The early 80’s saw the beginning of modern techno music. Though electronic music was already beginning to rise in popularity via new advances in technology and disco, techno really didn’t begin to develop until this time. Early techno music began as being a series of regularly driven beats that were put together with distorted and synth sequences. Not many people realize this, but Detroit is known for being the birthplace of modern techno music as we know it.
The early greats or the grandfathers of techno music were producers such as Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, and Juan Atkins. Known together as the “Belleville Three,” they produced music for the club scene and co-opped the styles of early German musicians Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. For the duration of the 80’s, techno remained very much an underground scene, though it was very popular in New York and Chicago clubs.
In Detroit, most of the early techno musicians used cheap or used electronic instruments to make new sounds. These methods typically weren’t the way that the original instrument was intended to work, but the sound that evolved this way was unique and all its own. Science fiction and other futuristic themes became staples of inspiration and the sound that came forth changed the music scene in subtle ways at first.
Detroit was already beginning to decline, and the industrial areas where techno music was produced and played seemed a stark contrast to the upbeat, driven music. Juan Atkins said of early techno, “It’s an attitude to making music that sounds futuristic, something that hasn’t been done before.”
Cybotron was one of the first artists to make the mainstream. “Alleys of Your Mind” became a very popular song but still, the genre hadn’t exploded into popularity. In 1988, however, a compilation album called “Techno! The New Dance Sound” gave the music style a boost and really began to shape the future of the genre itself. By the early nineties, Europeans had taken a strong liking to the style, and it became much more popular overseas than in the US. Electronica was already big overseas and this made a great deal of sense. However, something happened in the 90’s that would suddenly skyrocket the genre’s popularity in the US as well.
During the 90s, parties known as raves became very popular. Initially an underground thing, these were parties where continuous mixes of different sounds and electronic music played. Almost entirely dance parties, raves gained popularity and notoriety rather quickly. The Detroit Electronic Music Festival suddenly began to thrive in 2000, and fans from all over the world came to enjoy this free dance party.
Brad Parmerter has almost 20 years experience in the music and entertainment industry as a writer, programmer, and merchandiser. He has professionally interviewed and photographed such artists as: Rush, Metallica, Celine Dion, Live, Phil Collins, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Live, Van Halen, Queensryche, Anna Nalick, Styx, Def Leppard, and many more.
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