Detroit Artists Who Defined Techno, Follow Them on Spotify

Detroit Techno was born in the early 1980s by musicians armed with drum machines and a new technology advancement. Artists that included the likes of Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson helped produce cutting-edge sounds characterized by snarling synthesizers and intense dance beats. These individuals started a musical trend that defined and continues to shape Techno 40 years later.

(Left to right) Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson, widely credited as the fathers or techno.

Despite what the world may believe, Detroit is birthplace to Techno music. Detroit’s influence is huge in the ‘House Music” genre that’s made unique by the marriage of synth-pop with funk and electro. It’s so influential, that we have our own name for it: “Detroit Techno.”

Detroit Techno was born in the early 1980s by musicians armed with drum machines and a new technology advancement. Artists that includes the The Belleville Three helped produce cutting-edge sounds characterized by snarling synthesizers and intense dance beats. These individuals started a musical trend that defined and continues to shape Techno 40 years later.

The Belleville Three

Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson — collectively referred to as The Belleville Three — are credited to have developed the genre. The three were initially independent musicians who worked on their music and performed separately. However, the media and the public have always seen them as a trio, and they soon embraced the moniker, launching their collaboration at the 2017 Coachella.

Juan Atkins (aka Model 500, Infinity)

Juan Atkins is considered one of the founding fathers of techno music, along with The Belleville Three. He is one of the most influential names in the genre with a discography that’s a must-listen for anyone diving into techno.

Derrick May

Part of the trio widely credited as the originators of techno, Derrick May is one of the founders of Underground Resistance, a collective of techno artists, and he has been a staple in Europe where his music was well-received. May has been accused with sexual assault by four women in the U.S. and several others from the United Kingdom and New Zealand, according to reports from the Guardian, with the Resident Advisor getting up to 13 different people coming forward with first hand accounts of his misconduct.

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Kevin Saunderson

Collaborating with Derrick May and Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson has made a name in Detroit Techno as one of its originators. Since the Detroit Electronic Music Festival (Movement) started in 2000, Saunderson has played at the event regularly and has even produced its 2005 iteration. 

Jeff Mills

By working with the Montpellier Philharmonic Orchestra and the Regional Orchestra d’Avignon in France, Mills altered the rules and broadened the acoustic spectrum of techno. Additionally, he and Derrick May later worked with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and created a unique sound that only pushed the genre forward.

Inner City

Inner City — currently comprised of Kevin Saunderson, Ann Saunderson, Tommy Onyx, Dantiez Saunderson and Steffanie Christi’an — has been named by Billboard as one of the most successful dance artists of all time. “Big Fun,” one of the group’s most successful singles, topped the U.S. Dance charts and rose to 8th in the United Kingdom at its speech. “Good Life,” and “Do You Love What You Feel” also topped the charts in the United States.

Underground Resistance

This Detroit-based musical group, which goes by the name of Underground Resistance, has been making grungy four-track Detroit techno since 1990 and is well known for its political and anti-corporate themes. The group was founded by techno artists Robert Hood, Jeff Mills and Michael Anthony “Mad Mike” Banks.

Moodymann

In “The Sage Handbook of Media Studies,” scholar Nabeel Zuberi credited Moodymann with creating hybrid recording and performance techniques combining analog and digital media, which involve playing “real” instruments while “pressing buttons live.” His sample-heavy creations have included influences from gospel music, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Chic, among others, according to Pitchfork. His beats have always been based in disco’s bump and swirl.

Carl Craig

Carl Craig is hailed as a creative visionary and is a Grammy-nominated composer, electronic music legend, world-class DJ, and representative of his home city of Detroit. Additionally, he is still one of the most in-demand remixers worldwide. He has created a seemingly endless number of remixes which he estimates is at least 100.

Eddie Fowlkes

Fowlkes is regarded as one of the pioneers of techno, and the history of the scene is deeply entwined with his career. He has spent the last 40 years steadily building a reputation as a DJ and producer of his own artistry.

Aux 88

Many have long associated Aux 88 with “Techno Bass.” The pair — Tommy “Tom Tom” Hamilton and William BJ “Posatronix” Smith — created the sound of something that became a style of Electro, helping not just to resuscitate it but also to offer it a direction in which the sound could take and expand from what it previously was — along with the creative inputs of its former members Keith “DJ K1” Tucker, and Anthony “Blak Tony” Horton.

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