In this new episode of Electronic Music 101, which is part of our #YOUCANSTILL content series and started with the awareness of overcoming our limits in this process and where we feel the importance of the unifying power of dance music more deeply and look forward to returning to our normal life, we will examine techno that is one of the important types of electronic music, whose popularity continues to increase rapidly in the first quarter of 2000s we are in. Originated in Detroit, this genre gained an important place in today’s music market by listening to 1.5 billion people worldwide and with a market value of 7.1 billion dollars.
For the first time, techno showed itself in the early 1980s in Detroit, the American city where industrialization and mechanization were most intense. When taking into consider that the second industrial revolution took place in Detroit, it is not surprising that the genre, decorated with electronic sounds like techno, was born here. Like any other type of electronic music, it usually has a 4/4 rhythm structure and a speed that ranges from 120-150 BPM. The music that is produced fully by electronic instruments, such tools as drum machine, sequencer, synthesizer and making use of digital audio workstation (DAW), has fully electronic timbre. In addition to the use of funk rhythms in bass parties, these timbres have been made completely into electronic. The important point in techno, which is based on repeated rhythm patterns, is the synergy that will be caught between bass and rhythm parties. The German Kraftwerk band, which has changed almost all the musical mentality of the age, Japanese Yellow Magic Orchestra which is their successor or contemporary, and George Clinton, who played on electric funk timbre, have made a great impact on this shining new genre of electronic music. The name of the type comes from the “Third Wave” book by the optimistic futuristic author Alvin Toffler, and the techno has the same structure and philosoph as well. In the first period, techno represented to a much more limited socioeconomic layer than today. Where it originated in Detroit, garage house were appealing to high-class, whereas techno was the music for lower-class. In the late 80s, while house music was defined with fashion, design and innovative attributes, industrial, demanding and terrifying definitions were used for techno. If we assume that “revenge of disco” resembles the house music, it shouldn’t be a problem for techno to be called as “revenge of funk”.
Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, who were high school friends in Belleville, Michigan in the 1970s and then moved to Detroit together, known as Belleville Three, those are played an important role in the development and popularization of first wave techno (which is also called as Belleville Four including Eddie Folkes in some resources), are the key names for this type and what will be later called as “Detroit Techno”. Juan Atkins has stated Techno as; “music that sounds like technology, and not technology that sounds like music, meaning that most of the music you listen to is made with technology, whether you know it or not. But with techno music, you know it”. Derrick May, another member of Belleville Three states; “Techno is like Detroit, totally wrong. Like George Clinton and Kraftwerk are stucked in the same elevator”.
Another fact that made techno widespread in Detroit is Electrifying Mojo, who is one of the most important DJs of the age. Mojo makes an innovative, dramatic and eclectic approach with his program on Detroit radio. In his speech at the 2010 RBMA (Red Bull Music Academy) Bass Camp Japan, Derrick May says he had stolen his mother’s car when he was 15 years old to meet Mojo, waiting for him to arrive in the cafe where Mojo came to eat something after the program: “Mojo’s program usually ended around 4-5 in the morning and there was no guarantee that he would come there, and I just waited.” About 3 weeks later, Mojo came to the cafe and thanks to the owner of the cafe, May was able to meet Mojo. The aim of May’s wish to meet with Mojo was to make him listen his friend’s, Juan Atkins, play “Alleys Of Your Mind“. Broadcasting this track on the podcast and Mojo’s program has been an important step for techno and Belleville Three. After this important step, Belleville Three, who started to show itself in the music market, established its own record companies over time. In 1985, Juan Atkins with Metroplex, in 1986 Derrick May with Transmat, and in 1988 Kevin Saunderson with KMS record company, they became the priors of the genre in Detroit.
Although the techno appeared in U.S., it remained a local type until it showed off on the London acid house stage in the late 80s. Suddenly, the popular genre in London spreads all over Europe, and musicians who shaped this genre from Detroit such as Belleville Three have now become stars in Europe. Following the first wave techno led by Belleville Three, whose popularity is increasing in Europe day by day, there is a new era begins with artists such as LFO, Aphex Twin, Richard H. Kirk and B12, bringing a new sound to the type especially in Germany and Belgium.
Newer European techno producers slowly began to blend the type with other genres like trance, acid, hardcore and gabber to link its ties to European electronic music scenes. This change caused two different views in techno. While the first one adopts the classic Detroit style, the other takes the form of the Europe closer to its aesthetics. Techno, which has gained popularity in Europe day by day, has become the main music style of huge rave parties with the help of big sponsors in countries such as Germany and Belgium.
Outside of Europe and America, the effect of techno starts to be seen at the other corners of the world. Japan has also revealed a significant number of names on the techno stage. Susumu Yokota, Ken Iishi and Naohiro Fujikawa (Bisk) are the most popular of those artists on the world stage.
The type, which is on the rise again in America after it gained a popularity in the European electronic music scene, has begun to change again with names such as AUX 88, Jeff Mills, Stacey Pullen, Drexciya, Octa One, Carl Craig and Richie Hawtin, who are the second wave Detroit techno musicians. While Detroit techno has become more marginal and underground status, electronic music producers such as European Aphex Twin, Autechre, Black Dog have revealed the genre IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) by combining techno with other genres such as trip-hop and jungle. This genre has found an important place to itself in the American electronic music scene. By the late 90s, techno has become a term that includes all types of dance music. Although the use of the term in this way is wrong, it makes us feel that the techno type has a huge popularity.