Richie Hawtin (Plastikman)
What do you ask somebody who's possibly been asked everything- Where do you start with someone who's been there pretty much since the start- The basics are always a beginning, and I read in an old copy of Mixmag that when he was younger, Richie Hawtin used to skip over the border from his native Ontario (Canada) to indulge in what was pretty much the techno renaissance in Detroit (USA) - so it would be interesting to learn how he first got involved in that scene and what it really was like at the time. "Yeah, 'skipping' is a very good word for it, because here in Windsor we're a short walk away", Richie explains as he begins to embark on his local geography lesson: "There's only a river that separates us from Detroit, and that just happens to be the border. It's all one city really; there are definitely differences, but if you go to downtown Windsor you're basically in downtown Detroit."
"When I was a kid I started going to Detroit. It was a place that you weren't supposed to go to - parents said it was dangerous and all that, but it was kind of a myth - and I hung out there with my friends. Back then in the mid 80's we were more into Severed Heads and Skinny Puppy and that sort of thing, and then when I was sixteen or seventeen I found myself at clubs in Detroit where I started hearing the beginnings of house and techno. I slowly found myself getting more and more into it, and around that time I first met Derrick May and he gave me this record to listen to - and I just thought 'what the fuck...-' That was it. As soon as I heard the record, I realised it was what I'd been waiting for - the best elements of house and techno with all the bad stuff stripped away. This was its purist form. That was it, man. I started going to Detroit more, I started spinning a bit and then DJing there, and I've been hanging out ever since."
Given that at least 99% of the Detroit-based producers are black and Richie Hawtin is white, has this ever been a stumbling block along the way- "No - well, I mean there's been some problems in the past so far as some close-minded people are concerned, but there're always people like that. As far as most of the people I know, like most of the artists in Detroit, I have a great relationship - the Underground Resistance posse and all those guys. At the end of the day I see it that it's the people who respect what others are doing and who are really into pushing this music ahead are the kind of people who I get along with."
Contrary to popular belief, this is actually Richie's second jaunt downunder. "It's nice to be coming back there, because I haven't been down to Australia in two years. Last time I was in Adelaide just for a few days, and it was really cool and the people were really nice - so it's been crazy trying to arrange to get back there!" He laughs. "Damien and everyone at Juice Records were the people who brought me down." It's a union that's obviously flourished, because these days new Juice releases are distributed through Hawtin's Intellinet in Canada. "I've always been into Juice since the early days", he explains, "and of course I'm into their new Dirty House off-shoot. There've been a few things coming my way from Australia - just records here and there which have been really cool. So there seems to be a lot happening down there now. I'm looking forward to picking up more records, especially ones I can't gTags