From The Daily Swarm:
It would be easy for Richie Hawtin to remain on cruise control. If the techno titan’s first outing with 1993’s Sheet One (under Hawtin’s alter ego, Plastikman) were his only contribution to electronic music, he’d still be remembered fondly. As is the case with many producers, one landmark album is never enough, but even in that regard Hawtin has continued to explore new territories as an innovator of live performance, entrepreneurship (as founder and head of the important M-nus, and beyond), and now, education in regards to spreading and preserving the culture of electronic music.
While at the forefront of the digital revolution in DJing, Hawtin’s invested interest in the future of electronic music has arguably ruffled a few feathers. A denizen of Detroit’s second wave of techno, now currently based in Berlin, Hawtin has become both a global ambassador of the genre and one of its keen mavericks. He’s largely become associated with the minimal techno of the early 2000s, a moment that was unquestionably important, yet, for whatever reason, remains somewhat divisive. Likewise, Hawtin’s insatiable hunger for new methods and mediums has positioned him as a supposed polar opposite to the reactionary vinyl purist attitude of DJs such as Theo Parrish and the like. However, rather than getting too caught up in a debate that would label him as some sort of “defender of digital,” Hawtin has continued to explore the possibilities that have followed his notoriety. His recent college tour, “CNTRL: Beyond EDM,” found Hawtin and some of his cohorts setting off across North America on a surprisingly traditional journey. Their goal was simple: expose the next generation of electronic music fans to the diversity of the scene.
Comprised of panel discussions, technology workshops, and performances, “CNTRL” served as a sort of primer for newer fans. The tour explored the themes, history, and issues that might be seldom encountered by the current EDM scene that values “the drop” above all else. While this new brand of arena-ready electronic music has record label executives clamoring to quickly establish an EDM branch, Hawtin remains steadfast in his commitment to the original intent of the music. Regardless of its recent popularity, electronic music has survived through various iterations and obstacles. This is a scene that values integrity, artistry, and adaptation, from the revolutionary proto-electro synths and drum machines of Kraftwerk to the bedroom experimentation of Chicago acid house. Though he does not claim to be completely representative, Hawtin does have enough of a stake to defend the music from being pigeonholed and eventually brushed to the side as just another cultural trend. To that end, he’s continuing his educational evangelism: at the upcoming SXSW conference, he’s set to have a frank conversation with Deadmau5 entitled Talk.Techno.Technology that will surely raise both hackles and awareness – watch your Twitter! He’s well qualified for that role, considering he continues to simultaneously exist as both a historical eminence and one of the most forward thinkers in electronic music, period. That’s why The Daily Swarm caught up with Hawtin while on the last leg of his “CNTRL” tour to discuss the initial moments and music that profoundly affected him as an artist.