ALL ARTS Documentary Selects


Welcome to the Club: 25 Years of Electronic Music

Electronic music has grown from the warehouses of Soviet Germany to a worldwide phenomenon, and this documentary charts its rise. Learn about its influence on other forms of art and the economy, not to mention millions of fans.

AIRED: March 12, 2021 | 0:53:03

[ Techno music plays ]

[ Speaking French ]

Narrator: Boom, boom, boom.

That's what electronic music sounds like to non-initiates.

This culture, born more than 25 years ago,

has often been misunderstood and repressed,

turning it into a popular underground movement.

We're going to look back at some key moments

of the most recent music adventure of the 21st century.

These days, people dance to techno everywhere --

on Corsican beaches at Calvi On The Rocks,

under the bridges of Lille during an Unisono festival,

on ice rinks, on Croatian islands,

in vast hangars, in forests, on boats,

and even in the Grand Palais in Paris.

Every night, across the globe,

there are thousands of dance parties with repetitive music.

The electronic music industry has gone global,

and now generates billions of dollars.

Deejays are the new rock stars.

And today, one in three kids wants to be a deejay

rather than a fireman.

While filming, we met deejays mixing in front of one person,

others in front of 30,000.

And we heard over 1,000 times the word "Allez."


Narrator: plus, we must have answered over 5,000 times the famous question,

"Who's mixing?"

The first time is important in life,

so we asked our favorite deejays,

"When was your first time with electronic music?"

[ Being translated ] My first time was at a rave.

It was an unauthorized rave in the south of France,

in the middle of a field, with techno blaring out.

I was totally blown away.

[ Being translated ] My first time was at home, in front of my computer.

I saw a deejay mixing live.

And I still clearly remember, like,

the silhouette of this guy,

the disco lights behind him,

and how he was mixing the records

with a headphone on his head.

Smoke machine, and strobe lights,

and loud music, loud bass.

[ Being translated ] A disco ball, flashing lights,

I love that.

Thumping sound.


This is it.

I want -- I want to do this.

[ Being translated ] My soul obsession was to go to another rave.

[ Being translated ] I quit university, and said,

"This is what I want to do.

This is my life."

Obviously, my folks were thrilled

Be blown away -- blown away.

[ Being translated ] I was 18.

I didn't say a word.

I went home, packed my bag, and left.

[ Imitating repetitive techno beat ]

"Can you feel it?"

[ Repetitive rhythm ]

Oh, my God.

Ooh, baby.

[ Repetitive rhythm ]

Techno forever.

[ Repetitive rhythm ]

And for me, it was like,

"Wow. I never heard a song like this."

And it changed, completely, the atmosphere.

Narrator: In 1987, Europe -- and more particularly the UK --

started grooving to the sound of House music,

a sound born in the ghetto of Chicago in the early '80's,

inspired by Frank Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson.

At the same time, inspired by R&S records,

Belgium digested House, and created New Beat --

a slower, more hypnotic sound

which would invade the Belgian charts

and mega clubs like Boccaccio.

[ Speaks foreign language ]


Narrator: In 1988, music made on computers

took on a new dimension.

Electronic Voice: Detroit.

Narrator: A group of high school buddies

who were into new technologies --

Juan Atkins', Kevin Saunderson, Derek Mae, and Jeff Mills --

invented techno in the suburbs of Detroit.

I'm Juan Atkins.

If you don't know, you better ask somebody.

I am Kevin Saunderson.

They call me "the elevator of techno."

So, even though Juan was the creator,

and he just the beginning.

Derek was the innovator.

We played, obviously, very important roles

to take it to another level.

The band of pals spent their nights tuned

in to the legendary, "Electrifying Mojo" radio show.

Announcer: In the nighttime, from 10 until 3:00 a.m.,

it's "Electrifying Mojo."

Man: This here is "Electrifying Mojo."

He made us feel like there was nothing wrong

with listening to different music,

where, in America, the music became very segregated.

So, the Black station played only black music.

White stations played only white music.

And that was, you know, music should never be that way.

He would play the Prince album.

He would play Parliament Funkadelic.

He would play New Order. He would play Kraftwerk.

[ Techno music plays ]

[ in autotuned voice ] We are the robots.

Narrator: German group Kraftwerk were precursors when they began

experimenting with repetitive robotic music

in the 1970s.

Natives of Dusseldorf, they explored the infinite capacities

of synthesizers, and in 1978,

released the concept album "The Man-Machine."

It was the time when electronic synthesizers

were just being available for the consumer.

And I happened to be very fortunate

to be one of the first people

to acquire some of this technology to make music.

Narrator: Juan Atkins was the first to use the term "techno,"

in 1984 with his single "Techno City,"

released on the Fantasy Records label.

