Richie Hawtin interviewed in Resolution magazine
Posted on: Friday 11th of October 2019
Would you agree that dance music’s always had a problem presenting itself to audiences?
I think dance music came from a place that was faceless and devoid of any kind of visuals. It’s taken some time for the culture to understand how to go beyond a beautiful dark room/strobe light experience into something that still makes sense and has authenticity. Maybe it’s because we’re all shy, introverted nerds or maybe it’s that one person on a stage isn’t as visually captivating as a whole band, and that’s definitely been something for me to explore.
Tell us a little about the CLOSE DJ/live show…
Being on stage, sending out energy, grabbing people’s attention and bringing that all into sync is an incredibly intense feeling, but extending that connection can take things to another level and that’s really what CLOSE is all about. The philosophy is to get rid of the table in front of me and let people see my movements. Even if the audience doesn’t understand everything I’m doing, I’m allowing them to see that interaction – the struggle between man and machine. For the visual part, it’s about having miniature cameras on stage that you don’t see and don’t interrupt with the view or how I’m feeling on stage. Lens technology, miniaturisation and the ability to take all that information, process it live and spit it back out onto high-resolution LED towers needed to happen before this show could. Then we had to take all that 4K footage – terabytes of video and audio from the three shows in Glasgow, London and Tokyo – and pull it all together in the editing suite. Even five years ago, media couldn’t handle all that data.
Can you talk a little about your on-stage setup and how it helps you achieve your goals?
The setup is a computer system with Native Instruments Traktor and Ableton Live running via Ableton Link, which keeps them intertwined so I can do tempo changes and keep the records in sync. Ableton sends out a timing code transferred over a digital/analogue pipeline to control volt timing pulses, which controls all my modular synthesisers. What’s interesting about that is all my timing pulses are coming through an Ableton drum rack controlled by a Novation Launchpad or Ableton Push, so not only can I programme or change timings but I can do drum fill timing changes to the modular, which will change melodies or disrupt delay line tempos in some weird, syncopated way. That’s what makes it so easy and fun to tweak and play around with.
You have 200 tracks to work with and have to think of the next one while creating on-the-fly. Are those actions purely based on intuition?
The only thing that’s fixed is that I’ve only got 12 drum sounds and there’s only so much I can do with the modules. I’ve got notes in my playlists describing the records, and sometimes I know exactly what to play next, but other times I’m listening to the beginning of three or four records really quick to see what feels correct or works. Sometimes I get locked into a search, so I’ve added a little four channel programmable LFO to the modular system. It allows me to throw on the filters and allow analogue lines to build and move while I figure out where I’m going next… Buy our digital edition!