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Juan Atkins Interview - Godfather of Techno Interview

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Juan Atkins Interview - Godfather of Techno Interview

Juan Atkins

Cybotron / Model 500 Performance (2007 IDMA)

RS: Right now you're working on new music under the guise of Model 500, what kinds of sound are you making? Where are you genre-wise with that?
Juan Atkins: Model 500 is really a continuation of Cybotron. That's one thing that I've always stayed the course with and I've always wanted to not deviate when I do stuff with Model 500. In the past year it's probably what Cybotron would have done had the partners not split. Its more song-oriented with melodies, not just dance track - that's always been my experiences with Model 500. Now if I do stuff under the name Infinity, that would be the more straightforward form of pure techno, the purest techno what is deemed as techno right now in North America and in Europe.

RS: It seems like the German and Belgian record labels like R&S and Tresor seem to give you more love than the American labels do. Why do you think that's the case?
Juan Atkins: America is so big that you can polarize the different parts of the music industry and the different parts of the music palette. One side of the country doesn't know or have anything to do with the other side. These other countries in Europe are smaller so they seem to have a lot of ideas and mixing together.

RS: You are DJing out a lot right now, right? What kind of music do you play out?
Juan Atkins: Yes, I still play around and travel the world. What I play depends on the venue where I play. I love all music so I play a variety and try to push the envelope and get away with a lot of things. I don't like to play venues where everybody's looking to hear just one style of music.

RS: Where do you find the music that you play or how do you choose the tracks?
Juan Atkins: I get hired to play a lot of strict, pure techno, and I am still a firm believer that you can take these crowds where you want to. I play a lot of four on the floor upbeat. Choosing tracks, I don't use a certain formula - if it hits me, it hits me; if it don't, it don't.

RS: Where do you see dance music going right now?
Juan Atkins: That's a hard question because with mp3s and downloading, the way that people pick and choose music now is a lot different than going to a store and buying vinyl. It makes it more of a listening form rather than a dance form. I have records that sound great in the club, but when you play them on the radio or listen to them at home it's a whole different record. With the advent of downloading, the music for me has to be more listenable than just a bare dance track. I think music now will have to have a little bit more structure to it, other than just looking at breaking a front and a breakdown in the middle and intro, because that stuff doesn't really matter too much anymore. When you're sitting down at home in from of your computer and you going to download the music, you're not at the club.

RS: You're called the Godfather of Techno - where did that name come from?
Juan Atkins: The fist time I heard that name was in a big article in Face magazine. When they referred to me as the Godfather of Techno – it just stuck. That was the way they described a lot of people. I taught a lot of them how to make music as I was one of the first, if not the first dance, electronic, or electronic funk musician in the United States. There probably that wasn't that many in the world for that matter, so I get a lot of those types of accolades. So I guess that that was just something that they put in. I didn't name myself that, but I mean it's not a bad name and it's not a bad title.

RS: Frankie Knuckles is referred to as the Godfather of House, so it's definitely a compliment.
Juan Atkins: I think it's something that the British do. The British press is more powerful than even the European press. They read the paper more over there than then do watch TV. Here it's not such a big thing as people are more into the television. But over there, a magazine like Face or Record Mirror, put a term on somebody and it just sticks. Its something that they came up with and called me in that article, then every article that came out after that referred back to that term.

RS: What kind of advice would you give to DJs and producers who are getting their start now in electronic music?
Juan Atkins: Stay dedicated and don't be scared to try something new. Don't follow the leader. Dance to the beat of your own drum and don't be scared to do it.

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