We caught up with techno DJ-producer Richie Hawtin when he was in New York last week to preview DE9: Transitions, set for release in September, and talked with him about his new hometown Berlin, bottle service, and mix CDs. For the record, during our conversation, in which we forced Hawtin to refer to himself in the third person, he only used the word minimal once.
Why did you only stay in New York for a year? Because I had enough. I had such an amazing, amazing time. I had great friends out here and the scene was much better than it is now, and there was an energy that had something to do with what I was doing—not me personally, but what we were doing electronic music-wise. I started to see that starting to fade a little bit. And people were becoming a little less interested, and some of the things happening with the clubs and freedoms in the country—everything was going for me in the wrong direction.
Do you think Berlin will be oversaturated with techno DJs? There’s already a backlash—”Oh, everyone’s going to Berlin. I’m not going to Berlin.” That’s fine with me!
I’ll go to Barcelona. Oh, Barcelona’s so 1998.
Is there bottle service in Berlin? Bottle service?! What’s bottle service?
You know! Where you pay a bunch of money to sit in a booth and drink expensive bottles of alcohol. I don’t, no.
I love you. What is your most important electronic record of all time? I would have to pick a Derrick May record for sure. I will always remember when I was younger, when I met Derrick. He gave me the “It Is What It Is” track. He’s the mad scientist of techno.
What is your current favorite record? There’s a guy in Cologne, Germany—Sleeparchive. He’s got two or three records out. Very minimal. Very heady. Very repetitive.
Last book you read? I’m reading Kafka on the Shore, the new Murakami book. I love it. Before that I read [Philip Roth’s] The Dying Animal.
What is the new record like? The main version of the album is 5.1 surround sound. This album is much more about moods and much smoother than the last one. There’s definitely hundreds of tracks, samples, and bits and pieces. That way it’s typical.
Typical for you. No one else really does it. The whole mix CD genre is really fucking bullshit. It’s a quick way to make some money. It is a marketing thing. Closer to the Edit was a really successful CD for me, but I think I can stand by it because it was a very progressive CD. I have pleasure in releasing a CD like Transitions and giving the finger to everyone else who’s doing a fucking normal mix CD.
What do you think of members of Depeche Mode, the Smiths, Pulp starting to DJ? Yeah. All these old rock stars have finally seen the light of day and thought, “That’s cool. I can travel without my band members and make money and not have a headache from worrying about them!”
What is the difference between your two alter egos? I was gonna say that Plastikman is more when I disappear up my own ass. But I do that when I’m Richie Hawtin too. On a very technical level, Richie Hawtin has always been about creating out of other people’s material from a DJ perspective. Plastikman has always been my personal, completely original work. It’s always been a bit darker too. Moodier.
Have you seen the ubercoolische.com piss take on the Metro Times article about you, and DJs Magda and Ricardo Villalobos? I love it! You couldn’t ask for better promotion. It’s really, really funny. We were crying.
Does Magda make the tea? She makes a good ginger tea, yes. We slow simmer it for hours.
I read that you were thinking about getting a jet! John Acquaviva and I really wanted a Plus 8 jet, ’cause we thought the logo would look really good on the tail. For a while we really thought we were gonna be able to do it.
Then reality set in. Is it true acid used to be given out at your early warehouse parties? [Laughs.] I can’t comment on that.