It was just kind of a no-brainer.

You know?

All of this music was made

from technological -- you know, new technology.

So, it was just, you know,

simple to just, you know, call it what it was.

Narrator: In 1988, UK label Ten Records Ltd.

brought out the compilation

"Techno: The New Dance Sound of Detroit,"

which included the hit "Big Fun" by Kevin Saunderson

and his group, Inner City.

It popularized techno throughout the world.

[ Speaking French ]

♪ Dance the night away

[ Techno music plays ]

♪ We're having big fun

♪ The party's just begun

♪ Yea-eah

Narrator: "Big Fun" was the first techno single

to hit the worldwide charts, making techno wildly popular.

♪ Yea-eah

♪ We're having big fun ♪

Never had an idea that it would be as big as it is right now.

It was just a natural thing.

It was just young kids having fun.

Narrator: Across the Atlantic, in a city in northern England,

a musical revolution was brewing.

Electronic Voice: Manchester.


Narrator: Manchester is a dark, industrial city

lying far away from the trendiness of London.

Tony Wilson, presenter of the show "Upfront" on Granada TV,

was also a party animal.

After the show, Tony --

also founder of Factory Records --

always went for a drink at the Hacienda,

a nightclub he had opened in Manchester in 1982.

[Indistinct] success is all the beautiful girls

that go in the club.

[ Indistinct talking ]

Narrator: By 1987, Chicago House and Acid House

had found a home at the Hacienda,

with legendary deejays like Mike Pickering,

Graham Park, and Dave Haslam.

It was at the record store Eastern Bloc

where Dave bought his singles

that he first encountered Acid House.

Giving me this music from Detroit.

And I started playing it on a Saturday night.

And there was one night where I was playing it,

and a guy came up to me when I was deejaying,

and he said, "The Acid House you're playing is amazing."

And I said, "What do you mean?"

And he said, "The Acid House."

And I had never heard that label.

It was like the perfect music in that warehouse environment.

Narrator: One spring night in 1987,

the young Laurent Garnier was totally blown away.

[ Speaking French ]

Garnier: [ Being translated ] I was on the dance floor, and at one point,

Mike stopped the music.

There was a little pause.

Then, he played this track.

It was like a slap in the face.

I started dancing like a lunatic.

And after a while, I thought,

"This is awesome. What is this track?"

So, I sprinted upstairs to the deejay's cabin,

and started knocking loudly on the door.

I opened the door, and this guy was stood there.

And he just went, "Qu'est que c'est?

Qu'est que c'est?"

"What is this? What is this? This is incredible."

[ being translated ] I said, "What the f * k is this?"

His eyes were like --

He was like, "I can't believe what I'm hearing."

And I was like, "This is Farley Jack Master Funk."

Then, I had him come in, and show him.

You know, as it was spinning,

his head was going, "Wow. Wow. Wow.

This is amazing. This is amazing."

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Garnier: [ Being translated ] What a kick in the head that was.


Then, in '88, ecstasy came onto the scene,

along with a new music from Detroit called "techno."

And it was like a tidal wave.

Yeah, I am.

That's not really the state to describe it.

Pickering: Everybody in the Hacienda was on ecstasy

And I was just, like, pumping my arms in the air.

You know, and every now and again,

I'd just go boof,

and put my finger on the vinyl, and stop it.

And the whole f * *ing place would just erupt, you know?

Because those were the moments when this drug took you over,

and, like, launched you into like,

"Oh, my God, it's silent."

[ Speaking French ]

Garnier: [ being translated ] The club, closed early, at two o'clock in the morning,

so it was a race against the clock.

You showed up at 9:00 or 9:30

because the English go out really early.

by 10:30, the dance floor was packed.

And by 11:00, everyone was hysterical.

The great thing about the Hacienda

was that everyone kept looking at their watch, thinking,

"S * t, it's gonna close at 2:00."

So, there was a kind of collective hysteria

that intensified at around 1:30.

And then, at 5 to 2:00, the details would cut the music.

There was a huge void.

And the public would start shouting,

"one more tune," all in unison, screaming.

"One more! One more!"

"One more tune!"

"One more! One more! One more!"

It was like chanting at a soccer game.

And 9 times out of 10, Mike would put on "Someday"

by CeCe Rogers, which was the icing on the cake.

I've still got it.

I can play it any time.

Narrator: The Hacienda closed at 2:00 a.m.,

leaving the party animals with nowhere to dance.

So they started taking to their cars,

and organizing unauthorized dance nights

in the open air, in warehouses and hangars.

The rave movement was born.

The summer of Love, 1988, was amazing.

I mean, it was the greatest thing

because it was like a secret society.

It was like, you know, the authorities, and the media,

nobody knew what we were doing.

