Richard "Richie" Hawtin (born June 4, 1970, Banbury, Oxfordshire) is a Canadian electronic musician and DJ who was an influential part of Detroit techno's second wave of artists in the early 1990s and a leading exponent of Minimal techno since the mid-1990s. He is best known for his abstract, minimal works under the alias Plastikman.
Hawtin is known for DJing minimal techno sets making use of laptop computers and digital mixing equipment. In May 1990, Hawtin and fellow second-waver John Acquaviva founded the Plus 8 record label, which they named after their turntable's pitch adjust function. In 1998, Hawtin launched Minus records.
Hawtin was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England, but moved when he was aged nine to LaSalle, Ontario, a suburb of Windsor, Ontario, and just across the river from Detroit, the birthplace of techno. His father worked as a robotics technician at General Motors, and was a fan of electronic music, introducing his son to Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream at an early age. He has one brother, Matthew, who is a visual artist and ambient music DJ. Hawtin attended Sandwich Secondary High School in LaSalle. He began to DJ in clubs in Detroit at 17, and his early style was a mix of house music and techno.
With Canadian DJ John Acquaviva he formed the label Plus 8 in 1990 to release his own tracks under the name F.U.S.E. He spent part of 2002 and 2003 living in New York City, and has since moved to Berlin, Germany. He said, "I'd always wanted to move to Europe. I needed somewhere that was inspiring and where there were like-minded musicians and artists, somewhere you could still experiment with music and with life. Berlin is so liberal in so many different ways; there's an amazing club scene, there's a great development software tech scene, there are so many resources here."
Hawtin has recorded music under the aliases Plastikman, F.U.S.E., Concept 1, Forcept 1, Circuit Breaker, Robotman, Chrome, Spark, Xenon, R.H.X., Jack Master, Richard Michaels and UP!. He also recorded and performed, in combination with other artists, under group names such as The Hard Brothers, Hard Trax (with his brother Matthew Hawtin), 0733, Cybersonik (with Daniel Bell and John Acquaviva), Final Exposure (with Joey Beltram and Mundo Muzique), Just For Fun (with Holger Wick), Narod Niki (with Akufen, Cabanne, Dandy Jack, Daniel Bell, Luciano, Ricardo Villalobos, Robert Henke and Thomas Franzmann), Two Guys In The Basement (with John Acquaviva), Spawn (with Fred Giannelli and Daniel Bell) and States Of Mind (with Acquaviva).
He was the mastermind of huge raves in the Detroit area, he ran several club nights, a yearly party at City Club and a sold out show at The Necto (nightclub) Additionally, Hawtin and Pete Namlook collaborated to produce the From Within series of albums which blend minimal techno and ambient. He has also released an album Sounds of the Third Season with Sven Väth.
In 2006, Hawtin collaborated with choreographer Enzo Cosimi on a composition called "9.20" for the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. He said, "Enzo and I are very much interested in pushing boundaries, both as artists and for our audiences. Working together for the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Games delivers the creative endeavor to not only entertain a huge audience, but to also introduce them to sights and sounds that they may have never experienced before."
Slices magazine launched a series of biographies in 2007 called "Pioneers of Electronic Music"; their first issue was a 60 minute biographical documentary on Hawtin. The film follows his career from his early days crossing the border to Detroit to his current life in Berlin, and contains interviews with many colleagues and family members.
2011 saw the release of Arkives 1993 - 2010, a massive box set containing everything Hawtin has released under his Plastikman moniker, as well as a new mixed set and previously unreleased material. The collection includes CDs, vinyl, digital downloads and a DVD.
In 2012 Hawtin worked with Loco Dice and Ean Golden in promoting Electronic Dance Music on a tour of North American universities entitled CNTRL: Beyond EDM, which included music production seminars, lessons in the music business, and live music performances.
Hawtin dismisses speculation as to the demise of dance music. In a 2009 interview he said, "In the last few years, the interest in electronic music has gone back up, the quality of the music has gone back up, there's a buzz which reminds you of the early days," he insists. "From where I'm sitting right now, dance music is more vibrant than ever. In some countries you'll always have the press saying it's going down and writing it off, but somewhere else the interest level is soaring and people are discovering this music for the first time, like in South America, where it's completely kicking off – it's unbelievable down there. There are some great festivals and parties in Europe, and over the last five years I've seen Ibiza go from complete cheesy shite music to the resurgence of a number of different types of progressive electronic music."
In November 2013, Hawtin performed as Plastikman at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. This performance inspired him to finish a new Plastikman LP. "It put me back in the studio and inspired me enough to work on new material, and in five days I created a new album," he said. The album will be released in 2014.
F.U.S.E.: Dimension Intrusion, 1993
Plastikman: Sheet One, 1993
Plastikman: Musik, 1994
Plastikman: Recycled Plastik, 1994
Plastikman: Sickness (EP), 1997
Concept 1: 96:CD, 1998
Concept 1: 96:VR, 1998 (remixed by Thomas Brinkmann)
Plastikman: Consumed, 1998
Plastikman: Artifakts [bc], 1998
Plastikman: Closer, 2003
Plastikman: Kompilation, 2010
Plastikman: Arkives, 2011
Plastikman: New Album, 2014
DJ mix compilations
Richie Hawtin: Mixmag Live!, 1995 (Live DJ mix album)
Richie Hawtin: Decks, EFX & 909, 1999 (DJ mix album)
Richie Hawtin: DE9: Closer to the Edit, 2001 (DJ mix album)
Richie Hawtin and Sven Väth: Sound of the Third Season, 2002 (DJ mix album)
Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos Live at the Robert Johnson, Offenbach, Germany, 2004 (11 hour DJ set)
Richie Hawtin: DE9 | Transitions, 2005 (DJ mix album)
Richie Hawtin: DE9 lite: Electronic Adventures, 2006 (DJ mix album, produced with MixMag)
Richie Hawtin: Sounds from Can Elles, 2008 (unmixed various artist compilation, free with DJ Magazine issue 467)
Richie Hawtin: Mixmag presents: Richie Hawtin - New Horizons, 2012 (DJ mix album)
Plastikman's official site
Richie Hawtin's Minus record label site
Richie Hawtin discography at Discogs
Concert Review and Historical Essay
Richie Hawtin at the Internet Movie Database