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Sounds Of Detroit: 10 Essential Tracks From The Birthplace Of Techno

Sounds Of Detroit: 10 Essential Tracks From The Birthplace Of Techno


Movement Electronic Music Festival In Detroit

Detroit is known for many things. Above all else, it is known for its rich music history. While Electronic Dance Music may have originated in Europe, Detroit is without a doubt known as the birthplace of techno. Detroit (and Techno) legends like Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins started the trend back in the ’80s and ‘90s, but the city is never lacking in up-and-coming Techno artists.

The best way to describe the sounds of Detroit is of course through music. That grungy, gritty, growling music. Music from the greats. Music from the newbies. And music from those born and bred in the D.


“The Reese Bass”
Kevin Saunderson
The Detroit Techno scene was established by three friends, Kevin Saunderson being one of them. Saunderson is still a staple within the scene, today, as the president of KMS Records, a producer and the father of Dantiez and DaMarii Saunderson, two prominent DJs and producers in Detroit. A less-known fact about Saunderson is that he actually goes around the city, sampling sounds from everyday life.

This track, like many of Saunderson’s, begins with him speaking over the music. It tells the history of the “Reese Bass,” the bass line of Saunderson’s track “Just Want Another Chance” (which he released under the name “Reese”). This bass line has been used by other producers and is inseparable from the Techno scene in Detroit and across the world.


“The Strings of Life”
Derrick May
Derrick May released this track back in 1987 under the name Rhythim Is Rhythim. This track, while not traditionally “Techno,” is laden with synthetic string arrangements. May’s mastery of electronic production on this particular track led to it’s explosion across the country, especially during the emergence of House Music during the late 80s. “The Strings of Life” is a classic that, when listened to, pays tribute to the city where it all began.


“The Jaguar”
The Underground Resistance
The Underground Resistance’s original members are Jeff Mills and Mike Banks. The group formed during the emergence of Techno back in the ‘80s as a collective cultural influence, using music as their backdrop. Especially during a period of turmoil, rioting and political protest in American and Detroit history, this group and this track fully embody the soul and sound of the city.


“The Bells"
Jeff Mills
Rolling in with the 2nd generation of underground Techno, Jeff Mills’ production is deeply rooted in that classic “Techno” scene. “The Bells” has a factory undertone—it is gritty and reminds me of the sounds of the city. Many techno tracks originally included sounds, as well as the general “feeling,” of a factory. Mills, and this track in particular, truly taps into the channels where Techno music originated from.

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Carl Craig
I honestly do not know if there is any explanation needed to describe either Carl Craig or his music. He is a Detroit staple and fully embodies that true Detroit Techno-feel.


“Who’s Afraid of Detroit?"
Claude VonStroke
Claude VonStroke, otherwise known as Barclay Krenshaw and the founder of Dirtybird Records, was born and raised in Detroit. Living clear across the country has not inhibited him from infusing his music with that dirty, grungy, “Detroit” feeling. There is a reason he drops “Who’s Afraid of Detroit” every time he plays in the D (or at least every time I have seen him play here).


“Whomp It”
Dantiez & Kevin Saunderson
Dantiez Saunderson, son of Kevin Saunderson, was exposed to music and the Techno scene at a very young age. To see him producing and DJing today is hardly a surprise. The mere fact that he is releasing tracks with his father speaks volumes.


Seth Troxler feat. Matthew Dear
One can claim it all began when his family moved just outside of Detroit and he began frequenting underground Techno parties. It was in the midst of the Detroit Techno scene that Seth Troxler’s own musical career was born. This recent release, “Hurt” featuring Matthew Dear, another Techno DJ and producer, is gritty and dark. It transports me right into the city whenever I listen to it.


“Get Loose”
Stacey Pullen
Stacey Pullen’s mentors were Detroit legends Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins. Pullen’s music undoubtably reflects this, as his tracks fully encompass the diversity, originality and creativity of Detroit Techno.


“Motor City”
Robert Hood
Robert Hood, not to be confused with Robin Hood, is yet another staple in the Detroit Techno scene. He has been producing since the mid-90s, releasing tracks with dark undertones and grungy bass lines. “Motor City” was released in 2012 on his album “Motor: Nighttime World 3” and is nothing short of what we have come to expect from his production.

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