TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
TuneAttic: find music, know music
Mat Zo

Juan Atkins is a US Techno DJ and producer and one of the Belleville Three Detroit Techno DJs.  Recognized widely as the original pioneer of Techno Atkins is a hugely influential artist with numerous ground-breaking singles and albums to his name. Atkins also runs the seminal Techno label Metroplex.

 scales of success


'No UFOs'
(Metroplex 1985)
'Magic Tracks - Deep Detroit Volume Two' (Pow Wow Records 1993)

Early Years: 1982 to 1999

Juan Atkins started out playing bass, drums and guitar as a boy, particularly focusing on Funk bass until he bought his first synthesiser.  Later at Belleville High School he and introduced his friends Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson to DJ Charles "The Electrifying Mojo" Johnson's WGPR radio show and also to European electronic music acts such as Kraftwerk.  Atkins, May and Saunderson went onto become the founding fathers of techno and are often referred to as the Belleville Three due to them having met at that school.

Atkins taught May how to mix and the two started to DJ together under the alias Deep Space, eventually having some of their mixes played on Mojo Johnson’s radio show.  When later Saunderson also started to work with the pair they evolved the project’s name to Deep Space Soundworks

Atkins’ first releases were as half of the Electro act Cybotron which he formed with Richard Davis.  Their first single was ‘Alleys Of Your Mind’ (Deep Space Records 1981).  Atkins released five singles and an album with Davis before leaving to pursue other projects in 1985.

The production alias with which Atkins had most impact was Model 500, including the seminal debut release ‘No UFOs’ (Metroplex 1985) which has gone down in history as one of the first ever techno productions.  Atkins went on to release more than 20 singles and four albums under the Model 500 moniker, including one as recently as 2011:  ‘OFI’ (R & S Records 2011).

In 1987 Atkins set up Metroplex records which would go on to feature releases from, among others, Atkins, May and Saunderson.

One alias that Aktins focused on during the late 1990’s was Infiniti, which he has said he sees as his purest Techno alias, a continuation of his work as Cybotron.

Among the countless other projects and production aliases he used in the 1980’s and 1990’s Atkins teamed up with Saunderson to release three influential singles as Kreem. 

(Subject Detroit 2004)
'20 Years Metroplex: 1985 - 2005' (Tresor 2005)

Later Years: 2000 to present

Whereas some of his peers had either slowed down or entirely stopped producing by the start of the 2000’s Juan Atkins continued to issue a large number of releases under a similarly large number of production aliases. 

In 2005 Atkins released a retrospective album on German Techno label Tresor ‘20 Years Metroplex: 1985 – 2005’ (Tresor 2005).

Atkins continues to release semi-regularly under a number of his established aliases.

Juan Atkins is arguably one of the single most important and influential men in the history of electronic dance music to date.   He was the driving force of the Belleville Three.  It was his direction and musical tastes and knowledge that shaped the shape and direction of Detroit Techno most.  Yet despite his influence Atkins has never quite achieved as high a profile as either May or Saunderson.

Juan Atkins’ father was a concert promoter.