Minimal techno pioneer, digital vinyl advocate, DJ superstar, and subject of a surrealist Internet parody and very popular joke t-shirt line Richie Hawtin is now evidently using Traktor and Traktor Scratch. So is Magda (of “make the tea” fame). So is Troy Pierce.

Gentle hint to NI’s DJ marketing: embrace it. Give us a special “Ubercoolische Edition” of Traktor Scratch. Heck, I’d buy one. I assume people in Berlin may also find it funny, given the influx of us Americans into their city. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read on.)

Internet memes aside, the real reason this is big news is that Hawtin was one of the DJs who threw his support behind digital vinyl with Stanton’s Final Scratch — the target market for NI with Traktor Scratch. (More recently, he used NI’s other rival — Serato Scratch Live. Thanks, Mateo.) Says Hawtin, “I find that Traktor is taking further steps forward while still remaining connected to the traditional DJ paradigm.” (Less connected to the traditional DJ paradigm, I think, are things like Ableton Live, which by its developers own admission was never originally conceived as a “DJ” program — for better or worse.) And jokes aside, I’m sure Hawtin can do some fun stuff with Traktor.

Richie Hawtin on Traktor, at Native Instruments

But I want to talk about something even more important: just as Hawtin’s label Minus Records is joining with NI for a world club tour for its 10th anniversary, the hilarious Ubercoolische site that parodies his minimalist lifestyle in Berlin is down. Happily, Google cache has preserved the white-wall apartment jokes for posterity (try a search). And you can still by the reflexive t-shirt. If anyone knows what happened to the site, let me know.

For old time’s sake, I’ve reproduced my favorite episode after the break, on Berthold Brecht. (Expletives left in for …effect.)

For the record, Magda thought it was funny, and apparently it was all in good fun because the authors of the site were fans (and actually booked the crew). You’ll know you’ve made it, too, when you’re the subject of a viral Internet parody.

Now that I’ve gotten this out of my system, next time I talk about Hawtin, Minus, or Traktor, I promise to be serious. But in the meantime:

Magda: Hey Richie, do you know that: “Because things are the way they are, they will not stay the way they are”

Richie: How do you mean Magda?

Magda: Well, Berthold Brecht said that. Does he mean that if things arent the way they were then they might be something else?

Richie: No Magda, I think he means we should use these laptops and ipods to make minimal sounds.

Ricardo: Hey Magda, Richie, whats going on?

Magda: Hey Ricardo, we’re just talking about Berthold Brecht. Do you know that he said: “Because things are the way they are, they will not stay the way they are”??

Ricardo: wow! what a minimal coincidence! I just bought you both a t-shirt with “Because things are the way they are, they will not stay the way they are” written all over it!!!

Richie: well what do you know! son of a gun – how fucking cool is it to be in Berlin?

Magda: pretty fucking cool Richie, pretty fucking cool!

I think all of this sums up the current state of digital DJing on a philosophical level, if you really reflect on it.

New rule: anyone saying anything in comments that takes this too seriously will be immediately deleted. Ironic minimal comments only.

  • the real reason this is big news is that Hawtin was one of the DJs who threw his support behind digital vinyl with Serato’s Final Scratch

    Hmm, not quite: Hawtin originally threw his support behind Stanton's Final Scratch, and was a bit of a spokesman for them; I believe he had some financial interest in doing so (although that may have been John Aquaviva only). He then famously switched to Serato Scratch Live, which was a bit of a blow to Final Scratch's credibility.

  • 3ZKL

    my heart is fluttering, like my minimal scarf in a springtime berlin breeze. after all, this is the way we make techno!

    since seeing troy pierce & matthew dear using traktor recently, this doesnt come as a terribly minimal surprise. especially since we can assume they do exactly as richie says anyway. pretty fucking cool richie, pretty fucking cool.

  • Doh! I inadvertently created a "merger" — thanks for catching that. Fixed.

  • Mateo, it was actually Amsterdam based N2IT that made Final Scratch. It was originally for BeOS.

