influenced by Kraftwerk, german synth pop band. The bass lines were influencedby Bernie Worrel the keyboardist for Funkadelic. It was like a combination of Kraftwerk andP – Funk.Detroit’s new opened Fm station listen the mix and started to play the records. Charles ‘TheElectrifying Mojo’ Johnson played their records in his shows. His shows were several hourslong and always started with spaceship noises. His futuristic attitude attracted Juan Atkins.
He taught Cybotron and Mojo could fit perfectly. He asked some people and learned thatMojo was going to the cafe next to the broadcast building which he was working in. One day,Derrick May decided to give him their album ”Alleys Of Mind”. In the back side of cassettethere was ”Cosmic Raindance”. Mojo really loved the album and he said to Derrick May hewas going to play the record, it wasn’t important for him who they were but just the amazingrecord.
Two days later Mojo played the album on his show in 1981’s summer. However henever mentioned their name on his shows. That wasn’t fair and people knew Mojo wasn’t aDJ.Eddie Fowlkes already had gained popularity with his mix tapes. He was hanging withpeople who has good turntables and practising his skills. He was becoming more and morepopular in his neighborhood. He finally met with Derrick May and later Juan Atkins.
Theycreated the Deep Space crew which was designed as a label and organising club nights.Under the Deep Space name, Eddie organized couple of students night in the university. Theyhad a mobile sound system with lights.Deep Space was highly influenced by Chicago’s Frankie Knuckles and Ken Collier inDetroit.
These DJs similar characteristic is playing disco music bordering on house and thenew sound which come from Europe. Ken Collier was an important person for the scene whoshowed people underground music. He was playing at rave student parties. During one ofthose parties in Belleville he met with a guy named Kevin Saunderson. He was so inspired ofAtkins and May that he wanted to produce his own music.In 1983 Cybotron became so successful with the release of the record ”Clear”.
HoweverRick Davis wanted to go with Progressive Rock and Juan launched his own label Metroplexand took the name Model 500.At the same time, in Chicago, disco was still so popular and people were starting to takenotice of new music style of Detroit. Derrick May’s mother had to move to Chicago. Whilevisiting his mother, he started to run parties with Frankie Knuckles. Juan Atkins acceptedDerrick May’s request and Derrick May started to play Cybotron in Chicago parties. Peoplereally liked the music and their tunes were played more than Chicagos. Their music wasbased on soul and disco music. Detroits sound was futuristic and fresh.
These influence ledthe Chicago create its own sub genre of electronic dance music; Acid House.In Detroit, Eddie Fowkles and Derrick May started to live together. They worked together onthe Deep Space. One day, he went to one of the parties of Juan Atkins and decided to makehis own music. He didn’t talked about this willingness to his roommate Derrick May.
Hemade his room a little studio with drum machine, turntables and a keyboard. He released hisown records with the help of Juan Atkins. However, Atkins revealed his secret to DerrickMay and he also wanted to produce his own music. They were all releasing their record onJuan Atkins label ”Metroplex”. Kevin Saunderson also joined them after a while.In 1986, Eddie released several albums such as ”Triangle of Love”.
It had a similar soundwith New Order. It was a soulful techno. For launching their label they also went to LosAngeles.Their music career changed with an offer from England. Neil Ruston wanted to gathertogether Detroit released musics and make an album for realising in England.
With three-four months, they suddenly became so famous but this also affected them badly. They wereearning more money and some names under the label left the label, started their ownbusiness. In one of the interviews Eddie says they could have swept America with their stuffif they didn’t separated.Before giving permission to Neil Rushton from England, they met in Detroit to meet. He wasa journalist and a manager. Eddie couldn’t trust him but Derrick wanted to work with him. SoDerrick May started to go on his own way.
However he couldn’t do it without Eddie becausehe was also compilation. They released also Eddie’s records but didn’t do any marketing forhim.Techno music influence shaped so many different music genres. They also shaped europemusic scene. They created a new society who has different style of culture. Preparing raveparties, nourishing the underground scene to new aspects of music; mixing music withtechnology.
Still techno music is one of the most popular subgenre.