What Is the First Techno Song Ever?

A bunch of LPs

Every electronic dance music (EDM) genre started once with the first song (track) in that genre, which is also the case for the techno genre. We can learn more about the techno genre by knowing more about this genre’s first song.

What is the first techno song ever? We can see “No UFO’s” by Model 500 as the first techno song ever.

First, this post gives some information about why we can see the song “No UFO’s” as the first techno song ever. The section after this information is about the song itself. After that section, this post argues why the song might not be the first techno song ever.

Why We Can See “No UFO’s” As the First Techno Song Ever

There are multiple web pages on which we can find some information about the first techno song ever. However, these pages have some conflicting information, making it harder to find the correct information.

Looking at the Quora page, “What is considered to be the first techno song in music history?” we can already see some conflicting messages placed by different people. Further, when looking at the Discogs page “what was the first techno song?” we can also see that page conflicting messages placed by different people.

The “Detroit techno” Wikipedia page explains that Detroit techno includes the first techno productions. These first productions are from between the 1980s and the early 1990s produced by Detroit-based artists. The three artists most closely associated with Detroit techno’s start as a genre are Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Kevin Saunderson, also known as the “Belleville Three.”

Juan Atkins met Rick Davis and formed the group Cybotron. The first single of Cybotron is “Alleys of Your Mind,” released on their Deep Space label in 1981 and sold 15000 copies of the single. The success of two follow-up singles, “Cosmic Cars” and “Clear,” resulted in that Fantasy, a label based in California, signed the duo and released their album, Clear.

The group Cybotron split due to creative differences. Juan Atkins chose Model 500 as his artist name and started his label in 1985, Metroplex. The first song Model 500 released is “No UFO’s” on Metroplex.

Some Arguments

Here are some arguments why we can see “No UFO’s” as the first Techno song ever.

The Wikipedia pages “Detroit techno” and “The Belleville Three” don’t mention that the songs “Alleys of Your Mind,” “Cosmic Cars,” “Clear,” and “No UFO’s” are techno songs. They only explained that Cybotron and Model 500 made these songs.

On the Discogs page, “what was the first techno song?”, three people mention the song “Alleys of Your Mind.” One of these persons asks if “Alleys of Your Mind” is the first techno song ever, and nobody answers this question. The other two people explain that “Alleys of Your Mind” is not the first techno song ever.

On the same Discogs page, one person mentioned that “Cosmic Cars” sounds, in his/her opinion, sounds the same as “No UFO’s,” but not that it is the first techno song. Two other people think that “Clear” is a song of the electro genre. However, a few people agree that “No UFO’s” is the first Techno song.

When I listen to the songs “Alleys of Your Mind,” “Cosmic Cars,” and “Clear,” it does sound more like the electro genre than the techno genre. However, “No UFO’s” sounds like a techno song. Many other people probably would categorize these songs in the same genres as I did by listening.

As already mentioned, the Quora page “What is considered to be the first techno song in music history?” has conflicting messages about which song could be the first techno song ever.

Someone on that Quora page explained that “No UFO’s” could be the first techno song ever. On the same page, a different person mentions that “No UFO’s” is the first techno song ever. This statement is also in his book “The First Time – A Book Of 20th & 21st Century Music Firsts”.

The “No UFO’s” Wikipedia page explains that people often identify the “No UFO’s” song as one of the earliest techno songs. Also, the page mentions that the song is part of the techno genre.

As mentioned on the Juan Atkins Wikipedia page, the first release of Juan Atkins is “No UFO’s” as Model 500. The page also mentions that Mixmag names Juan Atkins as “the original pioneer of Detroit techno.” We can see this statement on the “Juan Atkins in The Lab LDN” Mixmag page.

The First Techno Song Ever: “No UFO’s” By Model 500

As already mentioned, “No UFO’s” is a song by Juan Atkins with Model 500 as his artist name, released on his label Metroplex. Atkins was part of the Cybotron, and after this group split, Metroplex released this song.

We can listen to “No UFO’s” by Model 500 on YouTube.

The “No UFO’s” Wikipedia page explains that the release date of this song is 1985.

The “No UFO’s” song followed similar themes of Cybotron’s music with alienation and science fiction. However, the song has less of a similar song structure than Cybotron’s songs. The similarities and differences of the “No UFO’s” song compared to Cybotron’s songs resulted in people identifying “No UFO’s” as one of the earliest techno songs.

After the song’s release, the song got more popularity in Chicago than in Detroit since stores sold the song more in Chicago.

Music labels from England investigated Chicago’s dance music. The labels found out that the song came from Detroit, made by Atkins and his associated artists. Atkins and his related artists agreed to the labels that they release the song “Techno Music” by Juan Atkins on the compilation “Techno! The New Dance Sound of Detroit”.

We can also listen to “Techno Music” by Juan Atkins on YouTube.

Metroplex re-released some versions of “No UFO’s” in 2017, with some remixes, such as the “No Ufo’s (Moodymann Remix).” This song is also listenable on Youtube.

The Development of “No UFO’s”

The “No UFO’s” Wikipedia page explains that Juan Atkins describes his label Metroplex as “more funk and bass-heavy electro tracks.”

Atkins made the songs of the first Model 500 release in the basement of his mother’s home, on the Eastside of Detroit. As already mentioned, “No UFO’s” is the first release of Atkins. A “Model 500 ‎– No UFO’s” Discogs page shows us that the “Model 500 ‎– No UFO’s” release has four songs, which are:

  • No UFO’s (Vocal)
  • No UFO’s (Instrumental)
  • Future (Vocal)
  • Future (Instrumental)

Atkins took an audio engineering course at The Recording Institute of Detroit. He applied the skills he learned from that course to his recordings.

An 8-track tape recorder and a 16 channel mixing board did Atkins use for his recordings. He also used the drums of a Roland TR-909. Atkins remembered that it took around two days to finish the song “Future.”

Since Atkins had strong feelings in his music style, he stated that “setting up Metroplex was the only way to get it out there.” Previously, he did send the song “No UFO’s” to other music labels who turned the song down.

Why “No UFO’s” Might Not Be the First Techno Song Ever

When we look at the tracks overview of the label Metroplex on Beatport, we can see that the genre of all these songs is electronica. So, according to this overview, “No UFO’s” is an electronica song.

As already mentioned, the “No UFO’s” Wikipedia page shows that “No UFO’s” is a techno song. A “Model 500 ‎– No UFO’s” Discogs page shows us that the song is part of the electronic genre, and its style is techno and electro. Electronic is not the same as electronica.

The “No UFO’s” Wikipedia page explains that people often identify the “No UFO’s” song as one of the earliest techno songs. Also, the page mentions that the song is part of the techno genre.

According to the “Beatport” Wikipedia page, the launch date of Beatport is 7 January in 2005. As already mentioned, the release date of “No UFO’s” is 1985.

A possible problem might be that when “No UFO’s” was released, people recognized it as a techno song. However, after 2005 or later, people might recognize this song as an electronica song.

Closing Words

Hopefully, you have learned something about the first techno song ever.

If you like this post, you may want to look at some posts on this website’s lifestyle part since this post is also part of it.

When you know someone who likes to learn more about the first techno song ever, feel free to share this post. Additionally, do you know something interesting about the “No UFO’s” song to share with us?

By Markus Kreukniet

Markus Kreukniet is an electronic dance music (EDM) producer and founder of Passion for EDM. He wants to share his EDM knowledge with the rest of the world. Read more about Markus Kreukniet

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