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For young ravers, Richie Hawtin is a great DJ for supplying rhythms to roll to. With arms spread and glowsticks twirling, the world is lost in his smooth and tripnotic techno beats. But true fans of Hawtin and his alter ego Plastikman know his brilliant compositions of ambient waves and complex, soul-burrowing soundscapes are capable of altering your perception and enhancing sensory processing without the annoying teeth-grinding and debilitating day-after depression that comes from chemicals.
Regarded as one of the most influential techno artists of the Nineties, Hawtin possesses a passion for experimental sounds that earned him a spot at the recent Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, where his original composition, "9:20," was performed at the Opening Ceremonies. "It's something that I haven't really processed yet," says Hawtin from his Berlin studio. "I was there for the dress rehearsals, with a backstage pass for the Olympics.... Just seeing what goes on behind the scenes and to see yourself in that context is truly unbelievable.... The Olympics are in a league of their own. It was a great learning experience for me."
Hawtin collaborated with Italian choreographer Enzo Cosimi, and his music accompanied the breathtaking and fiery movements of dozens of acrobats and dancers, including the famed Roberto Bolle. After hitting a worldwide high at such a young age (yes, 35 is still young), do visions of Academy Awards dance in Hawtin's head? "I would love to do movie work. Some of my early work was inspired by movie soundtracks. I hope to go that way, but I don't know when it will happen."
The latest release from the Britain-born, Canada-bred, and Detroit-techno-music-scene-creating Hawtin is DE9: Transitions, a CD/DVD set featuring a 75-minute stereo mix, an extended version in 5.1 surround sound, two new videos, and a short film. Using Abelton Live and Pro Tools software, Hawtin stripped apart existing tracks his own, as well as those by artists such as the Detroit Grand Pubahs, False, and Ricardo Villalobos and reassembled them to create new pieces of music. "Part of my fascination with music is the technology," Hawtin admits, but he knows how to ride the wave of science at the right pace without crashing into the rocks. "There are always ideas that you have.... So I'm glad that the technology is moving fast, but it is still limiting."
After spending the past six years working on specific projects, he is looking forward to simply playing around in his studio. "It is home here. My studio is fully functional now. I want to see how this city will inspire me.... I haven't had the luxury to just record and see what happens and develop new ideas and see where I can take myself," says Hawtin, who will still be releasing new tracks here and there. "I think it will mean putting some twelve-inches out. I want to work fast and furious and see where it takes me."
So how does his intelligent techno translate to the Ultra stage? "Everywhere that you play you have to think about how you perform to your crowd. It's a great way to reach out to those people younger generations and give them something to hold on to. I'm going to push them as far as I can go." From barely legal boppers to gracefully aging Eighties club kids, everyone on the dance floor will certainly be pushed to their limits with Hawtin's music. "There are pockets of people in all the major centers who really feel what we are doing. We want to show them the exciting things that are happening ... what's happening in Europe ... it's fucking amazing."
While Hawtin is loving the German scene "You probably don't want me to get on my loving Berlin monologue, but the clubs and the quality of life here are amazing...." he is looking forward to visiting and touring the States: "To me the Winter Music Conference is always an adventure; something crazy always happens."