HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Richie Hawtin

His life began in Oxfordshire, England but has taken him through the techno nirvana of Detroit and most recently finds him seeking refuge in the almost equally musically influential Berlin. During this cross continent journey he has released a couple of full length albums, numerous mix CDs, more singles than you can poke a stick at and has played some of the most historic sets to some of the largest crowds. He has been at the fore front of musical technology being the first man, woman or beast to DJ with the help of two Apple iPods and has pioneered the world of digital music with his artistic utilization of programs like Ableton Live.

But more importantly than all of these accolades his appearance is what sets him apart. He is of course Richie Hawtin and who can forget the chrome dome and black glasses combo he once sported and more recently the angular fringe that sweeps across his forehead. With the recent release of his album-cum-mix CD "DE9: Transitions" and his tour of Japan, we had thousands of questions that just had to be asked of the man, the myth and the legend, Richie Hawtin.

* If you would like to view the video interview...Click here !

> Interview : Mark Oxley _ Introduction : Nick Lawrence (HigherFrequency)


HRFQ : As the role of producer and DJ is becoming ever more blurred, will those DJs who refuse to get behind the mixing desk and producers who don't want to DJ, be left behind ?

Richie : No, no. We are in the land of tradition. [Japan]. I am going to Kyoto in two or three days to stay and have dinner with my parents in a two hundred year old Ryokan (Inn) and so you have to say that certain things and certain people and ways of doing things have found a balance that is close to perfection. So DJing with two turntables isn't my cup of tea. I have done it and I want to move forward, but I am sure there will be a time and a place for people to develop and innovate on that idea [2 turntables] because it is the interaction of man and machine, woman and machine, and that is what makes it exciting. So there will continue to be, - maybe not every week or every day-, but every once in a while where somebody will come along who interacts with it differently, that will be something worth seeing.

HRFQ : A few more questions left. Your music gets quite, deep and involves artistic concepts or philosophies, again similar to the question before I guess, what are your thoughts on producers who simply go and do something for the purpose of making a HUGE track ?

Richie : I think where there is a will there is way, you know. There is a purpose to everything, and sometimes the purpose is to make a hit, or the purpose is just to make a great dance floor song, when I made my song 'Minus Orange', there were two purposes. At that time there were a lot of people making tracks out of samples, which I never did, and I was like 'can I make a track out of samples', so I sampled 'Yello' and the other main reason was to make a really great dance song. But if I did that all the time I would find it boring. So I think variety is the spice of life so you should have a mission, you should have a purpose, but you should also try to keep that mission evolving and changing, you know.

HRFQ : Yeah, saying that, I think every DJ we have interviewed does it for the love of the music.

Richie : Well the longer you do it there become many different reasons to do it, this is also my livelihood, I don't really want to go get a day job, I am lucky to really enjoy what I do as a living you know. Balance !

HRFQ : Definitely. Let's see, you have lived in two of the most influential techno towns in the world, Detroit and Berlin, how important is location when creating music ?

Richie : Well on a basic level the idea, where you are when you are creating especially for me, in reality makes no difference, it doesn't matter ! I record in a dark room with no windows, you know I could be anywhere on the fucking planet. But it is very important for me and many others I think to be close to your machines when you are inspired. And to be in a city like Detroit in the early days, to be throwing parties there and having so many crazy experiences and then going 20 minutes back to my house and then recording the rest of the evening, the rest of the night, the rest of the day, was very important. Why am I in Berlin right now? I travel the world most of the year, but it is great to get home, be inspired go into the studio, and when you come out of the studio, and know that when you come out of the studio there are a lot of other possibilities to be re-inspired and not just to be, 'fuck, I gotta get out of here'.

Richie Hawtin Interview

HRFQ : Leads on to the next question anyway, probably answered it, but lets see. How important is it for there to be a sharing of knowledge, inspirations etc within a community ?

Richie : I think, now, more so than ever before, I think in the beginning in the late eighties early nineties Detroit there was very little sharing. People were really on their mission to create and it was a time of great innovation. Now because so much time has passed and so many things have been done, and because technology and the idea of the internet - whether you want it to or not - information flows freely now. Much more freely than it did ten or fifteen years ago. So I think you have to have an open attitude to your ideas your inspiration, your concepts and also your music once it is done. It is not the point in history to be closed minded and build up walls around yourself.

HRFQ : How much does feedback from people help you ?

Richie : Feedback from people I admire, respect is important for me. I had some friends come into the studio while I was recording the album, and whether they said anything or not, just their reaction was important. But you know you have to find a line when that stops, you can't listen to everything, you have to at one point decide that this is what I set out to do, it is the best I can do at this point in my life, and then put that out and stand strong in your beliefs. Or stand strong in what you have just put out to the public. No matter what anyone says. And if you can do that and you can stand tall, then whether or not the people out there fully understand what you are doing or appreciate it, they have to at least respect that you are on your mission.

HRFQ : Lets see, one more. With the album you had a brief experience with surround sound, would you consider moving into other musical fields, movie production, what is the future, for Richie Hawtin ?

Richie : I think most electronic musicians these days have a little bit of a pull into the soundtrack world or a little bit of a lust towards that world. I grew up watching old science fiction movies and being inspired by a lot of them when I made some of my early music. It would be great to see more electronic music scores to the type of movies which are coming out now. So you know experimenting in technologies which also work within that field of surround sound, is not only inspiring and challenging but also a good brush up on skills you may need later in life.

HRFQ : Alright. Nice talking to you. Have a good gig tonight and all the best for the future.

Richie : Thankyou.

End of the interview

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