Detroit is a city of struggle.
Historically, economically, and artistically, Detroit has had to fight for survival. And it’s had to fight even harder for recognition. The spirit of that fight is epitomized by GOD SAID GIVE ‘EM DRUM MACHINES, a documentary which traces the birth of techno music to its unlikely origins in the D.
Detroit’s African-American cultural roots cultivated musical movements like jazz, Motown, and disco. By the late ‘70s, DJs like Ken Collier were infusing underground clubs and public airwaves with radically danceable sounds, and in the early ‘80s groundbreaking technology like the infamous Roland TR-808 was falling into the hands of a new generation. The merging of these artistic and technological forces would bring about one of the most significant musical breakthroughs of the modern era.
GOD SAID GIVE ‘EM DRUM MACHINES tells the tale of the young visionaries who made that breakthrough happen. Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Blake Baxter, Eddie Fowlkes, and Santonio Echols were the vanguard of a new musical style they dubbed “techno,” which would soon become the most celebrated and profitable genre in the world.
And yet their names are largely unknown to most fans of that very genre.
Despite the best efforts of musical historians and journalists, the story of how a handful of black kids from Detroit invented techno has never fully been told. It’s a story of damaged friendships, mismanaged success, and broken dreams. But it’s also a story of inspiration. While the originators of techno may not enjoy the fame and fortune of those who cruised to success in their wake, they have seen their music touch lives around the globe. And they find comfort in knowing their creation will live on for generations to come.
Like Detroit itself, the artists who created techno struggle for survival and recognition. GOD SAID GIVE ‘EM DRUM MACHINES documents their fight, and hopes to help them achieve both.
Motor City native Kristian Hill is celebrated and respected as one of Detroit’s most talented creative professionals. Excelling as a filmmaker, videographer and rising director with more than 20 years of experience in the business, Kristian has long cast his own distinct glow in the Film, Video & Entertainment industries.
Straight out of the controversial, yet dynamic Motor City, Jennifer Washington was inspired as a child by her musical family. Today, Washington’s most pressing mission is to help uplift her hometown’s image in the media. As a film producer, she is exploring the expanse of Techno music and documenting its influence all over the world.
David is a Detroiter who specializes in blending storytelling and teaching across mediums. He is founder of MusicOrigins.org, currently Director Of Instructional Design for Yellowbrick.co, and co-creator of DIYdoc. He has led production on hundreds of award-winning educational animations for AMAZE.org and BrainPOP.com.
A native Detroiter, Chris has over two decades of strategic planning, on the ground community organizing and social activism experience across issues of women’s rights, economic justice and LGBT civil rights. She has consulted for various political campaigns and organizations, and served as Field Director for both MassEquality and Equality California.
From Queens, NY, Mary O'Byrne graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Film, TV, and Media. She's bridged her passion for film and music while working on GSGEDM, interning at Jam in the Van, and by doing photography and videography for Empty Mug Records and the Michigan Electronic Music Collective.
Reggie Dokes, DJ, music producer, TV & Film composer, started as a house and techno DJ during the 80’s in Detroit. In 2001, he created the deep house and techno label Psychostasia Recordings. His eclectic, cerebral and soulful sound has been released on various labels both domestically and abroad. DJ Mag has considered him one of Detroit’s best producers and DJ keeping the sound of Detroit alive internationally.
WASHINGTON HILL PICTURES
Started by two native Detroiters, Jennifer Washington and Kristian Hill, Washington Hill Pictures aims to create a counter narrative through the powerful medium of film, showing the beautiful side of their hometown and raising awareness about the city’s most natural resource - MUSIC.
THE DETROIT SOUND PROJECT
The Detroit Sound Project is a series of documentaries that explore the Detroit music scene, from its creators to its influence on music around the world. The first installment, Electric Roots, premiered at Cannes Short Film Corner in 2014. The second installment, feature-length documentary God Said Give 'Em Drum Machines: The Story of Detroit Techno, is scheduled for 2021 release.