Published Jan 01, 2006If you thought DJing involved beat matching a couple of records while manipulating pitch and EQ, think again. Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman) is at the forefront of changing the face of DJ culture yet again, as exemplified on his latest mix CD, DE9: Closer to the Edit, the follow-up to 1999's Decks, EFX and 909. This time around Hawtin cut, spliced and sampled over 100 tracks, then pared them down to their most basic components until he wound up with well over 300 loops and samples. As obsessive and cluttered as this technique seems, the result is very much a seamless minimal tech-house set; you'll just have a hell of a time trying to recognise the tracks.
"I think the idea of music being so linear is starting to change," Hawtin says, on the phone from Europe in the midst of his summer world tour. "The DJ and producer is starting to take bits and pieces from many different sources and create something new. The idea of just playing records back is dated."
Being a world renowned DJ and producer, it's no longer a matter of finding the best gear to articulate his music, rather the gear developers seek out Hawtin. This was the case with Final Scratch, an essential component for DE9. Final Scratch is, in Hawtin's words, "a system that enables me to manipulate digital files with a regular turntable. All those physical things I do with a turntable cue up or back spin or play records fast or slow in reverse are now transposed onto a digital music file. John Acquaviva and I have been able to take it out on the road and beta test it and help confirm to the developer what it really should do for the DJ."
For Hawtin, everything is open for restructuring, including track selections from labels like Crane A.K., Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound, that release superb works of minimal compositions in their own right. Was this not redundant? Why bother to mess with perfection? "I don't think that once an artist creates something that that's an only version that is relevant to our time. We're at a point now where different artists can re-evaluate works and put their own personal interpretation on it and create something new, which is what we've been doing as DJs in the last ten or 15 years." Not only has Hawtin revolutionised techno, but revolutionising the way we perceive revolutions on the decks by bridging the gap between DJing and production.