Cybotron was an early techno group formed in 1980 by Juan Atkins and Richard "3070" Davis in Detroit, Michigan. Guitarist John "Jon 5" Housley joined soon afterward. Cybotron had a number of singles now considered classics of the electro genre, particularly "Clear" and the group's debut "Alleys Of Your Mind", as well as "Cosmic Cars" and "R-9".
The group was inspired by midwestern funk, especially the music of George Clinton, along with European synthesizer pioneers Kraftwerk, Japanese electro pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra, English electropop, Italo disco, and futurist literary influences such as Alvin Toffler's books Future Shock and The Third Wave. The name "Cybotron", coined by Atkins, is a portmanteau of cyborg and cyclotron. Atkins was fond of creating such "futuristic-sounding" words — the record label names "Metroplex" and "Transmat" being other examples.
Relation to techno
Although generally considered electro, Cybotron was also part of the early evolution of techno music. Cybotron was the first musical outlet of techno co-"originator" Juan Atkins, and the group's unique combination of musical influences, boldly experimental aesthetic, and afro-futurist philosophy became the underpinnings of Detroit techno.
Success and breakup
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Formed in 1981, Cybotron first singles were "Alleys of Your Mind" and "Cosmic Cars," released as 7-inch disks on Atkins' own label Deep Space Records. In total, these disks sold 15,000 copies. In 1983, the group was signed to the Berkeley, California-based Fantasy label and released its debut album, Enter.
In 1985, Atkins left the group due to artistic differences with Davis. Davis wanted the group to pursue a musical direction closer to rock, while Atkins wanted to continue in the electro-style vein of "Clear." After the breakup, Davis carried on and released several records as Cybotron, the last in 1995. Atkins still has an active musical career. He founded Metroplex Records and continued releasing records under several names, including Model 500, Model 600, and Infiniti. Atkins also continued DJing under his own name.
- Enter (1983)
- Clear (Enter with a slightly changed track listing, 1990)
- Empathy (1993)
- Cyber Ghetto (1995)
- Motor City Machine Music (A 'greatest hits' album, 2005)
- Derrick May interview (video)
"He's got his name on a lot of songs that've been sampled.... Almost every song on the Cybotron album has been sampled by almost every major artist in the industry."
- Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001), All music guide to electronica: the definitive guide to electronic music (4 ed.), Backbeat Books, p. 582, ISBN 0-87930-628-9, retrieved 26 May 2011
- Brown, Bill (October 2010), You Should've Heard Just What I Seen: Collected Newspaper Articles 1981–1984, Cincinnati: Colossal Books, ISBN 978-0-557-66844-1
- Shallcross, Mike (July 1997), "From Detroit To Deep Space", The Wire (161): 21