Detroit is long regarded as one of the birthplaces of techno music. At this year’s Detroit Techno and Resistance symposium, students and community members celebrated the influence of electronic music on the local and global scene. The symposium brought together local techno DJs and producers who have been in the community since its inception in the late 1980s. These hard-working individuals use music as a way to spread awareness and the emergence of Detroit’s techno influences from its first inception to its current incarnation.
Finding techno’s roots
The event itself was hosted by the local university’s radio station. Panelists included both the business and artistic side of techno. DJs discussed the original purpose-driven behind techno and discussed its importance for the community as a whole. The black community was the founding culture surrounding the movement, and it continues to hold strong today.
There have been parties celebrating this history for the last several years, but there was never any movement to better understanding it how it came to be in the first place. This is where the techno symposium came into play as a way for students and the community to better understand the roots of the music itself from the people who were there at the beginning.
Continuing the education of Detroit’s techno
One of the panelists started an organization names Spin Inc. that helps provide music history and lessons to Detroit youth. The purpose is to push the arts and make it more readily available to those who might not have the chance to practice music. There are hardly any more music programs, and the wish is that Spin can provide the education that was once there. Students need creative outlets beyond history and literature, and music is one of the best ways to dive deep into the musical roots of Detroit‘s culture and history itself.
Local teachers praise the efforts of Spin as it has given students creative outlets that were not there before. Music is an important thing that students can use to express themselves. It does not need to be for those who can afford lessons alone. The leaders of Spin are happy if it just helps one person and increases their exposure and capability to make music. Happiness is found in the aspect of discovering and creating music within this community, and Spin is able to provide that escape.
The defining moment of techno
The panel soon turned to giving a distinct definition to techno. The term is often associated with underground illegal raves that came into popularity at the end of last decades. Berlin is the heart of the European techno scene, and the popularity of the music is not super relevant outside Michigan’s capital city. Of course, electronic dance music has seen a rise of popularity in the U.S. However, this often sugary and watered-down version of techno beats is a whole different animal to what is found at the heart and soul the scene’s origins.
The music started due to the emergence of technology that was happening at its start. People were bringing back items from Europe and inserting the sounds into their home beats. At the time, the access to the equipment was limited, and locals had to get creative when producing their beat. The goal is to continue this education and creativity with today’s students so that the movement does not get lost in the cacophony of expensive machines and instruments. At the heart of Detroit’s techno, it was created using inexpensive alternatives and creativity to get the mixes just right.
The panel continued that Detroit does not have much hope right now, but that it could be found on the back of techno. Music education is dear to many at the discussion, and it was a way for them to escape the poverty levels they experienced growing up. In turn, they aim to help educate young students about the power of music. Techno has the ability to bring people of all kinds of backgrounds together. They want the current music programs to dig deep and find the creativity the scene needs for a new resurgence and a new narrative.
Many who attended came to the conclusion that Detroit techno still lacks the popularity and recognition it deserves especially when compared to its Berlin cousin. This was one of the underlying meanings behind the panel—preserving the history and local sound of Detroit techno.