Richie Hawtin actually topped the list of people CDM readers don’t want us to interview at NY’s Minitek this weekend, which I’m tempted to take as a challenge. (Hey, I’m all for combating hype and talking to the many talented but under-appreciated artists out there. I just find it amusing how much negative energy Hawtin attracts.) In the meantime, CDM’s resident electronic scenester Liz McLean Knight notes that he has revealed some of how he works live on his blog.
M_nus label owner and minimal techno pioneer Richie Hawtin has eschewed the “trade secret” mentality (and ridiculous toupe-combover hairstyle, thank god!) and shared brief videos on his myspace blog explaining his live setup.
Traktor lies at the base of his arrangement, and in particular he makes use of Traktor’s Four Decks. Much in the way Ableton Live enables live syncing of basic elements, Hawtin uses elements of unfinished tracks, such as a partial demo track from label-mate Marc Houle, as building blocks in a live set.
And in a move that some people consider controversial in the DJing world, he admits to using the Sync function, as it allows him to focus on other things such as four-deck manipulation and playing with effects, a view to which digital musicians are more sympathetic.
I don’t think using four DJ decks can really be considered innovative any more, frankly — not with Ableton Live in common usage and live electronic musicians pushing in other directions. But this is how Hawtin works, and he’s more than entitled that. It’s also nice to see someone who actually uses NI’s four decks rather than just talking about them. And for all the hating around here, I do think Hawtin does deserve credit for having been at the digital DJ phenomenon from just about the beginning. (Whether that phenomenon has been a good thing, that’s a separate issue to debate.)
I’m equally interested to see, though, where people go next. I think Hawtin rightfully deserves credit for his taste factor and the influence that had — even if you hate him, here’s a guy who was able to really build a brand an a musical identity not only for himself but his label and self-imagined genre. If the ongoing attention following Hawtin seems disproportionate, perhaps that’s because others have failed to fill the void or find a way to be that successful moving in other directions.
Yes, that’s meant as a challenge.
Update: here’s a compilation of all the videos. (Thanks, Louis!)