Skip to content Skip to footer

Cybotron is formed in 1980 by Juan Atkins and Richard “3070” Davis in Detroit. Cybotron had a number of singles now considered classics and style-defining works of the electro genre, particularly “Clear” and the group’s debut, “Alleys of Your Mind”, as well as “Cosmic Cars” and “R-9”.

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 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.

In 2019, Cybotron reshaped. In place of the members Richard Davis and John Housely, Juan Atkins was joined by Laurens von Oswald, and by fellow Detroiter Tameko Williams aka DJ Maaco. The group performed their first gig ever at London’s Barbican Hall.

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. 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 intended for their music to reflect the atmosphere of economic desperation and alienation in Detroit in the 1980s. 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 amidst their programmed beats to reflect the dying auto industry in Detroit.