TXT: Jaime Acosta
Traducido por Harmon Hall
“The Sake industry was filled with small family-run breweries each following their own distinct style with careful & creative thought about each step of the production, much like how our favourite labels dedicate themselves to a certain sound and unique aesthetics.”
– Richie Hawtin
Every Thursday at 3:30 in the morning. Two packs of cigarettes. A black hoodie. Always the same route. Walk the same places. I never remembered when it started, or the reason for it to exist. He was a sort of zombie who couldn’t stop smoking and walking before completing his mission. Lights. Cars. People. Places. It all seemed the same. It didn’t even merit my attention. However, that blinking light captured me immediately. That neon ad attracted me as if I were a fly. I am certain it wasn’t there. And despite being recently hung, its appearance was loaded with time and wisdom. A gray façade with a narrow door. Above a sign just about to fall: “ENTER.Sake”.
A small bar filled of bottles decorated with a black dot at the front. The Japanese who was serving invited me to take a seat in a high chair. Without speaking, he served the first sake. When the liquid made contact with my taste buds, the music began to sound. My pupils dilated. My ears tuned in. My skin became more sensitive. The smell of the brew infused my nostrils violently. I was immersed in an extrasensory experience inhabited by sound, texture, flavor, scent, and sparkles coexisting in harmony. The sake cocktails transformed. Sonority mutated simultaneously. The face of the DJ also changed. –It is him you are looking for, the oriental said–. His name is Richie Hawtin.
THE MYTHOLOGICAL GOD OF MULTIPLE MINDS
Richard Michael Hawtin, is the standard bearer of the current electronic scene without doubt. He represents unbounded creativity. His is a mind that never tires of generating ideas that go beyond convention. He takes advantage of diverse spaces, cultures, tools and human material to develop his ideas as he planned them. He is sort of mediating god between cutting edge technology and the music producer. He resembles a mythological being with multiple minds: Plastikman, F.U.S.E., Concept 1, Forcept 1, Circuit Breaker, Robotman, Chrome, Spark, Xenon, R.H.X., Jack Master, Richard Michaels, UP!. He dwells in three different environments: Plus 8, M-nus and NovaMute. He has blended with other electronic personalities to create innovative musical projects. The Hard Brothers, Hard Trax, 0733, Cybersonik, Final Exposure, Just For Fun, Narod Niki, Two Guys In the Basement, Spawn, States Of Mind. His original and unique sound became the hallmark of an entire city. Detroit surrendered before his fine mix of house, techno and electro textures. From there, Hawtin musical virus expanded to the whole planet. The present electronic scene cannot be conceived without the participation of this multifaceted DJ, creative musician and clever producer.
“Hawtin is one of the electronic dance world’s intellectual forces”.
-The New York Times
A ROOM FOR PLUS 8
It was 1990. Hawtin was well settled in Ontario, Canada. His trajectory through various clubs mixing records had led him to meet with John Acquaviva. Two creative minds that, then and there, resolved to house the most intelligent sounds heard around the world. Plus 8 had been born. This was a label that, along with Underground Resistance and Planet E, injected new life to techno created in The Motor City. The list of draftees under this label included Kenny Larkin, Speedy J, Daniel Bell, Jimmy Edgar, Theorem, and more. As time elapsed, Plus 8 became the behemoth it is now. Ahead of its time, it has always been the future.
Before 2015 was over, a mysterious teaser called “From My Mind To Yours” appeared. It instantly reminded you of this label mythical first compilation released in 1991: “From Our Mind To Yours”. It was a well-deserved tribute and a celebration to mark the first quarter of a century of Plus 8. The surprises didn’t stop there. Richie Hawtin had decided to bring back some of this dearest projects. Contained in a two hour LP, personalities paraded displaying renewed sounds keeping their personal touch. There were F.U.S.E., Circuit Breaker and 80xx.
“In keeping with the original vision of Plus 8, we decided to celebrate the occasion by revisiting the very reason we started the label in the first place, releasing new forward-thinking music”, he states, “The album is a collection of the various personalities that find their way through the machines during the recording process”. Honour and long life to those worthy of them.
“It is not about what gear can do for you, it’s about what you can do through the gear. It is there where soul is”.
– Richie Hawtin
Hawtin’s world is not limited to his productions. Those are simply the end product. It seems that his limits expand ever further as time passes. Just last year, Hawtin was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Huddersfield University. The 2012 and 2015 tour called “CNTRL: beyond EDM” made him eligible for that recognition. His work was to show the newer generations that electronic music goes beyond what is commercially heard and can achieve art status. That was exactly what he accomplished with his project ENTER. It was an experience carefully built where all senses were involved and interconnected; a sublimation of his vision.
