Movement headliner Jeff Mills shares why techno was birthed in Detroit

The techno producer and Detroit artist explains how his music is meant to inspire discussion and depictions of planets, stars and time travel.

Jeff Mills

Jeff Mills

Although widely associated with Europe, techno music was invented in Detroit in the early nineteen eighties.

Inspired by futurist ideals, a generation of creators in the city used whatever technology they could get their hands on to pioneer a cutting-edge sound made up of growling synths and driving dance beats. In the process, they set in motion one of the essential musical movements of the 20th century.

With the Movement Electronic Music Festival coming up, Jeff Mills, an internationally renowned DJ and producer, who got his start on Detroit radio in the 1980s, explains why techno is so intimately linked with Detroit’s past and present.

“It very much is like science fiction — techno is like a science of the average person just through sound,”— Jeff Mills, DJ, producer and artist.

Listen: Techno music’s birth and evolution in Detroit.

Jeff Mills is a DJ, producer and artist — and a headliner for the Movement festival this year. Born and raised in Detroit, he started DJ’ing in his teens and became known as the Wizard, producing a radio show that placed him in direct competition with Electrifying Mojo.

Mills says techno music was birthed as a community of people creating sounds with nearby tools and technologies.

“It very much is like science fiction,” Mills says, “techno is like a science of the average person just through sound.”

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.