Juan Atkins

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About Juan Atkins

Detroit’s Juan Atkins helped invent the genre of techno in the ’80s and ’90s with the Afrofuturist machine funk he released as a member of Cybotron and as a solo artist under the names Model 500 and Infiniti. He is a master of mood-building and groove, and his best-known works—including his hypnotic 1985 single “Night Drive (Thru-Babylon)”—have left an indelible impact on dance floors and among electronic producers the world over. Atkins was born in Detroit in 1962. Though he grew up playing in funk bands, he traded the guitar for a Korg synthesizer at 15 when he moved with his concert-promoter father to the suburb of Belleville. Soon he started bonding with classmates Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson over Parliament-Funkadelic as well as Kraftwerk and other synth-pop artists featured on the radio program of Detroit DJ the Electrifying Mojo. He formed Cybotron in 1980 with Richard Davis and debuted as Model 500 in 1985, releasing the frenzied drum-machine workout “No Ufo’s” on his own Metroplex label. Atkins continued venturing further into techno deep-space over the subsequent decades, embracing the full-length-album format in the ’90s and collaborating with Berlin-based producer Moritz von Oswald in the 2010s. Beginning in 2017, he joined up with his old cohorts May and Saunderson to perform under their longtime nickname, The Belleville Three.

Detroit, MI, United States
September 12, 1962
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