Garnier: [ Being translated ] The young British people got into it big time.

It was crazy, a real joyful mess.

[ Speaking French ]

It was like a roller coaster and everyone leaped on thinking,

"God, I hope this lasts."

But we had no idea.

Narrator: Heady with this wave of joyfulness,

Laurent Gagnier left to evangelize Europe

on board his trusty rave-mobile.


Across the Atlantic, in Detroit,

techno became structured and radicalized

around the group Underground Resistance,

founded by Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, and Mike Banks.

They laid the foundations for committed techno music

outside of the system,

catching the stars of rock 'n' roll by surprise.

They advocated total anonymity,

and wanted their music to proceed any media exposure.

The group's radical attitude would inspire a number

of other artists, such as Daft Punk.

Techno became a faceless sound.

Only the desire to gather people together mattered.

In their manifesto, published on November the 2nd, '89,

Underground Resistance promoted revolution through sound,

and wanted to see walls knocked down between races,

which prevented world peace.

These ideas curiously found an echo a week later,

with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Electronic Voice: Berlin.

It was the energy of something, "Let's make a new Berlin."

"Forget about the past, about the dramas of our families."

I think it was, like, a movement like to forget

about the Second War,

and everything the teach us in school.

To move something beautiful, to have the energy,

to be open-minded, and to explore.

Narrator: After the fall of the wall,

the East was opened up to a new culture.

Abandoned industrial complexes

offered techno an ideal playing field.

Dimitri Hegemann is the man who would import Detroit techno

into the vaults of a former department store,

and found the club Tresor.

There was no police. There were no authorities.

That was a big chance, also, because the authorities,

there were a lot of problems to sort out.

So, people start dancing two days -- two nights long.

And this was really new.

And techno came at the right moment, you know?

People wanted harder.

Detroit techno [Indistinct]

Narrator: Dimitri, a friend of Jeff Mills,

brought Underground Resistance to Berlin.

I told Mike, and Jeff, and Robert,

"The kids want -- they need your songs.

They need Detroit techno."

I remember, Jeff was mixing, you know, like the wizard

played the tracks maybe a maximum of 30, 40 seconds.

That night, he threw the records behind him.

Somebody collected.

And Detroit gave us a new -- new direction,

a new quality, I must say.

Narrator: Techno had thus found new fertile ground in Germany.

In France, the first electro party nights

were lighthearted and carefree.

Electronic Voice: Paris.

Jerome Pacman, one of the movement's pioneers,

discovered this music in Ibiza,

packed it in his suitcase, and brought it home to Paris.

[ Being translated ] I was going to the clubs in Ibiza,

and years later, I even worked as a go-go dancer

so I could get in for free.

There's a scoop for you.

Narrator: The first raves in France began in 1989,

[ Being translated ] Back then, the hardcore of electronic music in Paris

didn't even number 100 people.

Narrator: The movement soon grew through secret channels.

To stay informed, you read the fanzine eDEN,

and tuned in to your radio.

initiated by the legendary Patrick [indistinct],

word was spread on Radio FG.

[ Speaking French ]

Pacman: [ being translated ] Otherwise, there were info lines with phone numbers.

[ Speaking French ]

Narrator: Across France, raves were held

in incredible places -- mushroom farms, castles,

even at the house of Paco Robanne.

The venue became the lead actor of the party.

Raves were given exotic names, like Mosinor, Borealis,

Gaia, or Xanadu.

Megawatts of light and sound

plunged dancers into collective euphoria.

[ Techno music plays ]

Unlike traditional nightclubs, there was no dress code.

Any kind of clothing was allowed.

Whistles and smilies became part of the raver uniform.

[ Being translated ] The famous smiley was also a message.

Smile and rave, rather than fight society.

It was kind of an escapism, in fact.

Narrator: Pioneer deejay Liza 'N' Eliaz,


Jerome Pacman, and Laurent Garnier

were already stars.

[ Being translated] A real cult of the deejay emerged.

With everyone turned towards this person --

woman, man, both -- who was celebrating a kind of mass.

And for me, that was.

[ Being translated ] I think it changed the lives of a whole generation.

I'm convinced that it was just as powerful as punk had been

for an earlier generation.

It was really a generational thing.

People in their thirties just didn't get it.

"What is this stuff?

That's not music. It's absolute garbage.

A bunch of druggies," et cetera, et cetera.

[ Cheering ]

Narrator: And when the night was over, there was no going to bed.

They simply moved on to after-rave parties.

And Jerome Pacman knows all about them,

as he was the first to organize and deejay

under the Pont de Tolbiac,

a mythical place in the history of French techno.

Pacman: [ Being translated ] we went under the bridge,

to set up our sound systems with electrical generators,

and we put on our after-rave on the spur of the moment.

