God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: The Story of Detroit Techno

God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: The Story of Detroit Techno is an upcoming documentary on the origins of techno.

The documentary features Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, Eddie Fowlkes, Blake Baxter, Santonio Echols and others.

Filmmakers Jennifer Washington and Kristian Hill are running a Kickstarter project to fund the completion of the documentary. Here’s what they have to say about it:

We’ve been documenting the lives of the founding fathers of Techno music in the States and abroad for over the past 7 years.

They are Detroit’s best kept secret as they have been quietly exporting their products and services to audiences all over the world for the past 30 years.  The stars of this film are considered gods overseas, but fail to get the same recognition here at home.

They’re the “hidden figures” of the $7.1 billion dollar industry of Electronic Dance Music, which is now led by the list of Forbes’ cash kings like: Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and Deadmaus to name a few.  Most people nowadays have no idea that Techno has Detroit origins or that black people have anything to do with this music.

It has been our personal mission to set the record straight by producing a documentary feature film to bring this important but overlooked part of black history to mainstream audiences.

The film is available to project backers for US $50.

29 thoughts on “God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: The Story of Detroit Techno

  1. yawn, another out of focus documentary. I`ll pass.
    the interesting thing is the Detroit – Berlin connection
    that’s what got things rolling 😉
    btw. what no mad mike???
    there was/is very little interest in techno in the US.
    they were/are obsessed with boring big talking men – hip hop.

    1. Yeah, shows how much you know.

      That’s the goal of the documentary. To set the record straight and show the connection.

      Being someone who was alive during that era, I can personally attest to there being a great interest in techno during the 80’s here in the US. It was underground and not mainstream, but very much alive and very popular.

      Basically, by saying that things didn’t get interesting until the Detroit – Berlin connection, you’re saying that techno wasn’t of interest to anyone until white people got involved.

      And that’s simply not true.

      Which perfectly illustrates the need for such a documentary as this!

      Time to learn your history, Max.




      Here’s a link to get you started:


      (Note the very first line of the article)

              1. talks about berlin connection, links to article with nothing from berlin (apart from göttsching – but i refuse to see any connection between “berlin school” synth noodling and rhythm driven techno). berlin came in on the second wave at best. learn about the early tekknozid parties and how tanith came up with the tresor concept which was designed from ground up based on UK rave.
                but what a stupid thing to fight about.
                both things are true, that people of color as originators of techno are largely neglected in the US techno scene of today (which is otherwise just as vibrant as anywhere else btw., also today) just as in most aspects of life – and that there were important musical influences going back and forth overseas.
                and btw i think it is clueless to talk about all this like it is history. all the people in the video are still active. here in switzerland they still come to play regularly to the parties of their old friends like they did back in the day before they became part of “history”.

                1. wozu soll ich denn Bitteschön linken?
                  alte Tresor flyer?
                  robert henkes grüße im UR laden?
                  fakt ist geknallt hat das mit Verkaufszahlen hier, die ham doch in den Staaten so gut wie nix verkauft, deswegen sind da auch einige von den Herren in dem video böse angepisst weil sie nicht nach Deutschland sind, deswegen keine kohle gesehen haben und zuhause vor 300 Leuten abfeierten während man hier die loveparade hatte 😉 meine 2 cent zu dem Thema IIRC

                  1. das Giorgio Moroder neuerdings schwarz sein soll und aus Detroit ist is mir auch neu ^^
                    von wegen wer hats erfunden 😉
                    man hat da in den Staaten arge Probleme mit Rassismus und selbstbewusstsein, darauf werde ich jetzt aber nicht länger eingehen … sonst brüllt der nächste idiot nazi
                    der ist Italiener und die Nummer in München produziert 😉
                    lief und läuft in jedem schwulen club von Chippewa Falls bis Moskau

                    1. funny anecdote about this: bowie ran over to eno and said man, you’ve got to listen to this, its the future. eno went with him to the other room and on the record player was I feel love. eno told this story somewhere, I can’t remember where.

                    2. ich sag nur Black Devil Disco Club. Hört es euch auf youtube an, dann ist klar wo der Südtiroler I feel Love her hat.

