Take a look at this nice video on RA’s Real Scene section about Detroit, MI.
Detroit nowadays has a lot of unemployment problems and looks like an abandoned city: economy collapsed and buildings are falling apart, in 2013 Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history.
There was a time when Detroit was a florid huge automobile production centre (GM, Chrysler, and Ford) and lots of people migrated to the city and the suburbs to work, black people especially. But what I want to talk about Detroit is something more important: it’s called TECHNO.
Detroit is the city where techno was born from the mind and the fingers of some eclectic youngsters and their enthusiastic friends, it was the place where in the early 80s the Electrifying Mojo would use the airwaves to spread the new language, it was a place where you could go and dance your ass off in abandoned buildings or improvised clubs with a new dark and synthethic sound. This was not Chicago with its House funky beats, not even New York and its Disco shit. Detroit was cold, decaying, racially instable, poor, post industrial and dark.
Detroit music scene was always one step ahead of anywhere else. Not only because of Techno, it was also the place where a lot of Northern Soul music was produced, home for the Motown and for Thelma Records, Groove City Records, Ge Ge Records, D-Town, Carla Records and many many more.
The conjunction for the birth of techno may relies here: a strong northern soul/funk legacy fused with popular Chicago House mixed up with sci-fi and Futuristic imaginery, Acid House and post industrial rage.
This is what I think made Detroit techno producers so unique: the ability to groove and to catch your soul.
there is a splendid documentary called High-Tech Soul to watch if you want to learn about the details of how everything came up togheter from the famous Belleville three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson) and how they needed to move to Europe (England) to legitimete themselves.
The list of Techno producers active in Detroit is long and includes names like Octave One, AUX88, Carl Cox, Drexciya, Eddie Fowlkes, Mike “Mad” Banks, Moodyman, Theo Parrish, Robert Hood, Juan Atkins, Jeff Mills, Kenny Larkin, Kevin Saunderson, Orlando Voorn.… do you get it? all the gotha of Techno is somehow related to Detroit.
I leave you with this masterpiece by Robert Hood, to me one of the best Detroiter technohead still around.