“Journalism is dead” was the recent proclamation by Derrick May, in response to an increasing number of questions as to how much the so-called Belleville Three actually contributed to the genre they claim they founded. His reply – coming in at a mere 50 seconds long – was as lacking in substance as it was in length…
History, however, is often written from the perspective of the victorious. May certainly thought he was on this side for many years – whilst most techno heads kept their heads down, he was more than happy to provide interviews for journalists. Those journalists usually knew little to nothing about techno, so they were in no position to question the version of events being prsented – something which May would have understood well.
Nonetheless, this particular article from the New Yorker – who somehow manage to know even less about dance music than the genre’s own press outlets – certainly ruffled up some feathers at Ears To The House HQ over the weekend. Apparently, it was the Germans who invented techno – so says Frankfurt’s Museum of Modern Electronic Music.
Now, let’s get this on the record nice and early. Ears To The House despises the way that many of the Black originators in dance music have effectively been written out of the history which they’re legitimately a part of. Whilst accepting that recollections will inevitably vary – we’re humans, after all – it’s integral that history is recorded as accurately as possible.
Unfortunately, this article by the New Yorker fails miserably. Whilst it’s correct to say that Germany’s Kraftwerk did influence the development of techno, to say the Germans actually invented it is ridiculous. But so is the Belleville Three version of events which claims Derrick May, Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson were the three men behind it all.
Who knows why this is? Perhaps Juan Atkins threatened to sue the newspaper for defamation if they dared question his role in its development – just like he did when Ears To The House started asking questions. But in a somewhat telling sign of how the stock of May, Atkins, and Saunderson has fallen, none of them were actually interviewed for this article.
Yes, the article does stick to the increasingly discredited narrative that these three men somehow invented techno. But the fact that none of them were actually spoken to ahead of publication speaks volumes. Derrick May, previously so happy to speak out, cannot do any interview now without placing himself at risk of being asked about those multiple allegations of sexual abuse against him.
Perhaps, just perhaps, the narrative is starting to catch up with the truth – it’s only taken around 35 years to get to this point. Now, if we could get to the bit where the likes of Eddie Fowlkes, Blake Baxter, Thomas Barnett, and so forth are mentioned, that would be just lovely. Right now though, we’ll take this small little victory…