Plastikman is the alter ego of one of the world’s most revered electronic DJs and producers – Richie Hawtin. Over the past twenty years Richie Hawtin has been one of electronic music community’s most active participants; as a DJ, a label owner, a producer, a performer, and an avid contributor to the development of music and performance technology.
His accomplishments range from having been named the ‘World’s Best DJ’ in the most credible electronic music polls; to being invited to compose music for the 2 0 0 6 Torino Winter Olympics; to exhibiting a sound installation for the French Ministry of Culture’s Millennium Exhibition in Avignon, France. He has also invested in, endorsed, and help develop some of the most forward-thinking products in the electronic music space including Native Instrument’s pioneering T r a k t o r Scratch software, number one dance music digital retailer Beatport.com, the Tonium Pacemaker portable DJ system, and Allen & Heath’s limited edition custom CTRL:92 DJ mixers – the first-ever to be fully Midi-enabled, which both he and his father helped to conceptualize and design.
Born in Banbury, Oxfordshire in England, Hawtin’s family moved to W i n d s o r , Ontario when he was nine. During his formative years he was heavily influenced by both his father’s diverse record collection and acute curiosity for everything electronic, watching from an early age as his father dismantled various electronic devices, rebuilding and modifying them in front of his son’s eyes. It was inevitable that his passions for music, technology and computers would be finally drawn together, and upon hearing the early sounds of Detroit Techno and Chicago Acid House on Jeff Mills’ late 80′s Detroit radio show, he found his direction.
The trips across the bridge to the Motor City became regular for H a w t i n , and it wasn’t long before he discovered the legendary Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Kevin Saunderson, inspiring him to begin DJ’ing and experimenting with music-making himself. The natural progression from DJ’ing to music production quickly led to a new partnership with friend and established DJ/producer, J o h n A c q u a v i v a , resulting in the formation of their own record company, Plus 8 Records, set up in early 1990 to release the first 12″ single, States of Mind “Elements of Tone”.
This first release began an intense period of experimentation for Hawtin, non-stop day and night studio sessions, hours upon hours of recordings and new collaborations resulting in dozens of now classic records released on Plus 8 between 1990 and 1992. He recorded under various guises such as Cybersonik (w/ Daniel Bell), Up!, Chrome, Final Exposure (w/ Joey Beltram), Circuit Breaker, and eventually F U S E (Futuristic Underground Sound Experiments) marking Hawtin’s first full length album D i m e n s i o n Intrusion released in conjunction with UK’s influential Warp Records in 1992. Each release stepped further away from the classic sound of Detroit Techno and closer to the original Hawtin sound for which he so intently searched. With phrases like “The Future Sound of Detroit” and “Fast forward to the Future” stamped on the vinyl stickers, these records set the tone and direction for Hawtin’s next steps and his forward thinking ideology, which continues to today.
As Hawtin’s unique vision intensified, so did his maturation in the studio, and in 1993 Daniel Miller’s Mute Records took notice, resulting in the landmark release of the first Plastikman album, Sheet One, on Mute sub-label Novamute and Plus 8 Records. Stripped down to its bare essentials, Sheet One’s hypnotic acidic
structure was in stark contrast to the more traditional electronic releases of that time, and its unique intensity quickly infected a new generation of electronic music fans. The Detroit inspired single ” S p a s t i k ” rounded off the album’s success and in conjunction with its controversial acid blotter style CD cover and the introduction of the mischievous ghostlike Plastikman logo, which combined to ignite worldwide recognition for both Plastikman and Hawtin. While Hawtin toured extensively, DJ’ing energetic and vibrant sets, it was his select Plastikman live performances that presented a more introverted and twisted sonic landscape spawning a generation of dedicated Plastikfans who were more than happy to tattoo the now infamous Plastikman logo on their limbs, chest, backs and necks.
In April 1995, just as Plastikman was becoming an international phenomenon, a problem with US Immigration caused H a w t i n to be banned from entering the United States for 18 months. While this surely affected the story of Plastikman, there is a certain optimism Hawtin expresses in this turn of events, which gave him time to refocus and reinforce a deeper continuation of his Plastikman sound. This time of obscurity inspired a year-long series of experimental C o n c e p t (1996) releases and culminated with Plastikman’s brooding masterpiece album C o n s u m e d (1998) released on Richie’s newly formed M i n u s label. Reflecting on the missed memories of his 18 month US exile, Richie quickly followed up Consumed with an introspective collection of previously unreleased Plastikman material entitled A r t i f a k t s ( B C ) .
Refocusing on his DJ career from 1999 to 2003 Hawtin released the popular Decks, EFX & 909 and DE9 | Closer To The Edit mix CDs, but it wasn’t until 2003, during a period of deep contemplation and personal exploration, that his Plastikman project resurfaced. The album C l o s e r featured, for the first time, vocals, and furthered the development of the minimalist ethic that had begun on Sheet One. In conjunction with this album Richie finally agreed to bring his P l a s t i k m a n persona back to the stage, albeit, for one special event. The June 2004 Plastikman live event at Montreal’s M u t e k festival was the first step into exploring a whole new world of audio and visual possibilities.
By this time H a w t i n was becoming more than a cult-level name. As progressive house and trance were fading in the minds of dance floor dwellers worldwide, a new breed of techno was rising and Hawtin was there to answer the call, performing more than 500 shows between 2004 and 2009, circling the globe dozens of times and racking up more air miles than previously imaginable. Despite this hectic schedule he continued to build a strong roster of artists for his then developing M i n u s label, releasing over 90 records in those years alone. During these years Minus became one of electronic music’s most successful and respected organizations, being named in the tops of the most credible editorial and readers’ polls year after year.
2008 saw H a w t i n continuing his forward progression, introducing many of the ideas developed for the Plastikman Mutek show into his DJ performances and adding new layers of dynamics for increasingly larger scale events. Celebrating the ten-year anniversary of M i n u s , Richie invited artists from the label to join him on stage to continue the development together in a ten-city tour called C o n t a k t . Combining synchronized audio, visuals, and communication technology, Contakt created a new kind of immersive multimedia concert experience. These much talked about shows traversed the globe throughout 2008 and into 2009 entertaining thousands of avid Minus fans; and all the while Hawtin used these shows and experiences to help plan for what would become his next major project – Plastikman Live.
By re-imagining the past and present, Hawtin takes Plastikman once again towards the future with a reinterpretation of the old and the new. Continuing the evolution of Plastikman live, Hawtin presents the first global Plastikman tour stopping at a selection of hand-picked cities around the world. The tour begins at T i m e w a r p in Germany in March and then takes on Coachella, DEMF, Sonar, and many more in the months that follow. The combination of LED, lighting, and interactive technologies set to an updated Plastikman soundtrack sets the stage for a truly unique experience. 2010 will see Hawtin’s musical history and technological experimentations converge to allow Plastikman to once again reconfigure the futuristic musical landscape.