RICHIE HAWTIN playing Wednesday (September 5) as part of For Those Who Know, at Tonic (117 Peter). $15-$20. (416) 204-9200.
Windsor Techno heavyweight Richie Hawtin's sets are legendary. The past few years have seen him integrating his 909 drum machine and effects into his mixing to create moody, unique journeys through experimental techno to its more dance-floor side. And finally he has a CD -- DE9/Closer To The Edit -- that represents the blend.
"When I started, there was house and techno, but it was the same thing really. Anyone who's seen one of my longer sets knows that you get some of everything. This new CD is probably closer to a distilled version of one of my DJ sets than anything I've done before."
Expect an expanded version of the disc Wednesday (September 5) as he mixes the reworked tracks with the originals and manipulates the whole thing through a battery of effects and samplers. Experimental music is rarely this danceable, and few DJs approach mixing this adventurously.
"I was doing edits of some of the songs I play out, and using Final Scratch (a new interface that allows DJs to mix digital music files from a laptop using a special piece of vinyl) to integrate them into my sets. I started to see my music in a more non-linear way and wanted to create a new album by just taking the components -- hi-hats, bass lines and samples -- and re-arranging them into a whole album.
"It was reconstructed completely in the computer without any live mixing. The idea was, How can I take this idea of loops and re-sampling, how can I take the basic fundamental idea of DJing -- which is overlaying and mixing together bits of pre-recorded material to create something new -- and use the new technology in the studio to make something that hasn't been heard before?
Though many techno fans like to credit his thick tones to old analog gear, Hawtin refuses to play the purist retro game.
"A lot of people go on about analog being so much better and warmer then digital, but I'm beginning to understand that we feel that way because we're used to it and we understand it.
"As people experiment in the digital domain, they're creating a new language that we're slowly getting used to as well. There's a beauty in that digital decay. You're getting more and more artists coming out using small set-ups or just a computer to get a lot of power from a tiny package. It's becoming more powerful and cheaper, and gives the opportunity to more people to explore their creativity."
Growing up in Windsor, Hawtin caught the techno bug from the radio coming out of Detroit in the 80s and soon began sneaking out at night to check out the clubs.
"Radio in Detroit was so progressive in the late 80s -- you had the Wizard (Jeff Mills of Underground Resistance) playing five nights a week, Derrick May had a show. People were mixing hiphop, Detroit techno and English acid house. When hiphop went all R&B and got huge, it pushed all the other stuff off of black radio."