Gooqx Speakerbox 19 - Julian Gertenbach

Written by

Julian Gertenbach

category

Date

24. April 2019

Estimated Reading Time

5:28 Minutes

Gooqx Speakerbox 19
Julian Gertenbach

Techno music and the scene around it may be seen as one of the last strong youth subcultures, existing for not less than 30 years now.

Besides that, it grows stronger and stronger as a profitable industry with an increasing number of labels, booking agencies and brands, enabling people involved in the scene like DJs and producers, club owners and promoters to make a living out of it. Since day one electronic music of all forms, which techno evolved from, was the music of the Avantgarde. People tried to define, live and establish the aesthetic of the future. Because of that, the influences techno music gave to all forms of creative output from the deepest niches to the broad mainstream were huge. That's the motivation for choosing the history and evolution of techno music as the topic for speakerbox number 19.

In order to understand which circumstances and improvements led to the evolution of electronic dance music such as house and techno, we could go back to the beginning of the 20th century, thinking of people like the futurists or instruments like the Hammond Organ, but to fasten things up, we jump directly into the seventies — to be more precise into punk rock located in Europe on the one hand and soul, funk and disco sounds located in America, centered in Detroit, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois on the other. These can be seen as the roots, which melted together into electronic dance music. Everything took shape when companies like Moog or Roland made huge steps in the development of monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers, which increasingly got affordable for the masses.

Bands that used to play with classical instruments started to switch their guitars to synthesizers and their drums to drumcomputers. This shift is especially personified by our Düsseldorf-based robot-neighbors: the band Kraftwerk and their ‘machine music’. Krautrock bands turned into elektropop bands, punk went on to post-punk — appearing in the forms of new wave, later industrial and electronic beat music. Meanwhile, in Detroit, Michigan, often called Motorcity because of its deeply rooted car-industry (automatization started here when Henry Ford invented the assembly line production). A guy called „Electrifying Mojo" took these European influences into his nightly radio show and mixed them up with the music of the black working class – soul, funk, boogie, and gospel. It turned out to fit perfectly to the post-industrial atmosphere of the city and inspired people like Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson aka "The Belleville Three" to bring forward the sound and turn it into a more technical, dystopian direction and combine it with a strict 4/4 (four-to-the-floor)-rhythm — detroit techno was born. At the same time, house music evolved in Chicago, driven by people like Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson, whilst in Europe acid house took over and filled warehouses with party-hungry kids, leading to the „Second Summer of Love".

Gooqx Speakerbox 19 - Julian Gertenbach
juicytomato.jpg __filesize 1260 x 966 px

At the beginning of the nineties, more and more forms of electronic dance music arised from what was called techno or house at that time. The scene increased big time in Europe, with hotspots in England, Belgium, Netherlands and in Germany, especially in Berlin and Frankfurt. Techno became the next big thing – events set up by the scene like Mayday or Loveparade grew stronger, the charts were filled up with songs heavily influenced by techno and trance. TV stations like MTV or Viva started to broadcast shows dealing with electronic dance music. Because of that extension of electronic music into the mainstream, „first-hour"-techno producers and DJs split into different directions: the ones who participated in this sell-out, and the ones that got annoyed by these circumstances and went deeper into the underground, trying to distinguish their sound and style by getting darker, faster and harder. After this first peak, the sounds and styles being played developed into new trends in sound-aesthetics and new subcultures, sometimes with more, sometimes with less adjective music.

Today is what one could call ‘the second peak time of techno’. It was never completely gone but is definitely rising stronger (and getting more commercial) these days than it ever was since the beginning of the 1990s. As a result of social media and a globalized world, it is easier than ever to build up a global scene, with DJs playing in three different countries within a weekend and promoters making events and festivals all over the world. Through mystical clubs like Berghain, Berlin and DJs working as big influencers for a world full of hedonism, the interest in techno and the scene surrounding it is massive and takes over in different cultural industries, such as art, design, and fashion. That's why not only the sound-design of techno these days is heavily influenced by the sounds of the 1990s such as acid, breakbeats, trance, and even gabber, but also is referred on a visual way — modern graphic design often looks like it was directly taken from a warehouse-rave-flyer out of 1992, fashion brands take their inspiration out of the sporty and functional rave look und artists showcase their work in clubs or even dedicate their work to Techno music. Besides that, techno, born in the black working class and raised in the global gay community, has – apart from all the hedonism and occupation by the Central European mostly white middle class – still not lost its political ingredient: In countries like Ukraine, China or Georgia and also in South America, the scene is rising and helps the youth to form solidarity and raise voices against oppression through the governments of their countries, making techno culture a safe space for many people.

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