“I was VERY nervous before I played…
we had such an incredible experience with Bridges for Music in Langa
that I felt I really had to deliver the type of sound that I stand for…”
Just a few days ago Richie Hawtin released on Soundcloud: Richie Hawtin: DE9 Fragments 7. Somewhere in South Africa (February, 2013).
Dave Mac tracked Richie Hawtin down for one last word on his memorable tour to South Africa…
So, Richie, after what I’m sure all involved can agree, a very successful tour of South Africa; how soon would you like to be back?
I’d love to be back as soon as possible but I’ll definitely wait to find the best/right opportunity to return. It took me a long time to finally make it to South Africa partly because I didn’t want to just come down for 1 or 2 gigs and fly in/out… I wanted to come and experience more of the country, the people and culture and that’s exactly what we were able to do! So if anything, I’d like to make sure the next visit gives me even more time to continue what we accomplished during this trip and have even more time to get deeper into the full South African experience.
There was a school of thought that your sound may not get people dancing at CTEMF – ‘the kids like loads of breakdowns and drops’ etc – but I witnessed your set and it was a real lesson on how to ‘own that dancefloor.’ Your class shone through. Question: You were (I assume) a little nervous; when you finished, did you feel like you had nailed it?
I was VERY nervous before I played… we had such an incredible experience with Bridges for Music in Langa that I felt I really had to deliver the type of sound that I stand for… and of course, after keeping people waiting for years to finally come there was a huge anticipation which could easily be felt by everyone that night. In the end I felt that I was a bit too concentrated (especially in the beginning) and nearly forgot to just enjoy the moment, but in the end I was pleased with my first set in South Africa and felt that I had succeeded in making people dance to music that perhaps they had not danced to before…
The workshops were a resounding success. Again I was at the CPT event in Langa. And again there were questions about why a techno DJ was talking to the ‘deep house’ market. Were you at all aware of these reservations? I.e. did anybody explain to you at any stage that the urban black market is not essentially a techno crowd?
I’m not really aware of these ‘borders’… deep house? Tech house? Commercial? techno… in the end these genres and labels all have their starting points in the same place… we continue to evolve the music in our own personal ways and then through how we play and what we play hopefully transcend these genres and get back to talking more about music and the creative uses of technology… At any of these talks, I prefer to talk more about creativity and my own personal story which I believe transcends again any specific type of music, genre or even piece of equipment etc.
What was your lasting impression of the workshops and those who participated?
Incredible. To look out at both workshops and see an engaged diverse group of people was amazing. You could feel the energy and warmth that united people and allowed boundaries to disappear and bridges to be built… all by music.
What was your take on the CPT and JHB gigs?
Joburg reminds me more of Detroit and NYC both where I’ve had incredible musical experiences in. Cape Town reminds me more of the laid back nature of Windsor and Canada… which was better? Well, the SOWETO gig was by far the most inspiring because it was simple and it was where I really saw people from all walks of life smiling and dancing together, Soweto was magical. That being said, the Cape Town gig and Joburg were both thoroughly enjoyable and I can’t wait to return to both… and hopefully play next time in Langa!!
I’m sure you’ve been given tons of music whilst here so I won’t completely put you on the spot, but anything specific you’ve managed to listen to and have been impressed with?
I listen to everything that is given to me… Especially if it’s sent via email/Dropbox/Soundcloud or given to me on USB stick (Sorry guys, CD’s take time to get to as I don’t travel with a CD player)… But I’m presently going through everything and hope to find some gems… although I did get a few USB sticks & CD’s in South Africa with absolutely NO information! What’s that all about? J
The Sunday event in Soweto looked simply amazing. In fact the word spread very quickly that this was a very special set you played. Doing this gig – you would have surely realised by this stage that you could not do a traditional Richie Hawtin techno set in the township. Did you have to dig deep into your collection to find that right balance of tracks?
I prepared a little bit for that gig finding some classics that were at the root of my music influences, specifically older Chicago house and Detroit Techno which all went down incredibly well… but at other times I was really able to dig into the current wave of deeper Berlin Techno sounds taking the crowd into a fit of deep grooves with tracks from some of the Dystopian crew! In the end I tried to blend an intricate story of past, present and future and can still remember the smiles of the faces when I close my eyes!
Often these small(er) gigs are the toughest – 1 or 2 wrong tracks can have everybody standing – 4 hours later you must have been elated at the response and the reminder that you ‘still got it,’ to play these intimate environments… and play differently at that!
It’s funny, everyone thinks that these types of small gigs are isolated experiences these days, but I actually try to book a good balance of gigs ranging from 200 people up to 20,000+ people… each of the gigs present different challenges and that hopefully keeps me on my toes and my musical and technical skills on point! However, smaller gigs do present more direct eye contact with the people in front of you that can be somewhat nerve racking even at the best of times!
Final question: All your friends and colleagues will want to know; ‘what’s South Africa like?’ What do you find yourself saying…?
Luckily through the photos and online media that we were posting throughout our South African tour, many people can already feel what it was like for us… sometimes photos can be better than a thousand words.
What some of our local legends had to say about Richie Hawtin in South Africa…
Ryan Dogstarr – Digital Rockit
“Richie Hawtin blew me away at Sonar in 2007, so naturally my expectations were high. But the ultimate for me was Sunday in Soweto; that experience I will hold dear to my heart for as long as it’s beating in my chest. 4 hours of complete bliss, and for him to be in such unknown environment but was able to create such a vibe and hold it there for 4 hours, shows how this art form we know as DJing is supposed to be done.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to see Richie Hawtin play 3 times now and each time has been a completely different experience… and although the wind was hectic – it certainly added to the intensity and vibe of the night! … My only complaint was that it ended too soon. I was sceptical as to whether or not Richie Hawtin would be “relevant” to a township market [at the workshops]. However, the combination of Richie with Black Coffee was what sealed the deal. An international pioneer and star, alongside a local hero and superstar … making the connection that music is global and following your passion can change your life no matter your background, circumstances, race, nationality, whatever!!”
“Richie Hawtin delivered a superb techno set just as expected. He’s known across the globe for his highly technological approach to electronic music and that’s exactly what we got to see and hear. What a treat! The workshop was world class. I am so impressed with what Bridges for Music have done and sincerely hope to see more of their great work in the future.”
Photos compliments of Bridges for Music