We Call It Techno

They story behind the birth of Techno Music

 

The initial blueprint for techno developed during the mid-1980s in Belleville, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit by Juan AtkinsKevin Saunderson and Derrick May (the so-called Belleville Three), all of whom attended school together at Belleville High,[19][20][21][22] with the addition of Eddie FowlkesBlake Baxter and James Pennington. By the close of the 1980s, the pioneers had recorded and released material under various guises: Atkins as Model 500, Flintstones, and Magic Juan; Fowlkes simply as Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes; Saunderson as Reeses, Keynotes, and Kaos; with May as Mayday, R-Tyme, and Rhythim Is Rhythim. There were also a number of joint ventures, including Kevin Saunderson’s group Inner City, which saw collaborations with Atkins, May, vocalist Paris Grey, and fellow DJs James Pennington and [Arthur Forest].[23]The Electrifying Mojo was the first radio DJ to play music by Atkins, May, and Saunderson. Mojo refused to follow pre-established radio formats or playlists, and he promoted social and cultural awareness of the African American community. [24]

Notable influencesEdit

Kraftwerk‘s Computer World (1981), first popularized in the U.S. by radio station WLBS-FM,[25] “Detroit’s version of New York’s disco WBLS“.[26]
External video
 High Tech Soul – The Creation of Techno Music (documentary), YouTube video
 Universal Techno (1996) (documentary), YouTube video

In exploring techno’s origins writer Kodwo Eshun maintains that “Kraftwerk are to Techno what Muddy Waters is to the Rolling Stones: the authentic, the origin, the real.”[27]Juan Atkins has acknowledged that he had an early enthusiasm for Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, particularly Moroder’s work with Donna Summer and the producer’s own album E=MC2. Atkins also mentions that “around 1980 I had a tape of nothing but Kraftwerk, TelexDevo, Giorgio Moroder and Gary Numan, and I’d ride around in my car playing it.”[28] Atkins has also claimed he was unaware of Kraftwerk’s music prior to his collaboration with Richard “3070” Davis as Cybotron, which was two years after he had first started experimenting with electronic instruments.[29]Regarding his initial impression of Kraftwerk, Atkins notes that they were “clean and precise” relative to the “weird UFO sounds” featured in his seemingly “psychedelic” music.[30]

Derrick May identified the influence of Kraftwerk and other European synthesizer music in commenting that “it was just classy and clean, and to us it was beautiful, like outer space. Living around Detroit, there was so little beauty… everything is an ugly mess in Detroit, and so we were attracted to this music. It, like, ignited our imagination!”.[31]May has commented that he considered his music a direct continuation of the European synthesizer tradition.[32] He also identified Japanese synthpop act Yellow Magic Orchestra, particularly member Ryuichi Sakamoto, and British band Ultravox, as influences, along with Kraftwerk.[33] YMO’s song “Technopolis” (1979), a tribute to Tokyoas an electronic mecca, is considered an “interesting contribution” to the development of Detroit techno, foreshadowing concepts that Atkins and Davis would later explore with Cybotron.

Kevin Saunderson has also acknowledged the influence of Europe but he claims to have been more inspired by the idea of making music with electronic equipment: “I was more infatuated with the idea that I can do this all myself.”

School days

Prior to achieving notoriety, Atkins, Saunderson, May, and Fowlkes shared common interests as budding musicians, “mix” tape traders, and aspiring DJs.[35] They also found musical inspiration via the Midnight Funk Association, an eclectic five-hour late-night radio program hosted on various Detroit radio stations, including WCHBWGPR, and WJLB-FM from 1977 through the mid-1980s by DJ Charles “The Electrifying Mojo” Johnson.[36] Mojo’s show featured electronic music by artists such as Giorgio MoroderKraftwerkYellow Magic Orchestra and Tangerine Dream, alongside the funk sounds of acts such as Parliament Funkadelic and dance oriented new wave music by bands like Devo and the B-52’s.[37]Atkins has noted:

Despite the short-lived disco boom in Detroit, it had the effect of inspiring many individuals to take up mixing, Juan Atkins among them. Subsequently, Atkins taught May how to mix records, and in 1981, “Magic Juan”, Derrick “Mayday”, in conjunction with three other DJ’s, one of whom was Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes, launched themselves as a party crew called Deep Space Soundworks[39][40] (also referred to as Deep Space).[41] In 1980 or 1981 they met with Mojo and proposed that they provide mixes for his show, which they did end up doing the following year.[28]

During the late 1970s-early 1980s high school clubs such as Brats, Charivari, Ciabattino, Comrades, Gables, Hardwear, Rafael, Rumours, Snobs, and Weekends[42] created the incubator in which techno was grown. These young promoters developed and nurtured the local dance music scene by both catering to the tastes of the local audience of young people and by marketing parties with new DJs and their music. As these local clubs grew in popularity, groups of DJs began to band together to market their mixing skills and sound systems to the clubs in order to cater to the growing audiences of listeners. Locations like local church activity centers, vacant warehouses, offices, and YMCAauditoriums were the early locations where underage crowds gathered and the musical form was nurtured and defined.[43]