Ritchie Hawtin:Plastikman Comeback

For those who were long ago into electronic music, Richie Hawtin is first of all Plastikman. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the fans of, possibly, the most popular techno dj in the world have been demanding the return of the legendary moniker, which made the Canadian dj famous. On the occasion of a Plastikman live show and the release of Plastikman Akrives, a retrospect of Plastikman’s music oeuvre, Richie Hawtin talks to OZON about the return of his well-known side project, djing today, his present and future as a producer/dj.

-Fans have been requesting this for ages but what led to the resurrection of the Plastikman guise?

The return of Plastikman has to do with a lot of things, the main one being the idea of bringing Plastikman Live to the stage which was really inspired by the success we had with the CONTAKT shows. Contakt was a large scale production with lighting & visuals, some of which were synchronised or ‘inspired’ by the music we were playing at those events. However since there were so many DJ’s involved with Contakt, each of them having many possibilities of music/tracks to play it was quite hard to find enough ‘moments’ in the shows where the visuals and music came together perfectly. This was part of the charm of Contakt, it was organic and morphed between each show and each person, but I felt that there was something more we could do, a deeper more immersive type of experience that we could explore IF we had more control over the music that was being played and the visuals that were displayed. This was the beginning of pointing me back in the direction of Plastikman, to work on a large scale event that was centred around only my own music, which would give myself and Ali Demirel and the Derivative (visual team) more possibilities to create audio/visual interaction and to create (in our minds) a next level live electronic music experience. Αfter Contakt I looked around at the other Electronic Music Live shows and although I found many that sounded great, there was a lack of ‘showmanship’… Ι wanted to see/hear/feel more than what I was seeing watching one person behind a laptop… thus, Plastikman needed to come back!

-Why was the Plastikman project abandoned in the first place?

Plastikman was never supposed to be a project that just kept going, blindly one album after another. There has always been moments of silence between each release or project because each project/release happens at the time it is needed. If I feel that I have something to say, something to do under the Plastikman name, I do it. If not, I leave it to the side. In that way I hold onto the integrity of Plastikman, it’s history and heritage, and wait for the right moment for the next part of the story. People realise this now, and whenever I decide to bring back the name/project, people take notice as they are excited about what I will do next. I really don’t appreciate when people just milk a good thing, wringing the life out of a great concept or idea, or pushing something down people’s throats even after it’s done. For sure I love marketing and hype and all of that stuff, but I want there to be substance behind that hype and marketing… Plastikman happens when there’s something to say, something to do… and at the moment, there’s lots to do and say!

-Does your current status and the fact that you usually have to play huge venues affect your DJing?

Apart from the financial factor would u have it otherwise? I actually get to play quite a lot of different size venues. It actually depends on the country/city and how often I can go back and how flexible the club/party scene is there. I’m happy that I have so many options as just playing small or big clubs exclusively would be quite boring… having the intimacy of a crowd of 500 people is amazing, you get to test out different ideas and perhaps have a little bit more freedom than the larger venues. However, the energy and excitement of a large scale Hawtin DJ show in front of 5000, 10.000, 20.000 people can be a completely different monster! I love them both! Honestly, if you bring up financial factors, then you have to understand that to be able to do all the things I’m doing right now you need to do some larger scale shows to help fund new and exciting projects. Without a number of huge events in 2009 & 2010, I honestly wouldn’t have had the money to invest spending nearly a year developing the Plastikman Live concept and show. I believe that you get back what you put in, whether it’s money, energy, love, whatever. You have to invest back in yourself, and the scene that supports you to insure a good future for everyone, specially the music we love.

-It seems nowadays the trend is towards more varied DJ sets in terms of styles played? Are your sets affected by that trend? If yes in what ways?

I believe that most good/great DJs have always been more diverse than what the public is lead to believe. It’s always the marketing hype of press, magazines, blogs etc that pinpoints a certain sound to a certain DJ. However, great DJ sets are ones that are dynamic, and part of this dynamic is playing various types of music at the right moment. So are my sets more varied than before, no, but some years I’m going between more techno and house, other years, more house and techno, some years throw in some electro, or whatever. Variation, dynamics, timing, selection, are all key elements that combine to create a great set/performance.

-What is next for Richie Hawtin and his labels in the near and not so near future?

A great Marco Carola album for release in early 2011. The Plastikman ARKIVES book/boxset and next year lots of new crazy DJ projects/releases and a new Fall 2011 Plastikman Live Tour!

-Tell us more about your clothing label. How is it doing?

Unfortunately with the workload of Plastikman Live and the upcoming 2011 Hawtin projects I’ve had to slow down my involvement with the fashion line. But my friend (and designer) Isolde Richly will continue the line and production from Japan and we will continue to support each other with inspiration and opportunities!

-How do you feel being a fashion or style inspiration for several people?

I believe fashion and music are linked as they are both ways we define ourselves to other people. Whether it’s the books on our coffee table, the records/cd’s on our shelves, or the clothes we wear, these are the things we put out to the world to allow others to understand a little bit about us.

Text: Vangelis Kamarakis | Link: