Richie Hawtin Talks


Last weekend I was invited to interview Richard Hawtin by the Ransom Note.

Despite having seen him perform several times, I’d clapped eyes on him most recently as he and many thousands other people were being evacuated from a music festival I had organised that had gone disastrously wrong. You probably know the one.

Mr. Hawtin was talismanic to the entire project. We had been snapping like puppy dogs at his heels since we started Bloc, hoping to spearhead one of our programmes with techno’s pre-eminent personality. When we finally got the nod in 2012 he was announced alongside Snoop Dogg and Steve Reich. As well as looking like an intriguing idea for a supergroup, the flyer at the time represented a real high for me personally. And seeing him tweet photos of rivers of angry people drifting off the abandoned festival site was a corresponding low.

We met up at a secret DotUp party he was playing at, which was part of a Red Bull Music Academy pop-up at the Land of Kings festival. I’ve had many conversations about last year’s event with people with a wide range of different interests in it – rightly aggrieved ticketholders, mainly – but none so far with one of the planned headliners. It was good to be able to catch him play so close to home in intimate surroundings and to finally talk….

Hi Richie, so I really wanted to pop down and just meet you face to face after everything that happened over the summer. Cos you know, one of the biggest things from a programming perspective was that we were trying book you for like five years. It was a huge thing for us…

Thats funny because we were seeing the festival happening and all of the line-ups and thinking, man we should play Bloc why dont they talk to us? And like I was saying that to my booker that I think there was a miscommunication somewhere – but I think I picked the wrong year to play haha!

Well how are things in London for you at the moment? Have you got Enter tonight?

Yeah, weve got Enter and todays been an amazing day already. I dont get to play in London so often any more. I kinda tried to make a rule a couple of years ago that Id only play at each city once a year. Sounds like a shitty thing to do, but there are so many cool cities in the world that for a while Id always find myself playing London three, four times a year and the same with New York. I had so many requests from other places that I never got to go to so Im trying to say, you know, one day a year. So when I get to do two gigs in one day its amazing! And Londons always been so supportive, like last year, you know when we had our thing…

Youve got a huge following in London…

Honestly, if you look back to my history, a lot of people were first introduced to me as Plastikman and Mute Records which was in London. So for me it feels, that if I have to look at the beginning of my international success, of course Detroit and Windsor were my actually beginning, but for me it was in London.

It had never really occurred to me but it makes sense talking about it. The one day a year thing makes sense too, but youve got two really different shows today right? So whats the ‘Dot Up’ thing today?

Well, weve actually started a little bit later than we wanted too, but the concept of Dot Up is to take the dot of Enter and go all round the world and travel to the people. This is because Enter is an Ibiza experience.

I was gonna ask, hows all that going?

I love Ibiza, I love that were doing something there, but so many people who do their own night in Ibiza I think forget that all the people are travelling to see us. So Dot Up is our return, travelling to see the people!

Hows it all going out in Ibiza anyway?

Its been incredible. Last year was such a huge success, better than we could have imagined and were just getting ready to announce our line up next week for this season. Were doing thirteen weeks, weve added a new room to play a little bit more experimental music and I guess my commitment for Enter is to have the most challenging party on Ibiza. Challenging in the sense that its very diverse in music and challenging in the sense that the whole infrastructure and decoration is special. Its not just a party where the DJ shows up, plays a good couple of records, takes an e or has a drink and freaks out a bit. Its more than that and thats what we want to present.

So whos on the upcoming bill for Enter?

Well, I cant really tell you… But weve got Maya Jane Coles as a co-resident with me, also Paco Osuna from Spain and also Nina Kravitz. Those are my kind of core.

Thats a good start.

And then of course Ive got my guys, Matador and Gaiser. Um, we have Tale Of Us who are playing quite often for us and who weve just signed to my booking agency. So its gonna be a killer year! Weve also extended the actual night, were starting earlier for the Sake Bar at 8 oclock

Of course, the Sake thing! How did that go?

Yeah it was amazing!

Was it a big hit with everyone? Were they all drinking Sake?

Well I think they like the buzz and they like the taste and this year in the Sake bar weve programmed an incredible line-up.

Everything sounds like its going pretty manic for you. More manic or less manic?

More manic! I seem to be actually doing less gigs right now because theres so many other things to do, but its still absolutely incredible.

But youre still loving it?

Yeah, its still incredible and crazy, and fucked up and full on, and amazing.

The closest I actually came to seeing you at Bloc was when you were driving past at the evacuation bit and you were tweeting pictures of the evacuation! But thanks for coming along man. 

No worries, no worries. We had a good time. We played in the boiler room right?

Yeah, you were on Stubnitz werent you. Youve got a history with Stubnitz right? Did you know that a rumour went round on the radio on the security channel about you?

That Id jumped off the boat? We saw the guy do it!

You saw the guy do it? 

No no no, I wish Id been the guy that had done it, he was incredible!

Wicked. But thanks, I really do hope we get a repeat performance at some point, I mean not a repeat like the last Bloc but you know…

Yeah for sure, lets do it…

I have to ask, because I loved it so much: Are you going to go back in the huge live AV sphere ever again?

Yeah well next year we have a hot new show planned which will actually be the anti-thesis of AV. But Plastikman will return. In my mind right now the AV show has perhaps taken one step too far and has lost a connection to what the idea was: of a great concert. Its become more about the visuals rather than the combination of sound and music.

A kind of one-up-manship by production managers then?

Yeah! It is like that! We do everything in house, we dont work with production companies to come up with ideas and blah blah blah, so we have a very natural progression. But I do feel that there are a lot of artists going to production companies right now saying okay, you remember Daft Punk and the pyramid? I need something better. And then theyre saying Oh but Deadmau5 already made it better. Oh well make it better than that! But Underworld did this. Well make it better than that then. Its just a competition.

I wish it was that organic. My feeling of it is that theres these huge things sitting in warehouses and theyre just waiting for a DJ to staple it to.

Were gonna give our answer to that problem next year.

Okay, that sounds exciting. Is that going to be under Plastikman?

No, itll probably be under Hawtin.

I love it and its probably my favourite alias of yours, but obviously youve had loads of other aliases apart from just Plastikman…


Would you ever go back and do that? Do a different one?

I dunno. One uses a lot of aliases when youre just starting as youre feeling your sound out, so my two main aliases are Plastikman and F.U.S.E. Maybe some people will ask me to go back to that, but I dunno, I feel more like Hawtin than ever in my life. So well see what happens.

Man, I thought it was a great move coming back as Plastikman. Just as a fan, it was great to revisit.

Ill definitely return to Plastikman, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I actually overheard this – I was at Sonar watching you do Plastikman and there was a kid at the back who said Whats all this Plastikman shit? I much preferred Richie Hawtin.

Haha, well theres like your sweet spot in the middle where theres fans who like both and then theres extremes on each end.

People just didnt know, you know. Kind of like sunglasses at night kids who probably had no idea, probably never even heard acid before.

But I think thats the important reason for me to continue Plastikman and to give kids the idea that electronic music isnt just one dimensional and DJ orientated. Thats not all I do, and they need to know that its much deeper than getting up on stage and playing a couple of records.

Absolutely, well mate I dont want to take up all your afternoon but thanks for talking to us!

Thank you!

Nice one, wicked. Have a really fun time tonight.

Cool, thanks.

Richie Hawtin played at DotUp as part of Red Bull Music Academy‘s pop up at Street Feast at Land of Kings… try saying that one quickly!

?Richie plays all over the world this summer… in case you hadn’t noticed! 
Check here for full details.

Photo: Dan Medhurst