It lasted a whole day.

It was epic.


Narrator: For three or four years,

the rave movement grew out of all proportions.

The Pont de Tolbiac after-raves got bigger,

with the uncompromising deejay Manu le Malin.

[ Being translated ] It grew from 50 to 100, 200, 300, 400 people --

until the day 300 riot squad police showed up on the bridge.

It was a bit my fault that it had grown so big,

because I'd knocked up some fliers

saying we were going to hit the Pont de Tolbiac,

and carry out a kind of terrorist attack of sound.

[ Speaking French ]

And that's what happened.

Only, me being stupid enough to hand out fliers

brought the riot squad in, ready to intervene --

which is what they did.

I was playing, and suddenly,

nightsticks were hitting the decks because I wouldn't stop.

They said, "Stop now." I said, "No."

People started cheering.

And me being a bit of a rebel, "no way."

And then, bang.

Narrator: In the UK, too, raves were bothering the authorities,

who went on a full-scale repression.

In 1994, the Criminal Justice Bill

passed by the British government prohibited all gatherings

of more than 10 people with repetitive music.

This amendment forced thousands of ravers onto the streets.

The most hardcore among them, like Spiral Tribe,

moved to France, giving birth to the illegal free-party movement.

Partying became a way of life.

Thanks to Spiral Tribe,

young French citizens rediscovered the countryside.

[ Being translated ] We thought, "Yeah. Cool. Let's just do it.

Or people will just try to stop us.

We've got no money.

Our folks won't help us out,

as they're all pretty middle class.

So, we'll just do the same as Spiral Tribe.

We'll buy old trucks, and put on spur of the moment raves."

And the first one I organized was on the island of Oleron.

It was called [indistinct] --

about 60 people at a paintball club.

It lasted three days.



Narrator: using the British model, France reacted.

The Mariani Bill incited all the governors in France

to use repression.

Officer: Stop the music, and go home.

Narrator: Fred Agostini, organizer of the Xanadu raves,

recalls the witch hunt.

[ Being translated ] They had a list of orders to carry out.

One, arrest the organizers.

Two, cut the music.

Three, confiscate the sound system.

And then, a whole list of offenses

we could be indicted with.

Narrator: The peak of the repression came

with the canceling of the [indistinct] rave,

due to attract 18,000 people.

Chief Officer Pierre Global, enemy of electronic music,

feared for his kids.

[ Speaking French ]

Agostini:[ Being translated ] The only way to avoid getting into trouble

was to go legal, and seek refuge in a nightclub.

[ Being translated ] I think that that moment marked a transition

from rave culture to club culture.

[ Speaking French ]


Narrator: Part of the rave movement decided to go back to the city.

Since the '90's,

Paris could boast of having a real techno club.

The Rex Club, which has just celebrated its 25th anniversary,

was one of the first to support electro music in France.

For 10 years, the club hosted the legendary Wake Up nights

with Laurent Garnier.


In 1996, attention moved to a gay club

on the Champs-Elysees -- Queen --

When three friends -- [indistinct],

[indistinct] and Fred Agostini launched Respect Nights.

[ Speaking French ]

it was deejay Ivan Smagghe who came up with the name Respect,

standing for "Respect the Deejay."


For three years, the cream of the crop

appeared at the decks -- the American Kerri Chandler,

the future French touch, like Cassius, Dimitri from Paris,

a notably Daft Punk -- who played for free.

Even the rebels Underground Resistance

turned up at Queen.

[ Being translated ] Seeing guys like Underground Resistance

show up -- Deejay [indistinct] was playing that night.

Underground Resistance showed up,

and there was a big line outside.

I didn't know them, but I went over to them,

and said, "Come right in."

And they said, "No. We'll stand in line, like everyone else."


Narrator: These nights saw the emergence

of a new public.

Breakdancers came to strut their stuff to House music.

Agostini: [ Being translated ] They turned up penniless,

with a bottle of water and a backpack.

They put their coats inside, and breakdanced all night.

People formed circles around them for dance battles.

We thought, "Geez, this is like New York."

Narrator: At the same time, one duo -- long before donning helmets --

were on the point of revolutionizing music.

[ Speaking French ]

Narrator: In 1997, Daft Punk released their first album,

"Homework," and enjoyed worldwide success.

They opted for total anonymity,

and imposed their own rules on the music industry majors.

[ Speaking French ]

And in 1998, the Daft Punk tidal wave

swept away everything before it.

[ Speaking French ] One of my best memories of Respect was when Daft Punk

brought out "Stardust."

[ Speaking French ]

Sven Love was on the decks.

And Thomas arrived with this test pressing.

He came over, and said to Sven,

"This is our latest number, called 'Stardust.'"

