Why is Techno Music Not as Big in the United States as it is in Europe?

What is techno?

Techno is one of the most popular subgenres of Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. Techno utilizes electronically created sounds. Many people like to dance or rave to this kind of music because it incorporates heavy beats and electric sounds that make people want to get up and move. 

There is much debate for when and where techno was created. Some say it originated in Europe – Specifically Germany – in the 70s. Kraftwerk, a four person music group from Düsseldorf, Germany, is considered a pioneer of electronic music and techno. Kraftwerk was so influential that musicians like Frank Ocean and Dr. Dre have sampled their songs. 

Others say techno was created in Detroit, Michigan in the early 80s. The techno that came out of Detroit was created by Black people, being born from a mixture of genres such as Chicago house, funk, and electric jazz. The Belleville Three, a Detroit based group are early pioneers of techno in the United States. They took inspiration from Kraftwerk, the Germany based group, and from George Clinton’s southern American funk music. The Belleville Three popularized techno for all of the United States and put Detroit on the map as a founding city of genre. 

Now, techno has evolved and become extremely popular. Techno employs a consistent pulse with the frequent use of synthesizers. Techno songs usually fall into the range of 120 to 140 beats per minute (BPM). The fast pace and intense beats of techno are known for making people want to dance and move their bodies. And, most frequently, the consumers of techno and techno culture are in Europe. 

In Europe, it is extremely normal for people to party and rave until the morning. For example, Berlin and Amsterdam are rave capitals. In these areas there are many popular festivals that focus on techno and other electronic music which boosts techno’s visibility and popularity. The popularity of these events then produces more DJs that want to make that kind of music. For example, Amsterdam Dance Effect (ADE) is an iconic five day electronic music festival that features the world’s top techno artists. In addition to festivals, techno clubs are much more popular in Europe than the United States. European techno clubs commonly host guests until late hours in the morning. For example, Berghain in Berlin is one of the most well known and elusive techno clubs. This club is known to be frequented by people in the mornings, because the line is always hours long at night. The techno club scene is more prevalent in Europe. One reason for this is that American establishments close earlier than European ones. 

Another reason that techno is bigger in Europe is that Europeans commonly listened to music that had more similarities to techno than American music did. Disco has similarities to techno. When disco died in America, it was replaced with RnB, which is far from techno. In Europe, there was a gradual evolution from disco to euro disco to euro dance to house. It has taken Americans longer to get back into techno, whereas it has stayed somewhat constant in Europe. 

Techno evolves just like any art form. I hope that someday techno takes over the music scene in the United States. 

My personal favorite techno artist is Charlotte de Witte. She is a Belgian DJ who won the DJ Mag award for Best Techno in 2019. Her techno is “dark” or “hard” style. This style incorporates sound distortion and heavy use of synthesizer. If you want to get into techno, I highly recommend listening to “Apollo – Original Mix.” This song will give you a taste of what real hard style techno sounds like. And, supporting female artists is always something I love to do. Listening to Charlotte de Witte is perfect when getting ready for a night out or when you need to get pumped up. Additionally, “Time” by Alignment is another great example of hard techno. Hard is short for hardcore; this kind of music is usually 150 bpm or faster, and has a very prevalent kick drum

Lizzy TePaske is a senior communication major with a professional writing minor. She loves going to concerts and spending time at the beach.

Listen to Lizzy’s Techno Playlist now on Spotify & Apple Music!

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