                    3. sorry aber bloss weil einer einen synthesizer anfasst heisst nicht dass er was mit techno zu tun hat. koks ziehen in irgendwelchen münchner schickeria clubs war nie techno auch wenn uns irgendwelche gigolo und moroder jünger seit langem anderes erzählen wollen. ich hab länger mit einem disco produzenten zusammengewohnt (in den USA) und nur weil in technischer hinsicht ähnliche regeln befolgt werden heisst das noch lange nicht dass disco und techno irgendwie verknüpft sind. disco und techno haben m.E. sowieviel gemein wie Prius und 911 – beides autos aber … und bloss weil was an einer stelle – dank infrastruktur – gross und populär abgeht und irgendwann eine million leute druff um die siegessäule tanzen (wohlgemerkt nachdem die innovationen stattgefunden haben) heisst nicht dass man vernachlässigen darf dass im underground in den USA ähnlich viel passiert – es aber aus organisatorischen gründen nicht so sichtbar sein kann. und mal ganz ehrlich, wer mal bei detroit movement war oder bei einer rave razzia in LA mit 40 bullen karren macht sich über US techno nicht mehr lustig. wir hatten halt glück mit der wende, das heisst nicht dass wir die massgeblichen erfinder waren.

      1. greetings from detroit. we have a history of dance music that started with jazz then motown then funk then electronic with a little added flavoring from mc5 Iggy hip hop and more.

        You should challenge yourself to venture outside your bubble.

  2. Lol, Detroit techno, nobodies who caught on late. Now they claim to have invented the genre, it’s would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

  3. The DetroitBerlin connection is interesting (and important) but it’s not ‘the thing’ that is interesting about a 30+ year old genre. There is no ‘the thing’ with something as expansive as techno.

    Japanese break dancers, German graffiti writers and Californian turntablists are interesting parts of the hip hop story but that doesn’t preclude the value of a documentary about the Bronx in the mid-70s.

  4. The sound IS from Detroit. Which clearly no one here seems to understand. To get a good understanding of the Detroit sound, you have to understand how the sound is inextricably linked to the Roland TR-808 drum machine.

    At the time, the TR-808 was a relatively inexpensive drum machine that could be had for around $1000. It was never designed to be a lead instrument, but an accompaniment. But because of it’s low price and very synthetic sound, it became the backbone of many of the early electronic tracks by artists from Detroit and elsewhere. And these futuristic sounding electronic tracks with there pulsing 4/4 rhythms would come to be known as “techno.”

    In fact, the term “techno” was actually coined by Juan Atkins, one of the artists covered in the documentary, a term which he got from a reference to “techno-rebels” from the book “The Third Wave”, by Alvin Toffler.

    The track “Clear”, by Cybotron (Juan Atkins and Richard Davies), one of the first tracks of the Detroit sound, was released 1983. With the exception of artists like Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, Brian Eno and the like (who inspired many of the early Detroit pioneers), the work of many of the Detroit pioneers predates any of work by Tresor, Richard Henke, or anyone currently active in the modern Berlin scene.

    The point is that this particular sound that would become the basis of techno DID start in Detroit.

    Berlin may be the current capital of techno, but it did not start that way.

    If the Detroit pioneers are pissed about anything, it’s simply that they never go the recognition they deserve.

    Now, everything I have stated here is a veritable fact. Don’t believe me, then just look it up yourself.

    I don’t why it’s such a problem for the people here to believe this is how it happened. I don’t know whether it’s racial, or because they’re Americans. I don’t know.

    But I can say, as a person of color, we’re used to having our accomplishments undercut or minimized. So has always been the way in this wonderful country called the USA. So when I see happening, I won’t stand for it. And I will speak up.

    Sorry if that makes anyone uncomfortable or clashes with their worldview, but too bad.

    In this matter, the fact remains, that’s how it went down

    I know. I was alive then. I lived through it.

    You can argue and link to whatever you want, it’s not going to change historically what happened. Period.

    And hence the need for the documentary.

    So, everyone, Please, do a little research before posting. Please get your facts straight.

    And have a good day.

      1. I dont know, I think the problem is little of “the Detroit sound” did stand the test of time,
        in my books UR and +8 certainly do.
        but what do I know, I am old 😉

        1. i see what you mean in terms of production modern techno has certainly come a long way since the comparatively soft sounds of Detroit techno. but the relentless 4/4 beat that is not in the background as in house or disco, but moves centerstage and stays in the front throughout the track relentlessly unchanged, that in my opinion defines techno and was invented in Detroit.

          and concerning the suppression of the recognition of people of color, we may not understand it that much in europe because a) we have fewer people of color and b) our racism, while present, does have a different, less vicious and divisive flavor compared to the US.

          it may seem crazy but it is a million times easier for a foreign black DJ to play in the US than a domestic one. in fact, the many many raves i’ve been to, people of color most of the time are seen as dealers, troublemakers, … or security personnel. but part of the actual rave. sounds crazy given the origins of techno, but that’s what i’ve seen.

          and the scene is weird. you’d be astonished how many white homophobic DJs i’ve been talking to that went against everything Berghain stands for – while droning on forever about wanting to play there.

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