He then put the test pressing in the deck,

had a listen in the phones,

and I could tell by his eyes that he was bowled over.

He launched the track,

which starts with a gimmicky, "Ooh, baby."

It started like that.

No one in the club had ever heard it,

but they all started screaming,

and pumping their arms in the air.

And none of them have ever even heard it.

Narrator: After Daft Punk had totally produced their album

in a makeshift studio in a bedroom,

everyone wanted to make music at home.

This was the birth of the home studio culture.

Producer Arnaud Rebotini gives a quick demonstration

in his converted cellar.

[ Being translated ] Let me introduce a few mythical instruments.

The first one is the TR 808.

It produces such special, interesting sounds

that they completely invaded pop music of the late 20th century.

The second is the TR 909 --

the big mother, and a must-have.

used in techno, [indistinct], House, Dance.

And this is the legendary TB 303,

the sound of Acid House.

Without it, there would be no Acid House.

[ Techno beat plays ]

So simple. It's easy.

Narrator: One of the biggest cliches about electronic music

is that it isn't music.

But the producers at Club Cheval

show us that, yes, it is real music.

♪ I've been running from the basement to the roof ♪

[ Being translated ] The end of the second phrase is really good,

But the first should go like this --

[ Vocalizes ]

Once again, with less vibrato.

Woman: ♪ Trying to tell you that he ain't no good ♪

♪ Chasing you like there was nothing else to do ♪

Producer: [ Being translated ] With a bit more power, please.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] Making good techno takes 10 hours a day in the studio

for two years minimum.

So, you learn how to do stuff.

A lot of people think that guys who make techno laze around,

sleep all day, play in mega clubs at night.

But that's not it. Techno requires hard work,

patience, a lot of self-control.

[ Speaking French ]

Man: [ Being translated ] A lot of it is engineering.

But when musician friends are like,

"Yeah, techno," in that disdainful way,

I say to them, "Hey, shut up, dudes.

When you do techno, you do the drums, the bass,

the chords, the song, the mix."

[ Speaking French ]

You compose the whole thing yourself.

Whereas, in a rock band there's the drummer,

the bassist doing his thing, two guitars, lead and rhythm,

the singer.

Then, some 60-year-old geezer comes in to produce

and mix their stuff.

Their work is separated, whereas we work all alone.

[ Speaking French ]

Like craftsmen, we have to be our own engineers.

We have to find our sound, the music,

and try it out in a club.

Because if we don't get the mix just right,

no one's gonna like it.

[ Speaking French ]


Narrator: After the French touch years,

a female crew were about to burst

from the Paris underground scene,

and add some spice to the mix.

[Indistinct] and Ivan Smagghe

launched their Kill the DJ nights at Pulp.


The guy who initiated Respect the Deejay

now wanted to kill the deejay.

Pulp is a small club on Paris' grand boulevards,

ballroom dancing for seniors by day

and a women-only disco by night.

[ Being translated ] It was a hookers bar.

It looked like a special club for prostitutes.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] With the ballroom dancing,

the hookers, and the pizzeria next door.

Yeah, the old timers, the pizza place, and the hookers.

It was rotten.

[ Being translated ] To sum it up, more filthy,

and the worst sound system in the universe.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] I did the lighting as I was putting the sounds on.

I played for five years with crappy CD decks.


Woman: [ Being translated ] The heat was hellish inside.

The walls oozed sweat.


You rested you hand on a wall, and it was oozing with sweat.

and it was oozing with sweat.

[ Being translated ] The atmosphere was scorching.

We were so happy.

It was someplace a bit punk, actually.


Man: [ Being translated ] Pulp has never had a VIP area.

There were some tables up top for guests,

but it was never a VIP area.

There was a degree of selection at the door,

but basically, if you were with a girl, you got in.

There wasn't, like, a dress code.

We even let the homeless in,

with all their bags, because it was called outside.

[ Being Translated ] I found a similar thing at Pulp

that I had found at raves --

you know, breaking down social and identity barriers.

A really free space, where everybody

can be who they want to be, without norms, without barriers.

Everyone mixed together.

Most clubs reproduce social norms.

[ Speaking French ]

If you were a dike with big boots

and a shaved head, a bit butch,

you weren't let into the Queen back then.

[ Speaking French ]

Pulp was a truly mixed club.


Narrator: Sex Toy, Chloe, Jennifer Cardini, Ivan Smagghe,

were the emblematic figures of this mini club.

After the feel-good house music of the French touch years,

techno return to colder, more Marshall sounds.

Electroclash was born,

led by the duo Miss Kittin & The Hacker.

Influenced by Doppler Effect,

a mysterious group from Detroit, Miss Kittin And The Hacker

brought out the worldwide hit "Frank Sinatra" in 2001,

on the Gigolo Records label.


