Juan Atkins @ East Village 5.08.11 (London)

Big ups to Afro Acid for kicking off their London residency with about as much weight as you can possibly get from a club head liner, the Godfather of techno Juan Atkins. Along with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, Juan makes up the Belleville Three. Dubbed the “originator” for the sound he helped emerged out of Detroit, at the time the influences were coming as a keen fan of Kraftwerk and the writing of futurologist Alvin Toffler, and Juan Atkins as an artist has become as culturally important as both.

First starting to influence with his collaboration with Richard ‘3070’ Davis as Cybotron, he went on to break ground under a few names over the years including ‘Magic Juan’, his amazing work as Infiniti, and of course in 1985 his best known work as Model 500; a monikor that has recently been revived as a touring band featuring Mad Mike Banks, Mark Taylor and DJ Skurge.

Juan is the bridge between European electro (check out his tracks No UFOs and Night Drive to hear him taking Kraftwerk’s template to the next level) and the new genre of Techno (with the name being coined by Juan himself during an interview with Stuart Cosgrove from a 1988 edition of The Face magazine). Incidentally pictures and words from this magazine were recently revived for a techno edition of Wax Poetics magazine, which you can take a look at here.

Check the video below recorded from the Detroit show ‘The Scene’ (think Soul Train with an injection of electronics) the year he unleashed Model 500 on the world with No UFOs, released on his own (and then newly formed) Metroplex label (the word itself was taken from Toffler’s book Future Shock).

Model 500 live shows are among the best thing a music fan will ever see done, but at the moment I’m looking forward to seeing him behind decks this Friday at East Village. Doors open at 9:30, £10 before midnight, £12 after, full details and flyer below.
via RA

AA london starts off its residency at funky, well respected spot “East Village”. We are pleased to introduce “Sanctified Beats” for the first time with a musical genius….And godfather of the techno beat- Juan Atkins! Ministry of Sound’s former resident and Berwick st records head “Timo Garcia’ joins on as Afro Acid resident Joe Mckechnie opens the night…

For an artist with history as deep-seated as Juan Atkins, it seems on…ly 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. A land of the lost…where Atkins, a teenager in high school, was stuck in the dilapidated backdrop of a small city that sat to the west of postindustrial Detroit, Belleville. As silence hid between the broken buildings and empty streets (Robert Hood once fittingly described Detroit as “grey, a museum: a city suspended in the air”), Atkins escaped his surroundings through music. He became 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, Juan was raised in a house filled with the vast and wonderful heritage of music that bubbled deep in Detroit’s roots: from gospel to Motown, and its vibrant legacy of jazz musicianship. In a time when genre defying music was unheard of, Juan was led to the musical genius of luminaries such as George Clinton and the Funkadelic, Kraftwerk, Devo, B-52s, Yellow Magic Orchestra, through a nightly show by Charles Johnson, aka The Electrifying Mojo, entitled Midnight Funk Association (“Will the members of the Midnight Funk Association please rise”).

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Afro Acid: http://www.afroacid.com/