Free Shipping on all Orders to Europe and USA!

History of Techno – 70s and 80s.

We’re taking you through a four-part history of Techno music. Here’s part one – check out the roots of the genre in its elemental seventies and eighties.

Juan Atkins

Juan Atkins, the originator of techno (via Billboard)

Though origins of dance music date back to the age of disco, it was techno music that truly put Detroit on the map. Some attribute the mechanical ambience of the local Ford Motor Plant to the technical sounds that the instrumental, experimental genre birthed. Detroit youth became enraptured with the sounds of the Belleville Three – Juan Atkins in particular (aka Magic Juan, Model 500, Flintstones), who was the first to actually coin the term “techno.”

J. Atkins Electronics T Shirts & Hoodies

Check out Belleville Three inspired hoodies and t shirts here

 

 Along with Kevin Saunderson (Reeses, Keynotes, Kaos) and Derrick May (Mayday, R-Tyme, Rhythim is Rhythim), as well as Eddie “Flashin’” Fowlkes, Blake Baxter, and James Pennington, Atkins experimented throughout his youth with cassette decks, synthesizers, and four-channel mixers. He dropped “Techno City” under his own label, Metroplex, and with the help of radio DJ The Electrifying Mojo, Detroit was soon hooked on the techno beat.

Atkins and the Detroit techno scene were heavily influenced by Kraftwerk, the Dusseldorf band formed in 1970, which became an incredibly significant influence on the future of techno music and are often considered pioneers themselves, popularizing the use of synthesizers, drum machines, and vocoders. Computer World, an album with futuristic-sounding synchronization, intersected psychedelia with science fiction. During the band’s 1977 tour of Japan, the media dubbed its sound “technopop,” forever tying the genre to the trailblazing group. 

Italian DJ Giorgio Moroder, pioneer of Italo disco, also worked heavily with synthesizers in ways that manifest in wave, house, and techno. Japanese synthpop group Yellow Magic Orchestra and member Ryuichi Sakamoto have also been credited with their other-worldly sounds. British new wave band Ultravox rose to the top of the charts in the U.K.

With these influences, Derrick May and Northern Soul DJ Neil Rushton compiled Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit, a milestone marker in terms of the word “techno.” At first, the project was to be called The House Sound of Detroit, in reference to the Chicago house scene. But after Atkins released “Techno Music,” the Belleville Three collectively voted that the compilation album was not an interpretation of house, but its own genre – techno.

Across the pond, Germany’s love for Chicago house was growing, creating an underground – and mostly illegal – nighttime rave scene. It was a time of incredible turmoil for Germany; after the Berlin wall fell on November 9, 1989, techno absolutely skyrocketed. Free parties cropped up especially in East Berlin, and techno music was part of the celebration of years of tension and separation.

Back in the States, Derrick May opened the Music Institute, a late-night spot to hear avant-garde techno and heart-pounding drums. Much experimentation occurred at this location, especially transmutations of the typical instrumental techno. DJs were testing out vocal mixes and disco tunes.  Others tried minimalist techno music, with tons of reverb and echo in a sparse, elemental sound.

Next week we will deal with the nineties, a decade that would bring about an era of total experimentation and a number of branches, proving the vast depth and potential of techno as a whole. Stay tuned. 

If you liked this article, please take the time to share it on social media, or with your friends through email, using the buttons below.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published