[ Being translated ] The story behind "Frank Sinatra" is unbelievable.

[ Speaking French ]

I had just spent a few days with DJ Hell,

one of the instigators of what came to be electroclash.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] No one was doing this at the time,

so we said, "Right,

Let's play the '80's card full-on."

So, we really went for it, to try to go against the flow

of everything that was being done at the time.

♪ Suck my d * k ♪

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] I was staying with my grandparents,

and I wrote the words in 10 minutes flat.

[ Speaking French ]

I thought...

"We're so lucky to go to our kind of party now.

To be free to go to raves."

[ Speaking French ]

People who snort coke in limos

have no idea what it's like to have fun.

We'll never be like them.

Narrator: Miss Kittin sent a demo tape to DJ Hell,

who started playing it at clubs in Berlin.

"Frank Sinatra" became an immediate cult hit.

DJ Hell them to Munich for the first time,

where they played in front of 200 people.

They were pretty shy.

You could see that because they didn't know

how the audience would react.

And even Miss Kittin didn't know what to do, and how to move.

But immediately, everybody loved it, you know?

♪ In limousines we have sex ♪

♪ Every night with my famous friends ♪

[ Cheering ]

Narrator: Electronic music evolves constantly,

and one trend replaces another.

After electroclash, it was time for minimal techno.

Inspired by the repetitive music of Stockhausen,

minimal techno embraced a slower tempo,

and did away with the artifice of new wave.

Minus, Kompakt, and [indistinct]

would become the genre's emblematic labels.

Ricardo Villalobos, the master of style,

Richie Hawtin, the keeper of the tempo,

Magda, high priestess of the genre,

and Michael Mayer would be the main representative

of this music reduced to the essential.

Minimal techno returned to a more basic structure,

and dropped the first chorus used in electroclash.

Less is more.

Electronic Voice: Cologne.

Narrator: This is the home of Kompakt, a zen place in Cologne.

And this is Reinhardt Voigt, one of the label's founders.

And Michael Mayer,

one of the most charming people in techno.

Kompakt has just celebrated its 20 year anniversary.

This totally independent label books deejays, produces,

sells and distributes electronic music across the globe.

True techno success.

We started going minimal in Cologne in the mid '90's,

an an immediate reaction to successful techno sound

went into this bigger, faster, stronger,

big epic breaks, and, you know,

so much information.

And that was not our cup of tea.

So, we felt the urge to in the exact opposite way.

When Magda would hear my tracks,

she would hear these tracks that were just, like,

layers and layers and layers of synths over a cool beat,

'cause I was so much into new wave, and stuff.

So, she would listen to them, and go, like,

"Hey, can get rid of that synth?"

I'm like, "This one?" She's like, "Yeah.

Get rid of it. That one, too.

Get rid of that one. Get rid of that one."

And then, all that would be left

would be, like, a minimal track.

And she was like, "Yeah. now I can play it."

Narrator: Minimal techno would become one of the main trends

of the electronic music of the early 2000s.

However, in 2005, a young, well-brought up young man,

Alex Ridha -- a.k.a. Boys Noize --

founded his own label at 20 years old,

to speed up the rhythm.

As minimal got bigger and bigger,


I couldn't get enough of the --

of the, you know, more aggressive sound.


I felt a little bit like an outsider, as well,

because all the deejays were, like,

"No. It needs to be reduced."

You know? And I was like, "F * k this."

You know?

Narrator: Boys Noize's ultra compressed productions

were originally influenced by the Ed Banger label.

Pedro Winter founded his label in 2003,

and brought out records by Mr. Flash, Justice,

and DJ Mehdi.

Ed Banger produced violent, aggressive music,

catching minimal by surprise.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] Maximal was a bit like thumbing our noses

at minimal techno, which I call "watery techno."

Because when you listen to minimal,

there's a minimum of emotion, a minimum of sounds,

and everything is restrained.

[ Speaking French ]

Whereas, we were jumping into the crowd,

and throwing beer at girls.

So, the music was quite violent.

It was heavy metal disco.

As opposed to minimal,

we were into a much bigger, more violent sound.

[ Speaking French ]


Narrator: It was with the hits "We Are Your Friends"

and "Waters of Nazareth" by the group Justice

that the label really took off.


Man: Some of the parties turned into punk, as well, you know?

People suddenly started to jump, and stage dove,

and you never see this in a club, you know?

Never before.

It was crazy.

And for me, this was the new kind of techno moment, as well.

You know?

[ Speaking French ]

Winter: [ Being translated ] Like with any period of success, you feel like you can fly.

It gives you energy, makes you want to do even more.

It never stops.

That's what happened to us, up until Magilla.