His interest to incorporate the new technologies in innovative sound production and to create a holistic experience for the spectator has led to his involvement in advanced software and hardware development. SYNK is an application for Apple platforms that he used in his 2010 tour: Plastikman Live. It enabled his audience to interact at auditory, visual, and technological levels. “It has always fascinated me how sound, lighting, visuals and human interactivity define and deepen a concert experience. By focusing on my own unique Plastikman sound I hope to find new freedom and explore the extremes of where these elements converge, challenging our senses, stimulating our memories, and creating an experience of physical and mental intensity that can be only Plastikman.”
There is also Final Scratch which was developed together with N2IT and his companion John Acquaviva. In this project he fuses analogue turntables and digital files. There is also the Twitter DJ who approaches the users of Twitter to the sets of their favorite DJs. Richie’s mind never stops. He pushes the boundaries of electronic music conventions. He’s always forward thinking but never puts machines or technology first; these are extension for the use of the producer. Finally, during the first third of 2016, he showed the world through the well-known series Boiler Room his Play Differently. Together with Rigby-Jones and Allen & Heath, he tried the innovative mixers: CTRL:92 and CTRL:62. A long list of guests including Ellen Allien, Fabio Florido, Liebing, Dubfire, Joseph Capriati, La Fleur, Hito, Chambra, Whyy Noyz and many others surprised everyone with the groundbreaking hardware that intensified the B2B experience. He’s an old-timer who displays his experience but keeps in mind the new generations.
“Once you find your own sound, you find the strength and courage to stay true to that. Keep going even in moments when you’re not blazing on fire and relevant with everyone around you. It’s because you love to make music. It’s making sure that the music isn’t about the technology and tools, but truly about the music. Because that’s how humanity and the soul are communicated. The soul is the true tool.”
THE SOUND SOUL OF RH
At the beginning of the 90s, F.U.S.E. (Futuristic Underground Subsonic Experiments) appeared. The minimal sound it built was truly understood much later, it was way ahead of its time. The twelve cuts that were released in 12” format was an experiment under the name “Concept 1”. Hawtin modified a two arm turntable. The DJ playing Dr. Frankenstein. Circuit Breaker changed the perception of the dance floor. Now, synthesizers could also dance. The gross repetition used as a highly addictive vile drug. The hypnotic Robotman represented the perfect excuse for this social experiment. 80xx projected a techno full of percussion and melancholic gestures at the beginning of the Detroit scene. R.H.X. was a robot of infinite patience. And finally, the introverted and likable Plastikman arrived. This defined persona emerged in 1993. People take risks out of pure pleasure. Each of its presentations is perfectly designed by a mastermind. Sometimes, it is difficult to separate Hawtin and Plastikman and viceversa. There is nothing better to make the point than the words of Hawtin himself: “One of the most common questions over the years has been what is the difference between Richie Hawtin and Plastikman. My most common answer is that Richie Hawtin is, or has become, the extrovert on stage, playing, performing, and partying with/for the audience, while Plastikman has remained connected to my more introverted side. A side that feels more comfortable locked away with my machine or hiding behind a curtain of technology, creating my own unique and personal take on electronic music.” We could go on deconstructing each and every project he has created. Either himself and his machines or together with friends. But would that lead to a deeper understanding of what music is for this character? What is the true essence of RH in the ever more complex and dense scene of electronic music?
We could label the sound of Richie Hawtin with different names: Techno, Minimal, Electro, House, and all of them would fall short. To understand the unique sound of this Brit, it has to be heard, read, felt, and experienced whole. It must be accepted that his influence goes beyond music. He must be raised above the crowd of instant musicians. He must be separated from the sea of disposable sounds produced today. It must be understood that today’s Kraftwerk has been a pioneer in many branches of the electronic scene and has become a true leader who cannot be ignored. Hawtin continues to explore paths no one else has dared to follow. A gigantic door to a new electronic era is before us waiting to be opened. Richard Michael Hawtin holds one of the keys.
“Sounding original and having commitment . . . human beings must transcend technology and that is what people are going to listen”.
Saturday, October 22nd, we’ll be able to immerse in the sound of this electronic icon. The Foto Museo Cuatro Caminos in Mexico City will be the stage to receive the future. This event is part of the 13th edition of the Festival Internacional de Creatividad Digital Mutek 2016. It is a must see unless you want to remain a perpetual prisoner of the present. [m]