Detroit Techno: Music That Influenced The World

22 April 2013
Detroit Techno

On Tuesday, May 21 from 6 – 8 p.m., the University of Michigan Detroit Center in partnership with the Detroit Techno Foundation and Paxahau is proud to present, Detroit Techno: Music That Influenced the World. Open to the general public, this event includes complimentary admission, parking and light refreshments for all attendees. Due to the popularity of this event, attendees are required to register for free event tickets. Your ticket is required for admission on the evening of the event.

After the Disco craze of the 1970s, a new form of electronic dance music (EDM) began to emerge during the early 1980s. From the city that brought the world Jazz and Motown, Detroit was back at the forefront of a musical revolution with a new sound unlike anything the world had previously heard. This new movement became known as “Techno” and quickly gained a global following.

Through an audio and visual presentation, Detroit Techno: Music That Influenced the World examines the early history of Techno and its Detroit roots, influential artists, technology, evolution of the genre and much more.

Following the presentation, a panel discussion moderated by Tom Newman (Detroit Techno Foundation) will provide an in-depth perspective from some of the most influential people in electronic music.

Panelists for this event include:

  • Juan Atkins, Techno pioneer, Producer/DJ
  • Dan Bell, DJ/Producer
  • Brendan Gillen (BMG, Ectomorph), DJ/Producer


Moderator

Tom Newman is the Executive Director of the Detroit Techno Foundation and has managed the main stage of the Movement Festival (Paxahau) in Detroit since 2006. A well-known DJ and Producer in his own right, Tom has been involved with Detroit Techno for more than 20 years. For one of his most recent projects, Tom was commissioned by Ford to create an original track using both analog and digital sounds from the 2013 Ford Fusion.

Panelists:

Juan Atkins, a native Detroiter, learned how to play bass, drums, and guitar at an early age. At age 16, Atkins first heard electronic music on WGPR during a show hosted by DJ Charles "The Electrifying Mojo" Johnson. Atkins, along with high school friends Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson (famously known as the Belleville Three) became heavily influenced by the fledgling genre. 

Inspired by the unique sound, Atkins bought his first analogue synthesizer, a Korg MS-10, and began recording with cassette decks and a mixer for overdubs. Along with Derrick May, the pair started performing DJ sets together under the name Deep Space. Atkins and May took their mixes to The Electrifying Mojo, who began to play them on his show in 1981. Atkins and May, with the addition of Saunderson, went on to form the group, Deep Space Soundworks. This collaboration would also eventually lead to the opening of the Music Institute, a club in downtown Detroit for local DJs to spin and collaborate.

In 1982, Atkins rise to fame continued when he collaborated with fellow DJ and producer, Rick Davis under the group name, Cybotron. The duo released two songs, Clear and Techno City, which are widely credited as two of the most influential tracks in Techno history.

By the late 1980s, Atkins traveled to Britain for the first time and was invited to perform at an event called a "rave." Atkins soon became a staple of London's underground music scene and spread Detroit techno to the rest of Europe through record labels in Belgium and Berlin.

During his career, Atkins has performed under several different stage names including Deep Space Soundworks, Cybotron, Model 500 and Infiniti.

With hundreds of appearances across the world spanning more than three decades, Juan Atkins’ innovative techno sound is still defining the electronic music world today.


Dan Bell
 is a DJ, producer and record label owner/distributor whose impact has been felt around the world. Born in Sacramento, California, Bell grew up outside of Toronto, Canada and later moved to Detroit where he collaborated with Richie Hawtin as Cybersonik on the record label, Plus 8.

In 1991, Bell started his own label, Accelerate, where he released a string of influential releases under the name, DBX. In November 1994, Bell moved behind the scenes and set up 7th City Distribution. At the time, many smaller U.S.-based techno and house labels required distribution overseas and domestically. 7th City was created to fill this void.

In 2000, Bell relocated to Berlin, Germany, and released his first mix CD, The Button-Down Mind of Daniel Bell, on Tresor Records. In 2003, he released The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back on Logistic records.

Although Bell’s career has taken him across the world, it’s never long before he finds his way back to Detroit.


Brenden Gillen
is a founding member of the group Ectomorph and brings a unique perspective to Detroit Techno. The group released their first single in 1995 as an attempt to make Detroit music for Detroiters and not exclusively for export.

The group’s early singles led to epic status within the Techno world.  A strong underground cult following has continued to develop through releases on their own label,  Interdimensional Transmissions. Ectomorph’s live shows are legendary for their ability to fluidly incorporate the improvisational techniques of jazz into their synthesized music.

Outside of the DJ world, Gillen has also worked as an audio engineering and producer. From mastering the first Ghostly projects to producing Wolf Eyes' Sub Pop album, his experience in Detroit’s Techno moment is truly unmatched.