It is interesting how techno music has gained so much in popularity over a short period of time. Techno music only started forming in the mid to late 80s - not even four decades ago. Through different marketing channels the music has gained a lot in popularity. Nowadays many of us know of techno music or may even be enthusiastic of this type of music themselves. However, have you ever wondered how this type of music has even formed in the first place?
I, myself, am a great music enthusiast but enjoy techno music in particular when going out. I like the atmosphere and the whole concept of going out to listen to music mainly. Therefore, I hope to be able to not only provide you with the history of techno music but possibly also inspire some of you to listen to techno music and see for yourself. Personally, it helps me to let go of any type of stress and just enjoy the music.
Commercialization of Techno Music
When one thinks of Techno now, one may think of a cool and a very popular type of music. However, the beginnings of this type of music were anything but that. Up until the 90s techno music was considered an underground movement and there was no money in the industry. As the electronic sounds with no singing in it were so unfamiliar to people, many did not even perceive it as a type of music with potential to gain serious popularity. However, to this day techno music has evolved into a multi-million euro industry. Techno is well known all over the world and there are gigs and festivals all the time. Even though the Netherlands is a small country, it is among the countries with the most music festivals worldwide. Events such as DGTL, Awakenings, Dekmantel and Amsterdam Dance Events attract thousands of people from all over the globe to this small country. A majority of the headliners of these events are techno artists.
Through easy marketing and the increasing interest of the people the music gained in popularity worldwide. The technological progress has also made it possible to market the music through platforms such as Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. This has increased the popularity of techno music over the years for example through small video clips of live sets of techno artists. Nowadays techno artists such as Richie Hawtin, Amelie Lens, Carl Cox and Charlotte de Witte make thousands of euro per set with their music.
Places of Origin of Techno Music
One may say that Techno has its origins in two places - on the one hand in Germany in Frankfurt am Main and on the other hand across the Atlantic ocean in the US-American city Detroit. Both music scenes are heavily influenced by the music of Kraftwerk. The group set the foundation for electronic music and techno in particular already with their music in the 70s.
Juan Atkin, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson are said to be the founders of “Detroit Techno”. That the music originates in Detroit is no coincidence. The music evolved due to different circumstances surrounding Detroit in particular. The predominantly black city is part of the “rust belt” and historically had a tough time due to exclusionary practices and segregation. Moreover, the loss of many peoples jobs in the automotive industry due to increasing usage of technology and the much lesser amount of inhabitants living in Detroit for what the city was initially built for, contributed to the dreariness of the city. Detroit embossed the people living in it in a special way. This led to the production of techno sounds, which are heavily influenced by the technological progress that took place in the city. The many empty buildings in the city built the perfect accommodation for today’s usual warehouse style of techno events. Moreover, the dull and dark sounds of techno also are a good reflection of the youth and their feelings towards growing up in a troubled city like Detroit - with little work and continuing segregation problems.
The scene in Frankfurt evolved in the beginning of the 80s. When “Talla 2XLC” rearranged the records in the music store he worked in, he came up with the name techno for all the electronic music. With the increasing interest in the music Talla starts out with organizing a “Techno Club” on Sunday afternoons in 1984 in Frankfurt. The concept of playing electronic music and techno only in a club was new. By 1987 the event moved to “Dorian Gray” which was located in Frankfurt airport and the “Techno Club” became known far beyond the city Frankfurt. In 1989 the magazine “Frontpage” was published for the first time. It later becomes the leading voice and marketer of the techno/house movement in Germany. Slowly the techno sound also conquered the capital Berlin. In 1989 the very first “Loveparade” took place in Berlin - a street parade with techno music. It started out with only about 150 participants back then. The music parade grew to an event where in 2008 more than 1,6 million people participated.
With techno music many things changed as it is not only a new type of music that evolved but it changed the way people experience going out. Once clubs used to be styled and people would go out to have chats and meet new people. Techno changed that completely as people go out to listen to the music mainly and just dance for hours. The fact that the parties take place in old industrial buildings and abandoned warehouses for example is something that did not exist in this form before. What once was born out of necessity and seen as abnormal has become fashionable and normal these days. The foundation for something new that goes beyond techno music itself but rather for the club culture as a whole has been set.
Whitney, a Techno-influencer from Frankfurt am Main in Germany:
“I listened to Techno for the first time when I was 17 years old. I was at an OpenAir with friends from school when one of the acts was by a DJ that played Techno. Over time I developed an understanding for the music and the scene as a whole. Quickly I also found out which artists I really enjoy listening to. It is hard to commit to one favorite artist but among my favorite artists are Richi Hawtin, Kobosil, Vladimir Dubyshkin and KIKI. It is important to mention that my taste always varies and changes a bit over time. However, what will always stay my favorite club is Berghain in Berlin. I really love that you can be whoever you want to be, look the way you want to and just feel free in this club as no one judges anyone or anything. The energy in this club is unimaginable and one of a kind. You meet such different inspirational characters. The feeling of the music going through the body and just seeing beautiful people dancing and just enjoying the music is breathtaking. Space and time fuse and you can just be who you want to be.”