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An Interview with Techno Pioneer Juan Atkins (Model 500, Belleville Three)

This is very special. We’re delighted to be able to share with you a video we made recently, where Carly Horden interviewed a legend in the truest sense of the word: Juan Atkins. If you like techno and if you’re reading this, chances are you do. There is no-one who deserves more respect and thanks than ‘Magic’ Juan. Along with his childhood friends Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson (together known as The Bellville Three), Juan Atkins is know as the originator of Techno. Carly sat down for an in-depth account of the birth of a movement. Enjoy.

Juan Atkins was born to make music. As we learn in the video, he spent much of his childhood learning instruments and, most importantly, playing around on early synthesisers at the music shop his grandmother would frequent. She later bought him a Korg MS-10 and, using a two-track tape recorder, he began making his first experiments in electronic music, where he would bounce the sounds through a mixer to one track and back out to the other, ping-ponging several times to balance his demo mixes. He would meet May and Saunderson through his younger brother, and a challenge to a game of chess would spark one of the world’s great collaborative groups.

Deep Space Records, Cybotron and Model 500 would follow, and all the while Atkins followed his intuition to carve a path where no-one had previously tread. Interestingly, he cites the sorry economic state of Detroit and the boredom this facilitated as a great motivator for creation. A love of technology would also propel his impulses and he stresses, most of all, the willingness to experiment and constantly challenge yourself as the key tenets of doing something worthwhile.

We can’t teach you to innovate in the way Juan Atkins did, but we can give you the tools and confidence to be able to take risks of your own. Our BA (Hons) in Music Production and Sound Engineering will have you feeling at home in any studio, or if you’re as enamoured with being on stage as the man himself is, the new BA (Hons) in Music Production and DJ Practice has a greater emphasis on performance. Both are quality-assured by Middlesex University, who hosted our first class of graduates in July. Check out our full range of music production courses here, which includes shorter courses like Intro to Music Production and Mixing & Mastering.

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