On Richie Hawtin, technology, and the changing nature of electronic music performance
|Dec 3|| 3|
Colin here. As the equipment has evolved, going out to see DJs has shifted from watching them work magic with two turntables and a mixer to, at its worst, nodding along as a performer noodles on a laptop as if they were doing a spreadsheet. For a while now, techno-pioneer Richie Hawtin has been trying to change that. Over the years Hawtin has adapted his live performances, moving away from mixing records to orchestrating an array of new technology to produce entirely new music. He’s experimented with lots of different ways of performing, from two laptop setups to new styles of sequencers, to live synth rigs with custom-designed mixers and astoundingly powerful lighting and visuals.
Hawtin has said he doesn’t need to prove anything in terms of being able to mix two records, and prefers to use his cognitive space to create something new. There’s a dynamism to his work that shows a virtuoso level of creation and improvisation, all while championing new records and sounds.
Why is this interesting?
To show the level of detail he’s putting into his live performances, he recently released an app called Closer.
...CLOSER allows users to watch the performances from CLOSE COMBINED from a variety of angles, and deconstruct or isolate certain layers as they listen. It also comes with an edit of a 2017 performance in Hungary, the first of many promised archival live shows to be released exclusively within the app.
CLOSER will also feature live stream capability in the future, so that users can interact with Hawtin's performance in real time as they happen, in the same way they can already with the archival shows.
This is immensely interesting, as it allows fans to go deeper into how he is constructing the live performance. According to the app description: “The unique vertical layout provides three distinct visual perspectives from the performances – crowd view, stage setup, and equipment close-ups. Each panel offers different interactions including multiple camera angles, the ability to listen into separate audio channels and real-time track information.”
In a way, it is a poke at some performers who are content to sit back and let computers do the work, bobbing along to the beat. In addition to championing and highlighting the artists and records that are being played, Closer represents a step towards hyper transparency, where fans are brought in sync with every step of a performance, adding a layer of voyeurism that lays bare the actual mastery of what is going on. (CJN)
Mix of the Day:
Lest we tempt too much with the descriptions above, a sonic payoff: Here’s a Soundcloud link that compiles live performances from Glasgow, London, and Tokyo. (CJN)
A vacation...at Changi airport in Singapore (CJN)
Great profile on Bellingcat who provide some of the most hard-hitting open-source investigations. (CJN)
Bourdain’s first piece in the New Yorker. “Don’t eat before reading this” (CJN)
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)
PS - Noah here. I’ve started a new company and we are looking for a sr. backend engineer to join the team. If you are one of those or know anyone great, please share. Dinner’s on me at a restaurant of your choice if you help us find someone.
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