Film + Talk: The Story of Detroit Techno

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Join music historian Adrian Loving, film director Kristian R. Hill, producer Jennifer Washington, and legendary Detroit DJ Delano Smith for a special rough-cut screening of the forthcoming documentary God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: The Story of Detroit Techno (2020) starring Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May, and Eddie Fowlkes. This film aims to capture the story behind one of Detroit’s greatest contributions to culture: Techno. The electronic music phenomenon was created by black artists in the 1980s before transforming into the multibillion-dollar industry we know today as EDM. The film also stars Mike Huckaby, Blake Baxter, Delano Smith, Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale, John Collins, Darryl Shannon, Santonio Echols and Neil Rushton and includes special appearances by Jeff Mills. The program will begin with a screening of Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project to set the stage for a screening of God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: Act One. Following these film previews, Loving, Hill, Washington, and Smith will discuss the history behind the music and the films that aim to spread its story.

Want more? Don’t miss the afterparty hosted by Flash Nightclub. SOUL CLAP’S HOUSE OF EFUNK kicks off a 12-hour event with a line up of Detroit Techno DJ’s: SOUL CLAP, T.A.G. AKA NORM TALLEY & SCOTT GROOVES, ARDALAN, AND DJ HOLOGRPHIC. Doors open at 4 pm.

We encourage you to arrive early. Ring Auditorium seating is limited. Any open seats may be released to walk-up visitors 10 minutes before the program.

Program Schedule

1:30 pm | Doors open to Ring Auditorium

2:00 pm | Setting the Stage: Adrian Loving

2:15 pm | Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project (24:53 minutes)

2:45 pm | Intermission

3:00 pm | God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: Act One (Rough Cut) (38:20 minutes)

3:50 pm | In Conversation: Adrian Loving, Kristian R. Hill, Jennifer Washington, Delano Smith (45 minutes)

About the Films

Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project (24:53 minutes)
Established in 2011, a production team made up of native Detroiters set out to raise awareness about Detroit’s most natural resource—music. Through the powerful medium of film, The Detroit Sound Project has become a movement and a social brand that promotes the music of Detroit, its creators, and the influence it has all over the world. DSP’s first release stars DJs Richie Hawtin and Black Coffee, and documents the DSP team’s journey in electronic music from Detroit to South Africa. Electric Roots: The Detroit Sound Project is currently on a film festival tour and has already made its European premier at the Cannes Court Metrage Short Film Corner in 2014. DPS made its North American debut at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles

God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines: ACT One (38:20) 3pm-3:40pm)
Invited Guests and General Public are invited to screen Act One of the acclaimed documentary God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines, The story behind Detroit’s 1980s Techno music scene and how its underground culture revolutionized electronic dance music (EDM) forever. Starring Juan Atkins , Kevin Saunderson , Derrick May and Eddie Fowlkes . Also starring Mike Huckaby, Blake Baxter, Delano Smith, Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale, John Collins, Darryl Shannon, Santonio Echols and Neil Rushton. With special appearances by Jeff Mills and Mike Banks.

About the Speakers

Adrian Loving

Currently an instructor of visual arts, film, and video at Georgetown Day School, Adrian Loving is a noted contemporary art and music historian, visual artist, and DJ. Over the course of his 20-year career, Loving has curated exhibits and public programming at various museums including the National Museum of African Art, The National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Art, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.


Kristian Hill

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. His most recent accomplishment is a project he produced, directed and starred in “Postcards: Mandela,” an Africa Channel special feature that was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His first editorial recognition came from his work on the critically-acclaimed documentary and television mini-series “Icons Among Us: Jazz In The Present Tense,” a documentary the American Film Institute cited as an example of filmmaking excellence for 2010.


Delano Smith

Delano Smith is one of the original Detroit DJs and is still dedicated to the craft. At a time described as the Wild West by some, when party culture was taking its first tentative steps, Delano honed his skills under the the guidance of the late, great Ken Collier. With initial sets fusing soul, disco and early electronic sounds, Delano planted seeds in the minds of Detroit’s subsequent generations. Delano started releasing his own music in earnest from 2002 onwards, finding homes on esteemed underground labels and on his own Mixmode imprint. After a string of successful Sushitech EPs, Delano dropped ‘Odyssey’ onto the scene’s collective consciousness, an album spawning enduring dancefloor favorites. Loaded with dark and dubby material, his sophomore player ‘Twilight’ was a curve ball to follow the hysteria that greeted his debut. 2017 saw Delano add yet another Sushitech LP to his discography, entitled ‘Detroit Lost Tapes’ it offered archived material, dug out and recontextualised with a worldwide tour following in support.


Jennifer Washington

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. Washington aims only to illustrate the real story of Detroit Techno with an upcoming docu-series chronicling her international Techno-induced travels. With a newly formed Washington Hill Productions, she along with partner Kristian R. Hill, produced “Postcards: Mandela” a TV documentary that recently aired on the Africa Channel. Stay tuned for her first feature documentary film “God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines – The Story of Detroit Techno” due out in 2019.

This program is presented in partnership with the Smithsonian Year of Music and Flash DC.

Smithsonian Year of Music logo

Hirshhorn Shuffle

Explore Hirshhorn artworks through listening. Hirshhorn Shuffle pairs artworks with songs, ranging from pop hits to protest anthems. Gallery Guide Nancy Hirshbein leads this sonic and visual tour celebrating the Smithsonian’s Year of Music.

The Art of Audio: A How-To Guide for Listening (to all things sonic)

Award-winning journalist and podcast producer Jocelyn Frank leads an interactive listening session that will offer new ways to answer the questions, “What the heck is this? Where do I even begin to make sense of what I’m hearing?” Showcasing the work of local producers, recordists and found-sound enthusiasts from audio arts collective DC Listening Lounge this guided listening session will offer new frames through which to consider what our ears take in. We will explore the pacing, shaping, surprises and delights of recorded sound and may listen to examples of “found sound,” radio, podcasts, music and environmental recordings.

Listeners will depart with a few new ways to listen—and not just through the ears!

Visit to learn more about Jocelyn Frank.

This program is presented in partnership with the Smithsonian Year of Music for the Tuesday Talk series.


Hirshhorn Shuffle

Explore Hirshhorn artworks through the artist’s favorite musicians and songs. Listen to songs the artists play while working in their studios while viewing the finished pieces in the museum’s galleries. Caitlin Chan, Hirshhorn Gallery Guide and George Washington University student in Art History and International Affairs, leads this sonic and visual tour celebrating the Smithsonian’s Year of Music.