    Stanton came along later.

  • Mateo, it was actually Amsterdam based N2IT that made Final Scratch. It was originally for BeOS.

    Stanton came along later.

    As far as I know, Stanton bought the technology from N2IT, although I'm not sure if that was before or after the original FinalScratch PRO bundles with the VAIO laptops. In any case, I think my statement is still correct, Hawtin was an early adopter and was closely associated with Staton's product.

  • working dj

    im pretty sure that superstar dj's/producers use whatever the hell they want, because promoters and clubs will bend over backwards to accomodate them.

    for us, working dj's, the choice is simple – Searato. Why? Because 90% of the clubs already have the Serato box installed and pre-wired, so all you have to do is bring your laptop (and a bunch of CD's or vinyl, in case your laptop crashes)

  • I don't think Hawtin used Final Scratch on BeOS. So it's safe to say he was using Final Scratch as marketed by Stanton.

    @working dj — hear you, for sure. I wonder what the breakdown is, though, of people bringing their own box or not.

  • guidedbyVOIP

    Just FYI: Online Web Archive has a history archive of UBERCOOLISCHE here<a>.

  • for us, working dj’s, the choice is simple – Searato. Why? Because 90% of the clubs already have the Serato box installed and pre-wired, so all you have to do is bring your laptop (and a bunch of CD’s or vinyl, in case your laptop crashes)

    I've personally never seen a Serato box in any club I've played in, although that could be because I don't travel as much as I used to. What I have noticed is clubs more or less getting rid of turntables altogether, as the CD only DJs far outnumber both the Vinyl and the DVS users…

  • me

    Back when Richie Hawtin had a shaved head, he was working on the pre-release version with the guys from Holland if I recall correctly from the time. You used have to boot from a cd into a linux based os.

    Also, closer to the edit and decks fx and a 909 was done using sonic foundarys acid and after that he came out as one of the first endorsers of Live.

  • <blockquote cite="I don’t think Hawtin used Final Scratch on BeOS.">

    Yah, he did actually. He was using it pretty much from the get go.

    Too bad about BeOS. 🙁

    I think you are recalling correctly @me. It was a linux app, before BeOS.

  • It was developed on BeOS first, the ported to Linux; there's a short history on wikipedia.

  • Wasn't it just last month that he was pimping his name to that new system with the self-contained gameboy size interface? I guess the sponsorship fell through. The month before he was taking a kickback from Allen & Heath.

    Hawtin is a joke. Anyone influenced by this doofus is dressed from head to toe in the emperor's clothes.

  • arnold collins

    using traktor is to be on the very bleeding edge of digital music technology. richie hawtin is nothing less than an audio scientist whose activities are so boldly experimental, it literally takes my breath away.

  • @Darren… Whoops. Thanks for the correction. I'll take your word for it. And I agree: BeOS was doing things that Leopard and Vista (and arguably, even Linux) still haven't pulled off.

    I'm not sure I'd put it quite as dramatically as Arnold, but I do think Hawtin's been on the leading edge of this stuff, at least in regards to the DJ world.

    And, hey, if people use more than one tool, they can endorse more than one tool; I don't see an issue with that.

  • lematt

    I'm not a big fan of the "ubercooleries" and all the hype around Hawtin, but I'm a big fan of his work. I precise: work. listening to "DE9: closer to the edit" is one of the biggest experience i had with minimal techno, and all the m_nus label is totally awesome.

    He's really one of the best techno DJ's around here, for sure, and i really don't care about if he uses final Scratch or Serato or NI traktor… but: Traktor is perfect enough (with a 2 outputs soundcard) to mix minimal techno !

  • arnold collins

    "..I do think Hawtin’s been on the leading edge of this stuff, at least in regards to the DJ world."

    [clicks fingers in peter kirn's face] hello?…. hello???…

  • @arnold — no, it's true, in his area he was an early adopter. That's not ever the only thing that matters, and there are other people that are more important to me personally… but I'll give him that.

  • @Peter

    Kim Cascone perhaps?

