Cybotron (American band)
|Origin||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
Cybotron were a pioneering and influential American electro music group formed in 1980 by Juan Atkins and Richard "3070" Davis in Detroit. Guitarist John "Jon 5" Housely 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 German synthesizer pioneers, Kraftwerk, Japanese technopop 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.
Cybotron used a synth-dominated sound, paired with a drum machine, whose rhythms were similar to those emerging from New York at the same time. This was reflected in their first single, “Alleys of Your Mind,” which was released on their own Deep Space label and was playlisted by The Electrifyin’ Mojo in 1981. It became a local hit in Detroit, where it sold about 15,000 copies. Their next two singles, “Cosmic Cars” and “Clear” had even more success which led to them being signed by Fantasy, a label located in Berkeley, California.
Cybotron’s music could have easily been the soundtrack to the changing scene in Detroit. The city was in transition, from an industrial boomtown to a post-revolutionary wasteland, from US capital of auto-manufacturing to the US capital of homicide. In the late 60s and early 70s, the syndrome of “white flight” to the suburbs led to the decline of the auto industry and the de-gentrification of formerly securely middle-class black districts. Cybotron’s music worked to mirror this shift in atmosphere in Detroit. Songs like “Alleys of Your Mind” and “Techno City” were specifically aimed to mirror the city, using technology to capture this spirit. Cybotron used subliminal funk pulsing amidst their crisp-and-dry programmed beats to truly reflect the dying auto industry in Detroit. 
Success and breakup
Formed in 1980, Cybotron released their first singles, "Alleys of Your Mind" and "Cosmic Cars," as 7-inch records on Atkins's own label, Deep Space Records. In total, these records 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.
- "Alleys of Your Mind" b/w "Cosmic Raindance" (Deep Space, 1981)
- "Cosmic Cars" b/w "The Line" (Deep Space/Fantasy, 1982)
- "Clear" b/w "Industrial Lies" (Fantasy, 1983)
- "Techno City" (Fantasy, 1984)
- "R-9" (Fantasy, 1985)
- "Eden" (Fantasy, 1986)
- 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
- Reynolds, Simon (1998). Generation Ecstasy. Psychology Press.
- 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), p. 21