To say that Juan Atkins is an innovator in electronic music is like saying Beethoven wrote epic symphonies — it’s a hackneyed statement that becomes clearly obvious once you listen. Juan Atkins was the pioneer in an influential group of like-minded musicians (including also Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May) who dealt with the surrounding artifacts of industrial culture in their neighborhood of Detroit by embracing the influence and spearheading the urban techno movement. Atkins had learned to play bass, drums, and guitar when he was young, but after hearing electronic music for the first time around the age of sixteen, the alien sounds of the synthesizers had worked their mystique on Atkins and he dedicated himself to it from then on. In the early 1980s, Juan Atkins collaborated with Rik Davis on Cybotron, releasing the groundbreaking single “Techno City” in 1984. Creative direction drove a wedge between the two, and Atkins developed the Model 500 alias on his own and founded the Metroplex techno label in 1985. “No UFOs” was the first single released by Juan Atkins under the Model 500 name and on the Metroplex label. The song proved to be a smash around the Detroit area and Chicago as well, inciting Atkins to produce a string of monumentally influential techno tracks which earned Atkins the title “Godfather of Techno.”
Listen to “No UFOs” below and check out a video interview at the Submerge Techno Museum from 2012 where Atkins discusses the roots of his music.