5 questions with Richie Hawtin, a.k.a. Plastikman, legendary techno artist

It’s probably safe to say that for most techno fans, Richie Hawtin needs no introduction.

In a musical career that stretches two decades, the 39-year-old Hawtin — who grew up in Windsor — has strived to push the boundaries of technologically inspired electronic dance music.

Considered to be part of the second wave of Detroit techno in the early 1990s, Hawtin got his start playing underground parties in Detroit, then launched the record label Plus 8 with fellow Canadian John Acquaviva.

His early works, recorded under the guise of Plastikman, were noteworthy for their spare, minimal acid techno style. By the turn of the century, Hawtin was one of the most-sought-after DJs in the world. He eventually moved to Berlin — another techno music mecca — where he still resides.

Ritchie Hawtin AKA Plastikman

Ritchie Hawtin AKA Plastikman

Hawtin’s adoration of technology was almost always a centerpiece of his artistry, consistently influencing his music and vice versa. He has long incorporated effects units, samplers and computer technology into his DJ sets.

To coincide with the rebirth of the Plastikman persona and subsequent tour, the ever-experimental Hawtin has upped the ante once again. Partnering with visual architects and designers, Hawtin’s latest concept involves an innovative integration of audio and visuals via a large curved screen placed in front of the performer throughout the show.

Fans can interact with Hawtin’s show via a customized (and free) iPhone/iPod Touch application called Plastikman SYNK. Fans who download SYNK will be able to interact with his performance in several different ways, including:

• Reorganizing word samples via 20 touch buttons, and then hearing those words through the sound system.

• Viewing a live video stream of Hawtin during the performance.

• Exploring the synchronicity of real-time generated percussion patterns and their visual counterparts.

• Seeing the console Hawtin interacts with in real time. We talked with Hawtin to find out more.

QUESTION: Tell me about your new iPhone application, SYNK, in relation to your current Plastikman live performance.

ANSWER: On a creative level, it’s my attempt to play with the crowd, blurring the border between the audience and the performer, which is where it should be. The app enables the audience to interact with me, playing samples back, taking visuals from the screen.

Plastikman has always been about a weird, crazy, unique experience for people. The iPhone app is a bit of an extension of that. … I decided that with this new Plastikman show, let’s play with (the audience). Let’s take this opportunity to use and (toy) with technology. Everybody knows I’m totally into that.

Q: Are you pleased with how SYNK is working with your show?

A: I’m honestly still changing and readjusting, especially with the syncopation with the visuals on the screen and iPhone, the triggering of the back and forth we’re still playing with.

We’ve been pummeling people with intense reds, then going to darkness, while adding the sonic landscape of Plastikman … taking it down weirder and slower, weirder beats … making the package part concert, part art installation, part rave.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for SYNK?

A: When we were doing the Contakt shows, everybody held their cell phones up recording it. We thought, “Let’s use that to be part of the experience, take that idea of recording the show into being part of the show.” At the end of the day, it’s a great physical and mental experience as a group. It’s all of you together in that moment of time experiencing something at once.

Q: How does the app work? Is this the next step in the evolution of musical performances?

A: It is a real-time data flow from every iPhone in that performance. Everyone’s saying electronic music is pretty easy to make these days — everyone has GarageBand (Apple music software) or some variation thereof. The next step is cloud computing. It’s part of the creative movement. Then it’s: “Who is the audience? Who is the performer?” I’m opening a window for people and anything within that window, they can do.

Q: Why did you opt to launch this app for the Plastikman guise?

A: This tour is really a conglomeration of everything I’ve experienced in the last 20 years. It’s a way to go back to where I began and modernize it in a way … using digital technology and plug-ins. This show represents updated versions of those early Plastikman records, while also allowing the live show to evolve and mutate. … To me, it’s like a Plastikman album. The beginning was 18 years ago and the end is yet to be determined.

Written by: Tim Pratt. Reposted from freep.com