For the last 20 years, Richie Hawtin, either DJing as himself or as his hyper-molecular alter ego Plastikman, has served as a technological canary in the coal mine—that is, if canaries had developed TwitterDJ, which connects to FinalScratch or Traktor Scratch and auto updates his set to Twitter as he’s playing; or if that same canary had customized its mixers years ago to enable MIDI. With controllers like the Xone:1D [from Allen & Heath] and X1 from Native Instruments, it seems manufacturers have caught up to his demands, offering great technology for the rest of us.
OK, so what’s the future of DJing? There’s a host of possibilities for DJs who don’t feel the need to use a turntable or CDJ to control music. Allen & Heath have made their own controller, and you basically just plug it into Traktor or Serato and it’s got everything in it. Native Instruments just released another controller. You can see the new version of Ableton and Serato and The Bridge. You see the new version of Traktor coming out. They all have looping capabilities, sampling and creating micro-loops out of songs you’re playing and loading loops from other songs on top of each other. For me, the process of DJing is about the deconstruction and destruction of songs and their reconstruction in a unique, personalized way. Spontaneously, in front of an audience. I want to see a new file structure that’s beyond MP3 or WAV. That once I load it, that file separates into all of the parts that created it
Don’t you feel that technology can be suffocating and overwhelming at times? Suffocating, erasing you, taking over what’s unique about you as a human being. There are people out there who think you can put these two pieces together and you’re a DJ. Well yeah, OK. By definition you’re a DJ. But are you a great DJ? Are you unique? Are you offering something nobody else could offer? If you’re really open-minded and creative, the technology that’s available right now allows you to do incredibly wonderful and exciting things, but technology is so powerful that one can easily be lost in the technology and overtaken. When that happens, you just end up sounding like everyone else. It’s very easy to plug in the equipment and turn on the effects and add delays on top and put three songs on top of each other and letting Traktor keep everything in sync.
Then in the future, what makes any of us any good? The technology doesn’t do it, it’s you that can make the difference…that can make something unique that transcends everything and people forget who they are and where they are and have an epiphany on the dancefloor.
For full interview with Richie Hawtin, pick up DJ Times on newsstands now.