  • Heheh… then it's a very, very long list. And yeah, Kim Cascone is on it. But you know, I feel like I can learn something from people outside my immediate interest area. So I have nothing against Hawtin and his crew.

  • I love how Hawtin reinvents himself, and pulls it off. I hope he continues what he started with the Plastikman show @ mutek.

  • arnold collins

    "early adopter…"

    year 2000: traktor is released.

    year 2008: richie hawtin starts using it.

    what can i say? truly ahead of his time!

    by the way, i found this great website that simply reproduces, uncritically, whatever publicity blurb musical instrument companies have come up with at any one time! it's called harmony central. check it out!

  • @Arnold — I don't disagree, but isn't that the whole point? Once you've done digital vinyl (and apparently readers think Hawtin was more cutting edge than I knew, working with an early beta), what else can you really do — especially if you're committed to staying "traditional" in your approach?

    But, beyond that, not sure how I'm reproducing publicity blurbs here, given I mainly used this as an excuse to go off on the old ubercoolisch thing. I'm not saying it's great journalism — I'm just saying I'm too easily distracted to do PR cut and paste, ok? If this site really gets Harmonicentralisch, you let me know.

  • Where was the critical analysis of this particular promo / publicity item?

  • Jeez, man. It's just another celebrity uses program xxx thing; there's not much critical analysis to happen here. I usually ignore the things, but it's a chance to laugh at Ubercoolisch. I told you it wasn't great journalism. 😉 I don't really have that much to say about it.

    Obviously, my plea to folks not to take things too seriously didn't get taken seriously.

    My critical analysis wouldn't have been that meaningful, anyway. I respect what Hawtin does, professionally. I'm not terribly interested in it musically; there are other people I find more interesting, and the techno DJ thing wasn't ever something I really resonated with.

  • "It’s just another celebrity uses program xxx thing"

    "it’s a chance to laugh at Ubercoolisch"

    Shouldn't that be the other way around?

    I think the Ubercoolisch thing is laughing at Hawtin and anyone who considers that clown as anything more than the Pat Boone of Techno.

  • Don't mean to be so harsh on you Peter. More the blind acceptance that Hawtin is anything more than publicity, hype, rampant self-promotion, and good marketing.

  • No worries; I hear you.

    Now Pat Boone techno remix? That sounds fun.

  • Go for it. I'll make the Tea.

  • ludo

    'Because 90% of the clubs already have the Serato box installed and pre-wired' – LOL! Yeah, sure… maybe in 'Second Life'.

  • phil

    hello peter,

    we seriously take this not cereal.i dont care who makes the tea ,but i dont want much sugar in it 😉

    @ludo: all the hip clubs in europe have serato pre wired ;P


  • Tea kettle with iPod dock = the future of DJing!

  • You're on. Magda-inspired tea controller for Traktor Scratch. (Wait a minute … Brownian Motion source. That could even be an infinite improbability drive. Magda make the tea, indeed.)

  • I would say that 90% of the clubs that have a digital dj system have Serato installed. Most normal places have two turntables, two CD decks and a Pioneer mixer. Serato is the industry standard right now, although I definitely like Traktor better–the sideways scrolling wave forms seem more intuitive too.

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  • Dufus

    Seems prety obvious to me that all the dufuses that are inspired by this self promoting celebrity do so not because hes described as "cutting edge" "technlogy leader" by the manufacturers who use such descriptions to heighten and promote their products. Its a lot more basic than that, simply its that he has produced the goods since the late 80's, throughout all the different hardware and software changes he has utilised each and honed his own sound. The popularity is testiment to his skills and understanding of his equipment, or maybe its due to his 20 year celebrity promoting publicity machine.

  • another working/tour

    Although a lot of DJs and clubs use Serato, Traktor Scratch is still a superior product in many ways (half the latency for time code, much higher audio quality, the interface is passive, built in effects and looping).

    Richie does not need to worry about what club has already, he simply puts what he needs on his rider and a club/promoter will comply. So, why not use what's best?