Who created Detroit techno? New documentary shines light on pioneering musicians

After 12 years in the making, “God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines” will premiere at the Tribeca Festival in June. Creatives behind the documentary talk about the importance of telling the story behind Detroit Techno.

Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Blake Baxter, Eddie Fowlkes, Juan Atkins and Santonio Echols sit on a roof

From left to right, back row then front row: Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Blake Baxter, Eddie Fowlkes, Juan Atkins and Santonio Echols.

A documentary that shines a light on the visionaries behind Detroit Techno is getting a premiere at the Tribeca Festival in June. Additionally, a digital screening for at-home viewing will be available on June 13.

“God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines” has been 12 years in the making for producer Jennifer Washington and director Kristian Hill, who both hail from Detroit.

The documentary focuses on a six-pack of musicians — Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Sauderson, Blake Baxter, Eddie Fowlkes and Santonio Echols — who helped create one of the city’s greatest cultural exports with massive international appeal.

“Like New Orleans, where young people gravitate to brass band instruments… in Detroit, kids in my neighborhood gravitated to turntables, to samples and beat machines.” — Kristian Hill, director of “God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines”

Listen: creatives behind “God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines” talk about importance of telling story behind Detroit Techno.


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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.