We said, "Okay, we've got a party Wednesday, Thursday,

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, every week. Let's go for it."

That's what we did. One night in Berlin.

Next night in Tokyo. next night in Seoul.

Monday in New York, and back to Paris for Wednesday.

It felt like we were the Beastie Boys of techno.

[ Speaking French ]

With the Ed Banger generation, taking a selfie

with your favorite deejay became a golden rule.

Electronic Voice: Berlin.


Meanwhile, Berlin was cultivating

the cult of the underground, of anti-bling, of the secret venue.

It was low-profile culture, and everyone wore black.

It was like the city had become a giant playing field

for consenting adults,

a free zone that attracted clubbers from around the world,

a kind of Disneyland for grown ups.

The military base of Teufelsberg,

a former American NSA listening post,

was built to spy on the Eastern Bloc after World War Two.

It was highly protected during the Cold War,

and now hosts 30-hour techno parties.

Looking to cities like London or Paris,

I think everything's under control, you know?

These cities have [indistinct] free spaces,

what Berlin still has.

Since the '90's, Berlin has been the mecca of techno,

with over 500 clubs.

One of the best known as Berghain,

a former power plant in East Berlin,

and converted into a haven of techno.

Braving the many hours of standing in line

and the scrutiny of the gentle Sven Marquardt,

then entering this cathedral of techno

is every practicing technophile's

multi-colored dream.

Deejays playing at Berghain is a form of consecration,

a bit like playing in a World Cup final in Brazil.

The club opens all day and night from Saturday to Monday --

36 hours in a row.

Ben Klock is one of the club's resident deejays.

He holds the record for mixing a DJ set -- 11 hours nonstop.

For me, it is a big, big inspiration,

always, to play there.

You know, I walk up the stairs there, come into this room,

and I always feel this buzz, like,

"Wow. I'm at Berghain again."

Narrator: In line with the Berlin rule, inside Berghain,

it's strictly forbidden to take photos or film.

This guarantees those attending the party

have no limits hedonism.

What happens at Berghain stays at Berghain.

In Paris, you go out with buddies,

or to pick up a date.

In Berlin, you go out to experiment,

dance, and lose yourself for up to 56 hours on the trot.

Time has a crucial role in techno.

It sees itself as an experience,

a sensorial journey that can take several hours.

Six, seven, eight-hour slot, sometimes 10 hours.

And this is like, you are in trance, as you know.

It's not like -- everything is like --

it's like you are on autopilot.

You do the right thing,

but you don't think about it anymore.

It's just, like, you have to do this, this, this, this.

And it's --

[Indistinct] with...

56 -- 56 hours with this.

I forgot it.

[ Laughs ]

It was too much.

Man: I think, even, you know, we have --

we live in a very accelerated time.

In the techno party, it's more like losing the time.


You have the freedom to decide,

when I have my entertainment.

Instead of, like, "No, you have to go out from 11:00 to 2:00,"

everybody is free to do what they want.

And this should be the freedom.





Narrator: The aim of each deejay is to pack the dance floor,

and make sure it doesn't empty again.

For that, every deejay has his or her own strategy.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] Mixing is more than just playing records.

It's a washing machine of emotions.

It's about turning a moment into something absolute.

It is really important, this very short time,

in the beginning of the set,

where you have to be confident --

but not too much.

Your ego should never be too much,

you know, on the top, you know, because people feel it.

The crowd is extremely sensitive.

[ Being translated ] I like narration.

I like stories.

So, I like to start with something as an introduction,

because I think a deejay set is a story with a beginning,

a middle, and an end, like a movie or a book.

You need punctuation.

You can't do the same thing for 90 minutes.

It's totally boring.

It's always the balance of, like, "Okay, I'm here.

I want to go there.

I want to take people to do that thing.

So, I have to do this, this, this, this, this, this, this,

To finally reach that point.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] I'm telling a kind of story, like a fairytale.

Then, I journey, and build something within.

[ Being translated ] It's like mental architecture.

I visualize the way sounds moves.

I visualize the shape of sounds, of the drumbeat,

the way it sounds.

I feel like I'm shaping it in realtime.

You design what's going on in people's minds.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] That's what stimulates me most,

is sharing with the public --

what they give me, and what I give in return.

Narrator: While a deejay set consists of mixing other people's tracks,

techno is mostly enjoyed live.

More and more producers are bringing in their machines

to create powerful live music.

It's the case of Arnaud Rebotini,

the [indistinct] of the techno world.


It's like having a big car with a big engine.

That's how it feels.

I can go gently, then make it roar.

When I put on the filters, everything's muffled.

When I remove them, you feel power.

It hits people like a wave.


If you want people to scream, you take them off.

I stop the kick.

