"As I dug deeper into the history of techno, I discovered the genius of Juan Atkins, the cat who started it all, and who now graces our cover. While I grew up on Cybotron, I somehow never connected the dots back to techno. Considering the prevalence of and effect that digital music has had on modern society, it's hard to imagine that Juan Atkins remains relatively unknown, while lesser-thans are getting rich off his template. Just as Herc, Flash and Bam are celebrated as hip-hop's founding fathers, so should Juan Atkins be lauded as the founding father of techno. He is the godfather of modern Black electronic music - some of the most important music of the twentieth century, pure abstract are of the postindustrial digital age."
- Andre Torres, waxpoetics
For an artist with history as deep-seated as Atkins, it seems only right to start at the beginning. Enter Detroit in the late 80s, a city dismissed by the rest of the country as no man's land/land of the lost...
Juan Atkins, a teenager in high school, was stuck in the dilapidated backdrop of a small city sat to the west of postindustrial Detroit, Belleville. A silence hid between the broken buildings and empty streets; minimalist Robert Hood once fittingly described Detroit as "grey, a museum: a city suspended in the air." Atkins escaped his surroundings through music, and was dedicated to finding something to fill the void, dreaming of a futurist movement.
In areas near and around Detroit, one walks through sidewalks with no people, and streets with little sign of commerce or stores. There's only cars, of course, and many of them, being home of the crazed automobile industry that stemmed from Henry Ford's assembly lines. That element of the city helps to explain Atkins eventual ability to conjure the old Detroit/Motown spirit through the feeling of automation, the repetition of sound; that mechanic soul that only techno holds. It's a feeling that can't be synthesized: singing through machines.
"From the beginning, even when I started, Detroit's always been a fertile ground for creativity. Especially for dance music. It's the surroundings. We've got a rich history. And there's something about the factories, the smoke from the factories probably gets in our lungs and does something to us."
Even from his earliest days, Juan Atkins always had a curious disposition, and a wide imagination that sat far ahead of his time. With his father being a concert promoter, Jua