Pioneering techno productions made in Detroit throughout the 1980s and early 1990s defined the Detroit techno style. The beginning of the post-industrial renaissance was symbolically represented by the collapse of the automobile sector in the United States. This occurred at the same time as techno music was being born.

Pioneers of Detroit techno

The “Belleville Three” includes Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May. History closely relates the group with the conception of techno as a musical genre in Detroit. In their home’s basement, the three musicians produced their first electronic music tracks. Derrick May once said that Detroit techno was a “total error”. He compared it to George Clinton and Kraftwerk being trapped in an elevator with just a sequencer for company.

By 1981, Mojo had begun playing mixes recorded by the Belleville Three. At the same time, the group had begun collaborating with other musicians. Then, they went to Chicago in order to research the local house music culture. They paid particular attention to the DJs Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles.

People regard Derrick May as the “Innovator”, and Kevin Saunderson as the “Elevator”. On the other hand, they often hail Juan Atkins as the “Godfather of Techno”. The UK debut of Detroit Techno in mid-1988 was The New Dance Sound of Detroit. Of course, Derrick May and Neil Rushton put the album together.

The second wave of artists

The Underground Resistance, which featured Mike Banks, Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, Blake Baxter, Jay Denham, and Octave One was among the second wave of Detroit musicians to gain recognition at the beginning of the 1990s. They portrayed themselves as a paramilitary squad battling against the commercial mainstream entertainment industry, which they referred to as “the programmers”. Thus, with songs like Predator, Elimination, Riot, or Death Star, Underground Resistance’s music expressed a sort of abstract militancy. Similarly, Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva founded the label +8, which transitioned from an industrial hardcore sound to a minimalist progressive techno style.

On Memorial Day weekend in 2000, electronic music fans from all over the world descended on Hart Plaza on the banks of the Detroit River to attend the first Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Since then, the festival’s name changed to Movement in 2003, then Fuse-In, in 2005, and most recently, Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival, in 2007.

Detroit techno musicians embraced Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream’s synthesizers and drum machines. They combined house music’s characteristics with European techno’s cold detachment to create a signature sound. The style grew from a utopian futurist mindset and science fiction elements.