If you want them to scream again --

and this is the big secret of techno --

you take them off, and put on the kick.

Works every time.



Narrator: Electronic music is based on constraint and reward --

going up, and coming down.



Rebotini: [ Being translated ] And that can go on for quite a long time.

People come for that beat

that will get them onto the dance floor.


Narrator: Behind the decks, deejays go wild;.

Some do robotics.

Some harangue the crowd.

Some prophesied.

Some perform their best dance moves.

And some even have time for a beauty treatment

in front of 5,000 people.

But the one who gets off most on dancing is Brodinski,

boss of the Bromance label.

Louie embodies the future of the electro scene

by mixing rap and techno.

The members of the gang all wear black,

and have tattoos done backstage.


The Bromance label is based on strong friendship

between the members of the crew.

The ties between Brodinski and Gesaffelstein,

and the romantic image they give,

have made them heroes to the new generation.

[ Cheering ]

Since he started mixing at the age of 16,

Louis has made over a million people dance.

He's part of a generation that has benefited fully

from Internet.


[ Being translated ] When you're 16, and you wonder if you should

save 25 euros to buy a vinyl single,

or download 7000,000 tracks for free...

...I think most opt for the Internet.

[ Speaking French ]

It really helped us.

And it allowed me to look for, and listen to, as many tracks

as I would otherwise have been able to in 20 years.

Today, you have the power to make a track in the morning,

and put it online in the afternoon.

All the doors are open.

It's up to you to decide how to go through them.

Techno wasn't as trendy before as it is today.

It was a political movement, too.

Today, it's a business.

♪ And let the beat control your body ♪


Techno is just a deejay on a massive stage,

with 5,000 out front,

watching him be a deejay.

[ Speaking French ]

A deejay is someone with a face,

a logo, a video clip, a powerful image,

a clothing style.

It's not just playing music for people who want to dance.

Being a deejay today means photo sessions,

and partnerships with brands.

[ Speaking French ]

And that's where we must be very careful.

We're only doing it for one reason -- the music.

Because that's what we love.

We want to play in clubs, and we want to be

part of electronic music culture in general.

Electronic Voice: Miami.



Welcome to Miami.

This is where we do it.

Ever year, for a week,

Miami becomes the capital of the techno world.

For the past 15 years, it has hosted the winter conference,

a kind of Congress for techno men.

Hundreds of parties spring up all over town,

drawing the cream of electronic music.

[ Speaking French ]

[ Being translated ] before this, I was in Japan.

And before that, in Australia.

Really, all the deejays in the world come to Miami.

It'sthe gathering.

We get to meet up, talk,

listen to each other's new sounds.

It's like the Cannes Festival of techno,

but with fewer oldies around.

A bit fewer.

Narrator: Being a deejay also means being sociable.

Always ready with a handshake,

Louis knows everyone from Paris to Tokyo.

Here, for example, this bearded gentleman

is the manager of millionaire DJ Skrillex,

whom we see here with lovely red hair.

Woman: Hi.

You didn't come last night.

You missed out. It was dope.

Narrator: Miami is a place to party, but also to do business.

By day, partnerships between deejays,

and other remix proposals are settled around the pools

of luxury hotels.

At night, the party marathon begins,

and it's time for Brodinski to mix.


♪ Nobody rules these streets, streets, streets, streets ♪

♪ Nobody rules these streets like me ♪

♪ Me


Narrator: The first party over,

Louis head straight to another club.


This infernal rhythm is also part of Seth Troxler Day.

In 2012, he was voted the world's top deejay

by the site Resident Advisor,

making him one of the most in-demand.

Like Brodinski, Seth spends so much of his life in planes

he asked us to interview him in bed.

I am a very tired Seth Troxler.

I'm originally from Detroit,

now living in Europe for, like, four years.

I run a label called Vision Quest with some friends,

as well as just kind of being an international touring deejay.

It's crazy. I mean, even just walking down a street,

sometimes, you get people stopping you,

and all this other stuff.

I mean, I'm a guy sitting in bed,

[indistinct] playing records.


When you give to someone is when you get back the most.

And when you give to a room --

you know, you give to 1,000 people,

5,000 people, 20,000 people, whatever.

That's when you're like, "That was good.

They liked it." You know?

And it's just what I love.

This is what I love more than anything.

I love techno

more than most relationships I have with people.

So, it's it's kind of funny -- or girlfriends, or whatever.

At the end of the day, techno is my number one lover,

my mistress, my best friend.

And it has been since the first time I went to that rave.

And it probably will be the rest of my life.

Techno forever.





Narrator: Okay. That was a pretty cool party.

We can't go home now, though.

Anyone know about an after-rave?

[ Indistinct talking ]

[ Indistinct talking ]


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