'ELECTRONIC MUSIC HAS ALWAYS REPRESENTED THE future to me,’ begins Richie Hawtin, DJ and producer of some of the most groundbreaking techno of the 905. ‘It is always changing, always undefinable, and that is what I have tried to do with my productions. There is a degree of continuity between my work, but it is also very typical of me to go left, then go suddenly right; I think that that's the very nature of electronic music. That's what I want to
represent, if anything - the idea that this
music, because it's based on technology, is has always moving forward. If you haven't made minimal techno tried something, then this music nearly
. mvrtes you to.
hIS OW". NOW hE'S Hawtin grew up in Windsor, 'the most
taking the tired art of Americanised city in Canada', a mere five minutes from Detroit. During his teens, he
Djmg to anOther level- would often head to the Motor City's Simone Baird record stores to explore the new electro sounds that were sweeping Europe. He was greatly influenced by the likes of Jeff 'The Wizard' Mills, Derrick May and Juan Atkins, as well as the 'Detroit sound' — stripped down techno - that he would make his
This minimalist style, he says, is a reaction to the American philosophy of 'the bigger, the better'. 'Oh definitely, because I have always pushed away from that American consumerism of "bigger, bigger, faster, faster, more, more". It's quite disturbing. But, at the same time, it can be such an inspiring place. Canada's very much an open space, and then there's Detroit right next to it. It's a decayed, empty city. There’s that very American "more" mentality of having bigger buildings and huge avenues, but when you do that and you fail at it, you are left with a very sparse, stark city. And that is what Detroit is.’
After his second album, Muzik, was released in 1994, Hawtin kept silent until Consumed came out late 1998. ‘When I took that time off, like everyone, there's always something to take your time up,’ he explains. 'l'm in the lucky position, and I hope to remain here, that I don't have to do LP/CD releases to make a living. Right to the point, DJing is my cash flow.’
His latest project has been the Decks, EFX & 909 compilation, an album that sees Hawtin mix 38 tracks with three decks, an effects rack and a synthesiser - exactly how he has been playing his DJ sets lately.
'After ten years of playing with two or three turntables, I started to become a little bored, and so did the crowds,’ he says. 'I wanted to add something that would make it a little more exciting for both of us and also give me the potential to experiment. With the effects, I can deconstruct or reconstruct the records and the 909 gives me the ability to program new rhythms on the fly. It's something which has really come together for me.’ The result for the audience is a quasi-live
performance, the best of both worlds. ’You can expect to hear some of the artists' tracks, but then you also get the unexpected, the different versions, the good parts, the perfect mixes, the perfect 909 and also the fuck-ups and mistakes.’ Unlike many DJs and producers - who tend to be known as either one or the other — Hawtin is a proven master of both. His epic sets and conceptual albums have shown time and time again that he is one of the most important figures in the electronic music industry. So, DJing or producting: is one his first love? ’No,’ he replies. ’Girls are probably my first love. Like every boy.’
Richie Hawtin Dls at Pressure, The Arches, Glasgow on Fri 29 Oct and at The Vaults, Edinburgh on Sat 30 Oct. Decks, EFX & 909 is out on NovaMute on Mon 25 Oct.
22 THE “ST 21 Oct—4 Nov 1999