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History of EDM Music: Techno

History of EDM Techno - Belleville Three

Even with the success of disco, electronic music never took off in the mainstream. Well into the 1980’s, it was an underground scene built around individual producers and DJs — sometime in the most unlikely of places. That’s how Detroit became home to one of the biggest EDM scenes — a movement which greatly influenced rave music. This is the history of EDM music: techno.

In tracing the history of techno, two names come up a lot: Kraftwerk, and Giorgio Moroder. Kraftwerk was an experimental electro band from Germany, possibly most famous for their song ‘Autobahn’.

Giorgio Moroder was a disco producer, who famously made a name for writing and producing tracks by Donna Summer.

Detroit techno was influenced by the sounds of Kraftwerk and Moroder, infused with African American music styles (including funk, electro, Chicago house and electric jazz), and characterized by the use of analog synthesizers and early drum machines.

The three individuals most closely associated with the sound are Juan Atikins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, also known as the “Belleville Three”.

While still in high school, Atkins started cutting tracks, making ‘mix tapes’, and playing parties. The parties kept growing, so he convinced two like-minded buddies, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, to start DJ’ing too.

Together, they started releasing work in the 1980’s under a lot of different band and DJ names. Atkins, for example, released stuff under the name Model 500, Flintstones, and Magic Juan. Saunderson as Reese, Keynotes, and Kaos. And May as Mayday, R-Tyme, and Rhythim Is Rhythim.

And they collaborated together, including projects like Inner City which also included other DJs and a vocalist.

Detroit techno crossed the ocean in the early 1990’s, where it directly influenced rave music. Steady and hypnotic, techno remains one of the biggest genres in the history of EDM music.

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