Two Hours With and About Richie Hawtin - DVD review

Electronic Beats together with Slices released in October a documentary DVD about Richie Hawtin's life. 'Pioneers of Electronic Music' wants to be a series of DVDs about the most famous artists of electronic music. The first volume is dedicated to one of the founders of minimal techno, Richie Hawtin.

It is hard to see all the important details at an artist when you interview him. Most of the times you have little time or he isn't in the mood of talking, or he is thinking at something else or he is nervous. So the interviews are nothing else but a short question and answer session about next releses, about how the artist started; things that can be obtained form the artist's biography and discography. This DVD changes exponentially Richie Hawtin's image, especially for those who know him less as a person.

Richie Hawtin lives an enviably stylish existence in an unlikely and unexpected place. His refurbished home sits across from a throbbing factory in a spare, industrial zone of Windsor, Ontario. The 97-year-old building was once a firehouse in the days when its firewagons were drawn by horses. But in the 21st century, what used to be a hayloft has been transformed into Hawtin's striking, uncluttered, red-and-black apartment; the horses lived directly below in what's now his state-of-the-art recording studio.

Concentrated more on the human side of the artist, the documentary shows some scenes of Richie Hawtin's life, scenes that if they hadn't happened, he wouldn't be where he is now.

This DVD changes exponentially Richie Hawtin's image, especially for those who know him less as a person.
Those who don't know much about his activity as a producer and a DJ, should know that he is the fonder of Minus Records (M_nus), he is the con-fonder of Plus 8, together with John Aquaviva and the character behind the famous Plastikman. With a 20 year musical carrier, Richie Hawtin is presented in this film form his friends, family and acquaintances' perspectives.

The beginning

We are talking about a 36 year-old British artist. How did it all start? Some scenes with Richie when he was a little child, together with his brother Mathew on a slay then in his father's electronic workshop, a big fan of techniques and technology. His father has always been a perfectionist and a big music fan, which influenced a lot his 12 sons. The film presents some scenes with Richie's first computer, at the age when he was very young. Then, how he got to Detroit, a city of gangsters in the '80. This is where Richie started doing music. He himself confesses that he wouldn't be doing what he does now, at such a high level, if he hadn't lived in Detroit. There he starts having contact with the clubbing scene, a very shy one at that time. At the age of 17, Richie Hawtin was seen as a dork and that because of his shy and neglected look, as he says himself. He used to just sit and watch the DJ mixing in an underground club in Detroit. Richie was seen at that time as a dork who just sits and stares at the DJ. At a certain moment, the DJ pulls Richie at his desk and lets him mix, until he comes back form the toilet. And that is when everything started. Not long after, Richie starts organizing small parties in a club that was almost gone. He gets money form the club's promoters and manages to bring Jeff Mills to mix.

Another important period of Richie's life was New York, where he was rejected and got banned for a few years, because of some conflicts in Oklahoma at that time. Meeting with John Aquaviva is essential for the young Hawtin. They are both enthusiastic and they start producing music in Detroit, but nobody takes them into consideration. This is one of the reasons why Plus 8 is created, one of the record labels that represent 'the future sound of Detroit'.

Parents

Richie Hawtin has always had a strong relationship with his parents, which definitely represented a big advantage for him. His father had been the one who woke up in Richie the passion for technology and music and his mother helped him organize parties. There were times when she would stay at the entrance and sell tickets. Richie's mother never believed that a computer could offer Richie a future and could make his passion a job. Richie's brother, Mathew, has also been one of the persons who influenced him a lot in producing and creating minimal.

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Two Hours With and About Richie Hawtin - DVD review
PUBLISHED

December 20, 2006 at 12:34 PM CET

WORDS

Beat Factor

Plastikman

Plastikman is an alias invented by Richie Hawtin, a very minimalist part of his music. The name represents a state of some young and enthusiastic poeple. When he was organizing small parties together with his friends, Richie risked once to be caught by the police. And that's how they got to some friend's house, very scared, and tired of so much running. They were exhausted, they almost looked like plastic. That, and the fact that the people dancing on his music had some very strange moves; they looked very much like plastic men. This is how Richie became a plastic man, a Plastikman. And this name became a legend of techno music. People had the logo of Plastikman tattooed on their hands, on cars, printed on T-shirts, in clubs. Richie chose the logo from many others. Plastikman was a bold young man, wearing glasses, an image that would change after a while. And then people almost didn't recognize him anymore. The most important period of Plastikman was Novamute, a sub label of the famous record label, Mute Records, which believed in his music and released „Sheet One", a legendary material for the techno music. Under this alias, Richie also produced "Disconnect", "Closer", "Consumed" at NovaMute, and a little bit later at his own record label M_Nus "Nostalgik".

Richie Hawtin

Even if he opened M-Nus, where talents like Magda, Marc Houle, Troy Pierce and others have released materials, Richie Hawtin remained dedicated to NovaMute label. Today the name of Richie Hawtin is known not only for M_Nus, but also for his extremely well built sets. The documentary 'Pioneers of Electronic Music' offers besides a long talk with Richie, interviews with John Acquaviva, Matthew Hawtin, Karl Kowalski, Derrick May, Sven Väth, Jason Huvaere, Mad Mike Banks, Clark Warner, Amir Daiza, Daniel Miller, Scott Gordon, Mike Himes, Magda and Richie's parents.

Although he has origins in England and Canada, Richie is very tight to the techno scene in Detroit, where he is compared to artists like Kenny Larkin, Stacey Pullen, Eddie Fowlkes and Derrick May. His label Plus 8 (where he is associated with John Aquaviva) is one of the most influential and experimental from the dance music scene. His personal recordings under the name of Plastikman and F.U.S.E. are seen as being very similar with the sound of Detroit.

The initiative of Slices is absolutely remarkable, and the result is excellent. The material, directed by Maren Sextro & Holger Wick shows a Richie less weird than the image he created when he released the compilation DE9 Transition, a Richie that most of us haven't seen. A funny person, cute, with a beautiful life-story, Richie Hawtin is a very important artist on international electronic music scene, a person who can be proud that he has written history for the techno music.

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